Collings A Esme  - Brighton

     

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait from the studio of A. Esme Collings of 69 Western Road, Brighton and 69 New Bond Street, London (c1890).

Arthur Albert Collings* was born towards the end of 1859 at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset [birth registered in the Axbridge district of Somerset during the Fourth Quarter of 1859]. Arthur Albert Collings was the youngest son of James Collings (born c1816, Weston-super-Mare), a successful bootmaker, and his wife Elizabeth Harvey (born c1818, Gloucestershire). Arthur Albert Collings had at least 5 siblings - Henry (born c1843), Charles (born 1847), James W. (born 1851), Caroline Elizabeth (born 1853), and William Edward Collings (born 1856). One of James Collings' sons, James White Collings (born 1851, Weston-super-Mare), became a master printer, but Arthur Albert Collings and his brother, William Edward Collings (born 1856, Weston-super-Mare), followed their father's trade of bootmaking.

At the time of the 1881 census, Arthur Collings and his older brother William Edward Collingswere living with their parents at 59 Bristol Road, Weston-super-Mare. Their sixty-five year old father, James Collings, is entered on the census return as a "Bootmaker, employing 10 persons". Arthur Collings, aged 21, and his twenty-four year old brother, William, are both described on the census return as bootmakers. James White Collings, Arthur's eldest brother had left Weston-super-Mare and was working in London as a master printer. In 1880, James W. Collings had married Mary Ann Roberts (born c1853, Camberwell) and was living in Camberwell in South London.

In 1887, Arthur Albert Collings married Keturah Anne Beedle (born 1862, Weston-super-Mare), the daughter of William Henry Beedle (born c1831, Bristol), an upholsterer and house furnisher, and his wife Eliza Williams (born c1833, Wales). Both Arthur and his wife Keturah had artistic talent and it is possible that they were brought together through their interest in art. It is very probable that at the time of their marriage, Arthur and his wife were working as artists or photographers. Around the time of his marriage to Keturah Beedle, Arthur Collings entered into a business partnership with the photographer William Friese Greene (1855-1921), who had previously operated studios in Bristol and Bath and was later to gain some notice as a pioneer in making "moving pictures".

 
* Arthur Collings adopted the middle name of Esme around the time he started his solo career as a professional photographer. Arthur Collings' business partner, William Friese Greene, began life with the equally ordinary name of William Green, but he added an 'e' on to the end of his surname and then combined it with the surname of his first wife, Victoria Mariana Helena Friese.

 

[ABOVE] The trade plate of A. Esme Collings of 69 Western Road, Brighton and 69 New Bond Street, London, taken from the reverse of a cabinet portrait (1890).

[ABOVE] William Friese Greene (1855-1921).

The partnership of Arthur Esme Collings and William Friese Greene

[ABOVE] William Friese Greene (1855-1921). As a professional photographer, Friese Greene established portrait studios in Bath, Bristol and Plymouth. By 1886, Friese Greene had acquired two studios in London. Around 1887, Arthur Esme Collings became a partner in Friese Greene's London studios. The partnership of Friese Greene and Collings operated studios in London at 69 New Bond Street, 92 Piccadilly and 100 Westbourne Grove.

 

William Friese Greene was born in Bristol on 7th September 1855 . He was the son of a metalworker and at birth he had been given the plain name of William Edward Green. After he married Victoria Mariana Helena Friese, the daughter of a Swiss baron, in 1874, the young photographer used the grander sounding surname of Friese Greene.

William Friese Greene began his photographic career in 1869 when he was apprenticed to the Polish-born Bristol photographer Marcus Guttenberg * (c1830-1891). After Guttenberg moved north to Lancashire in 1874, Friese-Greene worked as a photographer's assistant to Mrs H. R. Williams of Bath. By 1877, William Friese Greene had opened his own photographic studio at 34 Gay Street, Bath. Over the next four years, William Friese Greene opened branch studios in Bath, Bristol and Plymouth.

In 1885, William Friese Greene decided to establish branch studios in London and so he travelled up to the capital to find suitable premises in the West End. William Friese Greene found two serviceable rooms above the shop of Atloff & Norman, Bootmakers, at 69 New Bond Street, W. London. A second London studio was established at 92 Piccadilly, W. London. Friese Greene's finances were stretched and he struggled to find money to pay the high rents for the London studios. Around 1887, he invited Arthur Collings to join him in his photography business. Arthur Collings entered into a working partnership with Friese Greene and with the financial backing of his older brother James White Collings, Arthur agreed to share the cost of running the two London studios.  [ James White Collings, following the example of his two studio partners, changed his middle name from 'White' to the more distinctive 'Whyte', when he entered the photography business]. From this date, the studios at 69 New Bond Street and 92 Piccadilly carried the name of Friese Greene & Collings. [The three partners in the firm were William Friese Greene, Arthur Collings, and Arthur's brother, who was now calling himself James Whyte Collings. ]The business partnership of Friese Greene & Collings opened a third studio in the Notting Hill area of London at 100 Westbourne Grove. By 1888, Friese Greene & Collings had established a branch studio on the South Coast at 69 Western Road, Hove, close to the boundary with Brighton.

 

 

 

[ABOVE] The reverse of a carte-de-visite produced at William Friese-Greene's New Bond Street studio in London around 1886. A year later Arthur Esme Collings entered into a business partnership with Friese Greene at 69 New Bond Street. Friese Greene and Collings also operated studios at 92 Piccadilly and 100 Westbourne Grove.

 The London studio of Friese Greene & Collings

[ABOVE] A fashionable lady views two cabinet photographs ( from a cartoon published in the mid 1880s ). Between 1886 and 1888 Winifred Tagg served as a receptionist for the photographers Arthur Collings and William Friese Greene and later provided an eye-witness account of their business relationship.

 

Studios of Friese Greene & Collings

69 New Bond Street, London, W. (1887-1888)

92 Piccadilly, London, W. (1887-1888)

100 Westbourne Grove, London, W. (1887-1888)

69 Western Road, Hove (1888)

The business partnership between Arthur Collings and William Friese Greene was observed by Winifred Tagg (born 1871, Hornsey, London), who worked for the photographers at 69 New Bond Street between 1886 and 1888. Winifred Tagg began working as a receptionist and assistant at the New Bond Street studio in 1886 when she was 15 years of age. The daughter of Charlotte and Robert Tagg, a London silversmith, Winifred earned 15 shillings a week at the Friese Greene & Collings studio. Winifred Tagg's memories of the studio and her two employers were recorded in 1948 by William Friese Greene's biographer, Ray Allister (Muriel Forth) :

"Miss Tagg went to the post with enthusiasm. She liked her employers. Real gentlemen. Always smartly dressed. Friese-Green always smiling. Collins (sic) a little more distant, but always kind.

She was surprised that such nice gentlemen should put up with such cramped, shabby accommodation. The narrow stairs were dark, except for the gleam of the brass treads kept bright by the charwoman. The studio itself was carpeted with oil cloth which had large, ugly, ragged gaps in it that nobody seemed to think it necessary to have filled. The dressing room was narrow, cold, dark, and furnished only with a deplorable horse-hair sofa and a paint-shy, second hand dressing table. Such a mean setting was incredible, considering the people who came to be photographed. Titled people. Society ladies .... 'ladies from Queen Victoria's drawing-room' in their Court dresses and feathers and veils."

'Friese-Greene: Close-up of an Inventor' by Ray Allister (Muriel Forth). Marsland Publications, 1948. pp 34-35

 

 

 

 

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait by William Friese Greene (c1880)

Arthur Esme Collings ends his partnership with Friese Greene

[ABOVE] A photographic studio employing electric light in the 1880s. A. Esme Collings fell out with his business partner William Friese Greene over the cost of supplying electricity to their Piccadilly studio

The former Studios of Friese Greene & Collings after 1888

69 New Bond Street, London W. to  James W. & Arthur Esme Collings (from 1888)
  to  Arthur  Esme Collings (from 1890)
92 Piccadilly, London, W.      to  William Friese Greene (from 1888)
100 Westbourne Grove, London, W.  to  William Friese Greene (from 1888)
69 Western Road, Hove (1887)  to  Arthur Esme Collings (from 1888)
34 Gay Street, Bath to Frederick William Simpson (from 1890)
7 The Corridor, Bath to John Dugdale & Co. (from 1889)

               

[ABOVE] How the three partners in Friese Greene & Collings ( William Friese Greene, Arthur Esme Collings and James Whyte Collings) divided the studios between them after the business partnership was dissolved in May 1888.

