Hertfordshire Postcard Artists, Photographers, Publishers, etc.
G. A. Nichols of Hitchin & Wormley. 1870s
Carte de Visite
G. A. Nichols
Cabinet card of Meppershall Rectory with same back also seen
|These carte de visite clearly indicate that George Albert Nichols worked at two different locations in Hertfordshire, although there is no evidence of him a Wormley in the trade directories.||
This CDV view of Wormley Church, presumably taken in about
1875, had an identical back to the above.
[Reduced image from ebay advert]
George Albert Nichols (31, born Cambridge) was a photographic artist living at Southbridge Road, Croydon with his wife Elizabeth (28, born Paddington) in 1871. In 1875 his studio at No 4, London Road Croydon, was taken over by Jesse Holloway (Photohistory of Sussex). He is listed at Croydon House, Station Road, Hitchin in 1878 but in 1881 and 1891 he was living in Stamford, Lincolnshire, as a photographer, with wife Rebecca (he actually married Rebecca Fosdyke in 1883). He died in 1897, and his wife continued as a photographer in Stamford in 1901 and 1911.
It would seem that between 1875 and 1881 he moved from Croydon to Stamford via "London House", Wormley and "Croydon House," Hitchin. He may only have been in Hertfordshire a short time - but the back of the cards suggests a professional approach - rather than a beginner just setting up in business for the first time.
A Google search provided the following quote "born in Cambridge, went to America, returned to Hertfordshire as a photographer in 1870s & then went to Stamford where he ran a photography business until his death in 1897" (Cambridgeshire History).
From the known locations that George worked this photograph of North Mimms (with a Hitchin back) is a bit surprising.
The 1871 census entry for the George Albert Nichols household continues over the page of the census enumeration book. (Findmypast incorrectly split the entry into two and I missed this when I first looked him up.) The full entry includes a wife, a 7 year old son with a different surname (presumably a stepson), a domestic servant, an apprentice called Henry Reader (16) who was presumably a photographic artist apprentice, and five boarders, Charles H Litchfield (18), John G. Simpson (17), John Swannell (32), William Lister (30) and Henry W Gibson (32) - and all five borders were photographers! This looks like a very substantial photographic business, especially as early as 1871.
Thomas Owen Rolph had a family and no servants - so may have been employed as a photographer rather than working in his own right. He could hardly avoid knowing George Nichols, as there were only three houses between them, two of which were unoccupied in the 1871 census. If George Nichols employed 5 photographers and an apprentice - why not another one - as one who was married with a fair sized family would need separate accommodation. If Thomas Rolph worked for George Nichols he may well have ended up working for Jesse Holloway (Photohistory of Sussex).
However there is a bit of a mystery. If the five photographers in George's house were his employees they should have been described as such and not as boarders - unless George was running a photographic training school. However such irregularities are quite common in census returns so the observation may not be significant. On the other hand if George really ran such an exceptionally large photographic establishment I would expect to find many examples of his work on ebay, and more information about him on google. But he is hardly mentioned at all - so what is going on. A search in the Croydon local history records seems appropriate but beyond the scope of this web site.
|Direct Link: www.hertfordshire-genealogy-co-uk/links/NICHOLS.htm|
|April 2012||Page created and later updated|
|December 2013||New info on photographer|
|June 2014||Question from Bob Gray|
|September 2015||1878 trade directory reference added|
|October 2015||Boys/girls CDV added|