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Arthur Robert Perry

postcard

Mastin's fire, Hastings, 1904

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Photographer, 13 Wellington Place, Hastings. The titlepiece shows the great fire that engulfed the Mastin Bros. furnishing and drapery shop at 7-10 Breeds Place in Hastings on December 9, 1904. Perry was one of several local photographers who published postcards of the blaze and its aftermath. For the first time in the history of Hastings fire brigade all available men were deployed fighting the flames, and two firemen and some shop staff were lucky to escape with their lives. Mastin Bros. had to close temporarily after the fire and did not re-open fully for business until February 1906. They were successful entrepreneurs and sold a great range of clothing, fabrics, bed linen, curtains, carpets and other furnishings. The shop closed in 1969 and three years later was demolished. The site is now occupied by Icelands.

Arthur Perry concentrated on studio portraiture and published very few cards. The example shown above is impressed (blind stamped) with his name and address, but so discreetly that it is barely visible. Perry issued at least eleven different cards of the Mastins blaze (not always blind stamped, but recognisable because of the distinctive lettering of their captions), but whether he produced many other cards of outdoors events in Hastings is uncertain. The only other Perry cards that have been reported are single and group studio portraits, apart from a few cards of an open air brass band contest that was probably held in 1904.

Perry was born on January 19, 1866 at Holdenhurst near Throop on the northern edge of present day Bournemouth. His father was Robert Perry, a farmer, and his mother was Emily Perry, formerly Emily Wareham. He was the fifth of six children.

Robert Perry died aged 39 in 1873, leaving Emily to bring up the children at Holdenhurst on her own. The 1881 census describes 15-year-old Arthur as a photographer, but gives no indication as to where he worked.

On July 24 in 1890 Arthur married Elizabeth Emily Fisher at Lydney Parish Church in Gloucestershire. Elizabeth was the daughter of a tin plate worker, William Fisher. She worked as a national schoolteacher at Lydney, which was where she had been born, and was eight years older than Arthur. By this date, Arthur was already settled in Hastings, and continuing his career as a photographer. The 1891 census gives his address as 64 Mount Pleasant Road in Hastings and describes him as a photographer's assistant. Hastings had many photographers, and it is not known for whom he worked.

By 1893 Arthur Perry set up in business on his own account at 13 Wellington Place, taking over the studio and shop of Frederick Mann, who perhaps had previously been his employer. The 1901 census records that he and Elizabeth lived at 82 Mount Pleasant in Hastings, but by 1911 they moved to 3 Baldslow Road to a house called "The Brambles" (Number 5 was "The Briars"). They had no children.

Arthur Perry was still in business in 1924, but retired by 1927 (see Kelly's Sussex Directories). He died at Christchurch in Hampshire in 1948, aged 82.

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