Bexhill Photographers (C-F)

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Professional Photographers in Bexhill ( C - F )

George Chapman - William Morris Crouch (The Sackville Studio) - John B. Currie - The Devonshire Studio (Leon Balk)

William Morris CROUCH (born 1846, Binfield, Berkshire - died 1907, Edinburgh, Scotland)

Early Life  (1847-1874)

William Morris Crouch was born in Binfield, Berkshire, on 30th November 1846, the son of Edward Crouch and Betsey Morris. [The birth of William Morris Crouch was registered in the Berkshire District of Easthampstead during the First Quarter of 1847]. Edward Crouch had married Betsey Morris (born 1819, Westminster, London), the daughter of Edward and Elisabeth Morris, at Binfield in 1845 [ The marriage of Edward Crouch and Betsey Morris was registered in the Easthampstead District during the First Quarter of 1845 ]. Edward and Betsey produced at least six children - Sarah Crouch (born 1845, Binfield - died 1846), William Morris Crouch (born 1846, Binfield), Louisa Crouch (born 1848, Binfield), Edward Crouch (born c1851, Binfield - died 1861, Wokingham), Caroline E. Crouch (born c1852, Binfield), and Fanny Crouch (born 1855, Maidstone, Kent).

Edward Crouch, William's father, was a schoolmaster by profession. Slater's Directory of Berkshire, published in 1852, lists Edward Crouch as the Master of the National School in Binfield. The 1852 Directory also shows that Edward Crouch was employed as Binfield's Parish Clerk. By 1855, Edward Crouch and his family were living in Maidstone, Kent. The death of Edward Crouch was recorded in Maidstone during the 2nd Quarter of 1855 and Betsey gave birth to her youngest daughter Fanny in Maidstone during the 3rd Quarter of 1855. After the death of her husband, Mrs Betsey Crouch settled in Wokingham with her five surviving children [See note below on Betsey Crouch]. When the 1861 census was taken, Betsey Crouch is recorded in Wokingham at the home of her widowed father Edward Morris (born 1793) together with her children William, aged 14, Louisa aged 12, Edward, aged 10, and Caroline, aged 9, and five year old Fanny. William Crouch's younger brother Edward Crouch junior died in Wokingham later that year. [ Edward Crouch's death was registered in Wokingham during the 3rd Quarter of 1861 ].

William Morris Crouch evidently displayed some talent in drawing and painting and as a young man he worked as an itinerant artist. At the time of the 1871 census, William Morris Crouch was working as a portrait painter in Devon, but a few years later he was operating as an artist in Liverpool. On 27th May 1873, William Crouch married Caroline Margaret French (born 12th November 1852, Holborn, London) in Liverpool. [ The marriage of William Morris Crouch was registered in Liverpool during the 2nd Quarter of 1873]. William Crouch remained in Liverpool for a couple of years, during which time his first child Ada Bessie Crouch was born. Ada Bessie Crouch was born in Liverpool on 13th August 1874.

 

NOTE : By 1881, Mrs Betsey Crouch had gone into business with her widowed daughter Mrs Louisa Gibson (born 1848, Binfield, Berkshire). In the 1881 census return Mrs Betsey Crouch and Mrs Louisa Gibson are recorded in the High Street of Burton-on-Trent and are described as "Milliners and Costumiers employing 5 girls". William Morris Crouch's youngest sister, Fanny Crouch (born 1855, Maidstone, Kent), was employed in his mother's business as an "Assistant Milliner".

 

[ABOVE] Portrait of George Vale (1853-1912), a carte-de-visite photographed at William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio, at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1902.      

 [PHOTO: Courtesy of Martin Staines]

 
 
 

William Morris Crouch as an artist and photographer in London (1875-1891)

By early 1876, William Morris Crouch was in London. William Crouch's second child, a boy named Edward Alfred Crouch, was born in the Marylebone district of London during the First Quarter of 1876. By August 1877, William Crouch was working from 17 Blandford Street * in the Marylebone district of London. It appears that William Crouch worked as an artist in London for the next five years or so, although it is possible, like many artists and painters of the period, that he was supplementing his income by taking photographic portraits. When the 1881 census was taken on the evening of 3rd April 1881, William Crouch, his twenty-eight year old wife *, and their two children, Ada, aged 6, and five year old Edward, were boarding at 88 Lambs Conduit Street, Holborn, the home and place of work of Adrian Mansfield, a London watchmaker. William Crouch is described on the census return as an "Artist & Painter", aged 34. William Crouch gives his place of birth as Wokingham, the nearest town to his native village of Binfield. On the 1881 census return, the name of William Crouch's wife has been wrongly transcribed as "Berne". William Crouch's wife is described on the census return as a twenty-eight year old woman born in "St Andrew's, Middlesex". The district of St Andrew's, Middlesex corresponds with the London parish of Holborn St Andrew. A birth year of 1852 and the birthplace of Holborn, which are given on the 1881 census return, match the known details of William Crouch's first wife, Caroline Margaret French. At the time of the census, William's wife was pregnant with their third child, Frederick Charles Crouch, who was born in Holborn, London, during the 3rd Quarter of 1881.

Around 1883, William Crouch set himself up as a professional portrait photographer in London. Crouch acquired a long-established photographic studio at 204 Regent Street, London. The premises at No. 204 Regent Street had been used as a photographic portrait studio since 1854, when the London photographer James Henderson (born c1825, Lambeth) began taking "paper portraits", using Frederick Scott Archer's newly introduced "wet collodion process", at this address. One of the most notable practitioners at 204 Regent Street was Edwin Sutton (1826-1883), a photographer from Lambeth who occupied the studio for over sixteen years between 1856 and 1873. Crouch had taken over the studio from Baron William Charles Nastrowsy (1845-1919), a fellow artist and painter who had, over the last six years, been taking photographic portraits in London.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of William Morris Crouch, Artist Photographer of the Bijou Photo Studios, 204 Regent Street, London, W. as shown on the reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait (c1885). William Morris Crouch was the proprietor of the Bijou Photo Studios in London's Regent Street from 1883 until 1885.

Crouch's studios at 204 Regent Street, London were known as the Bijou Photo Studios. In London trade directories, William Morris Crouch was listed as the Studio Manager of the "Bijou Photo Co." yet it appears he was the  actual owner of the Regent Street studio. The photographs produced at the Bijou Photo Studios carry the name of "W. M. Crouch", who is described as an "Artist Photographer" and a "Miniature and Portrait Painter". William Morris Crouch was based at 204 Regent Street for just a couple of years. The business was not a financial success and there were at least two County Court judgements made against William Crouch in 1885 ; the first on 23rd September 1885 relating to debts of £14 1s 4d and another on 14th October 1885 regarding a sum of £11 3s 7d. By September 1886, Crouch's former studio at 204 Regent Street was up for sale.

Shortly after leaving his Regent Street studio, William Morris Crouch opened another photographic portrait studio under an assumed name. Crouch had adopted the pseudonym of Carl Beethoven and opened a photography studio at 118 New Bond Street, London. Trading under the name of "Carl Beethoven", William Crouch was in business as a photographer at 118 New Bond Street from around 1887 until about 1889. The premises at 118 New Bond Street was in a fashionable and expensive district of London and was only a few doors from London's leading art galleries.

William Morris Crouch probably had to commute from his home to the studio in New Bond Street. When Crouch heard that the photographer Netterville Briggs (born 1835, Hackney) was planning to quit his long established studio at 20 Baker Street, London, he decided to leave Westminster and transfer his business to the district of Marylebone. William Crouch acquired Briggs' old studio at 20 Baker Street following an auction held on 30th May 1889.

By June 1889, William Morris Crouch had moved into the property at 20 Baker Street, London. Living quarters were attached to Crouch's newly acquired studio and when the 1891 census was taken, William Crouch was residing on the premise with a twenty-six year old woman, recorded on the census return as "Mary Crouch". The young woman sharing William Crouch's home had presumably replaced William's former wife, Mrs Caroline Crouch. (The death of a woman named Caroline Margaret Crouch was registered in Watford during the 2nd Quarter of 1891 and there is a possibility that the deceased woman was William Crouch's first wife ).

