John William Bradley Slator


Fox Hotel and railway bridge, Three Bridges (1910 postmark)

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Photographer, Three Bridges. Slator was born in 1862 at Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, the son of William Slator (born 1835), an agricultural labourer, and Sara Ann Smith (also born 1835). After William Slator died of Bright's disease on April 11, 1868, Sarah soon remarried, choosing as her new husband another agricultural labourer, William Corley (born in about 1845 at Redgrave, Suffolk).

By 1881 John Slator was working as a gardener for a Mrs Bassett at 36 Sydenham Park in Lewisham. In 1883 he married Sarah Sargeant (born 1861 at Forest Row) and the couple went to live in Camberwell (Peckham) where their first three children were born: William Bradley Slator (born 1888), Ethel Elizabeth Slator (born 1890) and Alice (born around 1893). John was still working as a gardener in Camberwell in 1891. He and his family lived in a house in Stuart Road.

By 1894 John moved with his family to Three Bridges and set up a photographic studio in the High Street in partnership with Harry Tullett, but within about a year the two decided to separate. Tullett retained the High Street studio, and Slator moved to a new studio in Crawley Road, which he called the Malvern Studio.

Sarah Slator had three more children at Three Bridges: Emily Ellen Slator in 1894, Charles Henry Slator in 1896 and George James Slator in 1902. She died in 1907, aged only 46, and on November 20, 1909, John Slator married again, in Worth Parish Church. His new wife was Emily Jane Vince, daughter of Henry Vince, a clerk from Redhill. She was 12 years younger than John and had been born at Bermondsey in London. In 1910 she bore him a fourth son, Frederick William Slator. It is not known whether other children followed.

Slator was still working as a photographer in 1911, but by 1913 he had moved with his family to 46 Victoria Road in Redhill and had become a boot repairer, which was still his trade when Kelly's 1918 Surrey Directory was compiled. He continued to live at 46 Victoria Road with Emily until his death on 8 May 1934. The probate register records that he left effects of £581.

Although as a photographer Slator concentrated on portraiture, he published some black and white collotype cards of Three Bridges, Lowfield Heath and Worth Church. The pictures often have a somewhat bluish cast and and rather poor definition. The backs of the cards are printed in red and labelled "J.W. Slator, Three Bridges". Some of the cards are captionless and have pictures without borders. Other cards have white borders but only at the base of the pictures, and have printed captions in red spiky, somewhat gothic, lettering. Both types of card were on sale by June 1906. They share the same design of back, and were evidently printed by the same, as yet unidentified, firm. John Fenner at Partridge Green sold cards with identical backs and captions employing the same red spiky lettering, and must therefore have used the same printer as Slator.

The sender of the captionless card of the village store in Lowfield Heath shown above apologised for the "dirty" appearance of the picture, but explained that she could not find a better card at the store!

Slator produced a set of captionless sepia-tinted real photographic cards of an unidentified garden that have his name embossed at the base of the pictures. It is very likely that the garden owner specially commissioned these cards.

For further details about John Slator's life and work as a portraitist, you are recommended to visit David Simkin's excellent website at

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