Herbert William Bowden


High Street, Ninfield (windmill in distance)

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Bootmaker, Ninfield. The 1925 Electoral Register records that Bowden was living in a house called "The Green" in Ninfield. There is no indication that he was married. By 1933 he had moved to another house in Ninfield, called "Seebourne", where he remained until 1939 or later.

Barry G. Symes in his book Olde Ninfield (Charles Skilton, 1986) reproduces an early Bowden photograph of the village viewed from the top of Ninfield (Asburnham) Windmill, which he suggests was taken in about 1920. Most of Bowden's cards, however, appear to date from the 1930s. Some of the earliest are black and white real photographics of Ninfield and its surroundings labelled "H.W. Bowden" or initialled "H.W.B.", sometimes with the three letters arranged to form a circular emblem or logo. The cards have white borders and handwritten captions, invariably in capitals. The lettering is quite distinctive with "N"s and "W"s being given upward extensions or flourishes on their right hand sides. A 1930 postmark has been seen, but 1934 and 1935 postmarks predominate. Hand coloured versions of some cards are known.

Later in the 1930s Bowden published a series of real photographic cards with sepia photographs, white borders, printed captions and the label "Bowden, Ninfield" or "H.W. Bowden". A 1938 postmark has been found. By about 1939 Shoesmith & Etheridge were printing these cards for Bowden under their Norman label, and they may well have printed some of the earlier cards for him anonymously. Publication of the cards ceased during the war, and did not resume when peace returned.

Bowden was born on February 18, 1901 at 20 Green Street in the Old Town in Eastbourne. His father, John Bowden, was a journeyman bricklayer, and his mother was Ann Harris Bowden, formerly Saunders. It is not known where he spent his childhood or why he came to settle in Ninfield. In 1966 the Registrar at Battle recorded the death of a Herbert W. Bowden, who was 65. Because of his age, the deceased is likely to have been the former Ninfield photographer.

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