William Crouch's new wife is entered on the 1891 census return as Mary Crouch, a twenty-six year old woman who gives her place of birth as "London". William Crouch is described on the 1891 census return as a forty-four year old photographer and artist. William Crouch's two children from his first marriage - Ada Bessie Crouch (born 1874 Liverpool) and Edward Alfred Crouch (born 1876, Marylebone, London) - are not recorded at 20 Baker Street, yet we know that his daughter Ada was still alive in 1891 because she was married in London six years later. [ The marriage of Ada Bessie Crouch to George Benn, was registered in the Holborn district of London during the 2nd Quarter of 1897 ]. There is a possibility that William Crouch's second wife was Mary Ann Elizabeth Tims who was born in the  district of Edmonton during the 3rd Quarter of 1863. A marriage took place between William Crouch and Mary Ann E. Tims in the London district of Marylebone during the First Quarter of 1892. This means that William and his partner Mary were not legally married at the time of the 1891 census. It was probably only after William Crouch heard of the death of his first wife (which appears to have occurred during the 2nd Quarter of 1891) that he felt free to take Mary Ann Tims as his wife. Interestingly, a gentleman named James W. Tims is mentioned in connection with the sale of the photographic studio at 20 Baker Street on 15th December 1890. [SOURCE : A reference in the entry for William M. Crouch on photoLondon ; The Database of 19th Century Photographers and Allied Trades in London: 1841-1901, compiled by David Webb - "James W. Tims, December 15th 1890 - £45 from 20 Baker Street, St Marylebone".]

The Post Office London Trades' Directory for 1891 lists 'Carl Beethoven' as a "Photographic Artist" at '20 Baker Street, W.' yet it appears that William Morris Crouch (aka 'Carl Beethoven' ) had ceased trading as a photographer at 20 Baker Street by December 1890. William Morris Crouch was yet again in financial difficulties. A County Court Judgement made against Crouch on 4th December 1890 referred to debts of £175 5s 4d. On 15th December 1890, the photographic studio at 20 Baker Street was sold to William Henry Hayles (1868-1945), a photographer from Cambridge. It appears that after the business was sold, William Crouch and his female companion were allowed to stay on at the apartment adjoining the photographic studio, as they are recorded at 20 Baker Street, London when the census was taken on the evening of 5th April 1891.

[ABOVE] The trade plate of  The Bijou Photo Co. , 204 Regent Street, London, W. taken from the back of a cabinet portrait (c1883). William Morris Crouch was the proprietor of the Bijou Photo Studios in London's Regent Street from 1883 until 1885.

[ABOVE] Holborn, London photographed in 1875, around the time William Crouch and his family moved to London. At the time of the 1881 census, William Crouch, his wife and two children were lodging at 88 Lambs Conduit Street in the Holborn district of London.

 

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a bearded man by "Beethoven" of 118 New Bond Street, London. W. William Morris Crouch was the proprietor of the Beethoven studio in New Bond Street from 1887 until 1889. 

 

[ABOVE] A 19th century map of London showing the location of William Morris Crouch's photographic studios in New Bond Street, Westminster and at Baker Street in the district of  Marylebone. (The sites of the studios are marked with a red dot).

 

Mrs Caroline Margaret Crouch and her children

Caroline Margaret French (born 1852, Holborn, London) had married William Morris Crouch in Liverpool in 1873. The union of Caroline French  and William Morris Crouch produced the following children - Ada Bessie Crouch who was born in Liverpool on 13th August 1874, Edward Alfred Crouch, who was born in Marylebone, London in 1876, and Frederick Charles Crouch, who was born in Holborn during the 3rd Quarter of 1881.

In 1897, Mrs Caroline Crouch's daughter Ada Bessie Crouch, married George Benn (born c1868, Croydon, Surrey) in Holborn, London. In the 1901 census, Mrs Ada Bessie Benn (nee Crouch) is recorded at an address in Watford with her husband George Benn , a grocer's assistant, aged 33, and her two children - Winifred Alice Benn (born 1898, Stanmore, Middlesex) and George Edward Benn who was born in Stanmore, Middlesex on 8th October 1899.

After the death of their mother, Edward Alfred Crouch and his brother Frederick Charles Crouch went to live with their young step mother Mrs Mary Crouch. The two boys did not get on with their step mother and in their teens they ran away from home to join the British Army.

[ABOVE] Frederick Charles Crouch (1881-1917), the youngest son of the photographer William Morris Crouch. Major Crouch was killed at Passchendaele in November 1917.
 Frederick Charles Crouch rose through the ranks and during the First World War he served as an officer in the Royal Garrison Artillery Regiment. Major Frederick C. Crouch was killed on 2nd November 1917 during the final action at Passchendaele in the Third Batlle of Ypres. Frederick Charles Crouch was thirty six years of age at the time of his death and left a widow and five children.

 

Frederick Charles Crouch is the great grandfather of Fiona Bruce, the well known television presenter and news reader. The circumstances surrounding Major Crouch's death was explored in the episode of the television series "Who Do You Think You Are?" which featured Fiona Bruce. This episode was shown on BBC1 on 9th February 2009.

*In the 1881 census index, the name of William Crouch's first wife has been wrongly transcribed as " Berne (i.e. Bessie) Crouch" ( The person responsible has conflated Caroline's details with those of her daughter Bessie Crouch), Caroline Margaret Crouch's name has, in turn, been merged with the name of the wife of a fellow boarder, William Thornburn, producing an entry for "Caroline M. Thornburn".

** William Morris Crouch's house at 17 Blandford Street, St Marylebone, London might have been passed down from a member of his mother's family. In 1825, the occupant of 17 Blandford Street was a spinster named Mary Morris.

 

The Photographic Career of William Morris Crouch in London

Details of William Morris Crouch's career as a professional photographer in London has been gathered from the detailed research of David Webb, a former Reference Librarian at the Bishopsgate Institute. David Webb's extensive research on the photographic studios of Victorian London has been made available on the website photoLondon ; The Database of 19th Century Photographers and Allied Trades in London: 1841-1901.

By trawling through 19th century newspapers and other primary sources, such as photographic journals, trade directories and records of bankruptcies and County Court Judgements, David Webb has discovered details of William Morris Crouch's photographic career and his difficulties with the law, including accounts of Crouch's "massive photographic fraud" which he perpetrated at various times between 1896 and 1903. William Morris Crouch was eventually arrested in 1903 and after a trial in the early months of 1904, he was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to 5 months imprisonment.

I am indebted to David Webb for his original research into William Morris Crouch's photographic activities in London and to the invaluable reference work 'A Directory of London Photographers, 1841-1908 ', compiled by Michael Pritchard [ PhotoResearch, Watford, 1986 & 1994].

[ABOVE] The trade plate of "Beethoven", photographer of 118 New Bond Street, London. W. William Morris Crouch worked under the pseudonym of "Carl Beethoven" at 118 New Bond Street from 1887 until 1889. 

William Morris Crouch on the Move (1892-1898)

William Morris Crouch's Fraudulent Apprenticeship Scheme

Between 1892 and 1898, William Morris Crouch was without a permanent photographic studio. It appears that for the next six years Crouch worked as an itinerant photographer, travelling from town to town with his camera. When business was not good, Crouch concocted a scheme whereby he generated income by swindling young people who were keen to learn the art and science of photography. From 1896, Crouch would place advertisements in local newspapers and trade journals offering apprenticeships in his photography business.

An apprentice was bound by indenture to serve a Master for a certain term and was to receive in return for his services, instruction in his Master's profession, art, or occupation. Apprentices and Masters were equally bound to perform the duties outlined in the Apprentice's Indenture document (see example, right). If the Master neglected to teach the apprentice his business, or the apprentice refused to obey his Master's instructions, both were liable to be summoned before a magistrate to answer the complaint against them. It was usual for a parent or guardian to pay a professional craftsman or tradesman a premium of around fifty pounds so that the young person could enter an apprenticeship and learn a skilled craft, trade or profession.

William Morris Crouch's fraudulent scheme was to place advertisements in a local newspaper or photographic trade publication, such as the The British Journal of Photography, inviting young people to apply for an apprenticeship in his photography business. Any prospective student would be required to pay Crouch a premium of £50 in order to become his apprentice and, in return, he would provide instruction in the art and science of portrait photography. The advertisements stated that the fee of £50 was refundable. The promise of the return of the premium if the student was dissatisfied helped to reassure applicants for apprenticeships. In the nineteenth century, it was not uncommon for the employer to pocket the premium and then renege on his promise to provide appropriate training and instruction to the apprentice. Practical handbooks published in Victorian times warned of the pitfalls of entering into an apprenticeship agreement with an unknown employer. This extract comes from a guide published in 1859 :

The moral character of the future master, together with his commercial reputation, should be strictly inquired into; for there are some employers whose only anxiety is to secure the premium, and when that is received to allow the apprentice to pursue his own undirected course as best he may. The wisest plan, therefore, when the particular trade is determined on is to place the youth with a person who has been, established for some years, and whose, reputation and ability can be testified to by former apprentices.

