Richard Oxley (Oxley's Newhaven Series)


Sleeper's Hole, Fort Road, Newhaven

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Newsagent, stationer (wholesale and retail), warehouseman and fancy goods dealer at 1 Chapel Street in Newhaven. Richard Oxley founded his business at 1 Chapel Street in the early 1890s and retired soon after the First World War.

By July 1904 he began publishing some black and white collotype cards of Newhaven, labelled "Oxley's Newhaven Series" on the back or more rarely on the front. He also sold hand coloured versions. The cards were "Printed in England", but not by Oxley. Some have backs printed in green, others red or black backs. The captions on the pictures are usually printed in black or green italics, but non-italic red or black printing can also be found. The photograph on one of the cards, showing Sleepers Hole at Newhaven, reappeared in 1910 on an Arrow Series card. Presumably, Oxley sold the negative to the publisher of the Arrow cards. Another Oxley card shares the same photograph of a steamer leaving Newhaven Harbour as a card published by Oakley and also a card in the Arrow Series.

Oxley published some black and white collotype cards of Polegate, Wannock and Filching Manor House that are labelled on the back: "Oxley's Newhaven Series. Printed in England." The pictures have black captions and the backs are printed in red. At least six cards are known, including one showing a horse drawn dray from the Star Brewery in Old Eastbourne delivering beer to an inn in Polegate High Street. 1904, 1905 and 1906 postmarks have been seen.

Richard Oxley was born at Newhaven in 1848 and, as far as can be determined, lived there all his working life. He was the oldest son of John Oxley, who had been born at Waldron in about 1812. John is described in the 1861 census as a "brewer's assistant", but the 1871 census upgrades him to "brewer". John's wife, Elizabeth, came from Newhaven and was born in 1821. The Oxley family lived in St Luke's Lane.

Richard Oxley had five brothers and sisters. After leaving school, he became a clerk in a "steam packet" office in the port. He married Amy Baldwin at Edmonton in north London in 1879. Amy was the eldest daughter of Henry Baldwin, a Newhaven butcher, and his wife, Mahala. Five years younger than Richard, she had taught in a Newhaven school before going to London. After their marriage, Richard and Amy lived at 17 South Street in Newhaven, but by 1891 they moved to 1 Chapel Street, next door to Amy's childhood home. It was here that Richard Oxley set up his business, and locals soon came to call the site "Oxley's Corner". Pike's 1913-14 Newhaven Directory records that Oxley employed James Baldwin as his manager. Baldwin, who was then in his mid thirties, was presumably a relative of Amy, but this has not been confirmed. Baldwin's parents had both been born in Lamberhurst. His father was a mariner based at Newhaven. The 1891 census records that Baldwin worked as a newsboy in the town, but his employer is not named. In the 1901 census he is listed as a stationer's manager, but the name of the stationer is not given. It is tempting to suppose that on both occasions he was working for Oxley. Oxley carried on his business at 1 Chapel Road until about 1923 when he handed it over to James Baldwin, who continued to run it until 1938 or later.

Richard and Amy Oxley did not have any children. After James Baldwin took over Richard's business, they moved to 2 Brighton Road in Newhaven to a house that they named Mahala, presumably in honour of Amy's mother!

Richard Oxley died at Newhaven late in 1931, aged 83, and Amy in 1935 at the age of 81.

Acknowledgement: Special thanks go to Mike Green (Barcombe) for his help with researching Oxley's life.

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