BreachA - Hastings


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Archibald Mark Breach

(born 1875, Hastings - died 1954)


Archibald Mark Breach

active as a professional photographer in Hastings between 1896 and 1930


Archibald Mark Breach was born in Hastings, Sussex in 1875 (birth registered in the Hastings District during the Fourth Quarter of 1875). Archibald Breach was the son of Alice and Mark Breach, a master mariner of Hastings. Archie's father, Mark Breach junior (born 1845, Hastings) was a member of the well-known Breach family of Hastings who were active in the town as fishermen, fish merchants and fishmongers throughout the nineteenth century.

The surname Breach appears on a list of Hastings fishermen and their fishing boats prepared in 1804. William Breach (born c1775, Battle, Sussex), Archibald Breach's great, grandfather, was a prominent Hastings fish merchant, who had been transporting fish to Billingsgate Fish Market since the Napoleonic Wars. William Breach's three brothers were also active in the fish trade, either as fishermen or fish merchants. The various sons of the Breach brothers followed in their fathers' footsteps, becoming either the owners of fishing vessels or businesses that dealt in fish. William Breach (1775-1854) ran a fishmonger's business at 4 Commercial Road, Hastings, which was passed on to his son Mark Breach (c1815-1883) - the grandfather of Archibald Mark Breach.

Archie Breach's father, Mark Breach junior (born 1845, Hastings), was primarily a merchant seaman. As a mariner, Mark Breach junior was often far from his home town of Hastings. In the 1861 census, Mark Breach junior was recorded at Penzance, Cornwall, as a 16 year old crew member of the fishing vessel "Free Trade".

In 1875, Mark Breach junior married Alice Hannah Wilkins (1847-1908), the daughter of Hannah and Benjamin Wilkins [ The marriage of Mark Breach and Alice Wilkins was registered in the London district of Poplar during the First Quarter of 1875 ]. Benjamin Wilkins (1818-1886), Alice's father, was a London merchant who, after a period in Canada, had in the 1860s established a tobacconist's shop in Hastings at 47 Robertson Street . Mark and Alice Breach's first child, Archibald Mark Breach was born in Hastings within a year of the marriage.

When the 1881 census was taken, Mark Breach junior was, once again, away at sea.  In the 1881 census, Mark Breach junior's wife, Mrs Alice Hannah Breach (born 1847, Islington, London) is recorded at the family home at 48 Cambridge Gardens, Hastings, with their only child, five year old Archibald Breach. Alice Hannah Breach, then aged thirty-four, is entered on the census return as "Wife of Master Mariner". In 1886, Alice Breach gave birth to a daughter - Annie Alice Breach [ birth registered in the Hastings district during the 2nd Quarter of 1886 ].

Mark Breach junior, Archibald Breach's father, died sometime in the 1890s. Archibald Breach broke with family tradition and pursued a career outside of the fishing industry. Instead of becoming a fisherman like his father or a fishmonger like his grandfather, Archie took up photography.

Archibald Mark Breach is first mentioned as a photographer around 1896, when he was in his early twenties. In 1896, Archibald Breach is recorded as a photographer at 4 Cornwallis Street, Hastings, a studio premises that was previously used by the photographer George Westbrook (c1841-1893). By 1898, Breach was working as a photographer at 25 White Rock, a building on Hastings seafront which had been used as a photographic studio since 1864. After a year or so, Breach moved to 21 White Rock, the former studio of Melancthon Moore (born c1862, Forest Hill, Kent).


[ABOVE] midget carte portraits by A. M. Breach of 21White Rock, Hastings.   [ABOVE] midget carte portraits by A. M. Breach of 21White Rock, Hastings.

[ABOVE] White Rock, Hastings. Over the years, Archibald Breach operated three photographic studios on this parade of commercial buildings on Hastings' seafront. The first was at No 25 White Rock, the second at No 21, and the third at No 37a.


