Worthing Portrait Co.


Marine Parade, Worthing

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Photographers, 4 Railway Approach, Worthing. This firm was established in August 1898 under the management of Jennie Rewman, who was also its chief photographer (see Geoffrey Godden, Collecting picture postcards, 1996, Phillimore, Chichester). Jennie had been born in Berlin in about 1855, and is thought to have been the daughter of a German financial agent, Oscar Rewman (c. 1827-1895), who later became a naturalized British subject and settled in Lambeth, south London (see David Simkin's website at Jennie in the 1880s worked as an assistant to Edward Pattison Pett (1845-1896), who had a flourishing photographic studio at Bath Place, Worthing. In 1893 Walter and Annie Gardiner purchased the studio and ended Jennie's employment. It is unclear what she did for the next five years, but when the Worthing Portrait Co. was founded, perhaps by a group of local businessmen, she was appointed its manager, and soon styled herself "Principal". David Simkin has established that she was assisted by Florence Kate Stewart (born about 1854 in London), who had been proprietor of the Worthing lodging house where she had stayed when working for Pattison Pett.

Charles Tidy, a photographer from Lewisham, took over the management of the Worthing Portrait Co. from Jennie Rewman in 1908 or 1909, and remained in charge until just before the First World War, when he left to set up in business in Crawley (see He was succeeded by William Knowles (born 1879 in Brighton). By 1922 the Portrait Co. had become Nicholls & Page, and in about 1926 it was taken over by Ernest W. Burton.

Although the Worthing Portrait Co. was concerned mainly with the studio portraiture of local residents and groups of entertainers, it also (as noted by Godden) photographed local events selling prints to both newspapers and the general public. It began publishing real photographic postcards of Worthing and district in about 1905 and continued until at least 1915, perhaps 1917. The cards are generally of very high quality and show some of the principal streets in Worthing (for example: Marine Parade, St Matthew's Road and Becket Road), churches in both Worthing and neighbouring villages (such as Yapton and Sompting), and local events. The photographs are an unusually attractive light sepia colour and usually have white borders. The captions are neatly handwritten in italic script in the border beneath each photograph, and on the back is the firm's name and address. A few cards are impressed (blind stamped) "Worthing Portrait Co.".

In addition to the real photographic cards, black and white collotypes of Worthing also exist labelled "Photo - Worthing Portrait Co.", which were made in Germany, presumably on the instructions of the Worthing Portrait Co. Some have captions printed in red, but others have black captions.

As Antony Edmunds proves in Picture Postcard Monthly, (August 2013), the Worthing Portrait Company often allowed rival postcard publishers to reproduce its photographs on their own series of cards, no doubt for a small fee. Firms using photographs that originated with the Worthing Portrait Company included the locally based Ramsden Bros. and the London publisher of the popular Victoria Series.

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