The Studio of William Marsden Harrison of Falmouth, UK - Visitor's Pages
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The Studio of William Marsden Harrison of Falmouth, UK

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William Marsden Harrison was born on 13th Jan 1852 in Stumperlowe, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. His parents were William Rooke Harrison and Sarah Ann Marsden. They were married on 14th Jan 1849 at St. Paul's Chapel, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. I have no other information on the family mainly because I haven't found them in the 1851 census (yet). William Rooke Harrison was an architect.

William Marsden Harrison and Anna Irena Watkins were married on 21st Dec 1876 at The Parish Church, Falmouth, Cornwall, England. Witnesses were John Watkins (Father), Margaretta Jane Blarney, and William John Watkins (Brother).

Between 1876 and the 1881 census they moved to Scotland, were they were lodgers living at 84 Bon Accord St, Aberdeen Old Machar, Aberdeen, Scotland. At that time his occupation is 'Artist Photo'. By November 1881 they had moved to Bath where their son William Marsden jr. was born and died. Their residence then was 20 Eastbourne, Bath, Somerset, England.

By 1891 the family was established in Falmouth. A transcribed version of the 1891 census has the family residing at 206, Wood House Terrace. There are a few inconsistancies betwee the census and the 'facts' - (I think it should be Wodehouse terrace. Their ages are 10 years off. Their middle initials are incorrect J instead of I, H instead of M. But everything else fits. Cecil and Edward are not in the 1901 census, Herbert is).
By the 1901 census their residence was 36 & 37 Church St., Falmouth, England. I presume that they lived next to the business. I thought I had documentation to support William selling the business c. 1903, but I can't reconstruct it.
In the 1891 census, William Opie is a 20 year old employed photographer. It's possible that he was employed by William and that 13 or so years later he bought the business.

As your cartes-de-visite show, Harrison had four shop locations 1) Church St. Falmouth, 2) Coinage Hall St. Helston, 3) New Bridge St. Turo, 4) Next the Druids Hall, Redruth.

Their children were:
William Marsden Harrison - Born Sept 1881 Bath Died Nov 4 1881 Bath
Cecil Harrison - Born 1888 or 1884 Falmouth, Died 1895 (To be proven) Falmouth
Herbert Watkins Harrison - Born June 1886 Falmouth
Edward Harrison - Born 1889 Falmouth
Robert Watkins Harrison - Born Dec 1892 Falmouth

References :
1) From the web site (page now closed)
FP June 19, 1925: Death of Mr. Frederick Massey (63) - Photographer & Artist [Sea studies] Res. 58 Marlborough Road. Native of Penryn. Entered employ of Mr. W. M. Harrison, photographer, of Church Street, Falmouth, 42 years ago. [1883]. When Mr. Harrison left Falmouth, the business was transferred to Messrs. Opie & Sons, for whom the deceased acted as Manager up to his death. 'He leaves a widow, having been married only a few weeks.' [!]

2) From the web site
1891 census Folio 111 Page 40 206,Wood House Terrace,1,Wm. H. Harrison,Head,M,36, Photographer,Employer,Sheffield West Riding Yorkshire. Anne J. Harrison, Wife, M,27, Falmouth Cornwall
Cecil Harrison, Son, S, 3, Scholar, Falmouth Cornwall
Herbert Harrison, Son, S, 5, Scholar, Falmouth Cornwall
Edward Harrison, Son, S, 2, Scholar, Falmouth Cornwall

Their ages are incorrect. Their middle initials are incorrect. But everything else fits. Cecil and Edward are not in the 1901 census, Herbert is.

Written with information from Brian Watkins

Thanks for your interesting contribution - Roger

The Studio of William Marsden Harrison of Falmouth, UK.
Notes by Roger Vaughan

W.M. Harrison who was an experienced photographer, worked at Falmouth in the 1880s where he established a studio at 40 Church Street, opposite the Polytechnic Hall. By c.1885 he had already submitted photographs to a number of photographic expositions, gaining medals at seven of them, in England, France and Austria. The earliest negative number I have is 1497b ( c.1884), less than a years work (5000 a year) so the Falmouth studio started around 1883.

