Avenell (born 1853)
Avenell - a Tailor's Son
Avenell was born in Chelsea, London in 1853, the son of
George Thomas Avenell ( born c 1822 Lewes ), a tailor, and his
wife Clara ( born c1818 Yoxford, Suffolk ]. William Avenell
had at least three brothers and three sisters - Ann ( born c
1845, Chelmsford, Essex ) Alfred George ( born c1846, Chelmsford
) Ella ( born c1848, Saltford, Somerset )Thomas ( born c1852
London ) Henry ( born c1855 Chelsea ) and Clara ( baptised in
Lewes ,13 Sept 1861). Alfred and Henry became tailors like their
father. William's brother Thomas became a greengrocer and his
sister Ann married William Packer, a grocer from Wimbledon.
1861, after living in Essex and London, George Avenell returned
to Sussex with his wife and children. The Avenell family came
to live in Lewes, George Avenell's home town. Clara,probably
the youngest daughter of George Thomas Avenell, was baptised
at All Saints Church, Lewes on 13 September, 1861. In 1867,
George Thomas Avenell was listed in Kelly's Sussex Directory
as living at Clare Cottage, Friar's Walk, Lewes. Around the
same time, Alfred George Avenell, his eldest son , was running
the family firm of Avenell & Son, a tailoring business specialising
in court,naval and military tailoring, located at 5 New Road,
Brighton. By 1871, William's brothers Alfred and Henry were
both living in Brighton and working in the family tailoring
business. William's other brother,Thomas, also settled in Brighton
and eventually ran a greengrocer's shop in Brighton. By 1878,
the tailoring business at 5 New Road was known as A. G. Avenell
& Son, but according to a census return, Alfred's father,
George Avenell remained a "sleeping partner" in the
of W. Avenell & Co., Photographers of 48 West Street,
Brighton , from the back of a photograph taken around 1900.in
ffrom the back oo
William Avenell - Brighton Hairdresser
Cdv portrait of a hairdresser at work [c1880] .
back of a cdv portrait taken by C J A Davis at 48 West Street,
he took up photography, William Avenell was a hairdresser.
In the 1881 Census, William Avenell is recorded at 48,
West Street, Brighton and is described as a 28 year old
hairdresser "employing 2 men and 1 boy" at his hairdressing
shop in West Street. Also living at 48 West Street in 1881
was William's 26 year old brother, Henry, who worked as a
tailor, probably at the family firm of Avenell & Son,
the tailoring business located in New Road, Brighton. Around
1883, Avenell was joined at 48 West Street by a photographer
named Christopher John Allen Davis ( born c1850 St
J A Davis had previously worked as a photographic artist
in Lewes. He did not have his own studio in Lewes and
was probably employed by an established Lewes photographer,
such as Edward Reeves or Daniel Blagrove. C J A Davis was
active as a photographer in Lewes for over 10 years from around
1871 to 1881. The Avenell family had links with Lewes. The
founder of the family tailoring business, George Thomas Avenell,
had been born in Lewes and lived in the town from around 1861.
George Avenell's eldest son Alfred George Avenell, a master
tailor and head of the tailoring business in Brighton, also
made his home in Lewes. In 1881, Alfred George Avenell was
living in Grange Road, Lewes with his wife and family. For
a time the photographer Christopher Davis, who later
joined William Avenell at 48 West Street, Brighton, was lodging
at a house in Grange Road, Lewes.
1883 and 1888, the two men shared the same business premises
at 48 West Street, Brighton - William Avenell working
as a hairdresser and C J A Davis as a "Photographer
and Artist". [ 48 West Street had been previously used
as a photographic studio by Monsieur Minora in 1881
and in 1882 by George Coles ( born c1846 Oxford).]
.An advertisement for
hair pieces placed by William Avenell , hairdresser of 48
West Street, Brighton in 1886. [ Avertisement in The History
of the Theatres of Brighton by Henry Porter, published
in 1886 ].
Avenell - Art Photographer
Pike's Trade Directory of 1889, William Avenell is listed as
a photographer for the first time. An advertisement on the same page,
below the listing of Brighton photographers, announces " WILLIAM
AVENELL & Co; 48 WEST STREET, BRIGHTON - Art Photographers. High
Class Work Only at Moderate Charges. An inspection of our studios
invited. Appointments by Telephone, 48." Avenell had apparently
purchased the photographic studio from Christopher Davis, who
then left Brighton and set up as a photographer in Worcester.
the 1891 Census, William Avenell is described as "Artist
Photographer, age 37" and is recorded as lodging at 37 Grenville
Place, Brighton. William Avenell is recorded as unmarried in 1891.
At the time of the 1901 Census, William Avenell is still single, but
boarding at the Eight Bells Inn at 49 West Street, next door to his
photographic studio at No 48. William Avenell is described in the
1901 Census as "Photographer,Employer ( working at home ), age
information about Avenell's photography business can be gathered from
his advertisements. For some reason, early Avenell advertisements
from the late 1880s call the studio at 48 West Street "The
Don". An 1897 advert, is headed " W.AVENELL & CO.
