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Old Photographs - Cambridgeshire Photographers - John Borrill Etches and family

Photographers are listed alphabetically by surname on the following pages.

0 - 9 | Aa-Ak | Al-Ao | Ap-As | At-Az | Ba-Bak | Bal-Bam | Ban-Bd | Be-Bh | Bi-Bk | Bl-Bn | Bo-Bp | Br-Bt | Bu-Bz | Ca-Ck | Cl-Cn | Coa-Cor | Cos-Cz | Da-Dh | Di-Dq | Dr-Dz | Ea-Ec | Ed-Ez | Fa-Fh | Fi-Fz | Ga-Gd | Ge-Gq | Gr-Gz | Ha-Hd | He-Hh | Hi-Hn | Ho-Hz | Ia-Iz | Ja-Je | Jf-Jz | Ka-Kz | La-Ld | Le-Ln | Lo-Lz | Maa-Mad | Mae-Mar | Mas-Mb | Mc-Mi | Mj-Mz | Na-Nh | Ni-Nn | No-Nz | Oa-Oz | Pa-Pb | Pc-Ph | Pi-Po | Pr-Pz | Qa-Qz | Ra-Rd | Re-Rh | Ri-Rz | Sa-Sb | Sc-Sf | Sg-Sk | Sla-Slz | Sma-Ss | Sta-Std | Ste-Sth | Sti-Sy | Ta-Te | Tf-Ti | Tj-Tz | Ua-Uz | Va-Vz | Wa-We | Wf-Wh | Wi-Wz | XYZ

John Borrill Etches, Peterborough photographer and photographic publisher

John Borrill Etches was the son of master tinplate worker Jacob Etches b 1842 Wakefield, and Alice Etches b 1842 Balby, Yorkshire. In later life Jacob became a furniture dealer, distraint agent, auctioneer and auctioneer’s caretaker.

John was the eighth of ten children with four sisters and five brothers (one of whom died in his infancy). Three of the Etches brothers: Frederick Ernest Etches (1873-1959); John Borrill Etches (1878-1942) and Joseph Morris (or Maurice) Etches (1881-1966) were to become involved in the photographic industry. At least two of their sons also joined the industry: Noel Trevelyn Etches (1906-1997), son of John Borrill Etches and John T Etches (1920-2006) son of Joseph Morris Etches)

Frederick Ernest Etches (1873 – 1959)

The oldest of these three photographer brothers, Frederick Ernest Etches, became a gold blocker, Callotype printer and bookbinder and by 1900 he was working in those roles for one of the best known UK photographic publishers, George Washington Wilson and Company Ltd in Aberdeen.


1904 newspaper advert for GW Wilson, including their gold blocking work, Aberdeen Press and Journal p.12, Aug 1904

Frederick must have been one of their most valued employees because in December 1900 the Directors, relations of the founding GW Wilson, appointed him as a Managing Director. Something went wrong however and Frederick fell out spectacularly with the rest of the Board. The company was unfortunately by this time in financial decline and it may have been financial constraints that led other Directors to turn on Frederick and prevent him from embracing his new role. Frederick resigned in February 1902 and sought and received damages from the company and from a number of its Directors. He subsequently worked as a manager for a number of different photographic publishers (names not currently known, and it is not known whether this work brought him to Cambridgeshire). In March 1904 he started trading on his own account. This was not a success, leading to his bankruptcy in August 1905. At this point Frederick and his family were living in Bristol.

Frederick bounced back and in the 1911 census was recorded as living in Winton Hampshire and managing a photographic company. The company was The Bournemouth View Company, which produced a number of real photograph postcards of local views. This was obviously more successful and by 1916 Frederick was the Managing Director of Bournemouth Aerodrome, later of the Bournemouth Aviation Co, and finally owned and ran a large Bournemouth based building company.

