Researched and presented by Liskeard and District Museum and
Liskeard Old Cornwall Society (Brian Oldham)
Image: Photographer’s Studio in Fore Street Liskeard
Edwin Mayell was born in Bridport, Dorset in 1814 and at the age of 27 had established
a Watchmaking business on Bodmin Hill, Lostwithiel. He first appears in the Liskeard
Trade Directory in 1844 as a Watch & Clockmaker and Jeweller on Tavern Hill (now Pike Street).
The location of Edwin’s premises is confirmed in a plan prepared for him by local Architect, Henry Rice in 1849.
Image:1849 Henry Rice plan for Mayall’s Tavern Hill premises.
The Mayell family in 1851 consisted of Edwin (37), Honor (47), Louisa (16), William E (12), Ellen (9) and Emma (6). William E Mayell later became an Inland Revenue Excise Officer at the age of 23, living in Leicester.
It wasn’t until the 1861 census that Edwin added Photographer Master to his previously declared occupations; Master indicates that he had 1 or more apprentices working for him. The only glass plate photograph by him that we have available was reproduced, with kind permission of the Royal Institute of Cornwall, in the Liskeard & District Museum publication ‘Looking Glass’. Remarkably, it captures the scene of Firemen fighting a shop fire in 1860 just a few doors down Tavern Hill (now Pike Street) from Edwin’s own premises.
Image: Firefighters 1860 by Edwin Mayell (reproduced in ‘Looking Glass’ with kind permission of the Royal Institute of Cornwall).
A later photograph of Pike Street, from the 1900s and visiting now in 2000s, show that there has been little change from Rice’s plan of 1849. Edwin Mayell was only 55 when he died in1868; his Widow, Honor, continued in the Pike Street shop, but as a Grocer and Confectioner, with her youngest daughter Emma to assist.
Image: Mayell’s premises in 1900s Pike Street (indicated by the arrow).
Downing and Staunton
The one photograph we have located taken by Downing & Stanton of Liskeard has produced many threads of Liskeard history. It records the laying of the first floor foundations stones of the Liberal Club on August 23rd 1913, which can still be seen today above The Book Shop in Barras Street.
Image: Liberal Club & Book Shop, Barras Street, Liskeard
The photographers are not listed in the Trade Directories of the time and Downing does not appear in the 1901 or 1911 censuses, but more success was had with Stanton.
Amy Stanton was born in 1887 in Hong Kong where her father William was a Police Inspector. By 1901 the Stantons were residing at No.4 Victoria Terrace, Station Road; now retired William (52), daughters Emily (19) and Amy (14), and a niece, Mary (21). William died in 1909 aged 60 and the 3 unmarried ladies continued living at No.4 Victoria Terrace.
Image: Victoria Terrace. Amy Stanton lived in the fourth house from the left.
The 1911 census at the address confirms that Amy Stanton at 24 is a British Subject by Parentage and a self-employed Photographer. It’s interesting to note that next door but one lived John Sparkes Elliott, the building contractor for the New Liberal Club, and next door to him lived Elizabeth Priscilla Millman, wife of Liberal Agent C. A. Millman, who laid one of the foundation stones and can be seen on the scaffold in Amy’s 1913 photograph. Perhaps Amy’s neighbours gave her career a boost by appointing her Official Photographer for the grand ceremony.
Image: Laying the Liberal Club foundation Stone August 23rd 1913 by Downing & Stanton
John Henry Colliver
After earlier occupations of Copper Miner at the age of 15 and Steam Wherry (a passenger boat) Driver at 25 in his birth district of Perranarworthal, John Henry Colliver is eventually recorded in Liskeard in 1861.
The census of that year shows him as living in Church Street aged 35 as a Photographic Artist with his Milliner wife Elizabeth aged 31. In his booklet “Liskeard Bygones”, Jack Howarth suggests that J H Colliver could have had the first photography business in Liskeard. The 1873 Post Office directory lists both John, photography, and Elizabeth, millinery, sharing business premises in Market Street.
