British photographic history

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Information request: William Lynden, Plymouth

Hello, I am doing some research on UK photographic studios and am trying to find information on the studio of W (William ?) Lynden of 11 Union Street, Plymouth.  Is there a free centralised searchable site where I might be able to find details of all UK studios? Any advice or help is greatly appreciated. I am located in Melbourne, Australia.


John Campbell. 

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Comment by Robert Pols on May 25, 2020 at 15:53

Hello John,

With reference to the wider aspect of your question, about the availability of free online information on UK studios generally, there are several directories scattered about the web. Inevitably, they vary in their helpfulness, and not all are as good as the PhotoLondon site that has already been recommended, but you may wish to investigate some of them. A good selection is already listed on the home page of Marcel Safier’s BPH Cartes de Visite Group, and here are a few more. (There are doubtless others.)

Multiple locations: (Many locations, varied intensity of coverage) (Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire. Leicestershire, Norfolk [+ separate listing for King’s Lynn], Northamptonshire, Rutland, Suffolk) 

ingle locations (counties, areas and towns):




Chester & North-East Wales:  

Cleveland & County Durham:


Isle of Man: 

Isle of Wight: 


Norfolk (to 1860 only):





Comment by Robin Blythe-Lord on May 25, 2020 at 10:02

Hello John,

I have done some research into photographers in Plymouth during its photographic heyday of 1860-1900. There were 40 photographers in Union Street alone. William Lynden was one of these and I have a Carte de Visite of a soldier taken by him if that is of any interest. In 1894 William A Lynden of 11 Union Street is listed as being a Tobacconist (not unusual to have several occupations) and was raided and fined for keeping a 'Betting House'.

Comment by Graham Titley on May 25, 2020 at 9:58

please note the copy error in the Plymhearts web address - there is a space before the final 'archives' of the address.

Comment by Graham Titley on May 25, 2020 at 9:57

If you haven't done so already, you could contact Plymouth Reference Library by email ( There is also the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office based in Plymouth Archives (there is a Contact Us just above the Projects section near the bottom of the page). However, the current virus situation and a pending relocation may render both services unable to assist at this time! I was unable to access the Record Office's online catalogue via their usual links but I did find a 'backdoor' into a version of it (I used to work in Plymouth), but there were no hits for William - but because it was a backdoor I am uncertain as to whether it's a 'reliable' version! Unless you are incredibly lucky that family or business records have been deposited, apart from and 'signed' images it is likely that trade directories, birth, marriage and death records are all that there is

Comment by Michael Pritchard on May 24, 2020 at 8:58

Hi, John. I am not aware of any general free resources. The RPS's Historical Group has published a series of lists of photographers for various towns and cities in the UK which are available for a small cost. The Photo London resource is excellent and free but, as the name implies, just of London studios.  The best book, in my view, on photography studios in the UK is Audrey Linkman's The Victorian's - Photographic Portraits. It's not strictly comparable to The Mechanical Eye but it covers aspects of dating and approaches not covered anywhere else. 

Comment by John Campbell on May 24, 2020 at 0:54

Hello Michael, thank you for your prompt reply. Is there a free online resource that you would recommend to search for UK photographic studios listing location, dates of operation, proprietor etc?                                              Are there any publications that you would also recommend that I could purchase for use in searching for UK studios? I use The Mechanical Eye In Australia Photography 1841-1900 by Davies & Stanbury and I find it very useful in dating studios in Australia, if there is something similar for the UK I would be very interested.                   Many thanks again. John. 

Comment by Michael Pritchard on May 23, 2020 at 9:03

The Royal Photographic Society's Historical Group list of photographers in Devon shows: 

Lynden, William A

10 &12 Union St, Plymouth - 1873
10 Union St, Plymouth - 1878
11 Union St, Plymouth -  1883-90

This is mainly based on trade directories so there will be slight looseness to the dates.  

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