The premiums for apprenticeship are governed by no stated tariff but as a general rule they are proportioned to the wages which the trade affords.

Extract from from the entry under "Apprentice" in 'The Dictionary of Daily Wants' - by Robert Philp (1859)

William Morris Crouch was later to face charges of fraud. It was reported that from 1896, William Crouch conducted a fraud involving bogus apprenticeship schemes at "various country towns". Under a number of pseudonyms, including the name of "Morris Beethoven", William Crouch received premiums on behalf of a number of "apprentices", even though there was "little or no chance of business" and that he had no intention of providing the training in photography expected by his pupils. David Webb states that "the total value of the fraud was estimated at £1000".

[ABOVE] A master photographer, together with assistants and apprentices, at work in the developing room of the firm of Alinari Brothers, the famous 19th century photographers.
 
 Standard Text of an Apprentice Indenture (1898)

This Indenture Witnesseth that:

.......................................(name of Apprentice) of .......................................(address), a minor under the age of twenty one years, by and with the consent of his parent/guardian .................................(name) of.................................................................(address)

Doth put himself Apprentice to ............................................("The Master" or Employer) of ........................... (street) in the Town of ..................... in the County of........................................., Photographer, to learn his Art, Trade or Business and with him, after the Manner of an Apprentice, to serve from the date hereof ......... (numbered day) of ............. .......................(month) One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety Eight, until the full End and Term of three years and from thence next following to be fully complete and ended. During which Term the said Apprentice his said Master faithfully shall serve, his secrets keep, his lawful commands everywhere gladly do. He shall do no Damage to his said Master nor see it be done of others, but to the best of his power shall prevent or forthwith give warning to his said Master of the same. He shall not waste the Goods of his said Master, nor lend them unlawfully to any. He shall not do any act whereby his said Master may have any loss with his own goods or others during the said Term without Licence of his said Master. He shall neither buy nor sell nor absent himself from his said Master's Service, day or night, unlawfully ; But in all things as a faithful Apprentice he shall behave himself towards his said Master and all his during the said Term. And the said ........................  (The Master) hereby agrees to pay his said Apprentice the sum of ............ pounds for the first year, the sum of ........... pounds for the second year and the sum of ............. pounds for the third year.

And the said ...................................(The Master), in consideration of the sum of fifty pounds to be paid to him, doth hereby covenant that he will Teach his said Apprentice in the Art trade or business of Photographer which he uses, by the best Means that he can, shall Teach and Instruct or cause to be Taught and instructed in the Art of Photography ; Finding unto the said Apprentice sufficient Meat, Drink and Lodging and all other Necessaries during the said Term, with the exception of Medical Attendance and Laundry work. And to the true performance of all and every the said Covenants and Agreements each of the said Parties bindeth himself unto the other by these present. In Witness whereof the parties above- named hereunto set their Hands and Seals the ......(numbered day) of .........(month) in the year of Our Lord One Thousand, Eight Hundred and Ninety Eight.

....................................(Apprentice)
....................................(Parent/Guardian)
....................................(The Master)


Signed, Sealed and Delivered by the above named in the presence of .........................

..........................
(Witnesses)

 

[ABOVE] The standard text of an Apprenticeship Indenture (the document containing the terms or articles of the apprenticeship contract) as used in the 1890s. Apprenticeship Indentures did not have to be legally prepared and could be drawn up on printed forms sold at law stationers. The usual period of apprenticeship was three or four years, but could be more or less depending on the occupation and the age of the trainee. An apprenticeship usually began at the age of 14, but apprenticeships were open to any young person under the age of twenty-one. John Miles Thomas (born 1889) became an apprentice to a Chemist & Druggist in 1908 at the age of 19. In a memoir by Thomas, entitled "A Llandeilo Apprentice" (published in 1983), he recalled : "My indentures were to run from November 30th, 1908, for three years. I was to be paid five shillings a week for the first year, seven shillings and sixpence for the second, and ten shillings for the third ".  Mr. Thomas' parents had had to pay his employer a £50 premium when their son was apprenticed.

William Morris Crouch in Bexhill-on-Sea (1898-1903)

[ABOVE] A carte-de-visite portrait of a young woman photographed at The Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1900. William Morris Crouch was the proprietor of the The Sackville Studio from around 1899 until 1903. 

[ABOVE] Portrait of George Vale (1853-1912), a carte-de-visite photographed at William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1902. George Vale was a former London tobacconist who established a bookshop and stationery business at 43 Devonshire Road, Bexhill-on Sea in 1896. An elected member of the Bexhill District Council, Alderman Vale was appointed Deputy Mayor when Bexhill became a Municipal Borough Council in 1902. George Vale's daughter Emily married  the Bexhill photographer Herbert Vieler in 1908.

 [PHOTO: Courtesy of Martin Staines]

 

[ABOVE] A photographic view of Bexhill seafront in the mid 1890s showing the beach with its bathing machines and, in the distance, the newly built hotels which marked the start of the development of the old village of Bexhill into the modern seaside resort of  Bexhill-on-Sea.

William Morris Crouch reached the seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea in East Sussex sometime around 1898. Crouch (perhaps using funds generated from his "apprenticeship scam") established a photographic studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. In June 1898, William Crouch placed notices in the "Situations Vacant" columns of the Bexhill Chronicle newspaper, offering positions at his Bexhill studio. Crouch recruited Bertha Duke (born 1876, Chiddingstone, near Penshurst, Kent) as his chief assistant and receptionist. Joseph William Jacklett junior (born 1884, Aldershot, Hampshire) and Percy William Short (born 1884, Stonebridge, Hackney, London) were taken on as photographer's apprentices. Kelly's Directory of Sussex, published in 1899, lists William Crouch as a photographer at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea in the commercial listings.

When William Morris Crouch established his studio in Bexhill-on-Sea around 1898, there were two well-established photographers in the town - Emil Vieler (born 1851, Iserlohn, Westphalia, Germany), who had a studio at 11 Upper Station Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, and James Ernest Stanborough (born 1862, London), who operated from a photographic studio in Devonshire Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. James E. Stanborough, who had studied Art and had previously worked as a photographer in Putney, had settled in Bexhill-on-Sea around 1892. Emil Vieler, who described himself as a "Miniature & Portrait Painter", as well as an "Artist in Photography", had ran a studio in the West Yorkshire town of Huddersfield before moving down to the South Coast around 1893.

William Morris Crouch was listed as a photographer at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea in the 1899 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex. Later that year, William Crouch advertised his business in Sea Road as "The Sackville Photographic Studio". (An advert for Crouch's Sackville Studio appeared in Pike's trade directory published in 1899). William Morris Crouch placed the following advertisement in Kelly's "Hastings & St Leonards Directory (with Bexhill) for 1900" :

THE SACKVILLE PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO

FOR HIGHEST CLASS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

7 SEA ROAD, BEXHILL-ON-SEA

Photographs in Silver Platinum and Carbon  - Enlargements in Bromide, Platinum & Carbon

Miniatures on Ivory & Porcelain     -    GROUPS :  Wedding, Football, School, &c

 ARTISTIC REPRODUCTIONS FROM OLD AND FADED PHOTOGRAPHS ETC

PHOTO CASES of all kinds and in all materials

SCALE OF CHARGES FREE ON APPLICATION

N.B.  - Studio and Suite of rooms are all on the Ground Floor

[ABOVE] The text of an advertisement for William Morris Crouch's Sackville Photographic Studio which was published in Kelly's "Hastings & St Leonards Directory (with Bexhill) for 1900", advertising supplement page 266b. The original advertisement featured a photographic illustration of the interior of William Morris Crouch's photographic studio. [SEE ILLUSTRATION BELOW]

A local directory published in 1900 has an entry for W. M. Crouch, The Sackville Studio, Penshurst House, 7 Lower Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. In Kelly's 1903 Directory of Sussex, William Morris Crouch is described as a "Photographic Artist & Miniature Painter" of 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea.

