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Old Photographs - Cambridgeshire Photographers - Ni - Nn

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 | I | Ja-Je | Jf-Jz | K | La-Ld | Le-Ln | Lo-Lz | Maa-Mad | Mae-Mar | Mas-Mb | Mc-Mi | Mj-Mz | Na-Nh | Ni-Nn | No-Nz | O | Pa-Pb | Pc-Ph | Pi-Po | Pr-Pz | Q | 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 | U | V | Wa-We | Wf-Wh | Wi-Wz | XYZ


(Over the years the name of Nicholls, with various different spellings, has featured greatly amongst local photographers. We hope to have untangled the relationships or non relationships between these families, but there is no doubt more yet to be discovered on this topic)

Name:  NICHOLLS, Arthur    b:1842 Norwich     d: 1909
Address: 5 All Saints Passage Cambridge from around October 1864, then from June 1865 at Post Office Terrace Cambridge
Working Dates: 1864 - 1877 (in Cambridge) Later at Brading IOW, Sandown IOW and Reading Berks.
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: So far we have not been able to track down Arthur Nicholls in the 1861 census in order to establish his location and family and employment background. On 15 October 1864 Arthur Nicholls, artist and photographer, announced in the Cambridge Independent Press p1 that he would be opening his photographic studio at 5 All Saints Passage Cambridge on October 17th. Within days another advertisement in the Cambridge Chronicle 29 October 1864, P1 announced that he thanked those who had offered him their patronage, but that the house he had recently taken, at 5 All Saints Passage, Cambridge, would not now be opened as a studio as it had insufficient space for first class portraiture. In June 1865 he announced that he had then taken a studio with reception rooms at Post Office Terrace, Cambridge (Cambridge Independent Press, 24 June 1865 p1). Arthur was the first of a series of Cambridge photographers to occupy this Post Office Terrace Studio (see the link in the sidebar). On 17th September 1865 Arthur submitted one of his photographs of All Saints Church (old church), St John's Street, Cambridge to Stationers Hall for Copyright purposes and gave his address as Newnham Grove, Cambridge, the address of his parents, John Nicholls (1811-1881) and Sophia (1811-1895) and a number of his siblings.

In the 1871 census Arthur Nicholls and family were living in Little St Mary's Lane Cambridge. His family comprised his wife Charlotte Maria b: 1842 Norfolk, sons Horace Walter b:1867 Cambridge, Ernest F. b:1869 Cambridge and daughter Gertrude b:1870 Cambridge. Arthur's occupation was shown as a photographer and artist. By 1877 Arthur and his family were at Brading on the Isle of Wight. In the 1881 census Arthur, still in Brading, was recorded as a photographer, as was his oldest son Horace Walter. In 1891 Arthur was still at Brading listed as a portrait painter and photographer. His daughter, Mabel E Nicholls b:1874 Cambridge, was also listed as a photographer in 1891 living with her father on the Isle of Wight. In 1901 Arthur was in Reading where his occupation was shown as "artist and sculptor" working at home on his own account.

The following advertisement appeared in 1865-6 in the J Morgan & Co Directory of Cambridge:

“A.Nicholls. Artist and Photographer, Post Office Terrace, St Andrews Street, Cambridge. AN begs respectfully to inform the members of the University and the inhabitants of Cambridge that his commodious studio with reception room &c is now open where the following class of portraits are taken from 10am-4pm.

