Another gem from what is now a semi-regular series from Alan Clarke. Long may it continue!
Hastings 1905 or 1907
When I find interesting old images I can’t recognise, I send them to my photographic detective friend Tony.
I sent him the seaside image you see here.
The original was discovered hidden away in the museum, and has now been scanned, referenced and enclosed in a numbered box in one of the museum’s image archive rooms. This is Tony’s reply, slightly altered by me.
“I’m sure that you will be pleased to know that I have managed to identify the location of the seaside photo. I started investigating soon after you sent it.
I assumed that it was taken in the UK as there is a union flag flying on the seafront. I also guessed that it could be on the south coast so I looked for a Victorian resort, built on rapidly rising ground and, having a pier and an unusual hexagonal building. I found that in some respects Hastings seemed to be a good match so I found an aerial view of Hastings on Google Earth and studied it.
The photo shows what could be a flagpole and what might be the end of a wall. See annotation on photo. From the Google Earth view of Hastings I found a flagpole in the castle and took the wall to be the castle wall. Starting at the flagpole in the castle grounds, I drew a line on the Google aerial view which crossed the castle wall just before the wall ends. Assuming it is Hastings and the flagpole position has not changed in 110 years, by this use of parallax, the camera was positioned somewhere along this line.
Both the photos and the Google aerial view show multi-storey houses with bay windows, and both also show a coast road which bends sharply as it approaches the west end of the picture. So far so good.
What I wanted to find, as confirmation, was a photo of Hastings showing the distinctive hexagonal building and the pier. I found pictures of piers at Hastings through the ages but none was of the design shown in the picture, and I could find no reference to the hexagonal building.
Additionally, the Google aerial picture shows a far larger distance between the sea and the base of the rock formation on which the castle stands. Thus, if it was Hastings, at some time since the Victorian era, land has been reclaimed. This would place the coast road shown in your photo further back from the current coast road shown in the Google aerial photo.
At this stage I felt there was insufficient evidence to say with certainty that Hastings was the true location.
Returning to the task a few days ago I looked at the lower right of the photo, which I had dismissed as containing nothing of interest, to see BRODERICKS SERIES. This is embossed on the photograph where I have placed the green exclamation mark. I discovered that Frederick Nutt Broderick 1878-1913 was a photographer based in the Isle of Wight.
Frederick Nutt Broderick’s photographic business was established when picture postcards were being introduced into England. In the 1900’s, Broderick travelled along the south coast taking photographs of seaside towns, later publishing them as picture postcards; including a number of postcards featuring views of Hastings in 1905 and 1907. His eldest daughter Aurora acted as his assistant and, rather predictably, when he issued his postcards of Hastings, he published them as the Aurora series. A photograph taken around 1910 showing a white bearded Broderick with his wife Emily and his two daughters, Aurora and Emmeline, appeared in a recent book on Hastings in old photographs.
These are the links to Mr Broderick:
I suspect that the photo could have been taken from a Hastings hotel in which Mr Broderick was staying. It would have been a good vantage point and a hotel room with a bay window would have been a convenient place to set up a plate camera.”
Alan continues: On receiving this communciation from Tony, I went back through the museum’s archive of photographs and found three more images with Broderick embossed faintly on them; Carisbroke Castle, Carisbroke Church and the Needles from Alum Bay, all three the Isle of Wight. Thus, Hastings, as the fourth photo, doesn’t fit this set as it isn’t on the IoW.
The discrepancies of the hexagonal building, wrong pier structure and land reclamation worried me. Could there be somewhere like this on the Isle of Wight? Ventnor came to mind, so I queried Google as to whether Ventnor ever had a pier. Yes it did! I soon came up with the second image here, an almost perfect match. So, it is Ventnor IoW, and not Hasting, after all.