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Directory of Early Photographers in Norfolk, S




SARONY, Oliver F X

Canadian by birth, Sarony was an itinerant daguerreotypist and (from 1855) collodion photographer. He travelled widely – often in partnership with John Baum (or Baume) – and his enterprises included temporary studios in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. He later settled and prospered in Scarborough. More information about his career can be found in 'Photographers in mid-nineteenth century Scarborough' (Anne & Paul Bayliss: Bayliss, 1998). Heathcote places him in Norwich from January 1856 until about July. Advertisements in the Norwich press show him at 'St Stephen's, opposite Jolly's coach Manufactory'. From November 1856 to mid-March 1857, he set up his studio (two large horse-drawn wagons) on Common Staithe Quay, behind Lynn’s Corn Exchange. Lynn was the last town to be visited during his wholly itinerant period.

SAUNDERS, Frederick

Dickleburgh, Scole


Dickleburgh, Scole
KN1888, KN1892, KN1896, KN1900, KN1904, KN1908, KN1912

Photographer, joiner and parish clerk. Believed to be the same person as the erroneously listed William Saunders, below.


Dickleburgh, Scole

Though a William Saunders appears in the county-wide trade listing of WN1890, its Dickleburgh section mentions only Walter Saunders. No William Saunders has been found in the census for 1891 or 1901, so the existence of two separate photographers named Saunders is open to question.

SAVIN, David William

Church Street, Cromer
HN1872, KN1875, HN1877, KN1879, KN1883, KN1888, WN1890

Savin is described in HN1872 as watchmaker, silversmith, jeweller, jet ornament manufacturer and photographic artist. He may have been operating earlier than 1872, since a surviving carte seems (from costume, studio background and mount) to date from the 1860s. Though directories repeatedly assign the business to David Savin, no David has been found in Norfolk census returns. The actual photographer appears to have been Daniel W Savin, born in 1841/2 and described as ‘photographer and jeweller’ in the 1881 census for Cromer. Savin & Holden say that he opened for business in 1860 as a jeweller and watchmaker, adding photography to his offering at an unspecified later date.

By WN1890 the business is referred to as ‘D W Savin & Son’. The son was Alfred C Savin, born in Norfolk in 1860/1, and his memoirs are incorporated into Savin & Holden.

SAVIN, William

Church Street, Cromer

This seems very likely to refer to David William Savin, above.

SAWYER, John Robert

42 London Street, Norwich
HN1863, HN1868

London Street, Norwich
WN1864, KN1865, KN1869

46 London Street, Norwich

Listed as Sawyer & Co in 1863. Hepworth notes him at London Street in Roger's 1859 Norwich directory. Cory believes Sawyer to have started as a photographer in the late 50s, but Linkman dates his first Norwich studio as 1853. Heathcote gives his first studio as 12 London Street, from July 1854 onwards, but other sources suggest this should be amended to 42 London Street. (42 is the number given in Sawyer's 'Norwich Mercury' advertisement of 16th January 1856, in which he refers to his 'residence of three years in Norwich'.) The earliest of his advertisements to be found, so far, is for 42 London Street in 'The Norfolk News', 10th December 1853 .

John Robert Mather Sawyer was born in Sheffield in 1828 and died in Naples in 1889. His early career included experience as a cutler, optician, surgical instrument maker and truss maker. He was a leading member of the Norwich Photographic Society, founded in 1854. His prolific output in the 1860s is covered by a separate studio note.

A number of Sawyer's cartes from the 1860s (including one dated 1869) have the address, ‘Sawyer's Italian Studios, 46 London Street, Norwich’. The opening of this new studio was announced in 'The Norfolk Chronicle', 3rd October 1863. The studio is also named on a number of Sawyer & Bird cartes from the 70s. Although this address has been found in only one trade directory, it was important enough to figure, at one point, as an illustration on a carte mount. A three-storey building is shown, surmounted by a balustrade and a flagpole. First and second floors each have four round-arched windows. The ground floor forms the shop front with examples of Sawyer's work in the large window. A name board, between ground and first floors, reads, ‘46 Sawyer 46’, while lettering across the second floor windows appears to read, ‘Sawyer's - Italian - Studios – 46’. Some 60s versions of Sawyer mount also have the address, ‘18 Brook Street, Ipswich’.