Image: Entry in the 1873 Post Office Directory
John K Broad in his column in the Cornish Times recalls how Mr Colliver took a photograph of himself as a baby in a perambulator with one foot blurred due to kicking. The only example of his work located in Liskeard & District Museum is that of an unnamed boy posing with a chaise longue. Colliver certainly liked to use a variety props in his portraits! His business card is printed on the reverse of the boy’s photo.
It’s possible that the photographic business was short lived as in 1878 it had been dropped from the trade directory and in 1881 John gave his occupation as Shop Keeper Draper in Dean Street, again in 1891 in Bay Tree Hill and in 1901 in Barras Street.
John Henry Colliver died in 1902 and from Broad again “his wife carried on business as a milliner, her taste in this direction savouring somewhat of the miraculous”.
Image: J.H.Colliver business card
John Henry Coath was born and grew up in No.21 Lower Lux Street, he was the eldest of his 5 brothers and 4 sisters. His father Charles was a hugely successful tradesman, his occupation of Painter & Gilder can still be seen faintly lettered on the Pound Street side of the former family home.
Born in 1856, John’s first job was House Painter in his father’s firm, but by the 1891 census his Photographic business was firmly established at what is now No.20 Fore Street. Living above the shop was John (34), wife Annie (28), son Charles Hender (3) and daughter Hilda Ann (2).
Image: Coath’s studio at 17, Fore Street (now 20 due to renumbering).
It wasn’t until 1911 that we find them all living in the grand double-fronted No.6 Castle Street, with an additional son George Hender (9). By this time Charles Hender (now 23) was employed either in the Liskeard or St. Austell shops as a Photographer, like his father John (now 54). By this time one of John’s younger brothers, Ernest, now 43 and married with 3 children, is also a Photographer and also in Fore Street, but in the East Looe one.
Image: Coath’s double fronted home in Castle Street
John H Coath & Son were still appearing in Liskeard Trade Directories until 1930, which is about the time of John’s retirement when his son Charles Hender Coath took over until his own retirement in the early 1950s.
Image: A Coath advertisement from 1909
At the age of 79 John Henry Coath F.R.P.S. (Medalist) died in 1935, after an illustrious career as Liskeard’s foremost photographer of his era. Some of his equipment, props and work are on display in Liskeard & District Museum, as well as the sign from his Fore Street shop. Two large columns used in some
Images: Examples of Coath’s work
Dora Annie Bond
Dora Annie Bond was born in 1887 and grew up in Church Street South with her sisters Lilian and Kathleen, and her brother Richard. Their father William was a Tanner & Skin Dresser, as well as Sextant at St Martin’s Church. Still at the same address in 1901, a few doors from the very grand Wadham House, Dora is a Photographer’s Assistant at the age of 15.
By 1911 Cycle & Motor Dealer Jago & Sons had vacated their showroom at 12/13 Russell Street, moving to larger premises on the corner of Windsor Place and Dean Street.
Image: 12/13 Russell Street, Liskeard 1911
One of Dora’s earlier photos is of a group of workers from the Blacksmith Shop and Jago’s workshop, both located behind what had become the Bond family home and business premises, the rear of which can be seen in the photo.
The Bond photographic studio was on the first floor and an Agency for Moon’s Pianos in the Showroom, the letters B and O of BOND can be seen above the door in the one of Dora’s photos.
Image: JP Blamey cart outside Moon & Sons next to Bond Studios by Dora Bond
A coup for Dora came in June 1912 when she recorded the first plane to be seen by many in Liskeard. It was at Tencreek Meadow where Henri Salmet landed as part of the Daily Mail sponsored “Wake Up England” tour to promote public interest in aviation.
Image: First plane to land in Liskeard 1912 by Dora Bond
Dora was one of only 2 lady Photographers in the 1914 Liskeard Trade Directory. She was assisted by her younger sister Kathleen, her elder sister Lilian was a Council School Teacher and her brother Richard an Agent for the Pearl Ass. Co., all living at home, as well as their parents, at 12/13 Russell Street.
Image: Advertisement in the Parish magazine 1922
Dora advertised in the Parish Magazine in 1922 and this could have resulted in the 2 photographs of a group of very respectable ladies setting of on an outing from The Parade in the early 1900s.