John Borrill Etches (1878-1942)

In 1901 John Borrill Etches (1878-1942) appeared as a visitor in the Leeds Census Return, when he was shown as a "traveler for photos". In 1902 in the flotation documents for the Alpha Motor Car and Cycle Works (1902) Ltd, which would take over the former AB Cycle Co Ltd and The Alpha Co Ltd, there is mention, in the assets and liabilities, of two contracts with John Borrill Etches, but the purpose of the contracts was not stated. The new company, managing Director Henry Allen Ashton, had its head office in Chancery Lane London and its works in Liverpool Street, Birmingham, with 850 agencies and depots. (Globe - Monday 29 September 1902 p.8 and the London Daily News 29 September 1902 p8).

John Borrill Etches was listed in the 1911 Census as a commercial photographer, working on his own account at his home at Audries Villa, Dogsthorpe Road, Peterborough. The Peterborough Advertiser, 17 August 1912 p2, carries a photograph of the interior of the Lady Chapel at All Souls Church, Peterborough, credited "Photo for this Journal: Etches". The same newspaper 21 Sept 1912 p2 carries another Etches photograph of the construction of the Crescent Bridge, Peterborough. In January 1915 a postcard showing troops paraded on the Market Square at Peterborough bore the inscription "Etches and Hall copyright". The Hall part of the partnership could have been Fred Hall from 46 Westgate Peterborough. Other RPPCs bearing the names "Etches and Hall" have been seen which show groups of refugees from Belgium then living in Peterborough and date from around 1914.

During WW1, John served in the Royal Flying Corps, later the RAF, having enlisted on 7th July 1917 for the duration of the war. His military record, service number 35944, wrongly records his name as "John Barratt Etches". On enlisting John gave his profession as "photographic trade printer". John was promoted to Corporal 23 October 1917 and to Sergeant Mechanic on 1 May 1918. He moved to the RAF Reserve 8 February 1919 and was deemed discharged on 30 April 1919. His military record lists the other members of his immediate family as: wife Ada, b. 14 August 1897 Leeds, and children: Gladys Josephine Etches b. 9 September 1899, Elaine Rose Etches b. 28 October 1904 and Noel Trevelyn b. 29 June 1906.

The Rapid Photo Co is listed under 'photographers' in a Peterborough directory, at 24 Narrow Street, Peterborough in 1914. They produced real photo post cards with local views. One of their postcard series, the Rapid Series, includes a logo of a crude line drawing of a light aircraft. John Borrill Etches owned the Rapid Photo Printing Co. When he enlisted in the armed forces John sold the Rapid Printing Company for £500 to May Bone, a Norfolk photographer who had expanded into Peterborough. May was already a postcard publisher so the purchase would have allowed her to bring postcard production in house. The contract allowed John to start back in postcard production when he returned from the war, but clauses in the contract prohibited John from trading with May's clients or undercutting existing prices for a period of seven years. On his return from wartime service John recommenced business immediately in breech of these clauses. The Nottingham Journal on Wed 12 October 1921 p2 carried a report (also carried by the Peterborough Standard 15 October 1921 p12)

"A BREACH OF CONTRACT. Mr Justice McCardie, in the King’s Bench Division yesterday heard an action brought by Miss May Bone, of Market Place Peterborough against Mr. John Barrett (sic) Etches, of Narrow Street, Peterborough, claiming damages for, and an injunction against, breaches of the terms of a covenant to sell the stock-in-trade and connection of the Rapid Photo Co., of Narrow Street, Peterborough to the plaintiff in April 1916. His lordship found a clear breach of contract, and assessed the damages at £150, refusing a stay of execution."

It is possible that John Borrill Etches was a "stickyback" photographer while operating the Rapid Photo Co in Narrow Street Peterborough. See our entry for Stickybacks for further details.

