Nov 26, 2008

Christchurch Portrait Photographers

Built in the front garden of an earlier (and extant) house in the mid 1880s, this is 209 High Street, Christchurch. Now occupied by Kennett the Jeweller, it is situated on the western side of High Street, between Lichfield and Tuam Streets (near to the Manchester Street intersection).

By 1906 the upper floor was the Crown Studio of the photographer George Oswald Viertel. In 1925 it was listed as the photographic studio of Ernest Millard, becoming the studio of Ingham Milnes by 1930. Known as the Elmar Studios in 1944, it had became Elmar and Ambrose Studios by 1971, when Mr J. Ambrose combined his Armagh Street premises with the long established business.

Although many Cantabrians would have old photographs bearing at least one of the aforementioned names, perhaps few would be aware that their historic family portraits originated from the upper floor of this building.

The old house behind 209 High Street



The entrance to the upper floor Crown Studios to the Left. A vertical arrangement of photographic portraits is just visible to the Right of the entrance.

Candid street Photographers were a familiar sight in Cathedral Square from the later 1920s until the early 1960s. This example of a proof ticket come from the collection of Anthony Rackstraw, publisher of the Early Canterbury Photographers web site.


Sarndra said...

Elmar and Ambrose yes i recall this. My engagement ring was bought from Kennetts to :-) LOL blasts from the past!

Lovely learning the history of these buildings..thanks for making the effort to inform us!

Canterbury Heritage said...

The local Photographers database (1850-2000) now exceeds five hundred entries. Accordingly, it's becoming possible to search by premises location and period of activity, etc. Unexpectedly frequent continuity of use of buildings as studios by generations of photographers emerges.

Many of old photographic studios continue to exist or appear in vintage photographs, but 209 High Street has special significance for this former twelve year old, who sat for an Elmar Studios portrait a long time ago.

Founded in 1880, Kennett's appear to have always occupied the ground floor; Robert Kennett in 1886 and then Ronald Lord Kennett in 1930.

But that old house behind the Kennett's is intriguing, it could date from the mid 1850s. Earliest photos show the single-storied wooden premises of a Fruiterer, a Tailor and a Bootmaker in its front garden.

Canterbury Photography said...

In the "white pages" listing of the 1964 Christchurch and District telephone book Elma Studio have an after hours listing of: D. Miller phone 79 604. Under the listings for Miller there is a D. A. Miller, 426 Avonside Drive NE1 phone 79 604. I suppose this would be the owner or manager of the studio.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks Anthony, that became the 610th entry in the Christchurch & Districts Photographers database.

Sandra Robinson said...

I have a photo taken at Elmar Studios 20/4/1940.