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I have recently acquired an extensive collection of glass plates (80,000 items) along with a substantial volume of original documents and day ledgers. The collection was created by Hills & Saunders 'Harrow' studio.

I would be interested to learn more about any of the actual photographers who worked for Hills & Saunders. I believe the company operated a number of studios around the country, including Harrow, Eton, Oxford & Cambridge. If anyone could provide me with any information or suggestions on where I may find a source of information I would be most grateful.

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Comment by Marcel Safier on March 20, 2013 at 0:17

Robert, you should look first to the Hills and Saunders families as I have found many of them were involved with the studios. This is something I have concentrated on researching as I have with a number of other prominent and less prominent photographers to elucidate the involvement of family in the operation of 19th century studios. The only other photographer that comes to mind is William Forshaw of Oxford who advertised on his photo mounts that he worked for many years with Hills and Saunders. These tidbits of info on mounts are often the only such clues to a someone's prior work history.

Comment by pete.boswell on March 17, 2013 at 14:04

Thank you for the information Robert which is very useful especially the links.

The website ( has also been acquired by myself and will be brought back online once some key work to the content has been completed. The email address will continue to remain active throughout this current phase of conservation. I hope this avoids any confusion.

I agree with you that most of the interest in the collection has traditionally been focused on the subjects in the photographs, which I confess is very interesting. However, on a more personal interest level I would like to know more about the people who stood on the other side of the lens so to speak and where responsible for composing capturing the photographs. 

Comment by Robert Pols on March 17, 2013 at 10:50

An afterthought:

You mention that you are discovering material from the Cambridge branch. Should you need it, a little information about that studio (including the identity of one photographer) can be found at (The abbreviations are explained on the 'Sources and Conventions' page.)

Comment by Robert Pols on March 17, 2013 at 10:40

Two possible sources for background information:

For the Hills & Saunders chain:

Audrey Linkman, The photographic multiple in the 19th century, The PhotoHistorian number 110, Royal Photographic Society, Jan 1996.

For a visit to the London studio in Portchester Terrace:

H Baden Pritchard, The photographic studios of Europe, Piper & Carter, 1882.


The Harrow School collection is apparently undergoing conservation, and the website ( seems to be in a state of limbo.  (The Martyn Killion article gives information on the collection that used to be on the website.) There is, however, a contact address for enquiries: That might be worth following up, though you may well find that the interest is in identifying former pupils who were subjects of the photos, rather than in identifying the photographers who took them.

Comment by pete.boswell on March 17, 2013 at 9:42

I have found the article you referred to Giles, thank you.

Comment by pete.boswell on March 17, 2013 at 9:39

Thank you Giles for the reference to the article by Martyn Killion which I will seek to obtain an copy of.

The majority of the content does appear to be quite Harrow focused although we are beginning to discover content from what appears to be Eton and Cambridge within the collection. Over 60% of the plates have not been studied or fully recorded and so we are expecting to make some interesting discoveries.

I will certainly inform you if we should uncover any content that appears to relate to Oxford in anyway.

Comment by Giles Hudson on March 16, 2013 at 14:53

Hills and Saunders' first studio was in Oxford, of course - he was originally a hairdresser. Saunders was his operator - he joined as a partner in the firm and went on to marry Hills' daughter. 

There is a fairly comprehensive article on Hills and Saunders in the Encyclopaedia of 19th Century Photography, as far as I remember. Other than that not much I know about. The specific dates of the opening of all of their studios outside Oxford is difficult to pin down exactly. I reproduce a few of their photos in my book Sarah Angelina Acland: First Lady of Colour Photography. Because they had a studio in London they also feature in the PhotoLondon online database, and there are a few references there. I also have the following reference, but have not seen the article: 

KILLION, Martyn, Picture This : The Hills and Saunders Photographic Collection
Genealogists' Magazine 28:11 (2006) 499-501

Is it exclusively Harrow material you have? Nothing from Oxford? That would interest me!

Regards, Giles Hudson

Comment by pete.boswell on March 16, 2013 at 10:45

Thank you for the information Paul regarding the former Hills & Saunders studio in Cambridge which is much appreciated. I will let you know what we uncover and discover.

Comment by Paul Godfrey on March 16, 2013 at 10:09
Hills and Saunders are listed in Kelly's Cambridge 1929 and 1937 trade directories with an address of 19 King's Parade. Not much I know but at least you know someone has read your posting.
Best wishes

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