Winifred Tagg, the young receptionist at the New Bond Street studio, also witnessed the deteriorating business relationship between the partners and the increasing personal friction between Arthur Collings and William Friese Greene. According to Winifred Tagg, Collings was irritated by Friese Greene's slapdash business methods, irregular working hours and poor time-keeping. Apparently, Friese Greene would leave the studio early on Friday afternoon and would not return until Monday lunchtime and Collings clearly resented these long weekend absences. Winifred remembered that even during the week, Friese Greene would leave the studio and "disappear for hours on end" and when he eventually returned to the studio, he would be confronted by an exasperated Collings, who would deliver "a sharp comment on something left undone, an appointment forgotten". Miss Tagg observed that as time went on, the quarrels between the two partners became more and more frequent.

Financial problems were also placing a strain on the partners' business relationship. Around 1888, William Friese Greene arranged for electricity to be supplied to the branch establishment at 92 Piccadilly, so that photographic portraits could be taken by electric light in an underground studio. Friese Greene contracted the London Electric Light Company to supply a specially strong current of 4,000 candle power at the Piccadilly studio. When Friese Greene refused to pay the electricity bill, the London Electric Light Company threatened to sue the firm of Friese Greene & Collings. William Friese Greene responded by making a counter-claim against the London Electric Light Company. Friese Green argued that the electric supply had had not been satisfactory and, as a result, the studio had suffered a loss of business. The weekly receipts at the Piccadilly studio had fallen from 80 pounds sterling a week to about 20. Ray Allister (Muriel Forth), William Friese Greene's biographer, believed that the threatened legal battle with the electric light company and the perceived financial mismanagement by Friese Greene caused Arthur Collings to quit the partnership :

"Esme Collin(g)s apparently thought there was another explanation for the reduced takings, blamed Friese-Greene, quarrelled so violently that the partnership split up"  ('Friese-Greene: Close-up of an Inventor', page 61.)

After the partnership of Friese Greene & Collings was dissolved in May 1888, the firm's studios were divided between the two photographers. Arthur Albert Collings (who by this date had assumed the artistic sounding name of A. Esme Collings) and with the financial support of his older brother, James Whyte Collings, he took over the running of the studio at 69 New Bond Street. James White (Whyte) Collings, who was still in the printing trade, seems to have been a sleeping partner in the photography firm of J. W. & A. E. Collins. In the 1890 Post Office Directory for London, the studio at 69 New Bond Street appears under the name of Whyte Collings Ltd, which is probably a condensed form of James Whyte Collings & A. Esme Collings Ltd. Arthur's brother, James Whyte Collings **, established his own London studio at 404 Oxford Street around 1889. Subsequently, James Whyte Collings opened a second studio at 53 High Street, Kensington. In 1890, James Whyte Collings sold his Kensington studio to the London photographer Mark Vivian (born c1850, Hackney). By this date, James White (Whyte) Collings had given up his interest in photography and was concentrating on his printing business. James Collings allowed his younger brother Arthur to take control of the London studio at 69 Bond Street. By the end of 1890, the studio at 69 New Bond Street and the branch studio at 69 Western Road, Hove were both under the ownership of Arthur Esme Collings Limited.

 **James White Collings (also known as James Whyte Collings) was born in 1851 at Weston-Super-Mare. He established his own printing business in London and in 1880 he married Mary Ann Roberts (born c1852 Camberwell). Around 1887, James Collings joined his younger brother, Arthur Esme Collings, in his portrait photography business. By 1891, James White Collings had returned to his printing business and in the 1901 census he is recorded in Battersea as a "Printer", aged 50. James White Collings died at the age of 59 in the Wandsworth district of London in 1910.
 

[ABOVE] The photographic studios run by the firm of Friese Greene & Collings as detailed on the reverse of a cabinet portrait (c1887). The partners in the firm of Friese Greene & Collings are given as William Friese Greene (1855-1921), James Whyte Collings (1851-1910) and Arthur Albert Collings (1859-1936). When the partnership was dissolved in May 1888, the studios were distributed to the three former partners. The studio at 69 New Bond Street, London, went to the Collings brothers who traded under the name of Whyte- Collings Ltd. (see below) and the studio at 92 Piccadilly, London, was retained by William Friese Greene.

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of Miss Evelyn J. Propert taken at the London studio of Friese Greene & Collings of  69 New Bond Street and 92 Piccadilly, London (c1887). Evelyn Jessica Propert (born c1869, London) was the daughter of Mary Jessica Hughes (born c1836, Worcestershire) and Dr John Lumsden Propert (1834-1902), a physician, art critic and amateur artist. Evelyn's brother Walter Archibald Propert (born 1867, Marylebone, London) was a physician and an authority on the Russian ballet. Evelyn Jessica Propert married Francis Algernon Govett (born 1858, Egham, Surrey), a wealthy stockbroker, in 1896.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of  Whyte-Collings Ltd. of  69 New Bond Street, London, taken from the reverse of a cabinet portrait (c1889). The firm of Whyte- Collings Ltd. was created after the dissolution of the photographic firm of Friese Greene & Collings in May 1888.  The studio at 69 New Bond Street, London, was owned by James Whyte Collings (1851-1910) and his younger brother Arthur Albert Collings (1859-1936).

([ABOVE] A cabinet portrait from the studio of Whyte-Collings Ltd. of  69 New Bond Street, London (c1889).The subject is possibly a sister of Evelyn Jessica Propert (born c1869, London) pictured above. Evelyn Propert's sisters were Isabel Rose Propert (born 1865, London) and Helen Dawes Propert (born 1870, London), daughters of Mary Hughes and John Lumsden Propert (1834-1902), a physician, art critic and amateur artist.

 
Arthur Esme Collings in Brighton & Hove

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait from the studio of A. Esme Collings of 69 Western Road, Brighton and 69 New Bond Street, London (1890).

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a girl taken by A. Esme Collings at his "West Brighton" studio at 120 Western Road, Hove. Inscribed on the reverse of the photograph are the words "from Dorothy for Sibil, 1897"

[ABOVE] The trade plate of  Esme Collings of 120 Western Road, Hove. (c1910)

After the break up of his partnership with William Friese Greene in 1888, Arthur Esme Collings moved down to Brighton, Sussex, to take personal charge of the studio at 69 Western Road, Hove. At the time of the 1891 census, Arthur and Keturah Collings were residing at 59 Dyke Road, Brighton. Arthur A. Collings is recorded in the census return as an "Artist Photographer" aged 31. No occupation is given for his twenty-nine year old wife, but presumably Keturah assisted her husband in his photographic studio in Western Road. At the end of 1892, Keturah gave birth to a son named Arthur Cyril Esme Collings [birth registered in Brighton during the Fourth Quarter of 1892]. Sometime before 1899, Arthur Collings and his family moved to 13 Alexandra Villas, Albert Road, in the West Hill area of Brighton.

Arthur Esme Collings ran the studio at 69 Western Road, Hove from around 1888 to 1893. About 1893, Arthur Esme Collings transferred his studio to 120 Western Road, Hove. The name of A. Esme Collings was attached to the photographic studio in Western Road, Hove, from about 1890 to 1915. On the 1901 census return, Collings gives his real name of Arthur Albert Collings and the enumerator describes him as a "Photographer ( Employer )" aged 41. The Hove based photographer is shown living at 13 Alexandra Villas, Albert Road, Brighton with his wife Keturah Ann Collings, aged 39, and their eight year old son Arthur Cyril Esme Collings.

 

[ABOVE] A cabinet portrait of an unknown woman, photographed by A. Esme Collings at his "West Brighton" studio at 120 Western Road, Hove (c1895). The mount is printed with the words "A Study by Mr A. Esmée Collings, West Brighton."