Another common feature of his mounts was the use of a motto. In his early career, he opted for ‘Sol Fecit’ (‘The sun made it’). In later years he preferred ‘Solem Certissima Signa Sequuntur’ (‘The surest of signs result from the sun’) – a quotation from Vergil that also enjoyed some currency on sundials.

He entered into partnership with Walter Bird in 1871. Photographic historian Paul Godfrey reports a Sawyer carte de visite bearing three addresses: 87 Regent Street London, 46 London Street Norwich, and 182 King Street, Great Yarmouth. This seems to indicate that Sawyer was (or intended to be) active in Yarmouth before he formed his partnership with Bird.

See also the Sawyer & Bird studio folder and a separate note on King Street studios.


42 London Street, Norwich
HN1872, HN1877

London Street, Norwich

King Street, Yarmouth
HN1872, HN1877, HAM1879

182 King Street, Yarmouth
GY1874, KN1875

32 London Street, Norwich
KN1875, KN1879, HAM1879, KN1883, EN1883

36a Rathbone Place, London (offices)

14 King Street, Yarmouth
SYcirca1878, KN1879, KN1883

74 Oxford Street, London (offices)

Heathcote says the partnership was formed in 1871. A rising sun motif formed the company’s first logo.

Less informative directory addresses include ‘Norwich’ (GY1874) and ‘London’ (HN1872, GY1874, HN1877). Some Sawyer & Bird carte mounts, probably dating from the 70s, give ‘46 London Street’ as the Norwich address, and the same address appeared in a series of 1873 advertisements in the Lynn Advertiser. (This studio was also used by Sawyer before the formation of the partnership.) According to Pritchard, Sawyer & Bird also had London premises at 87 Regent Street West, 1872-3, and were part of the firm of Sawyer, Bird & Foxlee at that address in 1874.

The partners were active in the development of the Autotype process for reproducing photographs on the printed page, and both settled in London, after 1883, as directors of the Autotype Company. References to the Autotype process frequently appeared on the firm's mounts during the early 70s.

See also the Sawyer & Bird studio folder.

SAYERS, Frank Henry

26 King Street, Yarmouth
KN1900, TC1901

28 King Street, Yarmouth
KN1904, KN1908, KY1911-12, KN1912, KY1913-14, KY1915-16, KN1916, AN1916

TC1901 describes him as 'also artist'. Paul Godfrey reports that Sayers acted as manager for Alfred Price (q.v.) at 26 King Street, before taking on the studio under his own name. Records of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom put his name to the studio as early as 1897. The premises at 28 King Street are referred to as ‘St George’s Studio’ in KN1912 and KN1916. Sayers’ advertisement in KN1916 gives National Telephone Number, 176. (King Street studios).


41 Market Place, Yarmouth
KY1913-14, KY1915-16, KN1916

123 Regent Road, Yarmouth

The address of 123 Regent Road seems to be an error. Photographic historian Paul Godfrey points out that Regent Road's house numbers do not go beyond 116, that K1925 lists Seaman at 23 Regent Road, and that an old photograph of of number 24 shows part of Seaman's studio next door. A postcard referring to studios in Market Place, Yarmouth, and Orford Place,Norwich, appears to date from around 1905. A later – but undated – postcard refers to two Yarmouth studios: Market Place and 21 Regent Street. (Regent Road studios)

Ann Green draws attention to a mount mentioning Seaman studios in Yarmouth and Colchester, Essex. Appleby locates Seaman's Colchester studios at High Street and 41 St Botolph's Street, c1917-1921.

The photographer at these studios was Herbert Seaman, a son of Norfolk-born Alfred Seaman. Alfred (a studio and stereoscopic photographer, and a founder member of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom) practised initially in Derbyshire, before he and his sons established a number of other studios around the country. Herbert, his sixth son, ran his own studios in Bristol and Cardiff before settling in Yarmouth.


Dereham Road, Norwich
KN1879, WN1883

Commercial Road, Aylsham
WN1890, KN1892, KN1896, KN1900, TC1901

Additional information from Stewart Addley, descendant of Berney Seymour: Seymour was born Berney Seymour Petre, 15th February 1852. His father was John Berney Petre of Westwick Hall, Norfolk, whose liaison with Susanna Childs, a social inferior, was disapproved of by the Petre family. Their marriage was annulled, but the relationship continued and four children were born. In the 1861 census Seymour is listed under the surname Petre (along with his younger bother Arthur) at a private school in Halesworth, Suffolk. He was taught photography by his father but started his working life as a seaman. He changed his career path when a train crash affected his lans to return to his ship, and he continued as a photographer until shortly before his death in 1904.


