Empire Day procession, Southwick Green 1909
Southwick and Brighton photographers, with a branch in London. Benn & Cronin specialised in contract photography for advertisements and magazine illustrations. John Benn opened his Victoria Studio in Victoria Road in Southwick by 1909. His partner, Cronin, who probably arranged many of the contracts, has not been identified, and may possibly have been a Londoner. By 1911 Benn and Cronin had acquired additional premises at 82 Queens Road in Brighton, and by 1912 also at 46 Trafalgar Street. 1915 and 1918 Directories list the firm at 10 and 11 Princes Street, off the Old Steine.
Among the few real photographic cards that Benn & Cronin published were some views of the 1908 Southwick Regatta, a view of Southwick Lock, the Empire Day celebrations at Southwick in 1909 and a less-than-inspired, undated view of Shoreham Town Hall. The cards have handwritten captions, and black and white photographs with white borders, which in some instances are very narrow. They are labelled on the back "Benn & Cronin Ltd., Southwick & London".
In addition to the real photographics, Ben & Cronin produced black and white collotype cards with captions printed in scarlet ink, which were labelled on the reverse "Bencro Series. B. & C. London". Although well produced, the cards do not appear to have been a runaway commercial success. The earliest were on sale by 1906, and subjects include Southwick Lock and Green, St Michaels Church at Southwick, a Hove shop front, the Hailsham shop of A. F. Smith, the interior of the Pavilion Creamery at Brighton and the "Winter Garden and Smoking Lounge" at the Marlborough Hotel at Brighton (the last four cards were doubtless specially commissioned). The cards seen carry numbers between 90 and 162, which suggests that a minimum of about 70 different cards were produced.
On behalf of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, Benn & Cronin published "The heart of Sussex", a guide to inland Sussex, which they illustrated with a selection of their own photographs, none of which are known as postcards. The guide was undated, but appears to have been issued just before the First World War.To directory of publishers
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