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Around 1902, Arthur Esme Collings took over a second studio at 89 Kings Road, Brighton, but this branch studio operated for only a couple of years. For a brief period around 1905, Esme Collings was also in business at 143 Ditchling Road, Brighton, but by 1906 this studio had also closed. Collings was personally in charge of the studio at 120 Western Road, Hove until the Spring of 1906. On 24th May 1906, the studio in Western Road, Hove was brought under the control of the firm Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd.  

From around 1898, Arthur Esme Collings was focussing on his talents as a miniature painter (see below) and so for much of the time he left the portrait photography side of his business to his partners and associates. By 1906, Arthur Esme Collings was not actively involved in taking portraits at the Western Road studio. There is some evidence that Arthur Esme Collings had moved back to London before 1905. In the Summer of 1905, a former army officer named Richard Berwick Hope was describing himself as the Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited [See section on Richard Berwick Hope below]. By this time, Arthur Esme Collings' wife, Keturah Collings, had opened her studio at 16 North Audley Street, London. When the 1911 census was taken, Arthur Esme Collings and his wife Keturah Collings were residing at 25 Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, Brentford, Middlesex. On the census return, Arthur Collings is described as a a "Photographer", aged 51. No occupation is given for Arthur Esme Collings' forty-nine year old wife, although there is plenty of visual evidence to show that Keturah Collings was working professionally as a photographer during this period (see the section on "Keturah Collings - Artist and Photographer", below). On 13th April 1908, Richard Berwick Hope, the owner of Esme Collings Limited, filed for bankruptcy.

In July 1910, Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd was registered as a limited company. The studio still traded under the name of "Esme Collings", but the firm of Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd now consisted of three business partners - Albert Winder Grant (born 1869, Co. Tyrone, Ireland), a stock broker, and two professional photographers, Hal (Henry) Lawrence (born 1873, Nottingham) and William Leonard Staines (born 1881, London). The London branch of Esme Collings Ltd  was dissolved in June 1913, but the company's studio in Hove carried on until at least 1915.

The studio at 120 Western Road, Hove carried the name of Esme Collings Ltd until the beginning of the First World War. The studio is listed in Kelly's Sussex Directory of 1915, but it had closed down by 1918.

It is recorded that Arthur Albert Esme Collings died in Eastbourne in 1936, at the age of 76.

   

[ABOVE] The trade plate of A. Esme Collings of  175 New Bond Street, London and 120 Western Road, West Brighton, taken from the reverse of a cabinet portrait (c1894). [ABOVE] The trade plate of A. Esme Collings of  120 Western Road, West Brighton, taken from the reverse of a cabinet portrait (c1895).
 

[ABOVE] A large format portrait of Mrs Ellen Darby (formerly Miss Ellen Kerrison) produced at the studio of Esme Collings Ltd at 120 Western Road, Hove (c1912). Ellen Amanda Rachel Kerrison, the subject of the photograph, was born in Harwich, Essex, in 1876, the daughter of Emma and Joseph Kerrison, a "master mariner" (sea captain) from Norfolk. In August 1905,  Ellen ("Nell") Kerrison married Charles Darby (born 1874, Essex), the son of Rev. Edward George Darby, the Vicar of Billericay. After their marriage, Ellen and her husband Charles left England for Malaya, where Charles Darby became a rubber planter. After her husband's death in Malaya in 1931/1932, Mrs Ellen Darby returned to England and settled in Heathfield, Sussex, where she died in 1960.

[ABOVE] A hand-tinted portrait of  an unknown woman by Esme Collings of Hove (c1912). By this date, Arthur Esme Collings was no longer actively involved in the studio that carried his name. In 1910, the firm of Esme Collings Ltd was registered as a listed company and was controlled by three partners Albert Winder Grant ,(born 1869, Co. Tyrone, Ireland),  Hal (Henry) Lawrence (born 1873, Nottingham) and William Leonard Staines (born 1881, London).  The studio continued to trade under the name of "Esme Collings" until the the First World War. ( Esme Collings Ltd of 120 Western Road, Hove, is listed in Kelly's 1915 Directory of Sussex 1915, but it had closed  by 1918.).

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Diana Mothersole]

 
   

Richard Berwick Hope, Esme Collings Ltd. and The Cosway Galleries

[ABOVE] A portrait of a young society woman produced by Esme Collings Ltd. The portrait, which appears to be hand-tinted platinotype print, probably dates from around 1905.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Steve Elliott

 

[ABOVE] A portrait of a young society woman produced by Esme Collings Ltd. The portrait, which appears to be hand-tinted platinotype print, probably dates from around 1905.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Steve Elliott

 

Richard Berwick Hope and Esme Collings Limited

Richard Berwick Hope was born in Coombe, near Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, on 25th October 1874, the son of Adela Henrietta Curtis and Archibald Godfrey Hope, a manufacturer of gunpowder. Richard’s father, Archibald Godfrey Hope (1848-1881) had been born in Madras, India, on 7th January 1848, the son of a high-ranking Indian Army officer, General Archibald Hugh Hope (1820-1890).

In 1871, Archibald Godfrey Hope had married Adela Henrietta Curtis, the daughter of Henrietta and Charles William Curtis, a wealthy man who owned a gunpowder factory. It appears that Archibald Godfrey Hope was brought into his father-in-law’s business, because, at the time of the 1881 census, he was described as a “Gunpowder Manufacturer & Merchant”.

Richard Berwick Hope was the third eldest child of six children born to Adela and Archibald Hope. [Richard’s siblings were Graham Archibald Hope (born 1872), Lucius Charles Hope (born 1873), Edith Adela Hope (born 1876), Douglas Edmund Hope (born 1877) and Adrian Lewis Hope (born 1878)]. In 1881, when Richard Berwick Hope was 6 years of age, his father, Archibald Godfrey Hope, died at the relatively young age of 33. Richard was brought up by his widowed mother until she married a surgeon named Percival Kingsford in 1889.

Richard Berwick Hope attended Repton School and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst with the intention of pursuing a military career like his grandfather, who had risen to the rank of General in the Madras Cavalry. After becoming a Lieutenant in the Royal West Kent Regiment, Richard Berwick Hope served in India, taking part in military action on the North West Frontier in 1897.

On 29th April 1899, Richard Berwick Hope married Frances Catherine Lane (born 1876, Colwick Hall, Nottinghamshire), the daughter of Captain Richard Douglas Hay Lane, a former officer in the 17th Regiment of Lancers. A baby boy, Richard Charles Adrian Hope, was born to the couple on 1st August 1900, but, sadly, he died soon afterwards. A second child, Betty Genette Hope, arrived on 1st September 1902. Betty Hope (unlike the unfortunate Richard Hope junior) survived infancy and reached adulthood, eventually marrying Reverend Philip Brandon Mercier in February 1941, when she was 38 years of age.

It appears that Richard Berwick Hope was not in England, when the census was carried out on 31st March 1901. Mrs Frances Hope, Richard’s pregnant wife was residing in Sunbury, Middlesex, with Richard’s twenty-five year old sister Edith Adela Hope. [Richard Berwick Hope was presumably serving abroad in the military when the 1901 census was taken].

It seems that Richard Berwick Hope left the British Army around 1901 to start a new career as a society photographer. Arthur Albert Esme Collings (born1859, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset), a noted photographer, miniature painter and early film maker, had taken control of a photographic portrait studio in London at 69 New Bond Street around 1890. Since 1888, Arthur Esme Collings had been based in the Sussex district of Brighton & Hove, residing in Brighton and operating a photographic portrait studio in Western Road, Hove. Around 1894, Arthur Esme Collings closed his branch studio at 69 New Bond Street, London, and established a new photographic portrait studio at 175 New Bond Street, London. The proprietor of the London studio, Arthur Esme Collings, remained in Brighton with his wife and young son. Arthur Esme Collings was personally in charge of a portrait studio at 120 Western Road, Hove, so presumably he employed a manager to supervise his recently opened studio at 175 New Bond Street, London.

In November 1901, Arthur Esme Collings and others formed the firm of Esme Collings (Hove) Limited. Over the next few years, Esme Collings Limited took control of studios in Liverpool and Manchester, in addition to Arthur Esme Collings’ original studios in London and Hove. When Esme Collings (Hove) Limited was established in November 1901, Richard Berwick Hope took up the position of Managing Director.

