George William Tuft


London Scottish Regiment marching to the sound of bagpipes, South Street, Tarring. Looking north from the railway crossing

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Photographer, Worthing. Tuft published small numbers of sepia real photographic cards of Worthing from about 1905 onwards (Geoffrey Godden, Collecting picture postcards, 1996, Phillimore, Chichester). The photographs, which generally lack borders, are often marked "Photo Tuft" or just "Tuft" in tiny letters. Some other cards are discreetly stamped on the back: "Photo by G. W. Tuft". Wholly anonymous versions of some cards can also be found.

Like many Worthing photographers, Tuft published a card of the wrecked Pier after the March 1913 storm. More interesting, perhaps, are his cards of a shooting party held at Castle Goring in November 1907. His Highness Kumar Shri Ranjitsinhji, the Jam Sahib of Nawangar, otherwise known as Prince Ranji, was the guest of honour. Ranji was a cricketing genius - an extraordinarily gifted batsman, who outperformed even the redoubtable W. G. Grace. He is said to have scored over 25,000 runs during his cricketing career at an average of 45.00, several times exceeding 3000 runs per season.

Another Tuft card shows children trying to get to school along a flooded road at Goring on October 27, 1909. Rob Blann in his book Edwardian Worthing (1991, privately published, page 126) reproduces a Tuft card of shingle washed up on Worthing Parade after a storm on December 15, 1910. Similar cards show shingle covering Heene Terrace and the sea front after a high tide in March 1912. In February 1913 Tuft issued an unremarkable card of roadworks in Montague Street in Worthing. At the start of World War I he photographed the departure of the London & Scottish Regiment from Worthing.

Tuft issued a varied selection of cards of Tarring, including an ancient chest in the Parish Church, a military camp on the Downs, a bird's eye view of the village taken from the Church tower (July 1907 postmark, but a winter view) and some of the contestants at an outdoor baby show in July 1911.

Tuft was born at Walsall in Staffordshire in 1874. When the 1901 census was held, he was boarding at a house in Marylebone, London, and already working as a photographer. By about 1905 he had moved to Sussex. The 1911 census records that he was living with an aunt, 64-year-old Kate Holt, at a house called Stanmore in St Michaels Road in West Worthing. Kate, though married, had no children, and let George use one or more rooms in the house for his photographic work. Her husband was away from home on census night. George was aged 37, and a bachelor. After 1915 he disappears from Worthing and Sussex Directories, and what happened to him later in life needs further research. Did he perhaps enlist and decide when the war was over not to return to Worthing? Was he the George William Tuft who died in the Eton area in 1951, aged 77? And did he ever live in Hastings? The Hastings and St Leonards Observer reported in November 1940 that a jobbing gardener called George William Tufts (sic) had been fined and sent to prison for six weeks by local magistrates for photographing bomb damaged houses without an official permit. He was the right age to have been the former Worthing photographer, but in view of the surname mismatch there must be real doubt as to whether he was actually the same person.

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