The photographer’s shop

There was a photographer’s shop in Market Lavington for about 100 years. Originally Alf Burgess and then his sons had premises almost next to the co-op. When Peter and Bessie Francis set up their business it was on Church Street and it is those premises we look at today.

Bessie Francis stands outside the photography shop on Church Street in this 1960s view

Bessie Francis stands outside the photography shop on Church Street in this 1960s view

Here we see the premises some 50 years ago. Bessie stands at the door of quite substantial premises which, apart from the shop contained a portrait studio and the darkroom with all its equipment. Peter and Bessie were, of course, photographers as well as shop keepers. They lived over the premises.

The door between the two windows looks absurdly small which may remind us that people are much taller on average, now, than they were even 100 years ago.

The impression from this photo is of a vibrant and thriving business.

By the time the Francis duo retired and sold the business, the writing was probably on the wall for a shop of this kind in a village and not surprisingly the shop closed down leaving the premises as more of a private house. And so this is the 21st century view of the premises.

Bessie Francis stands outside the photography shop on Church Street - 1960s

The same premises in the 21st century

In truth, it still looks much the same and the windows certainly indicate its former shop status. In some ways the buildings either side which we can see have changed more.

These days, of course we are all happy mass snappers with a multi-purpose phone/camera/music player. We do not need experts to help us process our pictures or a regular supply of photographic film. Oddly, in these days of truly mass photography, shops selling equipment for this near universal hobby have all but vanished. If we want equipment we probably research on the internet to find what we want, or maybe make use of a hypermarket or superstore.

Times, inevitably, change.

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6 Responses to “The photographer’s shop”

  1. Steve Ayliffe Says:

    I knew Pete and Bessie well, they were a valued customer of mine for veg in the 80’s. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Jim Spencer Says:

    As one of many schoolboys who showed interest in the ‘magic’ of developing and printing our own photos, Peter would always offer advice and help. I have on several occasions been shown how to overcome problems by him. Even been shown in his darkroom how to produce prints correctly. Presumably he knew that giving advice would result in sales of film, printing papers, chemicals, equipment and other items!
    Peter and Bessie were always very approachable – a nice couple.
    I still have all the equipment – but not used for a long time!!

    • marketlavingtonmuseum Says:

      Yes, I too bought chemicals and film from Peter and Bessie and I too still have my long unused equipment. I’d donate it to the museum except that we have no space for storage!

      Cheers and thanks for another lovely comment

      Rog (Hon Curator)

  3. Phil F . Says:

    The small shop to the left of the main shop was used by my brother John and his wife as a greengrocer shop. I am not sure of the year they were trading but am guessing it was the end of the 1950s ,They also delivered milk around the village. Perhaps Peter took it over when my brother gave it up. Phil F.

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