Alfred Alphonse Atkins (born 1844)

Alfred A. Atkins - Bootmaker & Photographer


Alfred Alphonse Atkins was born on 16th June 1844 at his parents' house at 100 Upper North Street, Brighton. Alfred's parents were Samuel Atkins ( born 1816, Westminster, London ) and Hannah MacBride Webber ( baptised 17th November 1813, Tiverton, Devon ). At the time of his marriage to Hannah MacBride Webber on 30th July 1843, at the Parish Church of St. Nicholas, Brighton, Samuel Atkins was working as a gold beater, producing gold leaf for decorative work, such as that used in leather book binding. When Alfred Alphonse Atkins, their first child was born in 1844, Samuel Atkins was still working as a gold beater, but by 1845, Samuel Atkins is listed as a "ladies' bootmaker" of 65 Kings Road, Brighton. Samuel continued as a boot and shoe maker at 65 Kings Road until 1850. Samuel's father, John Atkins had worked as a shoe and bootmaker when he first arrived in Brighton around 1824.[ Baxter's New Brighton Directory of 1824, lists John Atkins as a shoemaker at 58 St John's Street, Brighton ].

At the time of the 1851 Census, Samuel Atkins is recorded as a "shoemaker" aged 35. Samuel and Hannah Atkins have three children listed in the census return - Alfred Alphonse, aged 6 , Angela, aged 5, and Albert, aged 2. Samuel Atkins was still working as a boot and shoemaker twenty years later when the 1871 Census was taken.
Alfred Alphonse Atkins followed his father into the shoemaking trade. In the 1861 Census, Alfred is described as a 16 year old shoemaker. Also recorded at the family home at 61 Ship Street, Brighton are Alfred's three younger brothers - Albert, aged 12, Arthur, aged 9, and Frank, aged 8.

By the time the 1871 Census was taken, Samuel Atkins, still working as a shoemaker, was living alone with his wife Hannah at 3 Union Street, Brighton. Alfred Alphonse Atkins had married Mary King ( born c1844 Brighton ) and by 1874 he was the father of three sons - Arthur James ( born c1865 ), Albert Frank ( born c1869 ) and Samuel ( baptised 8th January 1873 ). Two daughters, Angela and Alice, were born a few years later and a fourth son, Alfred Edward, known as "Tom", was born in 1877.

In the 1870s, Alfred worked as a boot and shoemaker in Brighton. When his youngest son was born on 11th October 1877, the family were living at 13 Scotland Street, Brighton.



[ABOVE] Portrait of Alfred Alphonse Atkins from a photograph taken around 1905.


[ABOVE] The trade plate of Alfred Atkins, Photographer.



Alfred Alphonse Atkins - Photographer


[ABOVE] Portrait of Alfred Alphonse Atkins taken at Stanley Mann's studio at 27 York Place, Brighton around 1905.


[ABOVE] A portrait of a dead baby photographed by Alfred Alphonse Atkins around 1881, when he was living at 19 Park Crescent, Brighton. The trade plate, rubber-stamped on the reverse of this carte de visite, gives Alfred Atkins' studio address as 163 Lewes Road. Alfred would have been summoned to the home of the bereaved parents to take this final and probably only portrait of their recently deceased child.


Around 1880, Alfred Alphonse Atkins started to take photographs to supplement his income as a boot and shoemaker.At the time of the 1881 Census, Alfred Atkins is described as a "Photographer & Bootmaker" aged 36. Alfred and his thirty-seven year old wife Mary are recorded as living at 19 Park Crescent, Brighton with three of their children - Albert aged 12, Samuel aged 8, and Alfred aged 3. Arthur, the eldest son, was probably serving in the Navy when the 1881 Census was taken.

In Kelly's 1882 Trade Directory for Sussex, Alfred Atkins is listed as a photographer at 161 Lewes Road, Brighton. In 1888 and 1889, Alfred A. Atkins is shown as a photographer at 6 Port Hall Place, Brighton.

By 1891, Alfred Atkins no longer had his own photographic business, but he was still working full-time as a photographer.

The 1891 Census records Alfred Atkins as " Photographer (employed) ", aged 46, at 1 Gloucester Road, Brighton.
His wife Mary is described as " Ironer - Laundry " aged 48.
Also recorded at the house in Gloucester Road is 14 year old
Alfred, who was working as an "Errand Boy" and their eldest son
Arthur, who is described as a " Discharged Seaman" aged 26. Also living at the house in Gloucester Road is Alfred Alphonse Atkins' unmarried brother Arthur Atkins, a "Naval Pensioner" aged 40.

Even after Alfred Atkins abandoned his career as a professional photographer and returned to his original trade of making and repairing boots and shoes, there is evidence to suggest that he still supplemented his income by photography.The Minutes of the Beach Committee of Brighton ( a body which issued licences to beach entertainers, stall holders, photographers and other persons who wished to work on Brighton's seafront ) indicates that Alfred Atkins worked as a beach photographer in the 1890s
The Beach Committee Minutes for 26th August 1895 contains the following item :

"Read a letter from Mr A. Atkins applying for permission to stand on the Beach with a barrow to take photographs - Resolved that the application be not complied with ".

Although Mr Atkins was denied permission on this occasion, it is possible that he did work as a beach photographer at weekends or on public holidays to supplement his income as a bootmaker or boot repairer in the 1890s.


[ABOVE] Photograph of Alfred Alphonse Atkins outside his boot repair shop in Brighton.[ PHOTO COURTESY OF JUDY & DON FLEMING OF ONTARIO, CANADA]

[ ABOVE ] Alfred Alphonse Atkins pictured with his daughter and two grand children in the late 1890s.


[ ABOVE] A portrait of Alfred Alphonse Atkins with one of his sons in uniform.




The Canadian Connection

" My maternal grandfather was Alfred Edward Atkins, commonly known as "Tom". He was born on 11th October 1877 at 13 Scotland Street in the Hanover area of Brighton. He married a Brighton girl, Lily Phillips, who was born on 18th May 1879 at 23 Scotland Street. When "Tom" ( Alfred Edward Atkins ) married
Lily, he lived at 95 Hanover Terrace. She lived at 42 Washington
Street. They were married on 29th April 1899 at The Church of The
Annunciation on Washington Street.

Lily and "Tom" Atkins emigrated to Canada in April, 1907. They already had four children and were expecting my mother, Mabel Maud Atkins ( born 25th November 1907, Penetanguishene, Ontario ). Several members of Lily's family followed her to Canada, but two of her sisters, Mabel and Maud, stayed in Brighton. My mother was named after the two sisters who remained behind in Brighton ."

Judith Fleming ( nee Mist ) of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada. Judith is Alfred Alphonse Atkins' great grandaughter.


[ABOVE ] A portrait of Alfred Edward Atkins (1877-1941), Alfred Alphonse Atkin's youngest son. A carte de visite portrait by Henry Thomas Edwards of 11 Lewes Road around 1895. Alfred Atkins junior was known as "Tom" to his family. In 1899, "Tom" married Lily Phillips, the daughter of Alfred Phillips, a painter and grainer who lived in the Hanover district of Brighton. In 1907, "Tom" Atkins and his wife Lily emigrated to Canada, where his descendants still live.



Thanks to Judy and Don Fleming of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada for the family photographs and additional information on the descendants of Alfred Alphonse Atkins.



Website last updated: 28th April, 2005


This website is dedicated to the memory of Arthur T. Gill (1915-1987), Sussex Photohistorian



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