F. Smart


Steyning Church (undivided back)

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Steyning photographer, and if correctly identified also the proprietor of a chemist's shop in the High Street.

Soon after the start of the last century, Smart began marketing a range of black and white collotype cards of Steyning, Bramber and Beeding. These had undivided backs, which suggests that they were first issued (or at least ordered from the manufacturer) before January 1902 when the Post Office bowed to public pressure and agreed to allow cards with divided backs to be mailed at the standard halfpenny rate. Thought to be of German manufacture, these early cards are characterised by their scarlet captions and the words "F. Smart, Photo, Steyning" (or more rarely just "Smart, Steyning") printed in scarlet up the left edges of the card fronts. The pictures are set in wide, white surrounds, which for some reason are broader on the right than on the left. On some cards the pictures are oval in outline (as shown above), on others they are rectangular with rounded corners (see Gallery) or else fully rectangular. A few cards have been found with the usual scarlet printing but more modern divided backs or retain undivided backs but have uncharacteristic black printing. Further versions of the cards, manufactured in Britain, have impressed fully rectangular pictures, symmetrical left and right margins, black printing and divided backs. Labelled "F. Smart, Photographer, Steyning" in black on the verso, they were on sale at the latest by 1909. Smart's name also appears on a black and white halftone of "Bramber Village during the flood", which may date from 1904.

By 1905, Smart was also producing coloured collotype cards of Steyning, Bramber and Beeding, which in some cases were new views, but in other cases were coloured versions of his black and white pictures. Printed in Germany, the cards had scarlet captions, and were labelled "F. Smart. Photographer. Steyning" on the front or less commonly on the back. Examples include "The Mill Stream and part of the Downs, Steyning", "High Street, Steyning", "Steyning Street" and "Steyning Market 30 years ago". Other coloured collotypes, printed in Britain, show the quirky exhibits of stuffed animals in Bramber Museum, where the cards were presumably sold.

In addition to the postcards Smart issued a souvenir album of Views of Steyning and Neighbourhood. Apart from the picture captions, this album had no explanatory text and was undated. Beneath the title was the frustratingly brief oneliner: "Published by F. Smart, Photographer, High Street, Steyning".

The only F. Smarts that are known to have lived in Steyning High Street in the early 1900s were Frederick Smart and his mother, Fanny (née Golds). Frederick had been born in Steyning in 1879. His father, Alfred Smart, born in Littlehampton in about 1846, ran a chemist's shop in Steyning High Street until 1901, when he died and Frederick took over. Frederick was still running the business in the 1930s. His mother Fanny, born at Ferring in about 1846, could possibly be the "F. Smart" of the photographs. She was the right age to have been a pioneer Steyning photographer, and would have been able to rely on her husband Alfred to provide her with the various chemicals that she would have needed to develop her negatives. If she worked mainly in an informal capacity, this could explain (together with her gender and the inexcusable male chauvenism of Edwardian times) why she is not listed as a professional photographer in Sussex Directories. She was still alive in 1924.

Although Fanny could have published the cards (and may indeed have taken some of the photographs), it seems more probable that her son, Frederick Smart, was the actual publisher. Although too young to have photographed Steyning Market in the 1870s, he might well have acquired the negative from his mother or father, who could have taught him how to use a camera. Frederick seems to have been a man of many parts in addition to being a High Street chemist - Kelly's Sussex Directories record that an F. Smart, presumably Frederick, was a "collector" for the Steyning and District Water Works Co. Ltd. both before and after the First World War. According to Kelly's 1905 Sussex Directory he was also an assistant overseer.

Frederick Smart married Florence Gertrude White at Stoke Newington in London in 1914. He died on June 17, 1945, leaving effects of £16,142. The probate register records his final address as Wayside, Maudlin Lane in Bramber. He was survived by Florence, his wife.

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