Laura Kate Malam & Son


Sunday Parade on Hove Lawns

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Newsagent, 2 Blatchington Road, Hove. Malam & Son published a series of real photographic cards of Brighton and Hove just before the First World War. The photographs are black and white with a hint of sepia (or possibly mere yellowing with age) and usually lack borders. The captions are handwritten in capitals and faint rule lines can often be seen.

On a few cards the photographs are labelled "Malam & Son", but more usually they are marked with a tiny capital M enclosed in a downward pointing triangle. Yet other cards are anonymous, but the lettering of their captions helps to identify them. Capital S is a particularly distinctive letter because its middle section, which most writers slope gently downwards from left to right, on Malam cards approaches the vertical.

Subjects include views of Hove seafront, streets and buildings (e.g. All Saints Church, Madeira Drive, Hove Front and Kingsway, Hove Lawns and Front, and the Medina Esplanade in Hove) and also local events such as the funeral of Mrs S. Allen at Hove on May 14, 1913 (at least 13 cards), a first aid display by soldiers of the 13th Sussex R. C. V. at Brighton together with an inspection on May 17, 1913 (at least 8 cards), an Army aeroplane wrecked at Hangleton in June 1913, a "Great fire at Hove, July 9th 1913", the Hospital Church Parade in Hove on August 17, 1913 and a "motor car smash" in Blatchington Road on November 6, 1913. One card shows Blatchington Road with the Malam shop in the foreground.

Pike's Brighton and Hove Directories for 1912 and 1913 list L. K. Malam as a newsagent at 2 Blatchington Road, but fail to mention what the initials stood for. The Electoral Registers for the same period record that Frederic Malam was a voter at this address. One has to turn to the 1918 Register, the first to register women as voters, to learn that L. K. Malam was in fact Laura Kate Malam, Frederic's wife.

Laura's maiden name was Benson, and she was born at Yardley near Solihull on the edge of the Black Country in 1858. She was the only child of John and Sophia Kate Benson. John was a paper maker and dealer, who in 1861 employed 8 men, 12 women as well as some boys. His business seems to have been very profitable and by 1881 he was already retired although only 48. His wife's family were money printers and they also seem to have been comfortably off. When the 1871 census was held, he and his wife were living at Erdington with her mother and sister. By 1881, however, they had moved to the tiny village of Llanvihangel Gobion on the River Usk, south-east of Abergavenny. The 1891 census records that Laura was an organist and music teacher. She was still living at Llanvihangel when she married Frederic.

Frederic was born Frederick Malam at Runcorn in Cheshire in 1866. He was one of five children of Jane and William Malam, a boiler maker. His father died when he was about 3. When the 1871 census was held, Jane, who was only 30, was bringing her children up on her own at Sutton, near St Helens, while working as a coal dealer. The family has not been traced in the 1881 census. In 1891 Frederick was boarding in a house in Ashurst Road at Bootle in Lancashire, while working as a barman. When he married Kate at St John's Church at Maindee on the eastern side of Newport, Monmouthshire, on August 4, 1894, he described himself as a "commercial agent" and gave his address as St John's Cottage, Greswell (or Greswill) Park, which has not been located on a map, but was presumably in Maindee or nearby. His elder brother, John Henry Malam, and father-in-law, John Benson, attended the wedding and acted as witnesses.

After their marriage Frederic and Laura stayed on in South Wales. Their son, Harry Benson Malam, was born in the summer of 1895 at Llantarnam in the Llwyd valley between Newport and Pontypool. However, by 1901 they moved to 57 Waterloo Road in Lambeth, where they opened a tobacconist's shop. Why the Malams then left Lambeth to settle in Hove is not known.

Very probably it was Harry who took the photographs for the Malam & Son postcards, which his mother and father sold in their shop. Laura Malam died in 1940 at the age of 81 in the Chard area of Somerset. Frederic lived to be 83; he died at or near Totnes in Devon in 1947.

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