We have very little information regarding photographer Jon Wooldridge. The location of his Studio was confirmed during interviews with Liskeard residents to compile the map of town centre shops, part of the current 1950s and 1960s exhibition. We were told that Jon’s premises were on the corner of Fore Street and the passageway leading to the Pipe Well, the entrance being the side door of No.15 Fore Street.
Image: The location is confirmed by a photograph from 1962 showing a lady looking at examples of Jon’s work which he has displayed on that very corner.
The photographs you can see here show the variety of his work during those two decades.
Image: Castle Park by Jon Wooldridge 1955
Mayor taking the Scout’s salute on the Parade
Image: Jon Wooldridge 1961
Queen Elizabeth II leaving Duchy House
Image: Jon Wooldridge 1956
22 Fore Street
Thomas Searle, originally from St. Hilary near Penzance, was in business at 22 Fore Street in 1861 as a Music Seller. Added to this, in the 1862 Trade Directory, is Toy Dealer. Trade Directories and Censuses both confirm that from at least 1871 until his death in 1893 Thomas’ main occupation was Photographer. He, his wife Elizabeth and one of his daughters, Mary Elizabeth, are buried in Lanchard Cemetery.
Image: A Thomas Searle business card on the reverse of a photograph.
Another daughter Eliza Jane was living in Castle Street as a Dressmaker at the time of her father’s death, with her husband Matthew Pope Garland, and it was he who continued the Photography business at 22 Fore Street. Matthew and Eliza moved into No.22 joining her mother Elizabeth and her sister Mary.
This arrangement only lasted 12 years as Matthew died in 1905 at the early age of 47 and his mother-in-law died 3 years later aged 74.
Image: M.P. Garland advertisement Cornish Times 28th September 1895.
This left the widowed Eliza running the Photography business, she traded as Madame Garland and continued successfully until the early 1930s, dying in 1939 at the grand age of 81. Her unmarried sister Mary assisted as Housekeeper at 22 Fore Street.
Images: by Madame Garland
On the far right of the photo of Fore Street from about 1900 the side of No.22 can be seen. Customers would walk through the shop then climb over 30 steps to the studio at the top of the garden. Above No.20 next door can be seen the sign of competitor ‘John H Coath Photographer’.
Image: photograph c1900. On the extreme right is 22, Fore Street.
John Lewis Rapson
John, born in 1923, spent his early years living above the family Butcher shop in Windsor Place and, after attending his great aunt Martha Rapson’s Highwood House School in Barras Street, then Liskeard Secondary School, he became the 4th generation of Rapson butchers in Liskeard.
Image: Windsor place Butcher shop and Rapson family home
TThis career continued with an interruption of 4 ½ year’s service abroad during WWII, until his interest in photography took the upper hand, in 1947, when he received his first commission, the Golden Wedding Anniversary of Mr & Mrs Heale of Station Road. For a short time, John rented a studio and darkroom in Fore Street from the now retired John H Coath. It was I 1952 that the Rapson Photographic shop, previously the family dining room, and workshop opened in Windsor Place, but John still split his time between this and the butchery business next door.
Image: Photographs of John L Rapson during his WWII posting
On the death of his father in 1958, John employed managers in the Butcher shop and rooms on the first floor were converted to a large studio. Over the years John provide employment for many young people training them in the fascinating world of modern photography, of which he was a master. After 40 years in business the milestone of 2000 wedding commissions was reached.
Image: 1990 John Rapson President of Liskeard Old Cornwall Society
After his retirement in 1987, John’s business passed in to the extremely capable hands of David Hambly whose premises can be found at the top of the passageway that runs alongside the former Rapson Butcher shop in Windsor Place.
On the 11th November 2020 John Lewis Rapson, a lifelong Methodist, a Bard of the Gorsedd Kernow and unofficial ‘ Town Photographer’, joined his father, grandfather and great grandfather in Lanchard Cemetery. Before he died, John donated his collection of photographs and negatives to the Liskeard & District Museum providing the town with a lasting record of life in Liskeard over 50 years.
Image: John Rapson studio sign displayed at Liskeard & District Museum
‘Life in Liskeard’ from The John Rapson Collection (a selection of images taken by photographer John L Rapson capturing life in Liskeard over 40 years)