Regent Road, Yarmouth
KN1888, WN1890

82, Regent Road, Yarmouth
KN1892, KN1896, KN1900, KN1904

73 St Nicholas Road, Yarmouth

81 Regent Road, Yarmouth
TC1901, KN1904

The business is referred to as ‘George Sherman & Sons’ from 1900 onwards. A cabinet mount, dating from the late 1880s or the 1890s, gives the address as 'Sherman's Pier Studio, corner of Nelson & Regent Roads, Great Yarmouth'. (Regent Road studios). He was present at the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom, 1897.

SHERMAN, Mrs Sarah Elizabeth

82 Regent Road, Yarmouth

(Regent Road studios)

SHRUBSOLE, William Lewis

1 Ely Place, Carnarvon Road, Norwich

5 Davey Place, Norwich
WN1883, WN1890, KN1892

Davey Place, Norwich
KN1883, EN1883, KN1888

8 Connaught Road, Norwich
KN1883, EN1883

Victoria Studio, St Stephen's Road, Norwich

Market place (Exchange Street Corner), Norwich
KN1888, KN1892

Victoria Station, Norwich

Exchange Street, Norwich

13 Briggs Street, Norwich

Grove Road, Norwich
TC1901, AN1916

83 Grove Road, Norwich

82 Chapel Field Road/Row, Norwich
KN1908, JN1911, KN1912, JN1914, KN1916

Cory records a studio at 15 Briggs Street, Norwich, in 1894. A carte mount in the style of the 1870s gives a different form of the Ely Place address: 1 Ely Place, Earlham Road, Norwich.

The Exchange Street Corner and Davey Place studios were open from nine in the morning to nine at night, with arc light being used after dark. Shrubsole is listed by Dimond as one of the professionals who photographed Queen Alexandra (date unknown), and his mounts claimed the patronage of the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the English and Cape Town governments.


Opened his Photographic Rooms at 4 Briggs' Street, Norwich, on 29th October 1859 (according to 'The Norfolk News' of the same date), and still advertising until at least March 1861. Described in 'The Norfolk News', 25th February 1860, as 'Late Artist of Sarony'.


An itinerant photographer offering ‘cheap photographic portraits’ in Bazaar Row at the Lynn Mart from mid-February to 3rd March, 1855.  (Source: Lynn Advertiser, 24th Feb, 1855)


Bridge Street, Lynn
KN1896, KN1900

Lynn-born Skerry followed a series of occupations over the years, and his work as a photographer may have been part-time and/or intermittent. The indexes of advertisers in SL1904, SL1905 and SL1906, list J Skerry of 1 Valingers Road, Lynn, as a photographer; but the advertisements themselves show him only as the proprietor of Morgan's Ales & Stout Stores. It is not clear whether it was his active studio practice or merely his reputation as a photographer that extended into the new century. Some postcards from the early 1900s have been identified as his, but no evidence has yet been found of studio portraits.

SLAUGHTER, Edward Hilton

1 Beetonian Villas, South End, Hunstanton

SMALL, John William

Freeman Street, Wells

John W Smalls, below, could possibly be the same person.


North Creake, Fakenham

See also John William Small, above.

SMITH, Henry James

KN1900, KN1904, KN1908, KN1912

SMITH, James C

St Augustine Street, Norwich
KN1875, HN1877, CLN1877, KN1879

SMITH, John William

Though he seems never to have operated under his own name, John William Smith was the principal of Thomas Smith & Sons, below. His father, Thomas, was primarily (and possibly excusively) a cabinet maker of Brigg in Licolnshire, whose sons ran studios in Norfolk and Lincolnshire under the family name.

SMITH, Louis

Paul Godfrey reports that Smith formed a short-lived partnership with Percy Swain (q.v.) at 2a Davey Place, Norwich, in March 1907, and in Orford Place, Norwich, in September 1907. When Swain faced bankruptcy in early 1908, press reports referred to the partnership both as Louis Smith & Co., and as the Lightning Speed Photography (LSP) Gallery. (Smith could possibly be the Louis Smith, photographer, shown by the 1911 census in Luton, Bedfordshire.)