  • The ordinary carte de visite
  • Vignette heads
  • The diamond Cameo carte de visite (this was a series of four cameos - head shots from different angles, arranged in a diamond shape - the individual cameos were punched into the mount - Robin and Carol Wichard in their book "Victorian Cartes-de-Visite", Shire 1999 state that the Diamond Cameo was introduced by F.R.Window in Oct 1864 and some 400,000 licences were eventually issued for its use. This would still have been a very novel format in 1866)
  • The Binographic carte de visite ( Described by Arthur Nicholls in an advertisement in the Cambridge Independent Press Saturday 14 October 1865 p1 as "This new and amusing form of photography consists in taking two distinct positions of the same person on one carte de visite". This design or carte was also known as the Binograph)
  • Triptographic carte de visite (This format was a carte de visite with three cameo images of the sitter's taken from three different angles. In "The Expert Guide to Dating Victorian Family Photographs", Audrey Linkman credits Arthur Nicholls with the design of the Triptographic format. On 29 Oct1872 Arthur submitted a design of a triptographic mount for cameo portraits to Stationers Hall for copyright purposes, TNA ref COPY1/20/143)
  • Large family portraits, groups &c

Photographs painted in oil and watercolours.”

The following advertisement appeared in Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire in 1867:
“A Nicholls Artist and Photographer, Post Office Terrace, St Andrews Street, Cambridge. Cartes de visite, portraits &c taken daily 10 till 4, groups, horses, dogs as per arranged, specimens on view from 9am to 6pm”

The first carte de visite below is a scenic view of Great St Mary's Church, Cambridge. This would have been a pre-postcard souvenir of the town. It is printed with Arthur's earliest studio address at All Saints Passage, Cambridge in a garter and crown design. This has been altered in manuscript to show his new address at Post Office Terrace, presumably to use up an older stock of mounts. This dates the carte to around 1865. The next carte de visite is probably one of the first designs used at Post Office Terrace after 1865 as it carries additional information about the address. It is on a square cornered white card mount with a simple text design printed in green ink. On the face is written "A Nicholls Photo Cambridge" and on the reverse "A Nicholls Artist and Photographer Post Office Terrace St Andrews Street". The next carte de visite has the Post Office Terrace address in a simple curved lettering design with scrolls, and has "A Nicholls Photo Cambridge" on the face. By this time the St Andrews Street part of the address could be omitted, presumably because the studio had become more established. Next come a series of cartes with similalry designed mounts featuring the photographer's name on a strong diagonal, all by Marion of Paris, first with square, then rounded corners. Inks in browns, greens and black are used and these were probably produced in the 1870s.

Survivals in the Cambridgeshire Collection show that Arthur also took photographs of Cambridge street scenes. Nicholls was succeeded at PO Terrace by J E Bliss. Arthur Nicholls left Cambridge and opened a studio at Sandown on the Isle of Wight around 1877. Below is a vignette portrait of a man, a cabinet photograph by Arthur Nicholls from his studio at 71 High Street Sandown, Isle of Wight. The reverse of the mount is a blue green scrolled leaves and monogram design by Marion, Paris - this particular design dating from 1888.

Arthur exhibited his work at the Annual Exhibitions of the Photographic Society of Great Britain in 1869, 1871, 1872 and 1874. Between 1865 and 1874 Arthur Nicholls registered some 34 of his photographs and designs at Stationers’ Hall for copyright purposes from his address at Post Office Terrace, Cambridge.  A number of these photographs were for the design of different types of mounts, including cards for mounting cameo medallion portraits, design for a business card and mounts including for triptographic cameos. Among the more conventional subjects were images of All Saints Church in St John’s Street Cambridge, groups of choristers and Cambridge University boat crews. (The National Archives (TNA), COPY 1/8/582-584, COPY 1/9/306, COPY 1 14/534, COP 1/15/582-583, COPY 1 /16/361, COPY 1/17/414-415, COPY 1/17/731, COPY 1/18/344-356, COPY 1/18/539-542, COPY 1/20/142-143, COPY 1/22/196-197, COPY 1/24/405-406.)

