William Henry Berry


Berry's shop at Hassocks (R. A. Publishing)

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Shopkeeper, first at Hassocks and later at Ditchling. William Henry Berry was born at Burnley in Lancashire in 1877. He was one of nine children of Alice and James Berry, a cotton twister and loomer, born at Briercliffe in Lancashire. The 1881 census records that the family lived at 37 Piccadily Road in Burnley. By the time the 1891 census was held they had moved to 23 Todmorden Road in the town. The 1901 census notes that William Henry Berry, then 23, was an art student lodging at Battersea in London. In the 1911 census he is described as a teacher at an Art School, and is listed as lodging with Arthur Pilkington and his wife at 18 Albert Road in Brighton. Later in the year, on December 20, he married Margaret Helen Wooster, aged 26, at St Margaret's Chapel in Brighton. Margaret had been born at Plumstead in South London in 1885. Her father, George Wooster, was a mechanic.

Margaret and William Berry had two children: John William Wooster Berry, born on November 18, 1912 and Helena G. Berry, born on August 25, 1915.

Kelly's 1913 and 1915 Sussex Directories list Berry as a shopkeeper in Station Road at Hassocks. In 1917, at the age of 40, he joined the Royal Engineers Road Construction Unit, and is believed to have served in France. His Army papers confirm his address as Station Road, Hassocks and note that he had been a draper and shopkeeper for 5 years (i.e. since 1912). They also describe him as a carpenter.

While her husband was away in the war, Margaret Berry presumably took charge of the Hassocks shop. She may also have been instrumental in moving the business to a new location, sometime after the 1918 Kelly's Directory was compiled. Early 1920s Directories record that she sold newspapers, tobacco and cigarettes at a shop that was called "Berry's", at 32 Keymer Road in Hassocks, on the corner of Downs View Road (it is now a solicitor's office). Between 1924 and 1927, her husband took over the Keymer Road business from her, and gave greater emphasis to the sale of drapery. He was still at Hassocks in 1930, but within a year he moved to West Street in Ditchling to open a stationer's shop, which he held until 1938 or later. He died in 1950, at the age of 73. Margaret lived to be 84; her death was registered at Brighton in 1969.

Berry began issuing sepia-tinted real photographic cards of Hassocks and Ditchling in 1926, judging from postmarks. Some cards are marked "Berry's Hassocks" on the front or just "Berry's"; others are anonymous. After the move to Ditchling, cards started to appear labelled "Berry's Ditchling". The captions are hand written, sometimes entirely in capitals, but more often, especially on the earlier cards, with capitals restricted to the start of words and the rest in lower case. Usually the photographs have white borders.

Averys of Brighton undoubtedly printed many of Berry's cards. The lettering of the captions as well as the general design of the cards very closely matches that seen on "standard" Avery cards. On many of Berry's cards the horseshoe trademark of Thomas Illingworth & Co. of London is printed in the stamp space. Evidently, Avery liked to use photographic card supplied by Illingworth to print their cards.

James Hamilton of Brighton also helped print some of Berry's real photographic cards in the mid or late 1930s. The cards have Berry's name on the front, and Hamilton's name and logo on the back.

In addition to the real photographics, Berry also marketed some coloured collotype cards of Ditchling (and probably also Hassocks) that were printed for him by the R.A. Co. of London. These cards, which are labelled on the back "Published by W. H. Berry, Hassocks", have glossy surfaces and white borders. No postmarks have been reported.

Berry's cards are well produced, but tend not to be particularly memorable. Two inspired exceptions show "The Village Smith, Ditchling" busily engaged in his work. Some Ditchling street scenes provide interesting glimpses of late 1920s motorcars.

Acknowledgement: Adrian Vieler has taken much time and trouble researching William Henry Berry's life story from archival sources. His assistance and support is greatly appreciated.

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