By 1903, Richard Berwick Hope was in overall charge of six portrait studios, operating under the banner of Esme Collings Limited. There were two studios in London – one at 175 New Bond Street and the other at 52 New Bond Street – two establishments in Liverpool at 43 Rodney Street and 65 Bold Street and another studio in the North-West of England at 22a King Street, Manchester. The firm of Esme Collings Ltd also retained control of Arthur Esme Collings’ former studio at 120 Western Road, Hove. For a brief period, Esme Collings Ltd also owned a third London studio at 52 New Bond Street.

Richard Berwick Hope was the Managing Director of Esme Collings Ltd between 1901 and 1907. For his photographic activities, Richard Berwick Hope had adopted the name of "Cosway", probably as a tribute to the famous miniature painter Richard Cosway (1740-1821).

The firm of Esme Collings Ltd specialised in the production of miniatures and Richard Berwick Hope's several studios in London, Brighton (Hove), Liverpool and Manchester went under the name of the Cosway Galleries.

When Richard Berwick Hope gave evidence in the trial of Mrs Margaret Pebble*, an audacious confidence trickster, at the Old Bailey in February 1906, he revealed details about his involvement in the firm of Esme Collings Limited and the commercial activities of The Cosway Galleries. Margaret Trew Prebble was accused of unlawfully obtaining from Esme Collings Limited a number of photographic portraits and hand-painted miniatures by false pretences, with intent to defraud. In his testimony, Richard Berwick Hope, the Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited and the proprietor of the Cosway Gallery, described events which took place in the Summer of 1905:

RICHARD BERWICK HOPE ( Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited, of 171 New Bond Street)

"She (Margaret Prebble) came the following day and sat for her own photograph. On July 1st, after I had sent proofs of her photograph, she came again. She ordered from her proofs her own miniature, four dozen whole plate photographs, two Cosway pictures, coloured, two Hogarth frames, and a gilt rim to be fitted to Lord Anglesey's miniature - the value of her own miniature was twenty guineas, and the Anglesey pictures were to be twenty-five guineas, the rim was to be two guineas, the four dozen photographs sixteen guineas, and the Cosway pictures £3 17s. 6d. — I call myself Cosway, and my establishment the Cosway Gallery. She sat several times for her miniature; it had to be reduced. ......She gave the various addresses in the letters produced—we sent the goods she ordered, and the amount of our account comes to £77. 7s. 6d.— it is made out to Lady Muriel Paget..... We were never paid."
Extracts from the testimony of Richard Berwick Hope, Managing Director of Esme Collings Ltd, given at the Old Bailey on 5th February 1906.

Between 1905 and 1906, Richard Berwick Hope contracted his photographic business by closing his studios in Liverpool and Manchester and one of his London studios. By February 1906, Richard Berwick Hope was operating a single studio at 171 New Bond Street, London, under the name of Esme Collings Limited. [ It appears that Richard Berwick Hope had interests outside of photographic portraiture. In May 1906, Richard Berwick Hope filed a patent as the inventor of a "Blouse and Skirt Support" ].

Richard Berwick Hope and his wife Frances divorced in 1907 after 8 years of marriage. During the 3rd Quarter of 1907, Richard Berwick Hope married for a second time. His new bride was Mary Frances West (born 1885, London), the daughter of Stephen West. During the 2nd Quarter of 1908, Richard Berwick Hope's wife gave birth to a son named David Archibald Hope.

In April 1907, the firm of Esme Collings Limited was wound up. [See the Notice of Liquidation dated 9th April 1907]. It appears that Richard Berwick Hope the former Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited, continued to operate the photographic  portrait studio at 171 New Bond Street, London, under the trade name of "Richard Cosway". A directory of "Prominent London Professional and Business Houses" in Webster's Royal Red Book or Court and Fashionable Register for 1908 lists Richard Cosway (the pseudonym of of Richard Berwick Hope) as a photographer and portrait painter at 171 New Bond Street, London.

[ABOVE] Richard Berwick Hope (1874-1952), the Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited and the owner of the Cosway Galleries, photographed around 1898 when he was an officer in the Royal West Kent Regiment.

PHOTO SOURCE: Stuart Hallifax and his website A Forlorn Hope

 

Esme Collings Ltd

London Studios

175 New Bond Street, W.

  52 New Bond Street, W.

Brighton

120 Western Road, Hove

Liverpool

43 Rodney Street
  65 Bold Street

Manchester

22a King Street
[ABOVE] Details of the branch studios of Esme Collings Ltd. as printed on the reverse of a photographic mount produced around 1905. By 1906, the studio branches in Liverpool and Manchester had closed.

[ABOVE] Detail of a portrait of a young society woman produced by Esme Collings Ltd. (c1905) Underneath the portrait is the credit "Esme Collings" and "Cosway Galleries" [see below].

PHOTO: Courtesy of Steve Elliott

[ABOVE] The trade names of "Esme Collings" and "Cosway Galleries" which appeared below the portraits produced by Esme Collings Ltd. around 1905. Richard Berwick Hope, the proprietor and managing director of Esme Collings Ltd. specialised in the production of portrait miniatures based on photographic portraits. A pair of platinotype photographic prints, which were coloured by hand, were known as "Cosway pictures" and retailed at £3 17s 6d.

[ABOVE] Richard Berwick Hope, the Managing Director of Esme Collings Limited and the owner of the Cosway Gallery, Listed as a bankrupt in The Edinburgh Gazette, published on 21st April 1908.

On 13th April 1908, Richard Berwick Hope, described as a "Photographer", lately carrying on business at 171 New Bond Street, London, filed a Petition of Bankruptcy at the High Court of Justice. When he filed for bankruptcy, Richard Berwick Hope was residing at 154 Portsdown Road, Paddington, London. According to the Bankruptcy Notice, Richard Berwick Hope had previously lived at 11 Iddesleigh Mansions, Victoria Street, Westminster.

While the London branch of Esme Collings Limited was being wound up and Richard Berwick Hope was re-launching the portrait studio at 171 New Bond Street, London under the name of "Richard Cosway", three business partners - Albert Winder Grant (born 1869, Co. Tyrone, Ireland), a stock broker, and two professional photographers, Hal (Henry) Lawrence (born 1873, Nottingham) and William Leonard Staines (born 1881, London) - joined forces to take  over Arthur Esme Collings' studio in Hove, forming the firm of Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd. The firm of Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd was registered as a Limited Company in July 1910, but was dissolved 18 months later in January 1912.

When the 1911 census was taken, Richard Berwick Hope was recorded with his wife Mary and their young son at 135 Sloane Street, Chelsea, London, SW. On the census return, Richard B. Hope, then aged 36, gives his occupation as "Army Officer Retired".

At the outbreak of the First World War, Richard Berwick Hope, an experienced soldier, enlisted in the 3rd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment with the rank of Lieutenant. By November 1914, Richard Berwick Hope had become a Captain. Captain Hope was mentioned in despatches and rose to the rank of Major in the East Surrey Regiment.

On 15th May 1917, Richard Berwick Hope's wife Mary gave birth to twins - Alexander Erskine Hope and Archibald Paul Hope. [ Alexander Hope followed a military career, attending the Royal Military College at Sandurst and joining the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment as a 2nd Lieutenant in January 1937. Lieutenant Alexander Erskine Hope was killed in action early in October 1944 while fighting German forces in the Netherlands].

After the First World War, despite the failure of his photographic portraiture business in London, Richard Berwick Hope established a new firm of "Photographic Artists and Miniature Portrait Painters" in the seaside resort of Bournemouth. In partnership with Dorothy Maude Powell-Jones, Richard Berwick Hope set up a portrait studio at Belfast House, Gervis Place, Bournemouth under the name of "Dochard". The partnership between Richard Berwick Hope and Dorothy Powell-Jones was dissolved on 10th May 1921. Richard Berwick Hope continued to work as a photographer and portrait painter in Bournemouth under the name of "Dochard" for a year or so.

Richard Berwick Hope died in Poole, Dorset, on 13th September 1952 at the age of 77.