SMITH, Mrs Susannah

Cherry Street, Norwich

Her business is described in WN1854 as ‘Daguerrotype portrait gallery’. She is listed in KN1853 as ‘artist’ at Cherry Street, Lakenham, Norwich. Heathcote says she was also an astrologer, and dates her Cherry Street studio from July 1853 to some time in 1854. Advertisements in 'The Norfolk News' show her active from (at least) 4th June 1853 to 25th March 1854. 'The Norfolk Chronicle' of July 9th 1853 carried her advert for ‘likenesses taken by the Daguerreotype and photographic process’ at prices from 5/- upwards. More information about her can be found on the 'Early Norfolk Photographs' website.

SMITH, Thomas & Sons

60 High Street, Lynn
WN1883, KN1883, LNA1885, LNA1886, LNA1887, KN1888, WN1890, KN1892, LR1894, LR1895, KN1896, KN1900, TC1901, KN1904, KN1908, AN1916

Norwich Street, Fakenham
LNA1885, LNA1886, LNA1887

4 London Road, Lynn

High Street, Lynn

Though he never operated under his own name, John William Smith was the principal of Thomas Smith & Sons for three decades . His father, Thomas, was primarily a cabinet maker of Brigg in Lincolnshire, whose sons ran studios in Norfolk and Lincolnshire under the family name. The name of the Lynn business did not change after Thomas died in 1888.

John Smith opened their High Street studio in May 1880, aiming to position himself at the upper end of the market. He continued there until declared bankrupt in 1911. He had a branch studio in Fakenham in the second half of the 1880s. He also briefly ran 4 London Road as a second Lynn studio from (probably) 1894, but he may not have continued there long after 1896.

Some carte mounts – possibly dating from the 1880s – refer to an additional studio in Swaffham. A carte mount, dating from the mid-to-late 1880s, refers to 60 High Street as the ‘Central Studio’ and lists those at Fakenam and Brigg in subordinate positions.

(For employees, see Blyth, William; Harrison, Edwin; Reynolds, William; Robertson, George; Thompson, James.)

AN1916 comes after an apparent eight-year gap and seems surprising. But 60 High Street, Lynn, appears as the studio of L Vilenkin in KN1916, and this may be more reliable.

Smith’s 1885 prices started at 6/- a dozen for cartes and 15/- a dozen for cabinet prints. By 1894, he had reduced his prices to 5/- and12/- respectively, and was offering a free opal print with his more expensive cabinet print range.

SMITH, Walter A

Worked from autumn 1863 to autumn 1865 in the Norwich Studio of John Sawyer (q.v.), and then became manager of Sawyer's Ipswich studio. For a more detailed account of his career, see his entry in the Suffolk directory.

SMITH, William L

A son of the Mayor’s Officer, Smith, aged 15, was recorded in the 1871 census as ‘photographer’s apprentice’. He is believed to have been the ‘boy’ mentioned in the same census as employed by Edwin Bullock (q.v.).


Brancaster Staithe

SPANTON, Frederick

Recorded in the 1881 census as photographer's assistant to W S and W J Dexter of King's Lynn.


A member of a Rugby family of photographers, Speight worked as assistant to Jasper James Wright (q.v.) of King's Lynn from 1898 to 1900. Notes based on his diary of those years appear as a separate studio note.


The son of artist/photographers, Squibbs grew up in Somerset but spent much of his late teens on the move, working for a series of photographers and  pursuing his loves of sketching and fishing. He was in Lynn in 1901, boarding in Windsor Road. Since he was described as ‘photographer’, he was presumably working in one of the town’s established studios. He returned to Somerset in the early 1900s and by 1910 he had moved to Wales and was running his own studio in Cardigan.

STACEY, Walter

Paul Godfrey draws attention to a press report (Norfolk News, 9th October 1858) of Walter Stacey being charged with taking photographs on a Sunday. Stacey was recorded as operating in Regent Road, Great Yarmouth. (A reference to his 'booth' suggests that he may have been an itinerant, but this is not conclusive: it was not unknown for an aspiring early photographer to set up makeshift accommodation in his own garden and use it as a studio.)