Other Stationers' Hall registrations from Arthur giving different addresses were:

  • COPY 1/9/306 'Photograph of All Saints Church (old church), St John's Street, Cambridge'.Copyright owner of work: Arthur Nicholls, Newnham Grove, Cambridge. Form completed: 17 September 1865.
  • COPY 1/51/485 'Photograph of part of remains of Roman Villa, Brading, Isle of Wight'. Copyright owner of work: Arthur Nicholls, 5 Marine Terrace, Sandown, Isle of Wight. Form completed: 11 December 1880.
  • COPY 1/425/711 'Photograph of two girls entitled 'Boats in Sight'. Copyright owner of work: Arthur Nicholls, 71 High Street, Sandown, Isle of Wight. Form completed: 11 July 1896.
  • COPY 1/440/7 "Photograph portrait of the late Mr Frederick Wilkins, cabinet size, front face." Copyright owner of work: Sarah Wilkins, 16 Stanshaw Road, Reading, Berkshire. Copyright author of work: Arthur Nicholls, 40 Friar Street, Reading, Berkshire. Form completed 30 March 1899.
  • COPY 1/448/1, Photograph cabinet bust of Mr George William Palmer. Copyright owner of work: Arthur Nicholls 40 Friar Street, Reading. Form completed: 1 October 1900.
  • COPY 1/457/151 'Photograph of 'Gypsy' Smith, ¾ face'. Copyright owner of work: Gilbert Stringer, 40 Friar Street, Reading. Copyright author of work: Gilbert Stringer, 40 Friar Street, Reading. Name of parties to agreement: Arthur Nicholls and Gilbert Stringer. Date of agreement: 21 March 1901. Form completed: 2 September 1902.

Below are two external views of the remains of the Post Office Studio premises in Post Office Terrace taken in 2015.

Arthur may have employed his brother in law, Thomas Cox, while he was at Post Office Terrace Cambridge. He may also have employed his brother Henry Nicholls (1846-1898) (see below).

Arthur's sons Horace Walter Nichols (1867-1941) and Stanley Nichols (1878-1970) both became professional photographers. Horace worked for a newspaper in Chile before returning to work in Windsor at the Cartland Studios. He was also a war photographer during the Boer war. Many of Horace's photographs appear in "The Golden Summer, The Edwardian Photographs of Horace W Nicholls" by Gail Buckland, 1989. See also for Horace's wartime photographs David Mallison's splendid site http://www.davidmallinson.com/. Stanley Nichols became a photographer in South Africa.

It seems likely that by the time he left Cambridge Arthur was losing money on the Post Office Terrace Studio. The Post Office Terrace studio was leased to Arthur by Jesus College who in turn either owned the premises or occupied them by arrangement with Christ's College. R Reynolds Rowe, a Cambridge architect employed by Jesus College, in a letter dated 13th Jan 1887 to the College Bursar stated of the premises:"the rent is high at present; the two last tenants (i.e. Nicholls and Bliss) lost money there".

For more on Post Office Terrace Studio and negatives from the studio www.fadingimages.uk/POT1.asp

References: Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
Kellys 1865-6 Artist and Photographer Post Office Terrace, “NB AN has no connexion (sic) with any other house”
Photographer Post Office Terrace, Cambridge Kellys Directory of Cambridgeshire 1867
Mathiesons Directory of Cambridge, Ely and Newmarket 1867 A Nichols PO Terrace.
(Not in Kellys 1858, 1865, 1869) – but in edition for 1875 at PO Terrace, PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co London Nov 1875, Spaldings 1878
Mike Petty, An Eye on the Past, Cambridge Weekly News, 21/2/1991 and 28/2/1991
Petty MJ, The Cambridge Photographers at PO Terrace, Cambridge No 29 Winter 1991-2
Cambridgeshire Collection’s Carte de Visite Collection c.65.5 has one carte de visite from Arthur Nicholls.
We are indebted to Mary Shockley for information about the Hynam family which included Arthur Nichols.

Early scenic carte de visite c 1865 by Arthur Nicholls Reverse of Arthur Nicholls carte de visite All Saints Passage

A Nicholls carte de visiteReverse of A Nicholls carte de visite

Arthur Nicholls carte de visite Reverse of Arthur Nicholls carte de visite with curved lettering design.