*Mrs Margaret Trew Pebble was born Maggie McKillen in Liverpool on 1st December 1873, the daughter of an Irish-born joiner and shop-fitter. Leaving home at the age of 20, Margaret McKillen trained as a nurse. In 1896, assuming the name of "Nina Margaret Stolterfoht", Margaret married a Russian-born medical student named Earnest (Ernest) Alfred Prebble. After her marriage, Margaret posed as "Princess Soltykoft", the widow of a Russian nobleman named Prince Alexis Soltykoff. In 1902, Mrs Prebble was found guilty of "obtaining money by falsely representing herself to be the Princess Soltykoff" and sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. On her release from prison, Margaret Prebble returned to her nursing career. While employed as a nurse at Winwick Hall Mental Asylum, Margaret Prebble took on the role of "Lady Muriel Paget", claiming to be a wealthy aristocratic lady who possessed a large country house and the resources to own motor-cars and employ a private secretary, a governess and a lady's maid. Posing as "Lady Muriel Paget", Mrs Prebble swindled large West End stores by ordering expensive "cloaks, dresses, gowns, and various other costly articles on false pretences". In the Summer of 1905, in the guise of "Lady Muriel Paget", Mrs Prebble acquired from Esme Collings Limited of New Bond Street, London, a copy of a hand-painted miniature of the Marquis of Anglesey, several expensive photographs, a portrait miniature of herself and other items with the total value of 77 guineas. Found guilty of  "unlawfully obtaining  two miniatures and other articles by false pretences, with intent to defraud" at the Old Bailey in February 1906, Margaret Prebble was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour.

[ABOVE] Notice of the Liquidation of Esme Collings Limited as published in The London Gazette of 12th April 1907.

[ABOVE] Richard Berwick Hope listed as a Photographer & Portrait Painter at 171 New Bond Street, London, under his pseudonym of "Richard Cosway", as printed in Webster's Royal Red Book or Court and Fashionable Register for 1908. This list of Photographers appeared in Webster's directory of "Prominent London Professional and Business Houses". Printed above the entry for Richard Cosway (Richard Berwick Hope) is the listing for the artist and photographer Keturah Collings, the wife of Arthur Esme Collings.

[ABOVE] The Voluntary Liquidation of  Esme Collings (Hove) Limited as reported in The London Gazette of 30th January 1912. With the financial backing of a stock broker named Albert Winder Grant, two photographers, Hal Lawrence and William Staines had established the firm of Esme Collings (Hove) Ltd in July 1910.

[ABOVE] A notice in The London Gazette dated 9th September 1921, detailing the dissolution of the business partnership between Richard Berwick Hope and Dorothy Powell-Jones, who had previously worked together as "Photographic Artists and Miniature Portrait Painters" under the studio name of "Dochard".

 

[ABOVE & RIGHT] Two portraits of a mother and her two daughters photographed at the Esme Collings studio at 120 Western Road, Hove (c1908). By this date, the studio at 120 Western Road was owned by a Limited Company and Arthur Esme Collings was not actively involved in the day-to-day business carried out at the Hove studio.

Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

   

Arthur Esme Collings Limited in London, Liverpool and Manchester

Arthur Esme Collings owned a number of photographic studios in London between 1888 and 1901. Esme Collings had taken over complete control of the studio at 69 New Bond Street around 1890. Arthur Collings had moved the London branch studio from No 69 to 175 New Bond Street around 1894. Various studios in London's New Bond Street carried the name of Esme Collings between 1901 and1907, but it appears that these studios were under the control of a Limited Company, headed by Richard Berwick Hope (1874-1952). The firm of Esme Collings Limited continued at 175 New Bond Street until 1904. In 1903, two studios in London were listed under the firm's name of Esme Collings Limited - 175 New Bond Street and 52 New Bond Street. Between 1901 and 1902, an additional studio was located at 5 Golden Square, near Regent Street. By 1905, Esme Collings Limited was running just one London studio at the new address of 171 New Bond Street. The Managing Director of the Esme Collings Limited studio at this time was Richard Berwick Hope. The firm of Esme Collings Limited was wound up by April 1907. Arthur's wife, Keturah Collings, opened her studio at 16 North Audley Street around 1905 and is listed at this address in London trade directories until at least 1908. In 1910, Keturah Collings was based at 73 Park Street, near Grosvenor Square. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, Arthur Collings was recorded as a "Photographer" at 25 Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, Brentford, Middlesex. By 1914, Keturah Collings had moved her photographic studio to 7 Lower Seymour Street, W. London.

Arthur Esme Collings was mentioned as a photographer in Liverpool as early as 1897. In this year, two inventors, William Maplebeck and Robert Stookes demonstrated their "chronoscope"( a camera they claimed could photograph the past) at the photographic studio of Esme Collings on Liverpool's Rodney Street. [See the panel on the right for more details]. A photographic studio trading under the name of A. Esme Collings was listed at 43 Rodney Street, Liverpool in 1900. The studio in Rodney Street continued under the name of Esme Collings Limited until 1906. A second studio operated by Esme Collings Limited opened in Liverpool at 65 Bold Street around 1903. Esme Collings Limited also established a branch studio in Manchester at 22a King Street.

In 1905, the firm of A. Esme Collings Ltd was operating studios in Brighton, Hove, London, Liverpool and Manchester. By 1907, the studios in Liverpool and Manchester owned by Esme Collings Limited had closed.
 

 

STUDIO ADDRESS

DATES

A. Esme Collings 43 Rodney Street, Liverpool

1897- 1902

Esme Collings Ltd 43 Rodney Street, Liverpool

1903-1906

Esme Collings Ltd 65 Bold Street, Liverpool

1903-1906

Esme Collings Ltd 22a King Street, Manchester

1904-1905

[ABOVE] The studios of A. Esme Collings and Esme Collings Ltd which operated in the cities of  Liverpool and Manchester between 1897 and 1906.

[ABOVE] A "scene from the past" photographed in 1896.

 
"In 1897, two British men claimed to have invented a camera that could photograph the past. William Maplebeck (67) and amateur photographer Robert Stookes (56), demonstrated their "chronoscope" at Esme Collings, Photographers, on Rodney Street in Liverpool. Maplebeck said that he had discovered an arrangement of mirrored quartz lenses which could project images of the past on a photographic plate in a random (uncontrolled) manner. The inventors showed magic lantern slides of cave men, Roman soldiers stationed in Chester, and an Elizabethan woman in the streets of Liverpool. The lecture was disrupted by jeers and cries of "Fraud!" and "Charlatans!". Maplebeck and Stokes put their invention into its case and left, as it was pointless to continue their lecture."

From "It's About Time" by Robert A. Nelson

[ABOVE] An account of the demonstration of the "chronoscope" ( 'a camera that could photograph the past') at Arthur Esme Collings' studio at 43 Rodney Street, Liverpool in 1897.


Arthur Esme Collings - Pioneer Film Maker

Arthur Esme Collings had entered into a business partnership with William Friese Greene around 1887 and, together, the two men had operated two photographic portrait studios in London. Friese-Greene had started experimenting with the idea of making "moving pictures" a few years before Collings joined him at his photographic studio in New Bond Street. Friese-Greene patented a number of inventions associated with cinematography and it is likely that he discussed his ideas with Arthur Esme Collings.  Friese-Greene has been called "the inventor kinematography" in England, but his practical achievements were limited and only a few snippets of film featuring pedestrians walking along a street have survived.

After he moved down to the South Coast in the late 1880s, Arthur Esme Collings began to make "moving films" of his own. In Brighton, Arthur Esme Collings made contact with Alfred Darling (1862-1931), a manufacturer of cinematographic equipment, who provided the photographer with film cameras and technical advice.

In contrast to William Friese-Greene's limited output, Arthur Esme Collings produced over 30 short films in the Brighton area during 1896. The short films made by Arthur Esme Collings in 1896 include Bathers on the Beach at Brighton (Summer 1896), Boys Scrambling for Under the Pier (August 1896), Children Paddling (August 1896), Donkey Riding (Summer 1896), King's Road, Brighton, on a Bank Holiday (August 1896), Rough Sea : The Hove Sea Wall in a Gale (1896), West Street Brighton (1896), Train arriving at Dyke Station (1896), A Lady Undressing in Her Boudoir (1896), and The Broken Melody (1896).

