Richard William Cartwright (Cartwright & Co.)


Girl on a donkey outside the Cartwright shop

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Photographer, 63b North Street and 146/147 Kings Road Arches, Brighton. In the early 1900s Cartwright & Co. became Brighton's leading firm of beach photographers. The shop on the sea front was well located under the Kings Road next to the beach between the Palace and West Piers. Over the years Cartwright & Co. must have photographed legions of holidaymakers, including passengers waiting to sail with Captain Collins in one of his three boats, including the celebrated Skylark, which plied for trade nearby. Portrait photos were issued not only in the traditional carte-de-visite and cabinet formats but also (particularly after the First World War) as picture postcards. Customers were often posed in front of dinghies and fishing gear. The Cartright cameras can sometimes be seen in other postcard publishers' cards standing on tripods on the beach, awaiting customers. In addition to photographing holidaymakers, Cartwright & Co. also issued cards showing lodging houses and shop fronts.

Richard Cartwright was born at Goswell Road in Clerkenwell in London in 1837 or 1838 and for many years worked as a portrait photographer in the city before moving to Brighton. He and his wife, Margaret Cartwright, who had been born in Great Yarmouth, had six daughters in succession. The eldest, Margaret Cartwright, was born at Whitechapel in about 1858. Then came Elizabeth Augusta Cartwright and Alice Jane Cartwright, who were both born in Camden Town, Elizabeth in 1859 and Alice a year later. They were followed between 1862 and 1869 by Rose C. S. Cartwright, Anna Harriett Amelia Cartwright and Lily (Lelia) Bertha Cartwright; who were all born at Hampstead. Richard and Margaret's only son, Richard William Cartwright, was born at Kingsland Road in Hackney in 1873.

Richard and Margaret Cartright moved with many of their children to Brighton by 1891. The census for that year records that Richard was already operating as a photographer at 63a North Street. By 1895 he acquired the premises on the sea front at Kings Road Arches. However, in early 1898 he died, at the age of 61. His son and wife continued the business, which was renamed R. W. & M. Cartright. By 1905, however, it was trading as R. W. Cartwright & Co. Margaret had perhaps stepped down. The North Street shop closed between 1911 and 1915, but the Arches shop remained in business until about 1938.

In 1899 Richard William Cartwright married Ada Emily Baker at Brighton. She had been born in town in about 1875. Ada had two children: Elsie Lillian Cartwright, who was born in 1900, and Harold William Cartwright, who was born in about 1902. The 1901 census records that the Cartwrights shared their home at 63b North Street with Ada's widowed father, Richard Baker, and sister, Elsi Baker. Ada died in 1906.

In 1909 Richard William Cartright married Francis Ellen Brazier at Brighton. When the 1911 census was held, he and Francis were living at 62 Western Road in Brighton together with the two children from his first marriage. He died at Brighton in 1953, aged 79.

Acknowledgement: Mike Green (Barcombe) has greatly helped with the preparation of this note and it is a pleasure to record his continuing support. Needless to say, he is not responsible for any errors that may be found.

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