Charles Edward Bex


South Street at Worthing, looking from the old Town Hall to the sea

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Worthing Photographer. Bex was born in 1875 at St Leonards. His father, Edward Bex, moved to Worthing and set up a photographic studio at 20 New Street, which Charles, when he was old enough, helped to run. In addition to portrait work, the studio produced large numbers of picture postcards.

Charles married Bertha J. Walker in 1915, and is believed to have had several children. The 1919 Worthing Electoral Register lists him at his father's studio at 20 New Street, but notes that his home was in St Mathews Road. Bertha seems to be unlisted even though women had at last been granted the vote.

In 1919 or 1920, Bex's father, who had become increasingly infirm, decided to sell the New Street studio. Charles moved to Eland Villa at 150 Tarring Road in Worthing, where he began working on his own as a photographer and remained for the rest of his life. At some stage he remarried. His new wife, Alice Maud Bex, survived him when he died aged 65 at Eland Villa on February 13, 1941, leaving effects of £1127.

Charles published numerous real photographic cards of Worthing and the Downs during the 1920s and 30s. There may have been as many as 2000 if the numbers on the cards are any guide. The photographs are usually black and white, and have narrow white borders. Captions are handwritten in slightly uneven capitals. "Near" is characteristically abbreviated to "NR". Many of the cards are anonymous, but a few are marked "Bex", "Bex Photo" or "Bex Copyright" on the front or are stamped on the back "C. Bex, photographer, Worthing".

The cards include some fine views of Amberley (with numbers around 600), Storrington (numbers in the 780s and 790s), Chanctonbury and Cissbury Rings (numbers between 130 and 154), Findon and High Salvington (numbers ranging from around 1760 to about 1850), Highdown Hill (numbers from 1365 to 1480), Steyning (numbers around 830), Ditchling Beacon and Westmeston (numbers in the 360s, 370s and 380s), the Downs near Clayton (numbers around 240), Plumpton and Ditchling (numbers around 335 and from about 390 to 450). Some anonymous cards of Clapham (with numbers between 1508 and 1547) were probably also published by Bex.

Some cards seem to have been allocated numbers and captions rather haphazardly. For example, "1795 The Downs. Findon nr Worthing" is actually a view of Findon sheep fair! The same photograph was used for Card 1823, which is correctly labelled "Findon sheep fair"!

Postmark evidence suggests that the cards continued to be published until the Second World War.

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