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Directory of Early Photographers in Suffolk - Studio Notes - Cade and White of Ipswich

[I am grateful to David Gobbitt for supplying a body of information of which this studio note makes extensive use. His discovery of Robert White’s retirement announcement in The Ipswich Journal of 12th April 1879 has proved especially helpful.]

Robert Cade, the earliest of this group of photographers, was baptised in London on 10th November 1822. His father (also Robert) was a printer, who later founded St Clements’ School in Ipswich, and who died in 1864. The younger Robert worked initially as a watchmaker and jeweller, and he married Maria Underwood in London in 1842. By 1851 the couple were living, with four children (Robert, aged 8; Alfred, 7; William, 6; Clara, 3) in Fore Street, Ipswich.

Robert took up wet collodion photography, by his own account, in 1852, specialising in recording the buildings and equipment of country estates. Then, in 1855, he built a glasshouse and established a portrait business. His studio at Orwell Place, Ipswich, was succeeded by one at Westgate Street/Cornhill in the late 1850s or early 1860s, and Cade continued there until 1879, by which time his health was declining and he decided to retire.

His second son, Alfred Henry Cade, was by now in his mid-30s and had already been involved for some years in both taking photographs and processing them. His son-in-law, too, was an experienced photographer. Clara Cade (who had probably also worked in the family business) had married John White, who had an impressive curriculum vitae. He had managed a large studio in India, and he had spent four years as chief operator in Disdéri’s Hanover Square studio in London. He also had the reputation of being good at the sometimes difficult task of photographing children. So Robert passed the business of his Photographic Institute over to his son and son-in-law, confident that they would maintain the studio’s standards and willing still to act as adviser, should any wish to draw on his long experience.

His opportunity to act as a retired elder statesman was, unfortunately, brief, for he died later that year (on October 22nd) at the age of 59. But the new partnership of Cade and White continued for a few years at the Westgate Street address. By about 1883, however, Alfred Cade and John White had decided to operate separately. Cade stayed at Westgate Street, where he remained in business until around 1906. White took on a studio at 18 (Upper) Brook Street, on the southern corner of the Buttermarket. (This long-established studio had been run for many years by Walter Azembey Smith, who had originally managed it for –and, in 1867 acquired it from – J R M Sawyer.) In later years, White opened an additional studio in Felixstowe. His son, Arthur Leslie, worked with him in both locations and eventually ran the operations in his own right.

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www.earlyphotostudios.uk is a non-commercial web site for local and family historians, listing photographers operating 1840-1916, in Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Suffolk. The original site was researched and written in 2011 by the late Robert Pols, photo historian and author, and this re-constructed site is dedicated to his memory.

This page was last modified: 04 September 2022, 15:21

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