Arthur Nicholls Carte de visite 1870sReverse of Arthur Nicholls Carte de visite 1870s

Cartes de visite, Arthur Nicholls

Reverse of two cartes de visite by Arthur Nichols

Three A Nicholls cartes de visite with square corners

Reverse of three A Nicholls cartes de visite

Arthur Nicholls carte de visite of young manReverse of Arthur Nicholls carte with gilt lettering

Post office Terrace in 2015

Rooftop of Post Office Terrace 2015

Arthur Nicholls cabinet portrait from his Sandown studioReverse of Nicholls portrait, Sandown Studio

Name: NICHOLLS, Frederick   b:1875 Fordham   d: 1963
Address:  Carter Street, Fordham
Working Dates: 1904-8
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: Frederick was described in Kelly’s Directory from 1904-8 as “hairdresser and photographer”. This enables us to link with the census returns in 1901 and 1911. These show Frederick Nicholls, b:1875 Fordham, as a hairdresser and tobacconist (photography is not mentioned) in 1901 living at River Lane Fordham, with his parents: Walter Nicholls b:1848 at Fordham, a shepherd and mother Mary b:1848 Fordham, brother Benjamin b:1885 Fordham and sister Rose Ellen b:1888 Fordham. In 1911 Frederick had married and was living at Ancient Villa, Pound Street Fordham with his wife, Susan Alice b: 1876 Isleham, and daughter, Alice Healkin b:1908 Fordham. The business cannot have been that profitable in 1911 because the family had two elderly lodgers living with them. See below a RPPC of High Street Isleham, c.1905, with the name "F Nicholls" scratched onto the negative in untidy capital letters, bottom RH corner. The card has faded badly over time. The reverse is a printed postcard back with no information about the publisher or photographer. The photographer has produced an animated shot of the village - and appears to have arranged some of his extras - as can be seen by the graduation in heights of the children outside the central white cottage.
References:
Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
Kellys Directory of Cambridgeshire 1904-08

Postcard view Isleham by F Nicholls

Name: NICHOLLS, Henry b:1846 Westminster Middlesex. d: 1898
Address: Newnham Grove Grantchester, Cambs (1871) 19 Church Lane Chesterton (1881), 41 Gold Street (1891).
Working Dates: from 1871 to 1881 at least.
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: Henry Nicholls was the brother of Cambridge Photographer Arthur Nicholls (above). He was born in Westminster in 1846. In the 1871 census he was living at Newnham Grove, Granchester, with his brother Charles Samuel Nicholls. Also at this address were Emily Nicholls b: 1851, Westminster, sister of Henry and Charles, and Emma Nicholls b: 1860 Westminster, their niece. From the census entry it would seem that this address was the normal home of the parents of Charles and Henry, John Nicholls (1811-1881) and Sophia (1811-1895). Henry's occupation was shown in the 1871 census as a photographer. Was he working on his own account or with or for his photographer brother Arthur Nicholls, then at Post Office Terrace Cambridge? No Cambridge directory entries have been found for Henry Nicholls. Later in 1871, at Grantchester, Henry married Ellen Preston (b:1852 Newnham). In the 1881 census, Henry Nicholls and his wife Ellen were living at 19 Church Lane, Chesterton. By this time they had five children, Florence b:1873 Grantchester, Jessie, b: 1875 Cambridge, Edward Harry b:1877 Newnham, Walter Sydney b:1879 Chesterton and Alice Maud b:1881 Chesterton. Henry was again described as a photographer. By this time Arthur Nicholls had left both Post Office Terrace and Cambridge and was working on the Isle of Wight. Again, was Henry working as a photographer on his own account, or for one of the other Cambridge photographers of the time? In 1891 Henry was described as having "no regular occupation". Henry and Ellen had six children at home at 41 Gold Street Cambridge and nobody in the household had an occupation shown. The children at home at that point were Edward Harry, Walter S, Ellen Maud, Arthur G b:1885 Cambridge, Edith May b: 1887 Cambridge, and Herbert H b:1890 Cambridge.

