King & Wilson


The Esplanade, Bognor, looking west from the Pier

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Photographers, King's Studios, 8 Pier Arcade, Bognor. King and Wilson specialised in photographing theatrical productions and local entertainments, such as charabanc outings, but in the 1920s and early 1930s they also published black and white real photographic cards of Bognor, Felpham, Aldwick, Pagham, Arundel, Slindon, Wisborough Green and elsewhere. The photographs typically have white borders. The captions on the cards are handwritten in a variety of styles, which suggests that they were the work of more than one person. Some are entirely in capitals, but others have capitals only at the start of words. Some cards have serial numbers, while others are unnumbered. It is unclear how the numbering system worked. Possibly the numbers record the order in which the photographs were taken, but this has yet to be firmly established. The highest serial number noted so far is 838 on a card of Slindon House. Card 490 records the damage to Bognor sea front after a midsummer gale in 1922, while 790 (or perhaps 740; the number is only partially legible) is the complete antithesis - a serene view of Bognor beach at low tide lit by the setting sun. Some King & Wilson cards are labelled on the back C5739 or C8763, but the reason for this is unknown.

King & Wilson normally printed their name and address on the backs of the cards, sometimes towards the base of the dividing line. Under the title "Post Card" they sometimes added "K. W.". Some photographs were also labelled at their base "King, Bognor". A fine publicity card shows the shop of Kimbell & Sons, butchers and sausage makers, covered in hams and pork joints. The staff pose for the photographer on the pavement in front of the shop.

King & Wilson are perhaps best known for their black and white and sepia real photographic cards of King George V convalescing, after a serious lung infection, at Craigwell House in Bognor in the late winter and spring of 1929. The King is shown with Queen Mary and his granddaughter, the then Princess Elizabeth, who is also photographed making sand castles in the garden.

King & Wilson closed down in the early 1930s. Some of the last cards that they issued lack a publisher's label, but are immediately recognisable from their captions, written in a rather flowery, rounded hand with distnctive "g"s (recalling the caption on the labelled card of Western Bognor Regis reproduced in the Gallery).

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