Part 6 : The Seaside Holiday Photograph (continued)

1. The Kings Road and the Beach showing the Lower Esplanade and the the Kings Road Arches.A postcard dated 1916.

The Beach, Kings Road Arches and the Lower Esplanade

The Lower Esplanade ran beneath the Kings Road, from the West Pier to the Fish Market, below East Street. According to Timothy Carder, author of 'The Encyclopaedia of Brighton', for many years the Lower Esplanade was "a ramshackle area frequented by stall-holders and street entertainers." The Lower Esplanade followed the shore line and the businesses that operated here in the 1870s such as boat builders, refreshment rooms and pleasure boat proprietors, often gave their address simply as "The Beach."

In 1874, only one photographer, William Dawson, gave his studio address as The Beach. By 1878, Dawson had been joined at 'The Beach' by Thomas Frederick Foulkes. Dawson's studio was close to the West Pier, while Foulkes was located some distance away, near the Middle Street gap.

In the 1880s, the Kings Road was widened and was bolstered by a row of arches under the main road. The Kings Road Arches housed a number of businesses and places of amusement and refreshment.


2 The Kings Road, Brighton showing the Arches to the west of the West Pier.William Dawson had his photographic studio, refreshment rooms and other small businesses on the Lower Esplanade just beyond the West PierA postcard dated 1906.


Numbering of the Kings Road Arches was erratic in the 1870s and 1880s, but generally ran from east to west. In 1888, Joseph Peter Manning had a photographic room at No 38 Kings Road Arches below Ship Street; Foulkes's Middle Street gap studio was given the number 46, and Dawson's photographic business was located near the West Pier, between numbers 65 and 69.

Several of the photographers listed at Kings Road Arches combined portrait taking with other business concerns. Wiliam Tickner was primarily a boat builder, but he also operated as a photographer from 1887 to 1907. William Dawson owned a photographic studio in the centre of Brighton at 106 London Road and later at 128 Richmond Road, but at various times he worked as a seaside photographer, tobacconist, refreshment room proprietor, a manufacturer of mineral water and, finally, a fruiterer.

Captain Fred Collins was famous locally as the owner of the Skylark pleasure boats and he was also the proprietor of the 'Welcome Brothers' beerhouse in the Kings Road Arches. His son Frederick Collins junior assisted his father and took photographs of holidaymakers, but he also managed the American Bowling Saloon on the Lower Esplanade. The photographer Lewis Why ran a rifle shooting range at the eastern end of Kings Road Arches, near the Fish Market, from 1899 right up to 1910. It is assumed that other traders combined photography with their usual business. Walter Flowers, originally a carver and gilder, is recorded as the owner of a bicycle depot and a restaurant in the 1890s, but a photograph of his refreshment rooms taken around 1900 reveals that he had a photo studio connected to the tearooms. Walter Flower is not listed as a photographer and we can take it for granted that other stall holders and tradesmen also offered a portrait taking service.

The Numbering of the Kings Road Arches

Around 1890, the Kings Road Arches were re-numbered. The businesses under the Kings Road were now numbered from left to right, starting from, rather than ending at William Dawson's premises at No 65. Dawson's studio address was hardly affected but the reversed ordering of numbering changed the studio address of J.P.Manning from No 38 to No 150 Kings Road Arches. Thomas Foulkes, who had a studio at No 46, was given the number 131. Frederick Collins junior, who ran a photographic studio at No 54 Kings Road Arches in 1882, had to change the number to 124 in 1891.

To confuse matters even further, the numbers on the Arches were changed again, a couple of years later. Page's 1895 Directory of Professions and Trades, illustrates that the re-numbering of the Kings Road Arches aroun 1893 had in effect increased the numbers of each studio address by a difference of around forty or more. The studio of Richard Cartwright junior at No 108 became 148 Kings Road Arches in the 1895 Directory. Frederick Collins junior's photo rooms which had recently been renumbered 124, was now recorded as 167 Kings Road Arches. Thomas Foulkes had two separate studios at 131 and 140 Kings Road Arches in 1892, but Page's Directory of 1895 lists his studios at 174 and 181, The Arches, Kings Road. Joseph Peter Mannings' studio number changed from 150 to 193 Kings Road Arches. Looking at trade directories which span the late 1880s to the early 1900s, it appears that J.P.Manning (like the other photographers in the Kings Road Arches) was continually changing the site of his seafront studio, when in fact he was occupying roughly the same spot over a period of 17 years.The location of the Kings Road Arches studios remained relatively constant; it was the numbering of the Arches that was frequently changing.


3 The Beach, Brighton. This coloured postcard shows the crowded beach and, on the left, the traders' stalls and businesses on the Lower Esplanade. On the left, in front of the Shelter Hall, can be seen Bolla & Biucchi's Restaurant. Richard Cartwright had a photographic studio next door to Bolla & Biucchi 's Restaurant from 1890 to 1910 and beyond. Postcard dated 1916.




4 Brighton Front, showing the Kings Road Arches as seen from the top of the Shelter Hall. Cartwright's studio can be seen with the blue and white striped awning, immediately to the left of Bolla & Biucchi's Restaurant. The West Pier is in the distance.



5 The Beach, Brighton. This coloured postcard shows the Kings Road Arches that stretched along Brighton's seafront.



CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE Origins of the Official Post Card




Website last updated: 28 April, 2003


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


Home Page, Directory of Photographic Studios, A-Z Index of Photographers, History of Photography in Brighton,
Dating Old Family Photographs, Victorian and Edwardian Brighton, Location of Brighton Studios, Glossary of Terms

Photographers' Biographies



Spartacus Educational Privacy Policy