Name:  NICHOLS Bros    b:       d:
Address: 5 Chesterton Road, Cambridge
Working Dates: 1857-68
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: It is very difficult to pin down exactly who were the Nichols Brothers, the name Nichols being very common in Cambridge. As a working hypothesis, it could be that the firm was the Nichols Brothers booksellers, branching out into photography. The 1861 Census shows at 5 Fair Street Cambridge William Nichols bookseller b: 1786 Ullesthorpe Leicestershire, his wife, Mary b:1783 Ullesthorpe and his brother, Thomas B:1797 Ullesthorpe. Also involved in the bookselling business was William's son, John Nichols (see below)

An advertisement 1865/6: “Messrs Nichols Bros, Photographers, Booksellers, Binders &c 5 Chesterton Road are producing their unequalled cartes de visite. Single copy 2s, duplicates 6d each, the much admired vignette busts, single copies 2/6, duplicates 9d. Family groups, schools, wedding parties, views &c by arrangement”

On 28th July 1866 the Cambridge Chronicle noted that the Nichols Brothers had issued a photograph coloured in oils of the famous cricketer John Smith at Fenners and in February 1867 noted the issue of photographs by them of Chesterton Church and the Victoria Asylum. The Nichols Brothers had a strong marketing message, advertising their firm on numerous occasions in the Cambridge Chronicle in 1867/68 as the "People's Photographers, Nichols Brothers, 5 Chesterton Road Cambridge, monuments, views, groups &c by arrangement" In the Cambridge Independent Press of 30th May 1868 there was an advertisement by Nichols Brothers for an album of photographs of "The Hero of Waterbeach, Eppa Secundus Neale".

References:
Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
5 Chesterton Road Cambridge Chronicle 1857 Feb 2
Spaldings Directory of Cambridge 1866-67
Death John. Cambridge Chronicle 12/8/1865 p4
Photos Police, Cambridge Chronicle 14/10/1865 P8
People's Photographer Cambridge Chronicle 25/5/1867
Kelly’s Directory of Cambridgeshire 1867
Mike Petty, An Eye on the Past, Cambridge Weekly News, 14/10/1992
Cambridgeshire Collection’s Carte de Visite Collection c.65.5 has a carte de visite from Nichols Bros.

Nichols Bros advertisement

Nichols Bros advertisement, Morgan's Directory of Cambridge 1865/6

Name:  NICHOLS Edward E          b:       d:
Address: 244 Newmarket Road Cambridge
Working Dates: 1884
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: There is a single trade directory in 1884 for this photographer. No obvious listing in the 1881 or 1891 census returns.
References: Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
Spaldings Directory of Cambridge 1884

Name: NICHOLS, Edward William b: 1845 d:
Address: Great St Mary's Passage, Cambridge
Working Dates: c.1861 - at least 1881
Subjects, styles, advertising and other relevant information: One of the sons of William Nichols below. The 1861 Census shows William and his son Edward William Nichols at 4 Gt St Mary's Passage - both were listed as photographers. From 1864 Edward was part of the firm of W Nichols and Sons. According to the firm's advertising in 1864 "The PICTURE-FRAME DEPARTMENT will be conducted by EDWARD W. NICHOLS (Edward William Nichols) (late with Mr Brooks of London. Frame Maker by Special Appointment to the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family), assisted by first-class practical Workmen, enabling the Firm to produce Frames of the newest patterns and at cheap rates. " The 1871 census shows Edward and his brother Thomas in his father's household at 2 St Mary's Passage. Edward's occupation was shown as a picture frame maker. The 1881 census shows Edward William Nichols a photographer at 2, St Mary's Passage, Cambridge, where he lived with his wife Charlotte.
References: See below for William Nichols and Sons.