After 1897, Collings seems to have lost interest in film making and in 1898 he abandoned cinema to champion the revival of miniature painting.

The Brighton School of Film Making - Arthur Esme Collings (1859-1936) is usually grouped with the other pioneers of cinema who were active in Brighton and Hove during the late 1890s and early 1900s. Members of the 'Brighton School' include George Albert Smith (1864-1959), James Williamson (1844-1933) and Alfred Darling (1862-1931).

 

Boys Scrambling for Pennies under the West Pier (1896). A group of boys scramble to retrieve pennies tossed into the shallow water at the foot of Brighton's West Pier

 

A Lady Undressing in her Boudoir (1896). In this short film, which runs for just over a minute, a woman removes items of clothing before sitting down to read a book. The lady begins undressing by removing her hat and then takes off her outer garments until she is dressed only in her petticoat.

 

The Broken Melody (1896). This is a scene from the successful stage play "The Broken Melody" by James Tanner. The original play was a dramatic vehicle for the Dutch cellist August Van Biene. In the film, a cellist named Paul Borinski (played by Van Biene) plays his composition "Broken Melody" to persuade his wife to return to him.

 

Arthur Esme Collings - Miniature Painter

[ABOVE] A miniature photographic portrait by Arthur Esme Collings. This tiny platinotype print was set into a gold and pearl locket to take on the appearance of  a traditional portrait miniature.

[ABOVE] A reproduction of an original miniature of two young women painted in black and white  by Arthur Esme Collings. This reproduction appeared as an illustration to an article entitled "The Modern Miniature Craze", published in The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine in 1899.

A. Esme Collings - Miniaturist

In 1898, Arthur Esme Collings appears to have abandoned film making in order to concentrate on producing miniatures. Around this date, Collings published a small brochure entitled "The Revival of Miniature Art", which recounted "some romantic stories about miniatures and their painters." A little later, Collings issued a promotional catalogue with a similar title - "The Revival of Miniature Painting". The fifteen page booklet was designed to publicize the type of miniatures that could be produced at his Bond Street studio and included details of the prices for various styles of portrait miniature. By 1899, Esme Collings' London studio at 175 New Bond Street had become the headquarters of The Society of Miniature Painters.

In Kelly's Directory of Sussex published in 1899, Arthur Esme Collings was the only person to be listed under the heading of 'Miniature Painters'. One example of Collings' work that has survived is a miniature of Adelina Patti, the famous soprano singer. The reproduction miniature has been glued onto one of his standard cabinet format card mounts which gives details of his photographic studio in West Brighton. Most of Esme Collings' sitters were wealthy or famous. In 1899, Collings painted a miniature portrait of Frances Fleetwood Wilson (1850-1919), the English heiress who had recently married the Russian nobleman Prince Alexis Dolgorouki.
   
Arthur Esme Collings was gaining some attention as a miniature painter in the magazines and journals of the time. In 1899, his work was discussed by H. M. Tindall in an article entitled "The Modern Miniature Craze", which appeared in The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine in 1899. Tindall agreed with Esme Collings' view that there had been a significant revival in miniature painting:

"The very marked attention which the miniatures in the Royal Academy attracted this year is one of the many things which show how great a revival there has been in the taste for miniatures ... When photography appeared, it had no difficulty for a time in sweeping miniatures out of the field, for many people preferred the novelty of an exact portrait to a 'work of art'. But the pendulum of taste has again swung back. We no longer accept a coloured photograph as a substitute for a genuine miniature, but realise that the two things are quite distinct."

 H. M. Tindall, The Harmsworth Monthly Pictorial Magazine  (1899).

The miniatures of Arthur Esme Collings were also discussed in an article entitled "A Dream of Fair Women: The Work of Mr Esme Collings" which appeared in the magazine Lady's Realm in 1901. Miniatures by Arthur Esme Collings were also reproduced as photogravure illustrations in issues of The Sketch weekly magazine during 1899.

[ABOVE] A reproduction of an original miniature of the famous soprano Adelina Patti (1843-1919) by Arthur Esme Collings inscribed "Adelina Patti, Baroness Cederstrom, 1899" .

[RIGHT] Arthur Esme Collings listed as the only miniature painter in the county of Sussex in Kelly's  Directory of Sussex published in 1899. The street directory in the same edition records Arthur Esme Collings as a photographer and miniature painter at 120 Western Road, Hove.

 

 A Miniature of Mrs Florence May Orr by Arthur Esme Collings

Florence May Barley was born in Datchet, Buckinghamshire on 7th April 1881, the eldest daughter of Emma May Day and William Barley, a stock broker.

By 1890, Florence Barley's family had moved to Hove in East Sussex. The 1890 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex lists a "William Bailey" at 5 St Aubyn's Gardens, Hove, but this is obviously a misprint for "William Barley". William Barley, his wife Emma and their four children are recorded at 5 St Aubyn's Gardens, Hove, when the 1891 census was taken the following year. In 1898, Florence's mother, Mrs Emma May Barley died in Hove in 1898 at the age of 39. When the 1901 census was taken, William Barley, a forty-one year old widower who gives his occupation as "Stock Broker" is shown living at 5 St Aubyn's Gardens, Hove with his two daughters, nineteen year old Florence and 15 year old Sybil.

Early in 1903, Florence May Barley married James Spencer Orr (born 1882), the eldest son of Constance and James Orr, a resident of Hove who had made his fortune as a sheep farmer in Australia. By January 1904, Mrs Florence May Orr was residing in the "St George, Hanover Square" district of London. Florence's first daughter Daphne Constance May Orr was born in London on 17th January 1904 and her birth was registered in the London district of St George, Hanover Square. Mrs Orr was still living in this part of London when her second daughter, Iris Diana Orr, was born on 29th October 1906.

On 13th July 1909, Constance's husband James Spencer Orr left England for South Africa. After his arrival in South Africa, James Spencer Orr made his way to Robertstown, a settlement some 150 miles from Cape Town. Captain James Spencer Orr died in Robertstown, South Africa on 10th June 1910 at the age of 27. In October 1909, Mrs Florence May Orr set off for South Africa to search for her missing husband.

After she had established that her husband had died in South Africa, Florence Orr returned to England. On the 1911 census return, Mrs Florence May Orr is described as twenty-nine year old widow living on "Private Means". At this time Florence Orr was residing at The Cottage, White Rose Lane, Woking, Surrey, with her two daughters, seven year old Daphne and four year old Iris, together with three female domestic servants.

In 1913, Mrs Florence May Orr married John L. Dixon, a London solicitor. Two sons were produced during Florence's second marriage - Peter J. Dixon (born 1914) and Alec Paul Dixon (born 1917). Mrs Florence May Dixon (formerly Mrs Florence Orr) died at Worthing, Sussex, in 1937, aged 55.

[ABOVE] A detail from a miniature portrait of Mrs Florence May Orr (formerly Barley), painted by the artist and photographer Arthur Esme Collings who operated a portrait studio at 120 Western Road, Hove, between 1893 and 1906. This portrait was probably painted around 1903, the year that Florence married James Spencer Orr (1882-1910).

Don Shelton, an expert in miniature painting, believes that this miniature portrait was painted over a photographic base.

PHOTO: courtesy of Kit Houghton

 

To read an account of the family of James Spencer Orr and Florence May Orr, click on the link below:

James Spencer Orr and Mrs Florence May Orr

 

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to John Barnes, Mark Duguid (Screenonline), David Fisher, Frank Gray, and Robert Murphy for providing details of the film career of Arthur Esme Collings. Thanks to Steve Elliott for supplying the images of the Cosway Gallery portraits produced by Esme Collings Limited. Thanks also to Kevin Bacon, Curator of Photographs at the Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove.
 