 

Studio Portraits photographed at William Crouch's Sackville Studio in Bexhill-on-Sea

[ABOVE] A portrait of Raymond and Beryl Trustram of Hampstead, London, photographed at The Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1899. Hilda Beryl Trustram was born in Hampstead, London in 1895. Beryl's younger brother Raymond Prince Trustram was born in Hampstead the following year. Ray and Beryl were the children of Florence and Edward Jones Trustram, a London solicitor. Raymond became a junior officer in the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War and Beryl went on to do missionary work in India on behalf of the SPCK (The Sociey for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge). Ray Trustram died in the First World War at the age of twenty-one. Beryl Trustram later married a clergyman, but she was widowed during the Second World War. Beryl died in Devon in 1987 in her early nineties. Both the above photograph and the photograph of Raymond Trustram on the right are embossed with the blind stamp "Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea".

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Caroline Custard and Robin Trustram]

[ABOVE] A portrait of  Raymond Trustram (born 1896, Hampstead, London), photographed at The Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1900.  Raymond Prince Trustram was the son of Florence and Edward Jones Trustram, a London solicitor. Raymond became a junior officer in the Royal Field Artillery during the First World War. Lieutenant Raymond Trustram, MC died on the Western Front on 28th August 1918, at the age of twenty-one and is buried in the Bagneux British Military Cemetery in Gezaincourt, France.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Caroline Custard and Robin Trustram]

The Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea

[ABOVE] A line drawing showing a typical photographic portrait studio in 1900. (An illustration taken from "Cameras : From Daguerreotypes to Instant Pictures", published in Sweden in 1978 ). William Crouch's Sackville Studio was designed along similar lines, incorporating a glass wall and angled skylight to receive a soft north light, which was ideal for portraiture. The studio also employed a painted backdrop and various props, including items of furniture, a carpet and a potted plant.
 

[ABOVE] A full page advertisement for William Morris Crouch's Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, which appeared on page 266b of Kelly's "Hastings & St Leonards Directory ( with Bexhill ) for 1900".The advertisement features a picture of the interior of William Morris Crouch's photographic studio. The Sackville Studio, as pictured in the advertisement, is typical of the photographic studios of the period (SEE ABOVE).

Photographic Studios in Bexhill-on-Sea in 1899

[ABOVE] A late Victorian map, together with a modern map of Bexhill-on-Sea, showing the location of  The Sackville Studio and two other photographic studios. [ABOVE LEFT] An 1896 map showing the location of William Morris Crouch's Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea Road  ( marked in red ). The map also shows the position of the studios belonging to Crouch's competitors - James E. Stanborough's premises at the bottom of Devonshire Road  ( marked in green ) and Emil Vieler's studio in Upper Station Road ( marked in blue ). In 1896, Bexhill Railway Station ( marked in purple ) was situated at the top of  Devonshire Road, but by 1902 the new Bexhill Central Railway Station had been built in Sea Road, opposite Crouch's Sackville Studio. [ABOVE RIGHT] A modern map of Bexhill-on-Sea showing the sites of the same three studios - Vieler (blue), Stanborough (green) and Crouch's Sackville Studio (red). The modern map shows the Bexhill Central Railway Station (purple) opposite The Sackville Studio (red).
 

[ABOVE] Two notices placed by William Crouch in the "Situation Vacant" columns of the Bexhill Chronicle on 10th June 1898. Some months earlier, William Crouch had established The Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea road, Bexhill-on-Sea and he was now requiring assistants. The first advertisement was seeking an "articled pupil" or photographer's apprentice and promised an "exceptional opportunity for rapid advancement in every branch of high class work under personal instruction of the principal (i.e. William Morris Crouch)". The second notice was advertising for a well educated young lady who was "required to learn reception room duties" and be trained in "high class retouching and finishing" in the production of monochrome photographs.

 

William Morris Crouch's Assistants

 

[TOP] A further notice placed by William Crouch in the "Situation Vacant" columns of the Bexhill Chronicle on 25th November 1898. William Crouch was still seeking a young lady to undertake routine reception duties at his photographic studio, but he was now offering an apprenticeship whereby the young woman, in return for a "moderate premium", would receive instruction in "the highest class of negative re-touching and monochrome finishing" in his photography business.

A few months after establishing The Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea road, Bexhill-on-Sea, William Morris Crouch sought to employ a number of assistants. On 10th June 1898, William Crouch placed two notices in the "Situation Vacant" columns of the Bexhill Chronicle newspaper advertising for a photographer's apprentice and a female assistant to work in the studio reception area and to carry out negative re-touching and monochrome photograph finishing [see above left]. Five months later, in November 1898, Crouch placed a further advertisement for a female apprentice [see top right]. The 1901 census return for 7 Sea Road indicates that Crouch employed at least three workers at his Sackville Studio [see below]. Bertha Duke, an unmarried woman of twenty-five, is entered on the census return as an "Assistant" and was presumably carrying out the role of receptionist and photographer's assistant, re-touching and finishing Crouch's monochrome photographs. Also boarding at Crouch's Sea Road premises were two sixteen year old apprentices - Percy William Crouch (born 1884, Hackney, London), the youngest son of Mrs Alice Short, a widowed lodging house keeper, and Joseph William Jacklett junior (born 1884, Aldershot, Hampshire), the only child of Mrs Ellen Jacklett, a photographer's widow who was running a photographic portrait studio at 160 Victoria Road, Aldershot.
 

William Morris Crouch in the 1901 Census

1901 Census : 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex

NAME

 

 

OCCUPATION

AGE

PLACE OF BIRTH

William M. Crouch

Head

married

Photographer (own account)

55

Binfield, Berkshire
Bertha Duke

boarder

single

Assistant

25

Penshurst, Kent
Percy Wm. Short boarder

single

Apprentice to Photographer

16

Stonebridge, London
Joseph W. Jacklet (Jacklett)

boarder

single

Apprentice to Photographer

16

Aldershot, Hampshire
[ABOVE] Extract from the 1901 census of Bexhill showing details of the photographer William Morris Crouch and his employees.

BEXHILL-ON-SEA

Miniatures, Enlargements

Principal : W. M. CROUCH

Reproductions

From New Bond Street, W.

The Sackville Studio

FOR HIGH CLASS PHOTOGRAPHY

Studio (on Ground Floor)

 Opposite  L. B. & S. C.

7 Sea Road

Railway Station

Bexhill-on-Sea

 
[ABOVE] The text of an advertisement for William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, which was published on page 26b of the advertising supplement in Kelly's 1903 Directory of Sussex. By the time Kelly's Directory of Sussex was published early in 1903, Crouch had left Bexhill for London.

[ABOVE] A large carbon print on opal glass, signed by the photographer W. Davey. Although this picture was not produced at William Crouch's Bexhill studio, advertisements for The Sackville Photographic Studio indicate that the studio was able to produce similar results. The carbon transfer process allowed photographic images to be transferred on to a variety of supports including opal glass, enamel, ivory and porcelain. William Crouch's adverts specifically mention the production of "Miniatures on Ivory & Porcelain".

[LEFT] The trade mark of The Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Caroline Custard and Robin Trustram]

William Morris Crouch and The Sackville Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea

William Morris Crouch was in charge of The Sackville Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea from from about 1898 until the end of 1902. The range of photographic services provided by Crouch, detailed in the publicity for the Sackville Studio, and the illustration of the interior of the photographic studio, which formed the centre of a large advertisement published in Kelly's "Hastings & St Leonards Directory (with Bexhill) for 1900", suggested that William Morris Crouch was operating a sophisticated business operation in Bexhill. (Crouch employed the term "High Class Photography" and "Highest Class of Photography" when describing his services). William Morris Crouch produced photographic prints in both Silver Platinum and Carbon and could provide enlargements in Bromide as well as Silver Platinum and Carbon. Crouch was also making use of his artistic talents in the production of "Miniatures on Ivory & Porcelain". One advertisement for Crouch's Sackville Photographic Studio makes a special mention of "Artistic Reproductions from old and faded Photographs", which suggests that Crouch had a good knowledge of photographic techniques and some artistic ability. (It should be remembered that William Morris Crouch began his working life as an "Artist & Painter"). William Morris Crouch and his staff were also proficient in outdoor and location photography, offering to take group portraits of wedding parties, football teams and class photographs for local schools.

The large range of photographic services and sophisticated techniques meant that William Morris Crouch needed to employ a number of assistants. The 1901 census records three photographic workers lodging at William Crouch's studio premises in Sea Road - Miss Bertha Duke (born 1876, Chiddingstone, near Penshurst, Kent), listed as an "Assistant", Percy William Short (born 1884, Stonebridge, Hackney, London), a sixteen year old photographer's apprentice, and Joseph William Jacklett (born 1884, Aldershot, Hampshire), entered on the 1901 census return as an "Apprentice to Photographer", aged 16.