Archibald Mark Breach's Photographic Studios in Hastings 1896-1922

4 Cornwallis Street, HASTINGS


25 White Rock, HASTINGS


21 White Rock, HASTINGS


44 Milward Crescent, HASTINGS


48 Cambridge Gardens, HASTINGS


8 Devonshire Rd/Terrace, HASTINGS


194 Queens Road, HASTINGS


37(a)White Rock, HASTINGS



[ABOVE] White Rock, Hastings by Fred Judge (c1905). A. M. Breach & Co. operated from premises at 37a White Rock, in the building marked "CHEMIST", next to the Palace Hotel at the far left of this photograph. Fred Judge's Photo Stores can be seen at No 42 to the right of the massive store belonging to the clothing firm of White & Norton.


A. M. Breach - Studio Photographer in Hastings


In the early years of his career as a professional photographer, Archibald Mark Breach was producing  portraits in a conventional photographic studio. In the late 1890s, Breach was producing studio portraits in popular formats such as the "Cabinet" portrait and the "Midget" photograph (see examples on the right). Breach's studios in White Rock were long-established and would have been supplied with the standard equipment of photographers' furniture, painted backdrops and studio props. At the time of the 1901 census, Archibald Breach was living at 44 Milward Crescent, Hastings and he is described as an unmarried "Photographer", aged 25.

Archibald Breach carried on as a studio photographer at 21 White Rock, Hastings for about six years until 1904. Archibald Breach is not listed under the heading of "Photographers" in the Trades Section of Kelly's 1905 Directory of Sussex, but, as "Mark Breach", he is recorded as residing at 44 Milward Crescent in the "Directory of Private Residents". Breach had lived at 44 Milward Crescent since 1899, at least, but over these years he had operated a photographic studio at 21 White Rock. At this time, it appears that Breach was no longer taking portraits in a well-established studio, but was working from Milward Crescent as an "outdoor photographer". It is likely that Breach also worked as a "beach photographer" during this period.




[ABOVE & RIGHT] Two midget carte portraits by A. M. Breach of 21White Rock, Hastings. The "Midget Carte" format for portrait photography had been introduced in the early 1880s, but they reached their height of popularity in the mid and late 1890s. In the mid 1890s, these small portrait photographs, measuring 3 inches by 1 5/8 inches were sold for 3s 6d a dozen. The low price of the "Midget Photograph" compared favourably with the cost of other portrait formats. In the same period, photographic studios charged 5 shillings for a dozen "cartes-de-visite" and 10 shillings for twelve "cabinet" format photographs.



Postcard Photographs of SS Lugano

Archibald Breach, like a number of other professional photographers in Hastings, produced picture postcards that depicted notable local events. Amongst the most dramatic of Breach's postcards were those that showed the burning of the steamship Lugano.

 In April 1906, the SS Lugano, a large merchant ship carrying a cargo of cotton, timber and oil to the German port of Hamburg, caught fire in the English Channel. The ship with its burning cargo was towed towards Hastings and for the next few days the burning ship was viewed by crowds of people and photographed by a number of local photographers. Some of the dramatic photographs of the burning ship were later issued as picture postcards by the photographers who had witnessed the burning of the Lugano * . Archibald Breach was one of several professional photographers who published shots of the burning ship in picture postcard format. (see the example on the right).

* For further examples of picture postcards depicting the SS Lugano on fire, go to the Hastings Bygones website at the following link: The Lugano Burns

[ABOVE] A 1906 picture postcard showing the burning merchant ship SS Lugano.


Archibald Mark Breach's Photographic Studios in Hastings after 1907

By 1907, Archibald Breach was working as a photographer from 48 Cambridge Gardens, Hastings. In Pike's "Hastings & St Leonards Directory" of 1907, A. M. Breach is listed as a photographer at 48 Cambridge Gardens, but there is also an entry for the studio of Breach & Co. at 37a White Rock, Hastings. Kelly's 1907 Directory for Sussex lists A. M. Breach & Co. under the heading of "PHOTOGRAPHERS" in the Trades Section, with a studio address of 37 White Rock. Archibald Breach occupied a section of the building at No 37 White Rock, the business premises of the homeopathic chemist Albert Ernest Bolshaw. Clearly, with two studios, Archibald Mark Breach was no longer working alone and with the help of others he was able to work as an outdoor photographer and also produce photographic portraits at his White Rock studio.

