The Samuel Butler Collection, 1891 Shoreham Photos

Over the years local historian Neil De Ville has assembled a huge collection of old views of his home town Southwick, nearby Shoreham and of the people that once lived there. Each new acquisition entailed research to accurately identify locations, individuals and their background that collectively have resulted in a comprehensive record of the area’s social and architectural history.

 

During one recent search Neil happened across three stunning Shoreham photographs he had not seen before that were taken in the 1890’s. These were from the Samuel Butler Albums held by the St. John’s College Library in Cambridge. Samuel Butler (1835 – 1902) was an accomplished writer, artist and photographer. His photograph collection is considerable, recording as it did the people and places he visited both in this country and abroad. The images make up an important social history record of those times and we are lucky enough for him to have chosen Shoreham as one of the places in which to take his photos.

Following helpful guidance from the Special Collections Librarian Kathryn McKee at Cambridge it transpired there were even more Shoreham photos in the collection that had not been displayed on line. Arrangements were made to visit the Library and record the unseen photos. During the work to copy the newly discovered images one major point of interest that became apparent is that Butler was an acquaintance of the Gogins, artists of the time who had their studio on the riverside in the old ship building yard but it is the day to day folk and particularly the children of the town whose characters come shining through in these images.

 

The date of most of these photos has been faithfully recorded in Samuel’s albums and all of Shoreham’s appear to have been taken on the 31stMarch 1891. It has been possible to identify the location of most of them from the buildings in the background. This in turn suggests Samuel and his friends took a walk from one end of town to the other taking photos as they went. Perhaps the images in this article will help recreate the atmosphere of that day. Additional photos from other collections have been included to help illustrate the locations identified and to avoid confusion all Butler Collection images are shown in their original sepia colour.

 

The Samuel Butler Collection and catalogue is held by the St. John’s College Library, Cambridge https://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/library. If you would like to see more of Butler’s fascinating collection on line do take time to visit the  History Point Website

 

A map of the period showing the locations where some of the photos were taken. The numbers can be matched to the numbers on the photos.

 

Mrs M. Smith is shown as the resident of the house between Holloways Engineering to the east and Stow’s Yard to the west. If that is all her washing it looks as if she, like many others in those days, provided a laundry service for her income. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge 

 

This endearing trio look to have been bribed with sweets to keep still while the photos were taken – it didn’t work but they are nonetheless all the more appealing for it. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

A small girl stares wonderingly at the camera, behind her feet a pair of shoes betray another child hiding behind her. One hundred and thirty years later a cyclist passes the spot where they stood. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

A family with their much loved pet cats. Their home is identifiable as the once titled ‘Swiss Cottage’ on today’s busy Brighton Road shown here in the gaudy colours of more recent years. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

These children are actually in Stow’s the yachtbuilder’s yard (now the Sussex Yacht Club) and across the road behind them is that their mother keeping a watchful eye from the balcony? By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

The same children in Stow’s Yard by the River Adur looking south. (The logs and sawn trees they are sitting on are likely to have been expensive hardwood from abroad used in the construction of the yachts.) By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

One of Shoreham’s lost twittens (alleyways). There were a number of these in Shoreham, namely in the later Coronation Green area, the old shipyard, Ropetackle and between the side streets. Here, Butler photographs his friends, artist Charles Gogin and Henry Festing Jones standing by one of Eade’s Stores carts in the alleyway behind East Street. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Dyer’s Yard where Shoreham’s last big sailing ships were built. The photo on the right shows the full extent of the wooden boarding that was placed alongside the stocks during construction. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

The Dolphin Hotel and hard where fishermen would leave their boats and ferrymen waited to take passengers across the river. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

The top of Dolphin Hard with East Street in the background. The fishermen and ferrymen here wear sweaters marked with the names of boats and ships that they also worked on – the lad’s in the centre reads ‘Monarch Line.’ By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

A few coppers to the ferryman and a short interlude across the river where Henry Jones poses alongside a boat. Dolphin Hard can just be made out between the boat’s mast and the church tower. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Back at Dolphin Hard and over the road for a peek up East Street – the 17th century saddler’s shop (centre) and Collegiate School beyond have now gone and only the inn on the extreme left has survived. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Star Gap and hard between the old brewery and Stone House. The washing seems to suggest that the 31st March 1891 may have been a Monday but the records show it was in fact a Tuesday! By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Above: Star Gap from the river and below the same view as Butler’s photo but after the street demolition of the 1930’s

 

Back up to the High Street where this image (top) is typical of the smaller shops of the time there. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

… moving on westwards …..

 

…… to the old shipyard where, by the river, artist Alma Broadbridge had her studio. Alma later married fellow artist, Charles Gogin who also appears in these two photos. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Alma’s own painting of the studio can be compared with the Butler photos and the second image shows a riverside view a few years later. The King’s Head Inn at the end of the High Street is in the left distance and Alma’s studio is now hidden from view by a subsequently built shed.

 

Some delightful interior views of the studio showing Henry Jones with, top left, Samuel Butler himself and below, Charles Gogin – Alma completes the set standing demurely by the fire. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Back out onto the High Street towards the three gabled King’s Head Inn…….

 

….. to find a group of children playing together, perhaps marbles, as an older woman looks on. Their clothing suggests class differences seem not to matter to them – one or two have decent apparel but one poor lad has no socks or shoes at all! By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

Butler’s final, beautiful photo of the visit that needs no words. By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge

 

         

 

   © Roger Bateman and Neil De Ville

Shoreham October 2018

 

Acknowledgements/Sources

Main photos:-

Samuel Butler Collection held by St. John’s College Library, Cambridge.

Other photos:-

Doris Steers Collection

Sussex Archaeological Society – Marlipins Museum Collection

Authors’ own collections

Census Returns

Street Directories