It is possible that William Morris Crouch was employing more than three workers at The Sackville Studio in Sea Road. The 1901 census for Bexhill mentions an eighteen year old "Photographer's Apprentice" named Eldred Noble Sherwen (born 1882, Hensingham, Cumberland), residing with his father and step-mother near Buckhurst Road in Bexhill and Hannah Baker (born 1878, Ninfield, Sussex), described on the census return as an "Assistant Photographer (worker)", aged 22, living with her parents at 10 Sidley Street, Bexhill. There were still only three photography firms in Bexhill at this time. By 1901, the photographer James Ernest Stanborough had left Bexhill for the seaside resort of St Leonards-on-Sea and was running a photographic studio at 195 London Road, St Leonards. James Stanborough's place had been taken by John B. Currie (born c1847, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk), a self-employed photographer who was residing at 13 Egerton Park Road, Bexhill-on-Sea at the time of the 1901 census. John B. Currie had previously ran a photographic portrait studio in Edgware Road, Paddington, in London, but it seems that in Bexhill he worked primarily as an "Outdoor Photographer". In 1901, Emil Vieler was still based at 11 Upper Station Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. Emil Vieler did operate a photographic portrait studio, but he did not need to take on apprentices. Emil's son Herbert Vieler (born 1878, Huddersfield) had assisted his father at the Bexhill studio for a number of years. By 1901, the twenty-two year old photographer was working alongside his father as an equal partner in the Vieler firm. The 1901 census records Herbert Vieler as a "Photographer (own account)" at his father's studio in Upper Station Road. If Emil Vieler required extra assistance in his business, he could always call on the services of his wife and his two daughters, twenty year old Florence or her younger sister Ada, who was eighteen years of age.

There is no evidence that William Morris Crouch was exploiting the assistants and apprentices who worked at the Sackville Studio, although, given his financial difficulties, Crouch might not have paid his staff on a regular basis. When defrauding students and employees, William Morris Crouch generally employed an alias. It appears that he used a pseudonym of either "Carl Beethoven" or "Morris Beethoven" when he was extracting money from prospective photography students in London and other towns. In Bexhill, William Morris Crouch's name appears in local trade directories and he is openly billed as "The Principal" in the Sackville Studio advertisements. However, by the beginning of 1903, William Morris Crouch was back in London advertising as a photographer under the assumed name of "Morris Beethoven" at 22c Ebury Street in the Pimlico district of London. It appears that William Morris Crouch was up to his old tricks again.
 
 

 

 

 Photographs of Paul Hodgkinson and Jessie Tavener taken at The Sackville Studio between 1900 and 1903

[ABOVE] A portrait of Paul Hodgkinson (1866-1942), a photograph enlarged from the negative of the small carte-de-visite taken at William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1900. This photograph was probably produced to mark Mr Hodgkinson's engagement to Miss Jessie Tavener of Hampstead, London.

 [PHOTO: Courtesy of Jeremy Hodgkinson]

[ABOVE] A portrait of  Jessie Asher Tavener (1870-1970), a cabinet photograph taken at William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1900. This studio photograph was probably taken to mark Miss Tavener's engagement to Mr Paul Hodgkinson, the proprietor of an Ironmonger business in Bexhill. Jessie Asher Tavener was born in London on 25th September 1870, the daughter of Jane and Charles Tavener, a successful builder.

 [PHOTO: Courtesy of Jeremy Hodgkinson]

[ABOVE] Portrait of Paul Hodgkinson (1866-1942), a carte-de-visite photographed at William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1900. The original negative was later enlarged and mounted in a larger frame by William Morris Crouch (see above).

 [PHOTO: Courtesy of Jeremy Hodgkinson]

Paul Hodgkinson and Jessie Tavener

Paul Hodgkinson was born on 23rd February,1866, at Kniveton, Derbyshire. Paul was the youngest son of Ann and Richard Hodgkinson, a Derbyshire farmer.

When he was in his late twenties or early thirties, Paul Hodgkinson moved down to Bexhill-on-Sea, where he purchased an ironmongery business. Kelly's 1899 Directory of Sussex lists Paul Hodgkinson as an ironmonger at 4 Devonshire Terrace, Bexhill-on-Sea.

Sometime in the late 1890s, Paul Hodgkinson met Jessie Asher Tavener (1870-1970), the daughter of Jane and Charles Tavener, a successful builder. The Taveners had their family home in Hampstead, London, but also owned a holiday home in Bexhill-on-Sea. It was probably while she was staying at the family's seaside home that Jessie met Paul Hodgkinson.

Early in 1900, Paul Hodgkinson and Jessie Tavener were engaged to be married. To mark the event, the couple had a set of photographs taken at William Crouch's Sackville Studio in Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. On 12th September 1900, Paul Hodgkinson married Jessie Asher Tavener in Bexhill-on-Sea. Paul and Jessie Hodgkinson went on to have five children - Muriel (1901), John (1902), Paul Allan (1905), Jessie Mildred (1908) and Bernard Spencer Hodgkinson (1911).

By 1905, Paul Hodgkinson, in addition to his ironmonger's shop in Devonshire Square, was running a house furnishing business at 4 Western Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. By 1915, Paul Hodgkinson and his family were residing at 2 Clifford Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. At this time, Paul Hodgkinson owned the ironmonger's shop at 4 Devonshire Place and a house furnishing business with premises at 2a, 2b & 4 Western Road and 17 Station Road, Bexhill on Sea.

Paul Hodgkinson died in Bexhill on 23rd September 1942, aged 76. Mrs Jessie Hodgkinson passed away on 18th August 1970, a month short of her 100th birthday.

[ABOVE] A studio portrait of Paul Hodgkinson and his wife Jesse Tavener, photographed  at The Sackville Studio, 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1903, when Joseph William Jacklette and Miss Bertha Duke were running the studio.

[PHOTO: Courtesy of Jeremy Hodgkinson]

 

Mrs Ellen Jacklett, the owner of The Sackville Studio in Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea (1903-05)

From January 1903 to April 1905, the studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea was owned by Mrs Ellen Jacklett and operated by William Morris Crouch's two former employees - Joseph William Jacklett, (Mrs Ellen Jacklett's son) and Miss Bertha Duke. A local trade directory published in 1904 lists Miss Duke as the "Manageress" of the Sackville Studio in Sea Road. Other trade directories lists the proprietor of the photographic studio in Sea Road as Mrs W. J. Jacklette, the mother of the young photographer Joseph William Jacklett.

[ABOVE] A newspaper report published the Bexhill Observer on 11th August 1906, detailing how Mrs Ellen Jacklett's photographic business failed because of the poor returns from the studio she owned at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. [Bexhill Observer, 11th August 1906, page 9].

The Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea Road,  Bexhill-on-Sea after 1903

 Joseph William Jacklett and Miss Bertha Duke

[ABOVE LEFT] A photograph of the concourse at Bexhill Railway Station in Sea Road, taken from a picture postcard produced around 1910. William Morris Crouch established The Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea Road around 1898, before the present Bexhill Railway Station was built. When Crouch opened his photographic studio near the Sea Road Railway Bridge in 1898, Bexhill's Railway Station was situated some 300 yards away at the top of  Devonshire Road. The new Bexhill Railway Station was built immediately opposite Crouch's studio in Sea Road in 1902. William Crouch made sure that his later advertisements mentioned the location of his Sackville Studio as "opposite the L. B. & S. C. Railway Station". The building that housed Crouch's studio cannot be seen in this photograph, but it would have been located just beyond the "CIGARS" shop sign on the right hand side of the picture.

The Photographic Studio at 7 Sea Road after 1903

Between January 1903 to April 1905, the photographic studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea was run by two former employees of William Morris Crouch - Miss Bertha Duke and Joseph William Jacklett junior. In 1901, Bertha Duke was twenty-five years of age and working as William Crouch's main assistant in the business. Joseph William Jacklett junior was a 16 year old photographer's apprentice at the time of the 1901 census.

Joseph William Jacklett junior was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, in 1884 [ birth registered in the Farnham District of Hampshire during the 2nd Quarter of 1884]. Joseph Jacklett junior was the son of photographer Joseph William Jacklett (born c1856, Dublin, Ireland) and Ellen Voller (born 1852, Bramshott, Hampshire). Joseph junior's father Joseph William Jacklett was the eldest son of Joseph Jacklett (born c1826 Bristol - died 1892, Aldershot, Hants.), a professional photographer who had operated a successful photographic portrait studio in the army garrison town of Aldershot between 1875 and 1890.

