George Banbury


Borstal Road, Rochester. A Banbury original

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Photographer, South Road, Haywards Heath. Banbury acquired the South Road Studios from Harry Tullett between 1922 and 1924, and continued the business until at least 1935, but was gone by 1938. It is not known whether he had previously worked for Tullett.

Banbury reprinted many former Tullett cards, in some cases adding his own name and address on the back! Evidently, he acquired Tullett's stock of negatives on taking charge of the Studios. He also published some new real photographic cards of Haywards Heath. Especially memorable is his card of Haywards Heath Fire Brigade posing with their immaculately polished engine outside the Urban District Council offices in Boltro Road in May 1926, which is reproduced by Wyn Ford and Lillian Rogers in The story of Haywards Heath (1998, S.B. Publications, Seaford).

The card, "Borstal Road", appearing as the titlepiece on this page is labelled on the back "G. Banbury, South Road Studios, Haywards Heath", but there is no Borstal Road in Haywards Heath or any other Sussex town as far as is known. Adrian Vieler identifies the location, which is still recognisable, as Borstal Road in Rochester, Kent. Research into Banbury's connections with Rochester is continuing, but so far no evidence has been found to show that he worked as a photographer in Rochester before moving to Haywards Heath. Perhaps he only published the card to oblige a local shopkeeper or relative.

Adrian Vieler has scoured census returns, seeking to discover when and where George Banbury was born. His conclusion is that the Haywards Heath photographer is likely to have been born at Northam near Bideford in Devon in late 1886. If correctly identified, he was one of 10 or more children of John Banbury, a local shipwright (born at Northam in about 1857) and his wife, Mary E. Banbury. By the time the Devonian George Banbury was 14, he had become a photographer's apprentice at Northam. The 1911 census describe him as a photographer's assistant and locates him at Paignton in Devon. He was lodging in a boarding house at 29 Hyde Road, run by Emma Pitman. It appears that he died in the West Ashford district of Kent in 1939.

Acknowledgement: Grateful thanks are due to Adrian Vieler for his archival researches and unfailing help.

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