Keturah Collings (1862-1948) - Artist and Photographer

 
Keturah Collings - Artist and Photographer

Keturah Collings was the married name of Keturah Anne Beedle, who was born in 1862 at Weston-super-Mare, Somerset [birth registered in the Axbridge district of Somerset (Weston-super-Mare) during the First Quarter of 1862 ; baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Weston-super-Mare on 13th February 1862]. Keturah was the daughter of William Henry Beedle (born c1831 Bristol - died 1907), an upholsterer and house furnisher, and his wife Eliza Williams (born 1833 Cowbridge, Glamorgan, Wales - died 1903). William Beedle's was a successful businessman. In 1881, William Beedle was employing 9 men in his upholstery firm and was served by at least two servants at the family home, a large house called "The Elms" on Arundell Road in Weston Super Mare. (In the 1880s the road name was spelt 'Arundell' and not 'Arundel' as in the Sussex town of that name). In a local trade directory of 1889, William Henry Beedle is listed as a house furnisher, a furniture van proprietor with his own house removal business, a furniture appraiser, an upholsterer and an undertaker. W. H. Beedle was also a house & estate agent, with business premises in the High Street and in Regent Street, Weston-super-Mare. William Beedle's furniture warehouse and furniture storerooms were located in Great Alfred Street in Weston-super- Mare.

Keturah Anne Beedle was the eldest of five children. Her three brothers were Thomas William Beedle (born 1865, Weston-super-Mare), who became a house agent for his father, Alfred James Beedle (born c1869, Weston-super-Mare), who followed his father's trade and eventually worked in Toxteth, Liverpool as a furniture dealer's buyer, and Leonard Edward Beedle (born 1871, Weston-super-Mare), who later became a chemist and druggist in Stretford, Lancashire. Keturah's younger sister, Charlotte Ellen Beedle (born 1866, Weston-super-Mare), went on to marry Clement Henry Reynolds, a bank cashier, in 1898.

In 1887, Keturah married Arthur Albert Collings, a former bootmaker of Weston Super Mare [marriage registered in the Axbridge district of Somerset (Weston-super-Mare) during the December Quarter of 1887]. Both Keturah and Arthur had artistic talent and it is possible that they were brought together through their interest in art. The couple set up home in Brighton, Sussex. Arthur and Keturah's first home was at 59 Dyke Road, Brighton. In 1892, Keturah gave birth to their only son - Arthur Cyril Esme Collings [birth registered in Brighton during the Fourth Quarter of 1892]. By 1899, Keturah Collings was living with her husband and eight year old son at 13 Alexandra Villas, Albert Road, Brighton.

Presumably, Keturah Collings assisted her husband in his photographic portrait studios in Brighton and Hove in the late 1880s and early 1890s. Around 1905, Mrs Keturah Collings established her own fashionable photographic studio at 16 North Audley Street in West London. Keturah Collings' London studio was favoured by a number of European Royal Families. Her distinguished sitters included Albert, King of the Belgians (1875-1934), his wife Queen Elisabeth (1876-1965), Crown Prince Leopold of Belgium (1901-1983), Princess Marie-Jose of Belgium (1906-2001), Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (1892- 1980), and Prince Hubertus Karl Wilhelm of Prussia (1909-1950). A number of Keturah Collings' portraits of members of the Prussian Imperial Family were issued as picture postcards in Germany by Gustav Liersch of Berlin before the outbreak of the First World War. Keturah Collings also photographed members of the British aristocracy, including Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury (1834-1913), Pamela Genevieve Tennant, Lady Glenconner (1871-1928), Lady Agnes Geraldine Grove (1863-1926) and William Plender, 1st Baron Plender of Sundridge (1861-1946).

[ABOVE] A portrait of  Mrs Constance Mary Knowles (born 1857, Paddington), the wife of Major General Charles Benjamin Knowles, Commander of Armed Forces in Malta, photographed by Keturah Collings at her fashionable London studio at 16 North Audley Street, West London, around 1910. ( The date of "1900", inked on the mount under the portrait, is an error ). When she married Major General Charles Benjamin Knowles in 1892, Constance was a thirty-five year old widow. She had previously been married to Reverend George Luther Lake Elliott (1849-1891), the vicar of Bowden Hill, Chippenham, Wiltshire. Born Constance Mary Elmslie on 5th February 1857 in Paddington, London, the daughter of James Augustus Elmslie and Mary Johanna Baumgardt, Constance had married Reverend George Elliott in 1876, when she was 19 years old. Reverend George Elliott, Constance's husband, died in 1891,when he was in his early forties. Mrs Constance Mary Knowles married Major General Charles Benjamin Knowles on 29th December 1892.

Royal Photographic Portraits  by Keturah Collings

[ABOVE] A postcard portrait of  Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (1892-1980) taken from an original photograph by Keturah Collings. This portrait, which was taken at Keturah Collings' London studio, was published as a postcard in Germany in 1912 by Gustav Liersch & Co. of Berlin. Princess Victoria Louise was the  only daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia. The year after the postcard was published, Princess Victoria married Prince Ernst Auguste of Hanover and she became the Duchess of Brunswick. Keturah Collings photographed a number of members of the Prussian Royal Family at her fashionable portrait studio in London. [ "Original Aufnahme von Keturah Collings, London" printed at the bottom right-hand corner of the postcard] .

[ABOVE] A postcard portrait of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994) taken from an original photograph by Keturah Collings and published in Germany in 1912 by Gustav Liersch & Co. of Berlin. Prince Louis Ferdinand was the second eldest son of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany (1882-1951) and his consort Cecilie Auguste Marie, the Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Unlike his older brother Prince Wilhelm (pictured bottom right), Louis Ferdinand did not pursue a military career. He travelled abroad and developed a strong interest in engineering. Louis Ferdinand became a strong opponent of Hitler's Nazi Party. [ "Original Aufnahme von Keturah Collings, London" printed at the bottom right-hand corner of the postcard] .

[ABOVE] Another portrait of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994) photographed by Keturah Collings at her London studio. This photographic portrait, together with a number of others of the Prussian Royal Family, was published as a picture postcard in Germany in 1912 by Gustav Liersch & Co. of Berlin. At the same photographic session in London, Keturah Collings took portraits of Louis Ferdinand's brothers Prince Wilhelm (born 1906) and Prince Hubertus (born 1909). Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia (born 1892), the only daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia, was photographed at the very same window which lights up this portrait of Prince Louis Ferdinand. At the bottom right-hand corner of each postcard is the picture credit "Original Aufnahme von Keturah Collings, London".

[ABOVE] A portrait of King Albert I (1875-1934), the King of the Belgians, from a "Photograph by Keturah Collings". This portrait appeared as a frontispiece illustration to the "Catalogue of an Exhibition of Work by Modern Belgian Artists" held at the Brighton Public Art gallery in 1915. Albert Leopold Clement Marie Meinrad succeeded to the Belgian throne in 1909, on the death of his uncle, King Leopold II. In this photograph, King Albert is in military uniform. King Albert took personal command of the Belgian Army when Germany invaded Belgium in 1914, an event that heralded the outbreak of the First World War. After the defeat of Germany, King Albert attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. For the remainder of his reign, King Albert assisted in the post-war reconstruction of Belgium. A keen mountaineer, King Albert was killed in a climbing accident in 1934, at the age of fifty-eight.

[ABOVE] A postcard portrait of  Princess Victoria Louise of Prussia taken from an original photograph by Keturah Collings and published in Germany in 1912 by Gustav Liersch & Co. of Berlin. Princess Victoria Louise was born in 1892, the youngest child and only daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia. The photograph was taken when Princess Victoria was aged about 19. The year after the postcard was published, Princess Victoria married Prince Ernst Auguste of Hanover and she became the Duchess of Brunswick. Keturah Collings photographed a number of members of the Prussian Royal Family at her fashionable portrait studio in London.  ["Original Aufnahme von Keturah Collings, London" printed at the bottom right-hand corner of the postcard].

[ABOVE] A postcard portrait of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (1906-1940) taken from an original photograph by Keturah Collings and published in Germany in 1912 by Gustav Liersch & Co. of Berlin. Prince Wilhelm was the eldest child of Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany and his consort Cecilie Auguste Marie, the Duchess of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.  Wilhelm renounced his right to succeed to the German throne when he married fellow student Dorothea von Salviati in 1933. At the beginning of the Second World War, Wilhelm enlisted in the Wehrmacht. While taking part in the invasion of France in May 1940, Wilhelm was badly wounded. He died from his wounds at a field hospital at the age of thirty-three.  ["Original Aufnahme von Keturah Collings, London" printed at the bottom right-hand corner of the postcard] .