Bertha Duke was born in Chiddingstone, near Penshurst, Kent in 1876, the daughter of Frances Woodhams and John Duke, a manufacturer of cricket balls and bats. [The birth of Bertha Duke was registered in the Sevenoaks District of Kent during the 2nd Quarter of 1876].

When the photographer William Morris Crouch (c1847, Binfield, Berkshire) established The Sackville Photographic Studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1898, Bertha Duke was recruited as Crouch's chief assistant and Joseph Jacklett junior, then aged about 14, became one of the photographer's apprentices.

By the end of June 1901, William Morris Crouch had debts amounting to £25 12s 1d. By the end of the year Crouch was insolvent. At the end of 1902 or early in 1903,  William Crouch left Bexhill for London. In January 1903, William Crouch took an unfurnished flat in Ebury Street, London and set up a photography business under the name of  "Morris Beethoven" (see below). The photographic studio in Bexhill-on-Sea was left in the hands of Miss Bertha Duke, then aged around twenty-six, and Crouch's former apprentice, eighteen year old Joseph William Jacklett.

The entries for the photographic studio at 7 Sea Road which appear in local directories between 1903 and 1905 are confusing. A trade directory of 1904 lists the proprietor of the studio as "Miss W. J. Jacklette" and the Manageress as "Miss Duke". Other trade directories give details of the studio as "Mrs Jacklette (sic), 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. Joseph's mother Mrs Ellen Jacklett (Sometimes referred to as Mrs J. W. Jacklett) who was running a successful studio at 160 Victoria Road, Aldershot, purchased the Bexhill studio on her son's behalf in January 1903. "Miss W. J. Jacklette" could be a reference to Miss Duke or a title derived from the combined names of the two operators of the studio, Joseph William Jacklett and Miss Bertha Duke. It appears that there was a close relationship between Miss Duke and the young photographer, but the couple did not marry until 1908, about three years after the closure of photographic studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea.

 The Site of the Sackville Studio in Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea

A photograph of the Royal Sovereign pub in Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea (2008).

[LEFT] A recent photograph of the Royal Sovereign pub in Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea (2008). This building in Sea Road was used as a photographic portrait studio between 1898 and 1904. When William Morris Crouch set up the Sackville Photographic Studio in this building in 1898, his business address was No. 7 Sea Road. In more recent times, additional shops were built in this parade and the buildings were renumbered. The building which had originally been No. 7 was re-numbered and today the business address is given as 15 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea

[ABOVE] The rear ground floor room of the Royal Sovereign pub in Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, as it appears today (2008). In 1898, this room was used as a photographic studio by the Bexhill photographer William Morris Crouch. A slanting glass skylight would have run across the top of the long wall window, letting in a soft northern light into the studio.

 

[ABOVE] The parade of shops and businesses in Sea Road situated opposite Bexhill Railway Station (2008). The light-grey forecourt of the railway station can be seen on the right. Sea Road leads down to the seafront. The spire of St Barnabas Church can be seen on the extreme right of this photograph. When this parade of shops was built around 1897, the white building on the left (Sun On Chinese Takeaway) was numbered No. 1, the building which now houses the Bexhill Hearing Centre was No 3 and the red brick building with the white stripes was at No. 5 Sea Road. The Royal Sovereign pub housed William Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio. When Crouch opened the Sackville Studio around 1899, Bexhill's Railway Station was situated some distance away, but in 1902, a new railway station building was opened opposite Crouch's photographic studio.

[ABOVE] A photograph of Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, taken around 1923. The parade of shops on the left, leading towards the sea in the distance, can be matched with the buildings shown in the modern photograph, opposite. 

 No.

 Sea Road, Bexhill (1901)

 No.

Sea Road, Bexhill (Today, 2008)

 1  A. B. Plummer - Coal Merchant  5 - 7

 'Sun On' Chinese Takeaway

3  Gordon Green - House & Estate Agent  11  Bexhill Hearing Centre
5  Bexhill Water & Gas Company  13  Maitreya Buddhist Centre
7  The Sackville Photographic Studio  15  Royal Sovereign public house

 

William Morris Crouch as "Morris Beethoven" of Ebury Street, London (1903)

[ABOVE A studio photographer operating his camera. A drawing by George du Maurier, published in 1890.

In January 1903, William Morris Crouch took an unfurnished flat in Ebury Street, London and set up a photography business under the assumed name of  "Morris Beethoven". William Crouch's photographic studio was purportedly in business at 22c Ebury Street under the studio title of "Morris Beethoven" for a period of nine months from January 1903. London trade directories of the time list "Morris Beethoven" as a photographer at 22c Ebury Street, London, S.W., yet a studio employee later testified that Crouch "had, in fact, no genuine business, and for some time he had not even a camera on the premises". William Crouch's photographic studio at 22c Ebury Street, London finally closed in October 1903. ( Crouch's total debts amounted to £10 8s 7d on 8th October 1903). Using a business address of  47 Ebury Street, Pimlico, Westminster, William Morris Crouch then set up an employment agency, with the intention of defrauding more young men, but although he extracted a "half crown" (2s 6d) registration fee from each job seeker, at the time of his arrest for fraud, Crouch was virtually penniless. [ At 23rd October 1903, Crouch's debts totalled £12 3s 10d and when he was taken into custody, "the prisoner (Crouch) was entirely without means ... He had only a few coppers (penny coins) when apprehended "]. William Crouch's trial occupied the first few months of 1904. (Interestingly some reports of the court case describe Crouch as "deformed"). Crouch's trial for fraud was reported in the national press and some details of the court hearings, taken from accounts published in The Times newspaper, are given below under the heading The Trial of William Morris Crouch.

William Morris Crouch on Trial for Fraud

From January 1903, William Morris Crouch advertised as a photographer under the assumed name of "Morris Beethoven" in Ebury Street in London's Pimlico district.  It appears that William Morris Crouch was in desperate need of funds and so he returned to his highly dubious "apprenticeship scheme". Crouch placed advertisements in the national press (including The Daily Telegraph) and photographic journals, inviting young people to take up apprenticeships in his London studio. As before, Crouch, under the guise of a fictitious photographer named 'Beethoven', expected the students to pay a premium of anything up to £50 in return for his instruction in the art of photography. When the expected tuition in photography did not materialise, complaints were made against Crouch by his unpaid employees and the victims of his apprenticeship scheme. William Morris Crouch was arrested by the police and in January 1904 he found himself in Westminster's Police Court "charged with obtaining sums of money with intent to defraud." The total value of the fraud amounted to something in the region of £1,000.
 

[ABOVE A witness giving evidence during a trial for financial fraud. An illustration by Frank Craig, published in 1898.

The Trial of William Morris Crouch

At Westminster Police Court at the beginning of 1904, William Morris Crouch, described as an "artist and photographer of Ebury Street, Pimlico", was accused of acquiring payments on "false pretences" and charged  with "obtaining sums of money with intent to defraud." Investigations carried out by the police discovered that since 1896, Crouch had carried out a scheme, whereby, as a professional photographer, he would advertise for pupils, obtain sums of money as premiums for apprenticeships in his business, but then fail to carry out his side of the agreement. The police reported that Crouch had "carried on the system at various places in the provinces for the last seven years."

During January and February, 1904, The Times newspaper carried reports on the court hearings relating to William Morris Crouch's alleged fraud. The Court heard how Crouch "extensively advertised for pupils to learn all branches of photography" and how he had "obtained large sums of money for premiums,, though he had done practically no photographic business". Detective Chatt, the arresting officer, had produced a list of persons who claimed they were victims of Crouch's fraud - " a list of persons for whom he (Crouch) had obtained sums of from £100 to £25, the aggregate amount approximating to £1,000." One of the complainants was Edward Fuller Cripps, a licensed victualler, who had paid to Crouch a sum of £21, presumably as a premium to secure a photographic career for his twenty-year old son George.

In his defence, Crouch replied that "he did not see how they could make out any false pretences, as in return for the money he gave his time to the pupils and taught them". On the witness stand, Edward Cripps, pointed out that "some of the complainants (presumably including his own son) had entered the prisoner's employ, believing his assertions about the business".

The prosecution put the case that Crouch had advertised for pupils and assistants who were in a position to pay premiums and furnish deposits and that he had "entered into agreements, undertaking to make repayments of the deposits, but at the time his affairs were at the lowest pecuniary ebb, and there was no likelihood that he would be in a position to meet his obligations."