Name:  NICHOLS  Frances, Mrs    b:1805 St Neots     d:1899
Address: Chesterton Road Cambridge
Working Dates: c. 1869 - 71
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: Frances was the wife of John Nichols, listed below. In 1869 Frances was listed as a photographer in the 1869 Kellys Directory. Presumably Frances took over the Nichols Brothers business. In 1871 Frances was listed in the census return at 5 Chesterton Road Cambridge as a photographer. In 1881 Frances was at the same address described as a housekeeper and head of household, and it appears that the address was then a lodging house. See also Harrison, who also operated at 5 Chesterton Road Cambridge in the 1860s.
References: Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co London Aug 1869

Name:  NICHOLS Frederick          b:       d:
Address: 24 Albert Street, Chesterton Road, Cambridge
Working Dates: 1867
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: Bookseller and photographer - no obvious trace in the census returns for 1861 and 1871
References: Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
Kellys Directory of Cambridgeshire 1867 - Bookseller and photographer 24 Albert Street, Chesterton Road, Cambridge

Name: NICHOLS, George Albert b: 1840 Cambridge d:
Address: Southbridge Road Croydon Surrey in 1871 Census, a photographic artist, living with his wife Elizabeth b:1843 Paddington, son George J Courtney b:1864 Brighton Sussex, two servants and no fewer than five apprentice photographers. These were: Charles H Litchfield b:1853 Madingley Cambs, John George Simpson b: 1854 Cambs (See Simpson Brothers) , John Swannell b:1839 Cambs, William Lister, b:1841 St Ives Huntingdonshire and Henry W Gibson b:1839 Middlesex.
Working Dates:
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: Not known at this stage where this Nichols fits into the Cambridge photography scene but included here for the moment because of his Cambridge background and apprentices.
References:
England Census 1871.

Name: NICHOLS, James b: d: 1865
Address: Chesterton Road, Cambridge
Working Dates: ?- 1865
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: The sudden death on 29 July 1865 of photographer James Nichols of Chesterton was reported in August 1865. Presumably this was wrongly reported as James Nichols, when it should have been John Nichols of 5 Chesterton Road, Cambridge.
References:
Cambridge Chronicle Saturday 12 August 1865 p4

Name:  NICHOLS. John  b: 1806 Ullesthorpe Leicestershire  d: 29/7/1865
Address: 5 Chesterton Road Cambridge
Working Dates: See Nichols Bros above.
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: In 1851 John Nichols, son of William Nichols bookseller, himself a bookseller and stationer, was living at 5 Fitzroy Street Cambridge with his wife Frances b:1805 St Neots and their children Martha b: 1834 London, Harriett b:1838 St Neots, Albert b:1840 Cambs. In 1861 on census night, John was a lodger at the Great White Ramsey where he was described as a "book deliverer". John's wife Frances was at Chesterton Road Cambridge that night, a lodging house keeper with three Police Constables as her lodgers. John died in Cambridge on 29th July 1865.
References: Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
Death reported Cambridge Chronicle and Cambridge Independent Press 12/8/1865. See also Nichols Bros. Cambridge Independent Press 26 August 1865 p 1 for notice to creditors following his death.

Name: NICHOLS, Thomas Herbert b:1838 d: 1874
Address: Great St Mary's Passage, Cambridge
Working Dates: c.1864 - 1874 in Cambridge
Subjects, styles, advertising and other relevant information: One of the sons of William Nichols below, from 1864 making up the firm of W Nichols and Sons. According to the firm's advertising in 1864 "The PHOTOGRAPHIC DEPARTMENT will be attended to by T. HERBERT NICHOLS, (Thomas Herbert Nichols) whose practice and experience in some the first Photographic Establishments in New York and Philadelphia, assisted by the most perfect instruments that can be procured from abroad, and the best of home manufacture, will enable him to produce every description and size of Photograph in the best style."
References: See below for William Nichols and Sons. No trace found in the 1861 census, presumably because Thomas was overseas at the time.

