William Page (William Page & Co.)


Cottages in Southdown Road, Shoreham, ca. 1880. Anonymously published divided back postcard

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Photographer, Shoreham-by-Sea. Page was born at Reading in Berkshire in 1831 and in 1855 married Martha Watts (born about 1828 at Hurley in the same county). The couple lived at Tilehurst near Reading for about six years, and during this time had four children: Rhoda Page (born 1856), William Page (1858), Charles Ernest Page (1860) and Alice Page (1861). They then moved back to Reading, where Albin Page, the last child, was born in 1864. The 1871 census gives the family's address as 27 Eaton Place, Oxford Road in Reading. William Page was already working as a photographer. His daughter, Rhoda, was a dressmaker and her brother, William, was a tailor's shop boy.

For reasons that are not known, Page moved with his family in about 1878 to Shoreham in Sussex, where he established a photographic studio in the High Street, which he later (by 1887) moved to 35 East Street. The 1881 census records that his two daughters helped him run the business, as did his sons William and Albin, though William left in about 1884 to set up on his own as a photographer at East Grinstead.

William Page was chiefly a portrait photographer, but soon after settling in Shoreham he photographed the three-masted barque Britannia as it neared completion in the local shipyard and again recorded the vessel after it was launched. Henry Cheal reproduces the photographs in his book The ships and mariners of Shoreham (1909, Blake, London). The Britannia was one of the two last big ships to be built at Shoreham.

In the early 1900s Page issued a number of sepia-toned real photographic cards of the Shoreham and Lancing area. The photographs lack borders and sometimes captions. Many are anonymous, but others have Page's name and address on the back. Subjects include St Mary's Church at Shoreham (both exterior and interior views), Bungalow Town properties, Lancing College (at least five different cards), and the Sussex Pad Inn, before and after the fire of October 26, 1905. Page re-issued as divided back postcards some of the photographs of the Shoreham area that he took soon after settling in the town. An anonymous view of cottages in Southdown Road is believed to date from c. 1880 and ten or more views of the great blizzard at Shoreham in 1881, although anonymous and uncaptioned, were almost certainly his work (see Edward Colquhoun and K. T. Nethercoate Bryant, Shoreham-by-sea, past and present, Sutton Publishing, 1997).

Page died at Shoreham on July 30, 1915, leaving effects of £512 (including 4 tenements in Reading) to his daughters, Rhoda, who was unmarried, and Alice, who may also have been single, and to his son Albin Page, who continued the business at 35 East Street until at least 1932, under the name W. Page & Co. No evidence has been found to suggest that Albin published any postcards. By 1935 the business finally closed and Albin retired to a house in the Upper Shoreham Road.

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