IOW Photographers - Mason


Photographer Edward (Ed) Mason
Active Period c1898
Lifespan Born:  1869   Scarborough, Yorks Died: 
Studio Addresses 137 High Street, Ventnor
Trade History 1898 Kelly's Directory IOW (pages 231 & 375)
Edward Mason, photographer, 137 High Street, Ventnor
(Note - in 1899 this address was listed for the photographer John Edward Briddon)
Evidence Found
See below
Examples of
Trade Cards,
Adverts, etc
Mason.jpg (13788 bytes)
A self portrait of Edward Mason, date unknown

My thanks to Denis Fry (Napier, New Zealand) for the above photo of his grandfather.

Family History Edward Mason (full name Richard Edward Mason, but always known as Ed) was born on 18 Feb 1869 at Scarborough, Yorks,  the 3rd of 4 children born to Richard (snr) & Betty (aka Mary) Mason. At the time of the 1881 census, the 12 year old scholar Edward was living with his parents at Askrigg, Wensleydale, where his father was proprietor of the King's Arms Hotel and also a farmer.

Edward married Clara Sutcliffe from York at Fulham, London, in 1895, and shortly afterwards the couple moved to the IOW for what was considered the more salubrious air, because Edward had a (unspecified) lung condition. At some point, Edward took up photography, and Kelly's 1898 Directory lists him as a photographer at 137 High Street, Ventnor. While in Ventnor, the couple had a son, Edward jnr, born in 1896.

It is interesting to note that Kelly's 1899 Directory shows the photographer John Edward Briddon now at this address. Although no proof has yet been found, it is possible that Edward Mason may have been working with (or for) J E Briddon as there is evidence that Briddon was using the premises at 137 High Street prior to Mason's arrival. Indeed, the 'common factor' might well have been J E Briddon's father, James, who had similarly moved from the north of England to the IOW for its beneficial airs. Perhaps Mason 'managed' the Ventnor studio for J E Briddon after his father died in 1894 as JEB had, then, his own studio in Shanklin.

Mason family legend has it that, although the photographic business was at first successful, it didn't stay that way because Edward became more interested in tramping/cycling the lovely rural scenery of the Island; taking landscape art photographs for himself and neglecting the less interesting, but nevertheless income producing, studio portrait clients.

After J E Briddon took over the Ventnor studio in 1899, Edward Mason, with his wife and son, moved to the mainland. At the time of the 1901 census the family was living at 62 Effingham Road, Lee, a suburb of southeast London. The census records Edward as being a photographer on his own account, and also shows the family had grown by the addition of two daughters, both born at Lee; Doris Clara (b1899) and Olive Mary (b1901).

The family lived there until 1906 when, for some inexplicable reason, Edward snr disappeared - never to be heard of again!

By the time of the 1911 census, Edward's wife Clara and their three children had moved to a house nearby at 82 Burnt Ash Road, Lee, and Clara was occupied as a dressmaker. Living with the family were two of Clara's unmarried sisters from York.

The mystery of Edward's disappearance was made more impenetrable by his wife, Clara, who, because of the considerable social stigma of being a deserted wife in those days, refused to mention his name, and the grandchildren were brought up to believe that their grandfather was dead. They were not undeceived of this deception until after Clara's death in 1981. Although Edward jnr had made a considerable effort to find his missing father, this was without success.

There is no known connection between Edward Mason and the earlier Ryde photographer George Mason.

My thanks to Denis Fry (Napier, New Zealand) for the above family history. Denis is a grandson of the photographer Edward Mason and would like to hear from anyone who can solve the mystery of Edward's disappearance or life after 1906. Please contact Denis directly at

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