William Martin Pelling


Brighton - Shoreham road at Fishersgate

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Baker, confectioner and postcard publisher. William Pelling was born at Brighton in 1863, and in 1886 married Emily Jane Saunders, who had been born at Hove in 1859. The couple had no children. When the 1891 census was held, he was working as a baker, and with Emily was lodging at a house at 63 South End, Croydon. At the time of the 1901 census, the couple had moved to 70 Fielding Road in Acton. Pelling is listed as both a baker and bread maker. The 1911 census records that he was still a baker, and with Emily had set up home at 149 Leighton Road in West Ealing. Living under the same roof was his sister in law, Mary Ann Saunders, who was older than Emily and had been born at Clapham in London. She helped run the family bakery shop. A teenage girl from Norfolk acted as general servant.

At some stage during the next few years, William and Emily decided to leave London and return to Sussex. The 1919 Electoral Register records that they were living at 75 Southwick Road in Southwick. In 1924-5 William is listed as working as a confectioner at 2 Fishersgate Terrace, Fishersgate in Southwick. In about 1934 he and moved to 12 Fishersgate Terrace, and became a newsagent. He was still trading at this address at the start of the Second World War. He is believed to have died in May 1960 at 274 Southbourne Road at Westcliffe-on-Sea in Essex, aged 96.

Pelling published real photographic cards of Fishersgate and Southwick, including views of some side streets and the coal-fired power station. The photographs are sepia-toned and many have white borders. The captions are written in rather large, shaky lettering at the bottom left of the photographs, together with a serial number. The publisher's name ("W. Pelling"), where present, appears on the right, and is often more neatly written than the captions. The clumsy handwriting of the captions is so distinctive and the letter "g"s are so oddly formed that even anonymously published cards can be easily recognised. A 1930 postmark has been seen.

William Pelling seems to have published only a very limited range of cards. The highest number found to date is 21. The cards have become much sought after despite being relatively modern and somewhat amateurish in appearance.

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