Name:  NICHOLS, William and William and Son(s)   William Snr b:1815 Ullesthorpe Leicestershire d:        
Address: Great St Mary’s Passage, Cambridge, various numbers given: 4, 1, 1 and 2, 6. The studio was known as the Photographic Institute in the 1850s/60s.
Working Dates: 1850 - 1881
Subjects, styles, advertising, other relevant information: William Nichols was a bookbinder and engraver in Cambridge from at least 1845. William is listed in the 1851 census at 13 Corn Exchange Street Cambridge where he was living with his daughter Mary Nichols b:1835 Cambridge and son Thomas Herbert Nichols b:1838 Cambridge. Mary and Thomas were both listed as book binders.

By 1850 William was described as an engraver and was experimenting with "photographic drawing" and gave evidence relating to this in a Cambridge court case in July that year, involving the obstruction of light to a building. William was taking photographs in his workshop at 29 Corn Exchange Street Cambridge Oct 1854 to March 1855 then at St Mary's Passage. He was described as a “photographic portrait painter” in 1855. Advertised in 1855 “Photographic portraits of every description taken daily singly or in groups by W Nichols. Apparatus, chemicals and materials supplied and instruction given in the art.” The 1861 Census shows William and his son Edward William Nichols at 4 Gt St Mary's Passage - both were listed as photographers.

By 1861 William was being described in the local press as "A very careful and successful photographer" after his submission of a number of college views to a London Exhibition of the Architectural Photographic Association. (Cambridge Independent Press 26 Jan 1861 p8)

In the Cambridge Chronicle, Sat 15 October 1864, p.1, William Nichols of the PHOTOGRAPHIC INSTITUTE, ST. MARY'S PASSAGE, CAMBRIDGE set out his new business arrangements and his range of offerings as follows.

"W.NICHOLS begs to acknowledge with gratitude the very liberal and distinguished patronage he has received during the last twenty-five years, and trusts, by continued unremitting attention, and by embracing every practical improvement, to merit that support which it has beon his pride and study to attain; and it is with great pleasure he announces that in future the establishment will be conducted under the Firm of W. NICHOLS and SONS, Photographers and Picture-Frame Makers.

The PHOTOGRAPHIC DEPARTMENT will be attended to by T. HERBERT NICHOLS, (Thomas Herbert Nichols) whose practice and experience in some the first Photographic Establishments in New York and Philadelphia, assisted by the most perfect instruments that can be procured from abroad, and the best of home manufacture, will enable him to produce every description and size of Photograph in the best style.

The PICTURE-FRAME DEPARTMENT will be conducted by EDWARD W. NICHOLS (Edward William Nichols) (late with Mr Brooks of London. Frame Maker by Special Appointment to the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and other members of the Royal Family), assisted by first-class practical Workmen, enabling the Firm to produce Frames of the newest patterns and at cheap rates.

Portraits and groups taken daily. Photographs of private residences , seats &c, of every size up to 24 inches. Carte de visite, or album portraits, 10s. per dozen.; or 4s. 6d. the first copy, and 6d. per copy at any time after. W.N.and Sons beg to call public attention to their NEW FAMILY PORTRAITS, in frames 30in. by 24in. which for size and beauty are unequalled.

Portraits and works of art copied. Private and every other description of frames made to order on the premises. Stereoscopic and other views of the University and Town: 200 different Views to select from. Photographic Albums in great variety from 1s. to £5. Opera glasses, telescopes, microscopes and objects, reading glasses, thermometers, barometers and philosophical instruments and slides in great variety. A quantity of beautiful glass and illuminated slides. Stereoscopes and slides lent for the evening. Magic Lanterns and Slides, and Dissolving View Apparatus and Slides on Sale, or Lent for the Evening. Public or Private Evening Parties and Schools attended with the Magic Lantern and Dissolving Views, with Screens to 24 feet in diameter. Photographic lenses and apparatus supplied and made to order. A quantity of good second-hand cameras &c for sale.

W. Nichols and Sons beg to observe that they have no connection with any other Photographic Establishment of the name of Nichols"

The 1881 census shows Edward William Nichols a photographer at 2, St Mary's Passage where he lived with his wife Charlotte.