- ARTISTS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS - Day and Electric Light Studios, near
the Clock Tower. 48 West Street, Brighton. " and provides a list
of prices .The Cabinet format ( the large sized photographs,
measuring 4 1/4 inches by 6 1/2
inches mounted on thick card ) were priced at 2/- for the first
copy, 4/- for three copies, 12/- for twelve.( Avenell charged between
one and two shillings extra for different poses and vignette
effects i.e. gradual shading around the edges of the photograph to
suggest a crayon portrait).Promenade Midgets ( tiny photographic
portraits measuring 1 1/2 inches by 3 inches)could
be had for 2/- per dozen.
[ABOVE] A carte
de visite portrait of a woman taken at Avenell & Co's
studio at 48 West Street around 1890.
ABOVE & BELOW
.Two Promenade Midget Portraits
taken at Avenell's studio.
]A carte de visite portrait
of a woman taken at Avenell's portrait studio around 1905.
This vignette portrait would have been more expensive than
a standard portrait.
Avenell and Brighton Football
the late 1890s, William Avenell was a significant figure in
the development of professional football in Brighton and Hove. Avenell
was a shareholder and leading fundraiser for Brighton United ( Avenell
secured a covered stand for Brighton United before the club folded
in 1900). William Avenell was also instrumental in forming the amateur
club, Brighton & Hove Rangers, which eventually evolved into Brighton
& Hove Albion. William Avenell was Chairman and Treasurer of Brighton
& Hove Rangers until the club collapsed in 1901. Avenell was apparently
the subject of an FA enquiry and so was not directly involved in the
formation of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club. However, Avenell
did address the initial meeting of Brighton & Hove Football Club
on 24th June, 1901, when he gave what he believed were the reasons
for the failure of Brighton & Hove Rangers Club, citing in particular
the large size of the club's committee and the predominance on that
body of "working men" who held a "diversity of opinion".
of Brighton United Football Club, 1898-1899.William Avenell was a
leading fundraiser for Brighton
United until the club was wound up in March 1900.Billy Longair, the
United captain stands on the far right .
his involvement in local football clubs and his work as a professional
photographer, William Avenell was an obvious candidate to photograph
the footballers of Brighton. Around 1899, Avenell published a portrait
of William Longair, Brighton United's centre half. From 1901 to 1905,
Avenell took team photographs and individual portraits of leading
players such as Frank McAvoy and Billy Roberts .Avenell's involvement
with Brighton & Hove Albion came to a sudden end around 1905.
From the 1905-1906 season onwards, photographs of Albion teams and
players were taken by Ebenezer Pannell. 1905 was also the last
year of Avenell's tenure at 48 West Street .
ABOVE ] A portrait of William
Longair (1870- 1926) taken by Avenell & Co of Brighton around
1898. Originally from Dundee, Scotland, Billy Longair joined
Brighton United in 1898. Longair played centre half for Brighton
United and was made captain of the side during their first season
of football. Longair returned to Dundee in May 1899.
[Photograph, courtesy of David Ticehurst]
BELOW] A portrait of Frank McAvoy
taken by Avenell of Brighton around 1898. McAvoy was born
in Ayrshire ,Scotland and signed for Brighton United in May
1898.When Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club was formed
in 1901, Frank McAvoy was made captain.[Photograph, courtesy
of David Ticehurst]
ABOVE ] A portrait of Billy Roberts
taken by Avenell of Brighton around 1904. Billy Roberts was born in
Liverpool and joined Brighton & Hove Albion as a 23 year old in
1903. [Photograph, courtesy of David
of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club, 1904-1905, taken by William
courtesy of David Ticehurst]
local newspapers made use of Avenell's photographs of footballers.A
series of written profiles and portrait drawings of Brighton &Hove
Albion Football Club players appeared in the Sussex Daily News
during 1905. Under the heading FOOTBALL PHOTOS, the Sussex Daily
News printed the first player profile on Saturday 14th January
1905 and then every Saturday for the next twelve weeks. No 1 was goalkeeper
Mark Mellors and the line drawing was taken from " an excellent
photograph by Messrs. W. Avenell & Co., of West Street, Brighton."
Nearly all the pictures are drawn from photographs taken by William
Avenell & Co. The players who had been photographed originally
by Avenell included Joseph O'Brien,Andrew Gardner, Archie Livingstone,
Arthur Millar, Bert Lyon and William Roberts ( the picture of Billy
Roberts seemed to be an idealised version of the portrait that appears
on the Avenell postcard pictured above. The series ended in April
1905 with a profile of Mr George Broadridge, the Chairman of Directors
of Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club.
Avenell ran his photography business at 48 West Street until about
1905. Avenell is not listed as a photographer under Photographic Artists
in the Brighton & Hove Professions and Trades section of Towner's
Directory of 1906 and 48 West Street is not used as a photographic
studio from 1906 onwards.
Bennett's Business Directory of 1907-1908 lists, under the heading
of Photographers, the name W. Avenill at 40a North Street,
Brighton. This address had been the site of a photographic studio
since 1859. In 1905, the studio at 40a North Street had been in the
hands of Albert Kimber (born c1868 Croydon, Surrey), a cousin
of Henry Thomas Edwards ( born c1857 Hurstpierpoint ) a prominent
Brighton photographer, but it soon passed to Walter Littlewood
who remained at 40a North Street until 1906. I am assuming W.
Avinill is identical to William Avenell, but there is no further reference
to him in Brighton after this entry in Bennett's Directory. William
disappears from the historical record after 1907.
last updated: 30th July, 2003
website is dedicated to the memory of Arthur T. Gill (1915-1987), Sussex