Arthur George Colbourne


The Colbourne family shop in South Lancing (with cycle at the door)

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Confectioner, grocer and post office proprietor, South Lancing. Colbourne sold good quality collotype cards of Lancing from about 1905 onwards. Three basic types can be distinguished:

Particularly attractive are some collotypes whose blackish brown (tea coloured) pictures have varnished surfaces. The captions are printed in crisp white capitals, and the backs of the cards are printed in red. Clouds have been added to some of the pictures, and the cards are labelled on the back: "Published by A. G. Colbourne, Lancing". They were imported from Bavaria. Cards of identical design were marketed by Walter Bros. of Worthing.

Also varnished are some coloured collotypes with italicised captions printed in red and backs printed in blue-green. These cards like the blackish brown collotypes have added clouds, and the same label: "Published by A. G. Colbourne, Lancing". They were printed for Colbourne by F. C. Morgan & Co. Ltd. of east London, who had works in Saxony, although only a few cards carry the Morgan label. Walter Bros. sold cards of precisely the same design.

A third type of collotype card, printed in Bavaria, has matt-surfaced black and white pictures with captions printed in red. The backs, also printed in red, are labelled "A.G. Colbourne, Post Office, Lancing".

Many of the photographs reproduced on the cards were taken in winter or very early spring. The giant elms that used to be such a feature of the Lancing landscape stand gaunt against the sky. A bicycle, which can be seen in some pictures propped against a wall or hedge, and in one instance outside the door of Colbourne's shop, almost certainly belonged to the photographer, probably Colbourne himself.

Colbourne's cards are more varied and idiosyncratic than those normally sold by shopkeepers who were just agents or proxies for regional or national postcard publishers. The Colbourne photographer selected interesting viewpoints that would have been known to a local person, but might well have been missed by an outsider. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that Colbourne was a genuine publisher, either taking his own photographs or getting a close acquaintance to carry out the work for him. Colbourne then arranged (perhaps through an agent) for the cards to be printed by one or more specialist firms.

Colbourne was born in Lancing on January 17, 1876, the third son of John Colbourne and his wife Mary Jane Lintott. John was a baker, grocer and general provisions merchant with a shop at the corner of South Street and Penhill Road. Born in 1849 at Finchdene near Charlton in Hampshire (the son of George Colbourne, a gardener), he had married Mary Lintott on October 14, 1871 at Twineham Parish Church. Mary was the daughter of William Lintott, a bailiff at Twineham, but had been born in 1848 at Wardley, south of Liphook in the far west of Sussex. John was still living in Charlton at the time of his marriage, but soon afterwards he and Mary moved to Lancing, to a house (No. 182) at the south end of North Road, close to the Railway Hotel and the level crossing. Mary bore him 13 children, but two died in infancy, leaving 11 boys: William Frederick John Colbourne, born in about 1874; Walter Henry Colbourne, born in about 1873; Arthur George Colbourne, born in 1876; Charles Edward Colbourne, born in 1878 (he became a butcher in Lancing and in the 1930s established a chain of 25 butcher's shops in East and West Sussex); Herbert Patrick Colbourne, born in 1879 (he worked as a butcher in Uckfield); Bernard Barton Colbourne, born in 1881 who was killed at the Battle of the Somme; Percy James Colbourne, born in 1882; Robert Lintott Colbourne, born in 1883, Ernest Clifford Colbourne, born in 1885; Reginald T. Colbourne, born in about 1887 and Sydney Harold Colbourne, born in 1889.

On the night of November 19, 1890, John Colbourne was thrown from his cart at Findon and was found lying dead in the road. The cause of the accident was not discovered, but the weather was very cold and perhaps the road was icy. His widow, Mary, took over the running of his shop, assisted by some of her sons, including Arthur George.

On August 1, 1898 at Lancing Parish Church Arthur George married Caroline Eveline Marriott, daughter of Martha Anne and William John Marriott, teachers, who ran the National School in South Lancing. Caroline, who was also a teacher, presumably at the same school, had been born in 1876 in the Northampton area. By 1905 Arthur George had opened his own confectionery shop in South Lancing, which also functioned as a post office. Directories fail to give its address, but in fact it was only a few doors away from his parent's shop on the corner of South Street and Penhill Road. A postcard that he published shows the street corner and their shop, while just beyond, in South Street, is a drapery that belonged to his brother Walter H. Colbourne. On the far side of the drapery is another shop with billboards and a projecting post office sign, which must have been where Arthur George ran his confectionery business.

Arthur took over his parent's shop in about 1910, when his mother retired. She died at the age of 75 in December 1923. Arthur and his brother Walter were still in business in South Street in 1938. He died in 1961, aged 85.

For more information on the Colbourne family see David Simkin's website at and Valerie Martin's Findon website at A selection of Colbourne's cards is reproduced by West Sussex Past at

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