George Henry Austin


Montague Street, Worthing, from near the junction with Bath Place

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Hairdresser and tobacconist at 55 Montague Street in Worthing in 1899, but by 1901 at 77 Montague Street. He was still trading at this second address in 1915 but as a bootmaker and hairdresser. Kelly's 1927 Sussex Directory lists him as a just a bootmaker.

Austin was born in 1874 at Broadwater on the northern edge of Worthing. His mother, Emma Maria Austin (formerly Eade) had been born in 1840 at Yoxford in Suffolk. His father, who was also called George, was a boot and shoe dealer who had been born at Grantham in Lincolnshire in 1843 and had married Emma on October 2, 1864 at Broadwater. George Henry Austin had three elder sisters (Alice Austin, born in 1862 at Yoxford, Emma Amelia Austin, born 1866 at Broadwater, and Florence Austin, born 1867 at Broadwater) and two younger siblings (William Percival Austin, born October 27, 1875 and Mary Ann Austin, born 1879; both at Broadwater). The 1881 census lists the family at 25 Montague Street in Worthing. George Austin senior died aged only 48 on October 3, 1890 at 24 St Helens Place in London, leaving effects of £280. Presumably he was visiting the capital on business.

When the 1891 census was held, George Henry Austin had left home in Worthing (now at 39 Montague Street) and was lodging in Shoreditch with a grocer's warehouseman, Absalom Crowe, and his family. George is described in the census as a grocer's assistant. Kelly's 1899 Sussex Directory lists Mrs Emma Austin as a bootmaker at 39 Montague Street, so evidently she took over her late husband's trade.

George Henry Austin eventually abandoned the idea of becoming a grocer. In 1896, having returned to Worthing, he married Minnie Ayling, who had been born in the town in 1873. The 1901 census locates the couple and their one month-old-son, George William Austin, at 77 Montague Street.

Austin sold sepia-tinted collotype cards of Worthing with his name and address on the back. The cards have varnished surfaces and can easily be mistaken for real photographics. The pictures lack borders and have printed captions. Gates of Camberley in Surrey printed the cards for Austin. Subjects include the Marine Parade and Montague Street. Two 1916 postmarks have been seen.

Chris Hare includes an interesting photograph of the Austin shop in about 1905 in his book, Worthing (1997, Chalford, Stroud, p. 72). Numerous postcards are on display in the shop windows and there are also advertisements for cigarettes. A young woman stands outside the door. Hare identifies her as "Miss G. H. Austin", the owner, but in reality she was almost certainly Minnie. Her husband George Henry is likely to have been the photographer.

George Henry Austin died in 1946 and Minnie in 1963; both are buried in Durrington cemetery. Emma Maria Austin is buried in Broadwater cemetery.

Acknowledgement: it is a pleasure to record the help provided by Derek Austin, a grandson of William Percival Austin. WPA sailed to South Africa in 1900 to fight in the Boer War and did not return to England. He died in 1924.

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