STACY, Henry W

Probably a photographic retailer rather than a studio photographer. In 1861 ('Norfolk Chronicle', 26th October) he was selling carte de visite albums, was the sole Norwich agent for Mayall's cartes of the royal family, and was offering 'upwards of 1500 selected portraits' of celebrities at Old Haymarket, Norwich.

STAINER, Maurice

Victoria Road, Diss
KN1888, WN1890, KN1892

Information supplied by Steve Clarke suggests that Stainer's business was semi-itinerant. In 1881 he had a studio in Saxmundham, Suffolk. In the 1901 census he appeared as 'travelling photographer' in a caravan on East Harking Market Place. (In the 1881 census he was listed as 'photographist' and in 1891 as 'photographer and Wesleyan lay preacher'.)


KN1879, KN1883, KN1888, KN1892, KN1896, KN1900, KN1904, KN1908


Station Road, Wymondham


Hartington Terrace, Dereham


Queen’s Road, Norwich


Thorpe, Norwich


St Augustine's Street, Norwich
HN1863, WN1864, HN1868


Paul Godfrey reports seeing, at the Gressenhall Museum, near East Dereham, a framed cabinet print by a firm called 'Stereoscopic' of 2 Davey Place, Norwich. This may date from around the time that the Swain family (q.v.) operated at that address.

STOWERS, William

Austin Street, Lynn

Stowers’ presence in Lynn is attested to by just one trade directory entry, so his stay in the town was probably quite short. By 1881 he was practising (again, it seems, briefly) in Wymondham.

SWAIN, George Edwin

2a Davey Place, Norwich
KN1908, KN1912, AN1916

1867-1933. He was a photographer by 1891, when, at the age of 24, with his wife, Clara, and two small children, he was in Luton, Bedfordshire. He was still in Luton in 1901. By 1905 he was working as a photographer in Adelaide, Australia, where (Paul Godfrey has discovered) he was knocked off his bicycle by a negligently-driven horse and trap. He was back in England in 1907, for he took on the Davey Place studio in Norwich when his younger brother Percy (see below) ran into debt at the end of the year. The Davey Place studio was augmented and then succeeded by one in St Giles Street (see entries for Mrs Swain, below). After the First World War Swain was active in the moving picture industry, recording current events for showing in local cinemas. His son, also George, followed in his footsteps. (Stephen Peart: 'The Picture House in East Anglia', [Terence Dalton, 1980]).


25 St Giles Street, Norwich

See, also, Mrs M Swain, below.


27 St Giles Street, Norwich
KN1912, JN1914, KN1916

This is Mildred Mary Swain, 1879-1962, wife of George (above). From the opening of the Davey Place studio onward, the Swain photography business seems to have involved both George and Mildred, and for a time they appear to have been running two studios. Their son, also George, joined the family business towards the end of the First World War, at the age of sixteen. (Everitt).

SWAIN, Percy John

Born c1883, Percy was the much younger brother of George Edwin Swain, above. In 1901 he was working in London as a boot-shop assistant. Other details, including his period as a photographer in Norwich, can be pieced together from a report found by Paul Godfrey in the 'Norfolk Chronicle', 29th Feb 1908, together with a follow-up piece on 28th March:

Before going to London, he had, in 1899, become a chemist's assistant in Luton. In 1902 he set up as a photographer in Hastings, Sussex, but was in financial difficulties after two years. Leaving Hastings with debts unpaid, he took a variety of jobs in different places, working under the alias of 'John Percy'. In March 1907 he arrived in Norwich and joined Louis Smith (q.v.), whom he had known in London. They acquired a former studio at 2a Davey Place and set up as photographers. In September 1907 the partners hired further premises at Orford Place, which they ran as the Lightning Speed Photography Gallery. Smith managed the new studio, while Swain (still generally known as John Percy) stayed at Davey Place. In December, Smith wanted to dissolve the partnership and carry on alone. This led to the drawing-up of documents that referred to Swain by his real name (under which his earlier debts had been incurred), and Swain decided to file a petition for bankruptcy. In due course his brother George took on the Davey Place business.

Percy Swain moved on, and in 1911 he was working as a photographer in Loughborough.


Opie Street, Norwich
HN1863, HN1868

Bank Plain, Norwich

King Street, St Stephen's, Norwich

SYMES, Herbert

134 King Street, Yarmouth

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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: 03 September 2022, 15:59

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