A & W. Walter (Walter Bros.)


Arundel from the bridge (1907 postmark)

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Worthing drapers, outfitters and fancy stationers. William Walter started a grocery business in Worthing in 1846, but in 1850 began changing it into a drapery, hosiery and haberdashery, which soon prospered and moved to 58 & 60 Montague Street. In the early 1870s he acquired additional premises at 25 South Street (later 4 & 6 South Street). Another branch was opened at Tarring in 1898, but was relatively short lived. The South Street branch closed in about 1960, but the Montague Street shop continued trading until 1971. The building was then demolished.

William Walter was born at Marden in Kent in about 1823, and in 1848 married Caroline Hickmott, who was also from Marden. William and Caroline's first child, Kate Walter, was born at Goudhurst in 1849. They then moved to Worthing, where William Walter Junior was born in 1850 and Arthur Frederick Walter in 1852. Two more daughters followed: Caroline Walter in about 1856 and Julia Walter on September 5, 1859. The birth of her fifth child may have overtaxed Caroline; by 1861 she was dead and her elder sister, Mary Hickmott, moved to Worthing to act as William's housekeeper. In 1862 Mary and the widowed William married, and many more children followed. He died in 1881 at Worthing, having handed over his drapery business (renamed Walter Bros.) to his two elder sons, William Walter Junior and Arthur Frederick Walter. Mary died at Worthing in 1884, aged 61.

The 1881 census records that William Walter Junior employed 5 men, 9 women, 2 boys and 3 girls. He and his wife, Emma, née Wiles, who had been born at St Albans in Hertfordshire and had married him in 1876, lived in Grafton Road in Worthing and had three children: Edward Wiles Walter, born in 1877, William Frank Walter (later listed as Frank W. Walter), born in 1878, and Jessie Walter, who was only months old.In 1881 Arthur Frederick Walter, who lived at 4 South Street (presumably over the shop) employed one woman and a boy. He had two children, Herbert Arthur Walter, born in 1876, and Kate Walter, born in 1877, but was widowed. His wife, Catherine Walter (née Baker), whom he had married in 1875, had died in 1877, apparently as a result of complications arising from Kate's birth. After her death, his sister, Florence Mary Walter (from his father's second marriage) became his housekeeper. Arthur Frederick Walter remarried in about 1882, and by 1891 his new wife, Frances Eva Walter (née Waters, born at Fordingbridge in Hampshire), had presented him with five more children. He and Frances had moved with their children to Grafton Road to be near William Walter Junior and his family. The 1901 census records their address as South Lodge, Grafton Road. A further three children had been added to the family since the previous census.

By 1891 William and Emma Walter had had eight children. The 1901 census gives their address as Marden House in Grafton Road. By 1911 they had moved to Oakcroft, 54 Woodlea Road in West Tarring. Arthur Frederick Walter was still living at South Lodge. Two of Arthur's sons (Sidney and Leonard) were helping with the drapery business. Edward Wiles Walter was also involved.

Walter Bros. published a series of attractively coloured collotypes of Worthing and district, which are labelled on the back "Published exclusively by Walter Bros., Worthing". The captions are printed in red. Subjects include Worthing Pier, Goring Cross Roads and Arundel viewed from the Bridge. Several 1907 postmarks have been seen. Arthur Colbourne of Lancing sold cards of identical design, which were imported from Saxony by a London firm.

Much rarer are some delicately hand coloured collotypes of Offington, Salvington Mill and other subjects that have larger, more prominent captions in white. These are labelled on the back "Published by Walter Bros. 2, 4 & 5 South Street, Worthing" and were printed in England. Possibly the Great War ended their production.

Three kinds of collotype card with monochrome (non coloured) pictures are known that claim to have been "Published exclusively by Walter Bros". Having quite similar backs to the coloured cards with the red captions and possibly supplied by the same manufacturer are some greenish black collotypes with green Art Deco facsimile frames highlighted with red squares. These were on sale by 1910. Very different in character are some other collotypes that were evidently printed for Walter Mezzotint and include views of Chanctonbury Ring and troops on exercise at Cissbury (1912 postmark noted). Yet another kind of collotype card has white captions printed in capitals and tea coloured (brownish black) pictures with shiny surfaces. These cards, which were on sale by 1906, can be easily mistaken in poor light for real photographics. One card, showing Street Cottage at Broadwater, has been found with "A. & G. Hunter, Brighton" in place of the usual Walter label. Arthur Colbourne sold cards of Lancing of identical design to the Walter Bros. collotypes.

Walter Bros. also published real photographic cards of Findon village and Chanctonbury Ring with oval photographs enclosed in ornate frames. Other real photographic cards of Findon that they issued have more conventional rectangular photographs with wide white borders (a 1909 postmark has been seen). All these real photographic cards are labelled "Published exclusively by Walter Bros., Worthing".

William Walter was still living at Oakcroft when he died on 7 August 1938, aged 87, leaving an estate valued at £14,008. His brother, Arthur Frederick Walter, of South Lodge died aged 88 on 3 July, 1941, leaving an estate of £12,725.

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