Painted Portraits by Keturah Collings

[ABOVE] A watercolour portrait of an unknown army officer by Keturah Collings (c1919). Keturah's own son, Arthur Cyril Esme Collings (born 1892) served in the First World War and rose to the rank of Second Lieutenant.

[PICTURE: Courtesy of Andy Shaw of the Great War Forum]

[ABOVE] A miniature portrait of Mrs Christina Alderton by Keturah Collings. The subject of this portrait was the wife of Samuel Alderton, a prosperous Merchant Tailor, a London City Councillor and Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Kent.

[PICTURE: Courtesy of Jonathan Kirton of Canada]

 

Keturah Collings in London

Keturah Collings, opened her studio at 16 North Audley Street around 1905 and is listed at this address in London trade directories until at least 1908. When the 1911 census was taken, Keturah Collings was residing with her husband, the photographer Arthur Esme Collings, at 25 Hillcroft Crescent, Ealing, Brentford, Middlesex.

By 1914, Keturah Collings had established a photographic studio at 7 Lower Seymour Street, W. London and she was listed as a photographer at this address in the Post Office London Directory published in 1915. There is evidence that by the end of 1915, Keturah Collings was working from her home address at 73 Park Street, London, near Grosvenor Square.

From 1913, around the time she closed her studio at 16 North Audley Street, Keturah Collings began to make a living as a portrait painter as well as a photographic artist. The Post Office London Directory of 1915 lists Keturah Collings as a professional photographer at 7 Lower Seymour Street, West London, but during and immediately after the First World War, Keturah was also painting small watercolour portraits of military officers (see above). The people who commissioned portraits from Keturah Collings generally came from the upper strata of society.

Keturah Collings closed her photographic studio in North Audley Street around 1913. After this date, Keturah Collings applied her artistic talents to painting small portraits in watercolours (see above). Around 1918, Keturah Collings was working from an address at 12A Savile Row in the Mayfair district of West London. Surprisingly, there is evidence that Keturah Collings was still involved in portrait photography at the time of the Second World War. A studio portrait of Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, photographed by Keturah Collings of London, is held in the archives of North Invercargill Church, New Zealand. Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister died on 28th June 1942 at the age of 23.

[ABOVE] The signature of Keturah Collings from the portrait of Miss Winefride Lyne-Stephens (see right), produced at Mrs Collings' London address.
 

[ABOVE] A portrait of Miss Winefride Lyne-Stephens (1895-1969) by Keturah Collings of 73 Park Street, West London. The subject of this portrait married in December 1915, when she became Mrs Winefride Hume-Gore. The image, which appears to have been produced photographically, has been hand-tinted at the London studio of Keturah Collings.     

[PICTURE: Courtesy of Jonathan Backhouse]

 
The Last Years of Keturah Collings, Photographer and Portrait Artist
Keturah Collings worked as a photographer and portrait artist in London from 1905 until her death in 1948. During the First World War period Keturah Collings was working as an artist and photographer at a studio in the Mayfair district of West London. During this period  Keturah Collings was painting portrait miniatures and larger portraits in watercolour. Some of  Keturah Collings' watercolour portraits of well-known personalities were published in colour in the journals of the day [e.g. Keturah Collings' portrait of Miss Joyce Wethered, an English Lady Amateur Golf Champion of the 1920s was published in "The Field" magazine]. Keturah Collings also experimented with portraits that combined photography with painting. [ See the portrait of Miss Winefride Lyne-Stephens illustrated above]. Keturah Collings produced portraits of servicemen throughout the Second World War [ e.g. Studio portrait of Pilot Officer Bruce McAllister of the Royal New Zealand Air Force c1942 ]. A signed photographic portrait taken in 1947 indicates that Keturah Collings was still involved in portrait photography at the end of her life. [See the portrait of Julia Ionides illustrated on the right].

Keturah Collings died in the London Borough of Ealing in 1948, at the age of 86. [ The death of Keturah A. Collings was registered in the Middlesex district of Ealing during the 2nd Quarter of 1948 ].

[ABOVE] A portrait of William Graham (1862-1943), a company director, painted by Keturah Collings around 1942. [ABOVE] A miniature portrait of an unknown man painted by Keturah Collings.

[PICTURE: Courtesy of Don Shelton]

[ABOVE] A portrait of Julia Ionides, aged 5, photographed at the London studio of Keturah Collings in 1947.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Julia Ionides]

 

Photographic Portrait from the London Studio of  Keturah Collings (1944)

 

[ABOVE] Portrait of Dr W. J. Turney, taken at the London studio of Keturah Collings (1944).

Wilfrid John Turney, known as 'Jack' to family and friends, was born in Hammersmith, London, on 11th January 1920. The youngest of two brothers, 'Jack' Turney was the son of Wilfrid Turney and Edith Maye Skinner. Jack's parents, Wilfrid and Edith Turney, were both teachers and, in the period 1939-1940,  they served as Mayor and Mayoress of Hammersmith. Wilfrid 'Jack' Turney attended Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith and then went on to higher education at University College, London. After studying medicine at University College Hospital School, 'Jack' Turney qualified as a medical practitioner. On 26th August 1944, the newly qualified Dr  'Jack' Turney married Dorothy Muriel Dunscombe, a student nurse, at the Uxbridge Road Tabernacle, Shepherd's Bush. ( Jack and Dorothy's wedding took place in what remained of the Tabernacle as the main body of the church building had been destroyed during a bombing raid in October 1940). In the Summer of 1944,  Dr  'Jack' Turney joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. This photograph was probably taken at Keturah Collings' London studio in August 1944, shortly after Dr  'Jack' Turney enlisted the Royal Army Medical Corps and around the time of his marriage to Dorothy Dunscombe. During the final year of the Second World War,  Dr  'Jack' Turney served with the RAMC  in Paris, following the French city's liberation from Nazi occupation. Jack's wife Dorothy had qualified as a nurse at St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington and at the end of the war, when her husband returned to England, the couple moved to Penzance, Cornwall, where Dr Turney took up a post as a General Practitioner. During their long stay in Penzance, Dr  'Jack' Turney was involved in many local activities and community-based projects. Dr Wilfrid John ('Jack') Turney died in 1996.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Linda Collins]

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Andy Shaw of the Great War Forum for permission to use Keturah Collings' watercolour portrait of an unknown officer. Andy also provided details of the military career of Arthur Cyril Esme Collings. Thanks also to Jonathan Kirton of Canada for providing Keturah Collings' miniature portrait of his great grandmother, Mrs Christina Alderton, and Jonathan Blackman for providing the portrait of his grandmother, Winefride Lyne-Stephens. I am grateful to John Forbes for drawing my attention to Keturah Collings' studio at 12A Savile Row, Mayfair, London. John Forbes has in his possession a portrait drawing signed by Keturah Collings. The portrait, which dates from the period 1916-1918, is protected by a card mount which carries the printed words "A portrait by Keturah Collings, 12A Savile Row, London W1. " Thanks to Diana Mothersole (formerly Diana Darby) for providing the portrait of her grandmother Mrs Ellen Darby, a photograph which was produced at the Hove studio of Esme Collings Ltd.  Thanks to Julia Ionides for providing the portrait of herself taken in 1947 at the London studio of Keturah Collings. Thanks to Linda Collins who provided the portrait of her father Dr W. J. Turney, which was photographed at the London studio of Keturah Collings.

I am grateful to John Barnes, Mark Duguid (Screenonline), David Fisher, Frank Gray, and Robert Murphy for providing details of the film career of Arthur Esme Collings.

 

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Early Films made in Brighton & Hove

The following websites provide further information on Arthur Esme Collings and early films made in Brighton and Hove:

 

 

 

Miniature Portrait Paintings

If you would like to view more miniature portraits, I can recommend Don Shelton's excellent website - Artists and Ancestors- A Miniature Portrait Collection. To see Don Shelton's collection of portrait miniatures, click on the link below :

 

Artists and Ancestors - A Miniature Portrait Collection

[ABOVE] A miniature portrait of  an unknown man by Keturah Collings.  

[PICTURE: Courtesy of Don Shelton]