Heron Carr (& Thompson of Angmering)


View from Golding Barn, Small Dole, Henfield (labelled "Heron Carr" on the back)

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From the late 1940s onwards, a mystery publisher issued numerous view cards of the Arun Valley, Storrington and the adjacent Downs, Worthing and Angmering. In addition he or she re-published some well known vintage cards, for example a view of the official opening of the new swing-bridge at Littlehampton in 1908, originally issued by F. W. Spry. Other cards show Arundel in 1871, c. 1880 and 1908, and "Angmering long ago". Reproductions of inter-war cards include Littlehampton shipyard in 1919 and a parade along the Arun at Littlehampton in 1930.

With a few exceptions, the cards have white borders and handwritten captions on poorly concealed transparent slips at the base of the photographs. The captions are usually in capitals; some are quite carefully written while others look rather more ragged. The handwriting is quite "chunky" and distinctive.

Early cards mainly have printed backs with the title "POST CARD" written in hollow capitals and hyphenated (even the hyphen is hollow, resembling a normal equals sign). Somewhat later cards have solid lettering on the back and a tiny amount of decorative patterning. After this, the cards were more cheaply produced. The photographs were evidently printed side by side onto blank-backed photographic card, then, after guilloteening, the backs of the cards were marked up using a rubber stamp to add the title POST CARD in italic capitals and a simple dividing line separating the Greetings space from the Address space. A card of the 1950 Littlehampton Carnival that apparently originated with this publisher has an entirely blank back. Perhaps it was printed in a hurry, and rushed to the shops before the back could be marked up.

The countryside views are difficult to date, but appear to have been taken mainly in the late 1940s and early 50s. Postmarks help to reinforce this impression. Some views of Storrington, however, must date from about 1962-63 because they record cars of this period such as the Ford Anglia with a reversed slope rear window (in production from 1960 onwards), the original Mini (1959 onwards), the Austin/Morris 1100 (1962 onwards) and Vauxhall Victor (1961 onwards), but not more modern cars, such as the Ford Cortina (1963-1966). A card of Thakeham also shows an Austin/Morris 1100. In addition, a card of a horse in a field in Angmering has been found that a previous owner has annotated on the back "Taken in Cundy's field, High Street, 1971". If the annotation is to be believed, new cards were still being added to the series in the early 1970s.

Nearly all the cards were issued anonymously, and their origin requires further research. Three cards of Burpham have recently been found labelled "A real photograph by Thompson of Angmering". One of the three has an August 1949 postmark, the earliest noted, and was sent by a newly arrived camper to his son in London. Almost certainly, the camper bought the card at the village shop, not at Angmering. The obvious implication is that Thompson may have been the card's publisher, supplying the Burpham shop. The 1949 Telephone Directory lists Thompson & Sons, builders, at 4 Byfleet Cottages, The Square, Angmering, and presumably it was a member of this seemingly short-lived firm that started producing the cards. The extreme rarity of any reference to Thompson on the cards suggests that soon after their launch he decided to publish them anonymously. Alternatively, he could have quickly sold the business. Cards of Lavender Cottage at Bramber, Golding Barn at Small Dole and the Old Priest House at Coldwaltham have been found that are labelled on the back: "Photograph by Heron Carr, Worthing, Sussex". The backs are machine printed, but seen from the front they closely resemble the Thompson cards and their numerous anonymous succcesors. The suspicion must be that Heron Carr bought the business off Thompson, adding the Bramber, Small Dole and Coldwaltham cards to the existing range of views. If Thompson had been responsible for taking the photographs on the majority of the cards, Carr might have been reluctant to claim them as his (or her) work. Thompson was evidently a talented photographer, and if he had remained in charge of the business he would surely have taken the Bramber, Small Dole and Coldwaltham pictures himself, not left matters to Heron Carr and then had all the expense of having the cards specially printed.

Heron Carr contributed many photographs to Sussex County Magazine in the years leading up to its closure at the end of 1955. Although none of the photographs is the same as those on the cards, they cover the same general area of Sussex. Carr's address is not given, and attempts to find him or her in 1950s and 1960s Telephone and Street Directories have met with no success.

A card that appears at first glance to belong to the same series as the others shows a cricket match at Steyning. The caption "The Sussex Downs" is written on a transparent slip in much the same handwriting seen on the other cards, but the back of the card is designed differently and labelled "Published by Mourilyan, Kingston 5275". Examples of the same card but with a printed caption and another style of back can be found, also marked Mourilyan. Other Mourilyan cards of Sussex with printed captions show, for example, a road winding through the Downs (numbered D517, this card is confusingly also entitled "The Sussex Downs"), Steyning (several cards including the High Street, D1074), Alfriston (again, several cards including the Church, D510 - a 1961 postmark has been reported) and the Long Man of Wilmington (D973). Mourilyan is believed to have been based at Kingston-on-Thames (and not at either of the two Sussex Kingstons), and it seems unlikely that he would have been the publisher of the extensive series of cards of the Arun-Worthing area that are tentatively attributed here to Thompson and Heron Carr.

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