Richard Fish & Sons


Rough sea at the Redoubt

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Stationer, bookseller and proprietor of a fancy goods repository, Eastbourne (initially trading as "R. Fish" later as "R. Fish & Sons"). Richard Fish was born at Bolton in Lancashire in 1870, and was the son of another Richard Fish, a bleacher. He moved to Eastbourne and set up as a stationer at 3 Seaside in about 1900. On December 7, 1901, he married Emily Barnes at Holy Trinity Church in Eastbourne. She had been living at Walmsley in Lancashire and was the daughter of John Barnes, a grocer. In the following year she gave birth to a son, Harold Barnes Fish. Gladys Emily M. Fish followed in 1908, and Aubrey John R. Fish in 1909.

By 1905 or 1906 Richard Fish was located at 7 Seaside Road (whether he moved his shop or the road was renumbered is uncertain), but by 1907 his address was again 3 and also 5 Seaside. It appears from the 1911 census that he and his family lived over the shop or in rooms at the back. Among the fancy goods offered for sale in 1912-13 were "rare mineral shells (sic) in small or large quantities for private collections and schools" (Brighton etc. Trade Directory 1912-1913).

Around 1910 Fish & Sons started selling borderless sepia real photographic cards of Eastbourne with neat handwritten captions. Although marked "R. Fish & Sons" or just "Fish & Sons, they were evidently bought-in from the same mystery firm that supplied numerous publishers and retailers in Britain from 1909 onwards, which may have been Bender and Co.of Croydon. Fish & Sons probably provided the photographs themselves, as these were taken at different times of the year and included some out-of-the-ordinary subjects. Had the firm of printers sent their own photographer to Eastbourne, he or she would have been unable in a single visit to secure such a range of pictures. One well-known card (shown above), which also exists as a collotype, shows a foolhardy man and two boys clinging to the railing on top of the sea wall at the Redoubt as huge waves break just in front of them, flinging up plumes of spray. They appear to be about to receive a thorough drenching!

Another card shows a small monoplane "flying over Parade & Pier, Eastbourne". Crowds line the Parade, but nobody is looking at the plane, which proves that it is a fraudulent addition to the picture. A card of the Long Man of Wilmington that Fish published was subsequently reprinted by F. A. Hutchinson. It would be interesting to know how she came by the negative. In one of Hutchinson's views of Hampden Park at Eastbourne a girl can be seen in the distance feeding two swans. The same girl can be seen feeding the swans in a Fish picture. Conceivably, Hutchinson supplied Fish & Sons with the photographs that they used on their cards

In addition to the real photographics, Fish & Sons sold a series of black and white collotype cards of Eastbourne with their name and address on the back that were actually printed by Valentines of Dundee. Some cards are cryptically initialled "JV" in the picture space. The cards probably went on sale in about 1912, although no early postmarks have been reported. A collotype card marked "Published by R. Fish & Sons, 3 & 5 Seaside, Eastbourne" with two oval sepia-toned views of Belle Toute (one incorrectly labelled "Beachy Head") may have been supplied by Valentines but is of unusual design. A 1912 postmark has been seen.

Richard Fish is believed to have died in 1955 at the age of 85.

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