The fact that William Nichols was born in Ullesthorpe Leicestershire possibly links him to William Nichols, Mary Nichols and Thomas Nichols, who were also born in Ullesthorpe, a small hamlet with a population in 1841 of under 500

It would seem that William Nichols and Sons employed an assistant, Allen Neech, around 1874-76. Allen Neech went on to become an apprentice photographer with Thomas Vipond at Grantham, with whom he fell out in 1877. Ed William Nichols went to Grantham to give evidence in support of Neech (see entry for Thomas Vipond for details)

See example carte de visite from the author’s collection, surname "Chater" in pencil on reverse, mounted on square cornered white card with simple belt designed motif on the reverse with text "W.Nichols Cambridge, St Mary’s Passage. The negatives being preserved copies may always be had” From the sitter’s dress, hairstyle and simple design of the reverse of the carte this is probably from the early 1860s. The next carte de visite is of an unknown man - on the reverse is written in manuscript the suggestion that his surname is Lawrence. This has a simple scroll back, but picks up "and sons" in the firm's title, putting it after 1864. Next is a slightly later 1870? carte of a young girl. The reverse of the carte printed in light blue still has the garter design, with an additional scroll and the text "W Nichols & Sons Photographers and Frame Makers St Mary's Passage, Cambridge The negatives being preserved copies may always be had" Beneath this are two William Nichols carte de visite views of St Johns College, of similar period and with similar garter design reverse (Simon Shirley Collection).

The Cambridge Chronicle of 12th March 1870 contains an advertisement from the firm announcing the opening of their new premises, next door to the old one at 2 St Mary's Passage Cambridge. stating "The new photographic studio which is also now open has been fitted up with every convenience both in warmth and ventilation".

References: Cambridge Chronicle 27 July 1850 p4.
Mike Petty, The Photographers, (a handlist of local photographers), Cambridge, Cambridgeshire Collection, 1992
St Marys Passage, photographic portrait painter 1855 (1) Craven And Co Commercial Directory of Hunts and Cambs 1855 – advertisement "Photographic Institute St Marys Passage, Kings Parade, Cambridge. Photographic portraits of every description taken daily singly or in groups by W Nichols. Apparatus, chemicals and materials supplied and instruction given in the art".
Great St Mary’s Passage in PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co Nov 1858
PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co London Nov 1858 and advertisement Oct 15 1864
1 St Marys Passage Cambridge, PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co London Sept 1865
Photographers and frame makers, 1 St Marys Passage Kellys Directories 1865-6
Photographers and frame makers, 1 St Marys Passage Kelly’s Directory 1867
William Nichols and Sons 1 and 2 St Marys Passage in PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co Aug 1869
William Nichols and Son, 6 St Mary’s Passage Cambridge, PO Directory the Counties of Cambridge Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co Nov 1875
William Nichols and Sons 6 St Marys Passage Cambridge PO Directory of the Counties of Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk, Kelly and Co London Nov 1879
Spaldings Directory of Cambridge 1878
Mike Petty, An Eye on the Past, Cambridge Weekly News, 4/11/1992
Cambridgeshire Collection’s Carte de Visite Collection c.65.5 has four cartes de visite from the firm.
Heathcote, Bernard and Pauline A Faithful Likeness - the first photographic studios in the British Isles 1841-1855, Heathcote, 2002.
CB Chronicle 7 Oct 1854 p5b.

See also HEELEY - a daguerreotypist who operated in St Mary's Passage for around four months in 1844

Carte de visite W NicholsCarte de visite W Nichols, reverse

carte de visite W Nichols and SonsReverse of W Nichols and Sons

W.Mayland carte de visiteReverse of carte de visite W Mayland

St Johns College by W Nichols

Second view of St Johns by W NicholsReverse of Nichols view of St Johns College

W.Nichols advertisement

Advertisement for W Nichols and Sons from Morgan's Directory of Cambridge 1865/6

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This page was last modified: 11 October 2019, 20:32

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