One witness, Alfred G. Cooper, a former employee at the Morris Beethoven studio in Ebury Street, testified that he had responded to one of Crouch's advertisements which was offering the position of "operator (photographer) in a high-class London studio, with a view to a partnership". Mr Cooper stated that he had paid Crouch a premium of £50, yet after he "had deposited his money and entered on his duties, he found that there was no camera on the premises." Alfred Cooper admitted that Crouch did eventually obtain a camera, but maintained that "no genuine business was done." Cooper complained that he "could not get his promised wages of two guineas a week and was sent by the prisoner (Crouch) to collect the replies to many advertisements for pupils".

 

[RIGHT] "Counsel's Opinion", a drawing by Charles Keene published in 1889

.

Robert C. Williamson, who had been employed by William Crouch as a clerk and secretary, had to pay the photographer a deposit of £50 as a "guarantee of good faith". Williamson signed an agreement to act as Crouch's secretary at a salary of £2 a week, yet he told the court that "his principal work was to answer advertisements in the photographic papers to solicit half-crowns (sums of 2s 6d) for 'registration fees'."

Former employees of William Morris Crouch, testified that they had not received the wages they had been promised and the court heard that "the servants at the studio had no money for months, and several young men had lost the whole of their capital."

 

 

 

William Morris Crouch eventually pleaded "Guilty" to three of the charges against him of "obtaining credit by fraud". William Morris Crouch, who had been in custody for six weeks, was sentenced to "five months imprisonment in the Second Division". [Second Division prisoners were deemed to be reputable characters from respectable family backgrounds, distinct from Third Division prisoners who were defined as "the criminal element of society long past redemption" ]. William Crouch was taken away to serve his sentence in Wormwood Scrubs Prison in Hammersmith, West London.

William Morris Crouch after his release from Wormwood Scrubs Prison

[ABOVE] Mug shots of convicted criminals, photographed in a British prison in the 1890s.

After being found guilty of "obtaining sums of money with intent to defraud", William Morris Crouch was sentenced to five months imprisonment. Crouch was to serve his time in Wormwood Scrubs Prison, a penal institution located at the southern end of a large open space of common land in Hammersmith, known as "Wormwood Scrubs" or "The Scrubs". H. M. Prison Wormwood Scrubs had been built between 1875 and 1891 by convict labour.

Major Arthur Griffiths (1838-1908), a novelist and Inspector of Prisons, wrote an account of life in Wormwood Scrubs Prison around 1902, just a few years before William Morris Crouch entered the prison.

Wormwood Scrubs is essentially a prison for “doing time” – where all incarcerated, male and female*, have been sentenced to imprisonment, principally for short periods. Convicts, however, or more precisely penal servitude prisoners, also come for the earlier part of their penalty. Between the embryo criminal and the finished full blown specimen there are many degrees and categories, nearly all of them to be found in Wormwood Scrubs, their antecedents very varied, their characters dissimilar, but their condition much the same. The records show that there are thieves in all lines of business – from the pickpocket to the garroter. The burglar, the forger, the fraudulent financier, the dishonest clerk are to be found here, and every kind of felon and misdemeanant is subjected to the same regime. In principle, the rule of “strict separation” is enforced, but not solitary confinement……

Now all British prisoners are segregated: they are located, each one, in a separate cell or small room; that is to say when they are not under discipline and observation. They are alone when at leisure, when feeding, sleeping, resting from labour; alone, as a general rule when at work, although some forms of labour are now carried out in common.

Of late the prison authorities have gone further, and now permit the well-conducted, after a brief period of separation, to be associated in their daily work. This is the case at Wormwood Scrubs, where the ground floors of the great halls are converted into rough and ready ateliers, and such simple trades are prosecuted as post-bag making, mat making, basket making and the manufacture of rope …. You will see that much tin-ware is turned out in the “shops”, that the prison carpenters produce boxes for His Majesty’s Post Office, that coal sacks for the Navy, bedding and blankets for the Army, are manufactured largely in prison. The work-rooms at Wormwood Scrubs are hives of intelligently conducted industry, and very satisfactory results are obtained.

* Up until 1902, Wormwood Scrubs Prison had housed both male and female prisoners

Extract from "In Wormwood Scrubs Prison" by Major Arthur Griffiths, which featured in George Robert Sims' collection of articles "Living London", published in 1902

After serving his five month sentence in Wormwood Scrubs Prison, William Crouch was released in the Summer of 1904. 

It appears that William Morris Crouch moved on to Scotland. It is reported that William Morris Crouch died at 28 Oxford Street, Edinburgh in 1907, aged around sixty.

[ABOVE] A photograph showing the interior of Wormwood Scrubs Prison (c1890). William Morris Crouch served his prison sentence inside Wormwood Scrubs in 1904.

[ABOVE] Warders at the gate of a London prison (c1900)
 

Acknowledgements

I am indebted to David Webb, the London photohistorian, who has provided an outline of William Morris Crouch's photographic career in London, including details of Crouch's fraud and the subsequent prosecution in the law courts.  David Webb's extensive research on the photographic studios of Victorian London has been made available on the website photoLondon ; The Database of 19th Century Photographers and Allied Trades in London: 1841-1901. I am also grateful to Michael Pritchard, who has compiled and published the invaluable reference work 'A Directory of London Photographers, 1841-1908 ' [ PhotoResearch, Watford, 1986 & 1994]. Thanks to Islay Watson, for providing further details on William Morris Crouch's family. Islay's grandmother was Ada Bessie Crouch, the eldest daughter of William Morris Crouch. Thanks also to Peter Stubbs, the creator of the EdinPhoto website ( an excellent resource on the History of Photography in Edinburgh) and Jennifer Forde and Tom Foster of the Wall to Wall production company. SOURCES : The Times : 13th January 1904 ; 20th January, 1904 ; 26th February 1904. The British Journal of Photography : 22nd January 1904, page76 ; 5th February 1904, page 114 ; 4th March, 1904, pages 196 -197. "A Llandeilo Apprentice" by John Miles Thomas (published in 1983). Thanks to Martin Staines for permission to use the portrait of George Vale, which was photographed at George Morris Crouch's Sackville Studio in Bexhill-on-Sea. Martin's grandmother Mrs Evelyn Staines (Evelyn Vale) was the younger sister of Emily Vale, the wife of Bexhill photographer Herbert Vieler. Thanks also to Caroline Custard and Robin Trustram for providing the photographic portraits of  Raymond and Beryl Trustram which were taken at William Crouch's Sackville Studio in Bexhill-on-Sea. I am grateful to Jeremy Hodgkinson for supplying images of the family photographs which were taken at William Crouch's studio at 7 Sea Road, Bexhill-on-Sea.

 

The Bexhill photographer William Morris Crouch is featured in the Fiona Bruce episode of the "Who Do You Think You Are?" television series. William Morris Crouch was the great, great grandfather of Fiona Bruce, the well known television presenter and news reader. A section of the Fiona Bruce programme (shown on BBC1 on 9th February 2009) covered William Morris Crouch's photographic career and his fraudulent apprenticeship scheme.

[ABOVE] The Sussex photo-historian David Simkin shows Fiona Bruce a carte-de-visite portrait taken at the Bexhill studio of her great, great grandfather, William Morris Crouch during the BBC television programme "Who Do You Think You Are?". David gave this carte-de-visite photograph to Fiona Bruce during the filming of the programme as a memento of her ancestor.

[ABOVE] The BBC presenter Fiona Bruce, the great, great grand-daughter of Bexhill photographer William Morris Crouch.

 

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John B. CURRIE  (born c1846, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk - died 1910, Lewisham)

[ABOVE] A cabinet size group portrait by John B. Currie, photographer of Bexhill-on-Sea. The photograph is rubber-stamped with John B. Currie's trade plate on the reverse of the cabinet card  (c1901)

 

 

[LEFT] The trade plate of John B. Currie, photographer of Bexhill-on-Sea, rubber-stamped on the reverse of the group photograph shown above (c1901)

John B. Currie (born c1846, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk), was the son of Amelia and Dr. James Currie, a medical doctor and general practitioner. John Currie's middle name is sometimes recorded as "Burton", at other times "Barton". Dr Currie was the son of a surgeon from the town of Bungay in Suffolk. From East Anglia, Dr James Currie eventually moved to North London, where he established a medical practice. In 1881, Dr James T. Currie is recorded as a G. P. in the St Pancras district of London. Dr Currie, his wife Amelia, and their two children, John B. Currie and his sister Lavinia Currie (born 1863, St Pancras, London) are listed on the 1881 census return for 81 Warden Road, St Pancras, London. John B. Currie is entered on the census return as an "Artist", aged 31, and his place of birth is given as London, instead of Great Yarmouth. By this date John B. Currie was operating a photographic studio at 14 Edgware Road, Paddington, London. John B. Currie remained at his Paddington studio until 1893.