There was another, more famous, Rapid Photo Company, addresses, New Broad Street, London EC, 4-5 Bridgewater Square, London EC and Hampton Hill, who were major publishers of real photograph postcards, specialising in photographs of the stars of stage and music hall as well as topographical subjects and animals, children and greetings, Their trade mark was the word "Rapid" with an arrow through the word, direction lower left to upper right, with two swallows or swifts flying right to left. This firm's name sometimes appears as "The Rapid Co", "Rapid Photo", "the Rapid Photo co" or "The Rapid Photo Printing Co", all of London EC. Some of their portrait postcards also bear the name of the photographer or studio from which they originated. There are 97 portraits published by this company in the catalogue of the National Portrait Gallery. This company, founded by a Mr. J. Mengel, operated from around 1901. Mengel left the company in 1905 to form The Kingsbury Works, another major postcard publishing company, in St Albans. The Rapid Photo Printing Co was active in England and Scotland and employed a number of commercial travellers. In 1908 they were advertising a service producing private postcards from your own photograph, suitable for greetings or XMas cards at 7/6d for 50, 10/- for 100. (Era 29 August 1908 p34). By February 1910 (Yorkshire Post 26 Feb 1910 p13) the Rapid Photo Printing Co Ltd was in liquidation, so pre-dates the Rapid Photo Company at Peterborough, but was there any connection between the two ? Was one or more of the Etches brothers travelling for, or involved in some way in the earlier Rapid Photo Co? Did they for some reason, commercial or otherwise, perpetuate the name, transposing it into a smaller affair in Peterborough, or is the similarity in name and products just a co-incidence?

The loss of £150 in damages just as John was restarting his business after his wartime service must have been a heavy blow, but he persisted in the trade, presumably finding new markets and customers. In the 1921 Census John Borrell Etches was a photographic trade printer living with his wife and three children at 66 Princes Street, Peterborough. He was recorded as an employer working from 24 Long Causeway, Peterborough. The Census also listed an employee as Dorothy WOODS. In 1922 an advertisement appeared in the Peterborough local trade directory for "The Aerial Photo Co. Commercial Photographers, Enlargers, Etchers etc etc. All kinds of outdoor and indoor photography undertaken at reasonable charges. Express service. Our new works are fully equipped with the latest automatic machinery - our output of real photo postcards is amongst the largest in the Kingdom. Enquiries kindly solicited. 24 Long Causeway, Peterborough". In 1925 and 1927 directory listings they are shown as "photographic trade printers", and are also listed under "photographers".

Flight, a magazine concerned with aero engineering and airships, records in its issue of Nov 8th 1923 that a new company had been registered: "Aerial Photo Co (Peterborough) Ltd" at 24 Long Causeway Peterborough with a capital of £2000 in £1 shares. The new company had acquired the business carried on at Peterborough as the Aerial Photo Co and the Nene Photo Co, under agreement with John Borrill Etches (1878-1942) and Joseph Whitman (1875- 1951), who were both made lifetime directors of the new company.

The use of the word “Aerial” in the firm’s title may, or may not have referred to any involvement in aerial photography. All of the surviving postcards seen to date from this firm are normal outdoor views, and are of subjects in the South of England. Was it a coincidence that one of John’s brothers was at this time running an airfield and aviation company in Bournemouth and another was a photographer in the South? Was there some sort of collaboration between the brothers in these firms?

In the 1939 Register John B Etches was shown as a "photographic trade printer" living at 40 Princes Street, Peterborough. John was an air raid warden during WW2. At the time of his death in August 1942, John was at the same address.

Joseph Morris Etches (1881-1966)

The third Etches brother of interest here was Joseph Morris Etches. Joseph had something of a chequered early life. He had a couple of criminal court appearances in his teens and a first marriage which didn’t work out. By 1911 his second family was in Peterborough at 74 Princes Street, a few streets away from John Borrill Etches. On census day 1911, Joseph Morris Etches, was at his parents’ house at Dolphin Chambers, Doncaster, while his wife and children were in Peterborough. He described himself in the census return as a “photographic publisher”, but did not state whether this was on his own account or as an employee. The Peterborough Advertiser on 23 and 30 November, 7th, 14th and 21st December 1912, p4 carried an advertisement:

"Enlargements given away. To every purchaser of One Dozen Postcards reproduced from any photo at 2s 6d a dozen, a beautiful enlargement 10 in x 8in mounted on large mount, given free. Christmas Greetings on postcards if desired: all orders executed within seven days. Regal Photo Co, 74 Princes Street, Peterborough."

