IOW Photographers - Ford


Photographer Alfred James Ford
Active Period 1904 - 1935
Lifespan Born:  c1879   Lambeth, Surrey Died:  1935  Newport, IOW
Studio Addresses 1 Spring Hill, Ventnor
Established 1904
Trade History 1904 - Advertisement announcing opening of photographic studio (see below)
A J Ford, 1 Spring Hill, Ventnor

1905 - Advertisement (see below)
A J Ford, Spring Hill Studios, Ventnor

1907 - Bankruptcy report - IW County Press, 1 June 1907 (page 8)
Alfred James Ford, photographer, 1 Spring Hill, Ventnor

1933 Electoral Register
Alfred James Ford, 36 Cross Street, Sandown

Evidence Found
None found to date, though it is understood that A J Ford produced many postcards.
Examples of
Trade Cards,
Adverts, etc
FordAd.jpg (15567 bytes)
An Alfred Ford advertisement in a trade directory dated 1904
Note the blissfully ignorant offer to take photos using x-rays!

FordAd2.jpg (13956 bytes)
Another advertisement (undated). 
Who or what were "The Stingarees" - a local pier act perhaps?

FordAd3.jpg (28129 bytes)
Another advertisement dated 1905
Unfortunately, text detail has been lost during scanning and compression.
This is the transcription:

"Some people look best
in profile, others full face. No two persons are equally graceful
in the same attitude. If such were the case, there would be no
such thing as
It's all in the pose. That's why it's always wisest to go to an Artistic
Photographer. Now, when a patron enters our Studio, we first consider
the contour of the face, the figure, the arrangement of the hair, the
dress, and then we arrange the background accordingly. The result
is Harmony. A trial will convince you that it is so."

FordAd4.jpg (31815 bytes)
An advertisement announcing the opening of Alfred's brother Percy Ford's baths
(From front page of  IW County Press, 2 April 1904)

My thanks to Ann Barrett and the Ventnor Historical Society for the above adverts.

Family History Alfred James Ford was born c1879 in Lambeth, Surrey, the son of Thomas and Maria (nee Roadway) Ford. In the 1881 census, the 4 year old Alfred was living with his parents, elder brother, Percy, and aunt Louisa Roadway at 13 St Anns Road, Lambeth. Thomas Ford was an apparently successful businessman as he was described as a law stationer employing four men and one boy.

At the time of the 1891 census, the family were found staying at James Blake's lodging house at 1 Marine Parade, Ventnor. Since the members of the Ford family were described as visitors, it is assumed that they were on holiday in Ventnor. Indeed, the fact that their London home was left in the hands of servants at the time, suggests this was the case. Also in the 1891 census, Thomas Ford was now described as an 'auctioneer & valuer' with his status being an employer. Strangely, this occupation is not consistent with earlier and later references to him being a 'law stationer', so is thought to be erroneous.

At the time of the 1901 census, the family were back in London, but now living at 15 Thornton Avenue, Streatham. Thomas Ford was again recorded as a law stationer, as were his two sons Percy and Alfred who were working for him.

The next sighting of members of the family was in early 1904 back in Ventnor. An advertisement dated March 1904 (see above) announced that Alfred Ford was opening a photographic studio at 1 Spring Hill, Ventnor. It is believed the premises were formerly that of a drapers. Coincidentally, another advertisement in April 1904 (see above) announced that his brother Percy was now the proprietor of the hot & cold seawater baths on the nearby Esplanade. Since the latter also stated that the baths had been 'thoroughly renovated, re-decorated and furnished', and being mindful of the time necessary to prepare a photographic studio, it must be assumed the two brothers had moved to the Island some time prior to 1904. At Alfred's later bankruptcy hearing in 1907 (reported in the IW County Press) it was stated that Alfred was given 610 pounds to establish his photographic business. One can assume that his brother Percy was treated similarly by his parents to launch his baths operation. Possibly, it was their father who spotted the business opportunities in Ventnor during the family's earlier visit to the Island. Indeed, these must have been exciting times for the two brothers, especially for Alfred as it was discovered that he was baptised in Ventnor as an adult on 20 March 1904 - usually a precursor to marriage! The baptism register also records his occupation as a photographer with an address of Marine Villa, Ventnor - probably Blake's lodging house.

As mentioned above, Alfred Ford was declared bankrupt in 1907; the main reasons being attributed to "bad trade, competition and insufficient knowledge of the trade". Indeed, Alfred admitted that he had never been in business before and knew nothing of the photographic business. Apart from the initial backing from his parents, Alfred had also borrowed from relatives and friends to stay afloat, but the business had been losing money right from the start. However, this early failure apparently didn't deter him as there is evidence to show that he continued working as a photographer until his death in 1935. The discovery that his business in Ventnor was taken over by W H Page in 1914, also suggests that Alfred had, somehow, recovered from his bankruptcy of 1907. However, further evidence of his activities at Ventnor and beyond remains to be researched.

Alfred James Ford died of pneumonia at Newport in March 1935 aged 55 and was buried at Ventnor Cemetery. In his obituary under the 'Ventnor' section of the IW County Press (30 March 1935) it was stated that he was "formerly in business as a photographer at Spring Hill". The obituary also made reference his mother (Maria) who, at the age of "nearly 90", had been a resident of Ventnor for over 40 years - thus dating the Ford family's arrival on the Island to c1895. Maria Ford died in March 1938 and, likewise, was buried at Ventnor Cemetery alongside her husband, Thomas, who had died in Sept 1915. It is believed Percy's Ventnor Baths business was taken over by another person c1914, though he continued to live with his mother in Esplanade Road for many years.

My thanks to Ann Barrett and Sue Davey (Plymouth, Devon) for contributing to the above historical notes.

Further Notes Sue Davey (nee Ford) is the great-grandaughter of Percy Ford (Alfred's brother, the photographer) and would be very pleased to hear from anyone with knowledge of her Ford family on the IOW.
You can e-mail Sue at


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