Arthur Nash


Six Canadian soldiers pose for the camera, probably in Egerton Park, Bexhill

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Bexhill and Hastings photographer. Nash worked briefly for the Bexhill photographer, George Chapman, either just before or soon after the start of the Great War. Relations between the two men became strained and they parted less than amicably. Nash took his fellow photographer to court for non-payment of some money that he claimed was owed to him, and won his case, but for some reason Chapman continued to refuse to settle the debt. On May 2, 1916 Nash and another photographer visited Chapman and there was an altercation. In a further court battle Chapman claimed that Nash had struck him across the face with a stick while Nash counter-claimed that Chapman had assaulted him. The Bexhill magistrates considered the evidence to be very contradictory and refused to find in favour of either Nash or Chapman (see David Simkin's website and the Bexhill Chronicle for 13 May 1916).

After falling out with Chapman, Nash set up his own rival business in Hastings. A real photographic card of Royal Artillery cooks at Cooden camp dated 30 July 1916 is labelled on the back "Arthur Nash, 99 Queens Road, Hastings". By the summer of 1917, Nash was back in Bexhill running his own photographic business, which he called the Marina Studio. He specialised in producing postcards of Canadian army recruits training in Egerton Park and in the streets of Bexhill. This put him in direct competition with George Chapman, who published many cards of soldiers marching and parading around the town. Although noted for his military photographs, Nash also recorded war-time crowds relaxing on Bexhill beach and perhaps other subjects of a non-military nature.

All cards by Nash that are known have white borders around the photographs. Early cards, produced at Hastings, have Nash's name printed on the back and entirely blank borders, but Bexhill cards have his name printed in the border below the photographs, either on the left in plain capitals (see Gallery) or on the right in facsimile handwriting (as in the card reproduced above).

Details of Nash's early life are unclear. The 1911 census lists several hundred people in England called Arthur Nash (Arthur Edward Nash, George Arthur Nash, etc.), including at least five who were then resident in Sussex. Which one of these men (if any) later elected to work with George Chapman cannot be easily determined. For obvious reasons little effort was made to update street directories and electoral registers during the upheavals of the Great War. Kelly's 1915 Sussex Directory, the one notable exception, makes no mention of Nash.

What happened to Nash after the end of the war is similarly obscure. His later cards were of good quality and stylish, but Bexhill was well supplied with photographers and on losing the military trade which doubtless accounted for much of his income Nash would have had a struggle to make the Marina Studio pay. It is likely that he had to close the business and find alternative employment.

An Arthur Nash died at Hastings on February 20, 1939 at the age of 64, but he appears not to have been the former Bexhill and Hastings photographer.

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