In 1882, John Burton Currie married Mary Ashenhurst (born 1846, St Pancras, London), a woman in her mid thirties, who with her sister was previously engaged in the manufacture and selling of artificial teeth. Mary's brother, John T. Ashenhurst was a London dentist. The two Ashenhurst sisters presumably had some business dealings with their dentist brother. In the 1881 census, Mary Ashenhurst is described as a "Tooth Seller (Dentist)" and her sister Annie Jessie Florence Ashenhurst gives her occupation as "Tooth Maker (Dentist)".

At the time of the 1891 census, John Burton Currie and his wife Mary were still residing in London. No children are recorded on the census return. The census enumerator describes John B. Currie on the return as a forty-three year old photographer. At this time, John Burton Currie was still the proprietor of the photographic studio at 14 Edgware Road, Paddington, London. Around 1893, John Currie sold his Paddington studio to the London photographer George Wallis (1859-1909).

By the time the 1901 census was taken, John B. Currie and his wife Mary were residing at 13 Egerton Park Road, Bexhill-on-Sea. John B. Currie is described on the census return as "Photographer (own account)", aged 54. Local trade directories do not list John B. Currie as a proprietor of a photographic studio in Bexhill and it appears that he worked primarily as an "Outdoor Photographer" during his stay at the seaside resort.

John B. Currie died in Lewisham in 1910 at the age of 64.

 

 

 

 
George CHAPMAN (born 1880, St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex - died 1954, Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex) - Photographer active in Bexhill-on-Sea between 1913 and 1922
George Chapman was born in St Leonards-on-Sea in 1880, the son of Catherine Lacey and Walter Chapman, a milkman of Gensing Road, Hastings. [The birth of George Chapman was registered in the district of Hastings during the First Quarter of 1880].

George Chapman began his working life as a railway porter, but at the time of the 1901 census he was recorded as a prisoner in H. M. Prison Lewes in the St Anne's district of Lewes. On the census return, George Chapman is described as a married man of twenty-one. There is a record that George Chapman had married in Hastings in 1900, but his first marriage did not last very long.

Around 1909, George Chapman set up home with a twenty-three year old woman from Guestling named Edith (Morris?). A daughter named Georgina May Chapman was born in Northiam, Sussex in 1910. When the census was taken on 2nd April 1911, George Chapman, his wife Edith and their one year old daughter were living at Portland Cottage, Portland Place, Hastings. On the census return, thirty-one year old George Chapman is described as a "Journeyman Photographer". A second child, a son named Victor George Chapman, was born in the Hastings district during the 2nd Quarter of 1911.

Around 1913, George Chapman took over a photographic studio at 63 Station Road, Bexhill, previously occupied by Percy Henry Hilson (born 1883, Dalston, London). The 1913 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex records George Chapman as a photographer at 63 Station Road, Bexhill.

Early in May 1916, George Chapman was involved in an altercation with two photographers named H. J. Cherrington and Arthur Nash. Chapman took the two men to court accusing them of assault. George Chapman alleged that Arthur Nash, a former employee of Chapman's, had struck him across the face with a stick. Cherrington and Nash made the counter accusation that Chapman had assaulted them. As the evidence was considered by the magistrates as "very contradictory", the case was dismissed and all three photographers had to pay their own costs.

George Chapman was recorded as a professional photographer at 63 Station Road, Bexhill in the local trade directories which were published between 1911 and 1918. The 1922 edition of Kelly's Directory of Sussex lists Mrs Edith Chapman (George Chapman's wife) as a 'Photographer' at 63 Station Road, Bexhill.

By the early 1930s, George and Edith Chapman were based at 95 London Road, Bexhill. It appears that the couple worked together dealing in furniture and producing photographic cards. Mrs E. Chapman, George's wife, is listed as a "Photographer" at 95 London Road, Bexhill in the Trades Section of Kelly's Directory of Sussex published in 1938.

George Chapman died in Bexhill-on-Sea during the 4th Quarter of 1954, aged 74.

[ABOVE] A newspaper article published the Bexhill Chronicle on 13th May 1916, reporting on a magistrates court hearing concerning an altercation between the Bexhill photographer George Chapman and two other photographers, H. J. Cherrington and Arthur Nash (a former employee of George Chapman). George Chapman had accused Cherrington and Nash of assault, but the case was dismissed by the magistrates because the evidence given was "very contradictory".

 Thanks to John Newport for the above article

 

THE DEVONSHIRE STUDIO  1903-1915  ( J. J. Payne, proprietor 1903-1904, Otto Brown occupant in 1905 and Leon Balk, proprietor 1906-1915 )

[ABOVE] Men ,women and children stroll along the parade of shops in Devonshire Road in July, 1900. The shop- fronts have been decorated with flags and banners to celebrate the return of  the 8th Earl De La Warr from the Boer War. This section shows the business premises between Nos 61 and 67 Devonshire Road. To the right of Frank Aldridge's art materials shop is the decorated shop awning of Hull & Dixie's Fruit Store at 63 Devonshire Road. Miss Clara Barlow's Fancy Drapery Store at 65 Devonshire Road  can be seen under the line of celebratory flags. Part of  67  Devonshire Road, the business premises of Croucher & Co., Fruiterers can be glimpsed on the right-hand side of this photograph. The Devonshire Studio at 69 Devonshire Road was situated to the right of Croucher's shop.

[ABOVE] A newspaper advertisement announcing the opening of  The Devonshire Studio, Bexhill on 2nd March 1903. There had been a photographic studio at this address since 1892, but it was only after the photographer J. J. Payne''s took over the studio at 69a Devonshire Road in 1903 that the premises became known as The Devonshire Studio (Bexhill Observer, 21st February, 1903).

A photographic studio was established at 69 Devonshire Road, Bexhill-on-Sea around 1892 by James Ernest Stanborough. The photographic studio at 69 Devonshire Road, Bexhill-on-Sea became generally known as The Devonshire Studio after the photographer J. J. Payne took over the studio on 2nd March 1903.

In 1905, a young photographer named Otto Brown (born 1883, Long Sutton, Somerset), who had  acquired J. J. Payne's studio at 69 Devonshire Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, entered into a business partnership with Leon Balk (born 1878, Taurage, Lithuania), an Eastbourne photographer. The firm of Balk & Brown operated a studio in Eastbourne at 116 Langney Road and at Bexhill-on-Sea at 69 Devonshire Road. During their brief partnership, Otto Brown was based at the Bexhill studio in Devonshire Road, while Leon Balk remained in Eastbourne. Around 1906, Otto Brown left Bexhill and established his own studio at 2 Chapel Road, Worthing. After the partnership of Balk & Brown was dissolved in 1906, Leon Balk took over the Bexhill studio at 69a Devonshire Road. Leon Balk remained in business as a photographer at 69 Devonshire Road, Bexhill-on-Sea until 1915.

Index of Bexhill Photographers

Bexhill Photographers  (A - B) Alice Armstrong - Balk & Brown - Leon Balk - Bodom and Hawley - Hjalmar Bodom - Bridgman & Robbins - Otto Brown

Bexhill Photographers  A - B

Bexhill Photographers  (C - D) William Morris Crouch (The Sackville Studio) - John B. Currie - The Devonshire Studio

Bexhill Photographers  C - D

Bexhill Photographers  (E - H) Edgar Gael - Alfred Harding - A. D. Hellier - John Hicks - P.H.Hilson

Bexhill Photographers  E - H

Bexhill Photographers  (J - Q) Mrs J. W. Jacklett   - J. J. Jarrett - J. W. Jarrett - Miss M. Jarrett - J. J. Payne - J. Perry - Arthur Bruges Plummer

Bexhill Photographers  J - Q

Bexhill Photographers  (R - T)

William J. Reed - Thomas Robbins - Robson - Sackville Studio (W. M. Crouch) - Leonard Snelling - James E. Stanborough - George E. Swain - Charles Ash Talbot

Bexhill Photographers  R - T

Bexhill Photographers  (V -Z)

Emil Vieler - Herbert Vieler - J & E Wheeler 

Bexhill Photographers  V - Z

 

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