His next branch was Coinage Hall Street, Helston by about 1885, his green back plate shows an undraped grecian goddess, I like to think that this was a bit much for the times, for in the next design c.1886, he had her slightly covered up!
He expanded in the 1890s to New Bridge Street, Truro and Next to the Druid's Hall, Redruth. His studios also sold artists materials, paints, brushes and usually picture framing went with this.



By 1900 Harrison had obtained 30 prize medals gained in England, France, Austria, Belgium, Holland etc. including:

Exposition Universalle de Vienna 1875
Universalle Internationalle de 1878
Royal Cornwall - First Class [1872 or 1880]
Hayle Industrial Exhibition 1886
Falmouth (3 medals)
Derby [1887]
Cheltenham Photographic Society (2 medals)
Exposition Internationalle 1896
Paris Exposition 1900, Silver Medal

He also had become the photographer to the Druids (hall next door) adding a 'square and compass' logo and the 'heart in the helping hand' logo of the I.O.O.F.M.U. [a mutual friendly society] he probably belonged to both.

Harrison kept a store of glass plate negatives, he states 'Copies or enlargements may be obtained by quoting this number'. Harrison had an estimated 17,000 customers by 1904. In Falmouth there would have been a room with racks containing 17,000 glass plate negatives each numbered and a book with the customer's name - no doubt destroyed since.

I think he should have had many more customers than the 17,000 recorded over the 20 years, one answer is that many studios asked 'if the negative was to kept' perhaps at an extra cost, some customers said 'no' and others would have been passing trade or summer visitors. This was a way to reduce the huge storage problem.
It was usual to sell six or twelve of each CDV pose to every customer. So the 17000 customers actually represents two photograph poses for each number.
To estimate how many actual photographs were developed: 17000 x 2 poses x 6 copies = 204,000 and this is just for the ones that were actually numbered!
Seems a lot? - consider this - eight customers a day each having six copies for 250 working days for a twenty year period amounts to 240,000 so the figures are about right (some had a dozen).

A graph drawn from his numbers shows a straight line geometric increase.
For dating purposes a rough guide is:

W. M. Harrison
1883 - 0
1884 - 1500
1885 - 2000
1886 - 3000
1888 - 4000
1889 - 5000
1890 - 6000
1891 - 7000
1892 - 8000
1894 - 9000
1895 - 10000
1897 - 11000
1898 - 12000
1900 - 13000
1901 - 14000
1902 - 15000
1903 - 16000
1904 - 17000
Messrs. Opie & Sons
          Tissue cover

Some negative numbers are difficult to read, because a pose letter has been added 'a' or 'b' with the 'b' looking like a six. This may also mean that he used only two poses having glass plates that had room for two CDV exposures on each plate, and probably only one cabinet card. This was not unusual as this
H. & S. of Harrow printed glass negative shows
When Opie took over c.1905 he appears to have changed the numbering system to a 50000 series.

Some of the customers:
Lois Dunn
c.1902. Lois Dunn, Ellie Gilbert's mother.
so her daughter Ellie Dunn married a Mr Gilbert
  Miss Bull
c.1905. Miss Bull,
She may have been a local teacher.
Photo probably taken by Opie.

A visitor to this site has kindly sent me an image of a Chromotype Permanent Photograph taken by WM Harrison and Co, and the address is 9 Berkeley Vale, Opposite the Drill Hall, Falmouth. From the clothes of the lady in the image, this looks about 1885.

Chromotype Photograph

This is quite a new piece of information to me, he would have had to pay for a licence to use this process, and has a so far (to me) unknown studio in Falmouth, and he seems to have had a partner at this time from the 'Harrison and Co'. Perhaps it was the partner who was skilled in this process, however it seems that the demand for these photographs was not enough to keep the studio open for long, or at least we do not have another record of it. Chromotype Permanent Photographs were complex to create and produced an image that is still as good today as the day it was created.
The card back was printed by the well-known company Marion Imp Paris.

Roger Vaughan April 2015

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