Towards the end of 1908, Archibald Breach married ( the marriage was registered in the Hastings District during the Fourth Quarter of 1908 - his bride was either Margaret Hart or Ethel Florence Tapner ). Archibald Breach and his wife set up home at 8 Devonshire Road (Terrace), Hastings. Around 1910, Archibald Breach took over J. W. Jarrett's photographic studio at 194 Queens Road, Hastings and, in Kelly's Sussex Directory published in 1911, A. M. Breach is listed as a photographer with two studios in Hastings - one at 194 Queens Road, the other at 37 White Rock. In this 1911 directory, Archibald Breach is also listed as the proprietor of a boarding house at 8 Devonshire Road, Hastings.


[ABOVE] A detail from a photograph by Fred Judge showing the parade of  buildings to the right of the Palace Hotel at White Rock, Hastings. A. M. Breach & Co.'s  studio was at 37a White Rock, next to the Palace Hotel at the far left of this photograph in the building marked "CHEMIST" (Breach shared the building at No 37 White Rock with the homeopathic chemist Albert Ernest Bolshaw ). Fred Judge's Photo Stores can be seen at No 42 to the right of the large store of White & Norton at No. 41. White & Norton, a firm of fashionable costumiers and ladies' tailors, employed Archibald Breach to take publicity photographs.

[ABOVE] A studio portrait postcard by A. M. Breach of 194 Queens Road, Hastings (c1911). The photographer's blind stamp can be seen at the bottom right corner of the photograph (See BELOW)

[ABOVE] Archibald Mark Breach's blind stamp which was impressed in the corner of his post-card portraits


A. M. Breach & Co. at 37a White Rock, Hastings

The firm of A. M. Breach & Co operated a photographic studio at 37a White Rock, Hastings throughout the First World War period. A. M. Breach took conventional studio portraits inside his business premises at White Rock, but he also ventured outside, taking photographs of holidaymakers on Hastings beach, on the Pier and in carefully composed groups outside their seaside lodgings.

Archibald Breach took a large number of photographs on Hastings seafront, recording parties of day trippers, holidaymakers, and a range of seaside events and activities such as sea bathing, fishing competitions ** and beach entertainment.

**A photograph by A. M. Breach, taken at the Hastings Sea Angling Festival of 1922, can be viewed at the website of the East Hastings Sea Angling Association by clicking on the following link : Record Conger Eel by A. M. Breach

Breach took group portraits of seaside entertainers, such as the "Pierrots", who in their distinctive conical hats and costumes adorned with large pom-poms, performed comedy sketches, songs and dances on seaside piers or on temporary stages erected on the beach. Breach's photographs of seaside entertainers and local events were published in postcard format and sold to holidaymakers in Hastings.

[ABOVE] A group portrait of Mr Little's Pierrot Entertainers, a postcard by A. M. Breach of Hastings (c1920).


[ABOVE] Another group portrait of Mr Little's company of Pierrot entertainers by A. M. Breach. This postcard is entitled "LITTLE'S PEERLESS PIERROTS, HASTINGS" and carries the photographer's credit - "PHOTO BY A. M. BREACH, 37 WHITE ROCK, HASTINGS ".


A. M. Breach's Picture Postcards

[ABOVE & RIGHT] Three real photo postcards by A. M. Breach of 37a White Rock, Hastings, taken around the time of the First World War.

[ABOVE] A studio portrait of a soldier and his wife. The message pencilled on the reverse of the postcard reads: "Dear Joe - this is what we had taken at Hastings. Note Tom's Charlie Chaplin moustache - he had it off now & he looks better without it. Love, Rose."

[TOP RIGHT] Bathing in the sea at Hastings (c1914). This postcard and the previous studio portrait has been blind-stamped "A. M. BREACH, HASTINGS".


[BOTTOM RIGHT] Boarding House guests photographed outside Fernside House, Hastings by A. M. Breach (c1918).