So in 1912 Joseph was producing postcards in the name of the Regal Photo Company based at his home address in Peterborough. It is possible that living near to his brother John Borrill, the two may have been working together at this point.

Joseph also served in the armed forces in WW1, enlisting on 13 April 1917, Service No 75698. His name was recorded as Joseph Marris Etches.

In 1939 Joseph was at 83 Pine Road, Bournemouth with his second wife and son. He gave his occupation as "Master Photographer". His family state that his first studio was at the bottom of his garden. He may have specialised in real photo post cards and “J M Etches, 83 Pine Rd Winton, Bournemouth” is to be found on a number of local Dorset postcards.

Other local view postcards have been seen for c.1905 – “Etches and Co Bristol” and for 1909 “Published by Etches of Weston-Super-Mare". It is not known at this stage which of the Etches brothers operated at these locations. A superb collection of images of the works of Joseph Morris Etches and his son John T Etches can be seen in a Flickr Gallery by historian Alwyn Ladell here https://www.flickr.com/photos/alwyn_ladell/sets/72157697445412225/

Noel Trevelyn Etches (1906-1997)

Noel was the son of John Borrill Etches above. In the 1939 Register Noel was living at 17 Queens Gardens Peterborough with his wife Mabel V. b: 1915 and was listed as a "photographic trade printer", the same occupation as his father. It is reasonable to assume that he was involved in his father's business at that time.

John T Etches (1920-2006)

John T Etches was the son of Joseph Morris Etches. In 1939 John was with his parents at 83 Pine Road, Bournemouth and was a grocer’s assistant and roundsman. Later he became a photographer with his father in Bournemouth. Numerous local view postcards survive with “published by John T Etches, Bournemouth” printed on the line dividing the address and correspondence panels. In the 1960 phone book, John was a photographer at 159 Holdenhurst Rd Bournemouth and Sun Arbor, Turbary Rd Tricketts X. A superb collection of images of the works of John T Etches and his father Joseph Morris Etches can be seen in a Flickr Gallery by historian Alwyn Ladell here https://www.flickr.com/photos/alwyn_ladell/sets/72157697445412225/.

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Photographers are listed alphabetically by surname on the following pages.

0 - 9 | Aa-Ak | Al-Ao | Ap-As | At-Az | Ba-Bak | Bal-Bam | Ban-Bd | Be-Bh | Bi-Bk | Bl-Bn | Bo-Bp | Br-Bt | Bu-Bz | Ca-Ck | Cl-Cn | Coa-Cor | Cos-Cz | Da-Dh | Di-Dq | Dr-Dz | Ea-Ec | Ed-Ez | Fa-Fh | Fi-Fz | Ga-Gd | Ge-Gq | Gr-Gz | Ha-Hd | He-Hh | Hi-Hn | Ho-Hz | Ia-Iz | Ja-Je | Jf-Jz | Ka-Kz | La-Ld | Le-Ln | Lo-Lz | Maa-Mad | Mae-Mar | Mas-Mb | Mc-Mi | Mj-Mz | Na-Nh | Ni-Nn | No-Nz | Oa-Oz | Pa-Pb | Pc-Ph | Pi-Po | Pr-Pz | Qa-Qz | Ra-Rd | Re-Rh | Ri-Rz | Sa-Sb | Sc-Sf | Sg-Sk | Sla-Slz | Sma-Ss | Sta-Std | Ste-Sth | Sti-Sy | Ta-Te | Tf-Ti | Tj-Tz | Ua-Uz | Va-Vz | Wa-We | Wf-Wh | Wi-Wz | XYZ