Worthing photo mystery

Can you help identify this photo taken by Worthing photographer Walter Gardiner?

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 12:10 pm

Aileen Catterson from Abbotts Ann, near Andover, sent it in with the hope readers can help her discover who the formally-dressed group of women are and the reason the photo was taken.

She has some clues, as her grandmother, Frances Priscilla Merricks, is featured, third right in the middle row, the lady wearing the lighter-coloured outfit.

The photographic studio of Walter Gardiner opened at Bath Place, Worthing, in 1893 and it is his name that is embossed on the bottom right corner of the photo.

Can you help identify this group of women from Worthing? Picture: Walter Gardiner

Aileen said: “My grandparents returned to the UK from South Africa in June 1910 and settled in Worthing with their three children. My mother, the fourth child, was born later, in 1916.

“They purchased 23 Church Walk as a new build and named the property Armadale, after the ship they returned to the UK in. In my childhood, the name was carved into the gatepost. I wonder if it is still there?

“The family occupied the property until the late 1950s, when my grandmother downsized into a smaller house in Broomfield Avenue, behind the Thomas a’Becket pub.

“The photo appears to just ladies. My grandparents attended the Shelley Road Congregational Church - are these the ladies of this church? The church was exceedingly well attended at the beginning of the 1900s as my aunt remembered having to get to church early, otherwise there would be no room for the family to sit together.

“My grandfather, Alfred Henry Merricks, was also a member of Worthing Bowling Club - are these the wives of bowling club members? Any other suggestions? The attire of these ladies suggests it would have been taken in the early part of the last century.”

Aileen says the photo is postcard size and appears to be presented as a postcard, so perhaps a lot were produced for sending to friends and family.

She has happy memories of Worthing, from her childhood holidays staying with her granny, like Peter Pan’s Playground, the big paddling pool, stony beaches and the amusement arcade on the pier.

If you can provide more information about the photo, please email [email protected]

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