A. M. Breach - Group Portraits on the Beach

[ABOVE] A group portrait postcard by A. M. Breach of Hastings (c1920). The photographer's banner proclaiming "Having a Good Time at HASTINGS! [231] PHOTO BY A.M. BREACH" can be seen planted in the sand at the front of the group.

[ABOVE] A detail from the group portrait photograph by A. M. Breach of Hastings, shown above. The wording on the  photographer's banner - "Having a Good Time at HASTINGS! - PHOTO BY A.M. BREACH" - was standard, but each photograph carried an identifying number (in this example, No. 231) which could be quoted to order copies of the original photograph. Breach's group portraits usually contained more than two dozen adults so the potential for orders of further copies was good.

Archibald Breach's studio at 37a White Rock was very near Hastings Pier and faced a popular stretch of the Hastings seafront. In the 1920s, Archibald Breach positioned himself with his camera near the entrance to Hastings Pier and took group portraits of holidaymakers who were either on organised outings to the seaside town or smaller parties assembled into a larger group by the photographer.


[ABOVE] Two group portrait postcards by A. M. Breach of Hastings. The group on the left is numbered 187; the group on the right were photographed with a sign that reads "A.M. BREACH'S COMMUNITY GROUP, No. 17."

A. M. Breach is listed in trade directories as a photographer at 37a White Rock, Hastings until about 1922. Two years later, in Kelly's 1924 Directory of Sussex, A. M. Breach & Co. are shown with a photographic studio at 72 Cambridge Road, Hastings. The last time that  Archibald Mark Breach was listed as a professional photographer in a Sussex trade directory was in 1930, when his studio address is given as 60 Mount Pleasant Road, Hastings.


The Final Years of A. M. Breach

Archibald Mark Breach was in business as a professional photographer in Hastings for over 30 years. Apart from studio portraits, beach groups, and seaside postcards, Breach also produced publicity photographs for local firms, such as the fashionable costumiers, White & Norton of 41 White Rock.

By the 1940s, Archibald Breach was living at 29 Nelson Road, Hastings. Archibald Mark Breach died in Hastings in 1954, aged 79. In 2003, Hastings Museum was presented with a collection of glass negatives produced by Archibald Breach in Hastings during the 1920s or 1930s. The donated negatives had been found at 29 Nelson Road after Breach's death.

To view four examples of the portraits found at Nelson Road, click on the link below :

Studio Portraits by A. M. Breach


Acknowledgements and Sources

I am indebted to Christopher Llewellyn of Melbourne Australia. Chris is descended from Frederick Breach (born 1851, Hastings), the younger brother of Mark Breach (born 1845, Hastings), the father of Archibald Mark Breach. Chris Llewellyn has conducted extensive research into the Breach families of Hastings and Lowestoft and has produced an invaluable resource for those interested in the Breach Family at the website entitled "The Family History of Llewellyn & Various Ancestors". Thanks also to Cathy Walling, Assistant Curator at Hastings Museum for permission to use the four photographs by A. M. Breach featured on the next webpage Studio Portraits by A. M. Breach

The excellent book "FISHERMEN OF HASTINGS : 200 Years of the Hastings Fishing Community" by Steve Peak (NewsBooks, 1985) contains a number of references to the Breach Family of Hastings.

 SOURCES : Census returns : 1851, 1861, 1881, 1901 [Hastings]; 1861, 1881 [Cornwall] 1881 [Lowestoft] 1861 [Matlock, Derbyshire] - Thanks to John Palmer of Sussex & Hastings Trade Directories : 1866, 1878 (Kelly) ; 1896 (Pike) ;1897 (Kelly, Pike, Buff Book); 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903,( Pike, Kelly) ; 1904 (Pike, Bennett); 1905, 1906, 1907,1908, 1909, 1910 (Kelly, Pike); 1911 (Kelly); 1915, 1918, 1922, 1924, 1927, 1930 (Kelly). FreeBMD website for details of the births, marriages and deaths of members of the Breach family.

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