The carriageway that ran north of the elm trees in the Broadway
The history of the three-section building seen in these pictures '“ today known as Warwick, Broadway and Kent Mansions '“ was exhaustively covered in articles in this series on January 14 and February 11 last year.
There are two reasons for returning to this section of Brighton Road – which a century ago was always be known as the Broadway, and still sometimes is.
The first is that the scene on the first card reproduced here, which I acquired only fairly recently, is particularly charming and (as postcard collectors say) “nicely animated”.
The second reason is that this card – and the other three on these pages – seem to have been the only four cards of this location that were photographed from an angle that gave a clear view along the carriageway to the north of the elm trees.
This was the carriageway that took the traffic leaving Worthing for Lancing, Shoreham and Brighton.
Over one hundred postcards of the Broadway were published between the construction of the Broadway Mansions block in 1901 and the trees being cut down in 1928, and over seventy different photographs appear on them.
The disparity between the two numbers is due to the fact that a number of the photographs were used by more than one postcard publisher, or were issued in both monochrome and colour-tinted versions.
Most of the cards, however, have the southern carriageway in the foreground, since this provided the most felicitous juxtaposition of the building and the trees, and generally made for the best compositions.
The Victoria Series
The portrait card reproduced on this page is unusual – indeed unique – in another respect too.
It is the only postcard I have ever seen of the Broadway with a vertical (or “portrait”) configuration – and is also, for that matter, the most original and unusual view of this much photographed scene.
The photograph was taken from a first or second floor window above the premises of the great Worthing photographer Walter Gardiner, whose studio was at 23 Brighton Road for the first quarter of the twentieth century. It is just visible above the pram on the first postcard.
The card is one of more than a hundred views of the Worthing area published in John Davis’s Victoria Series, which include some of the best postcards of Worthing from the Edwardian age.
These cards, which featured on these pages on September 11, 2014, are much prized by collectors.
Only last week two Victoria Series postcards of Worthing were sold on eBay for far from negligible prices.
An exceptionally rare card of the baths and “tennis ground” at Heene sold for £11-50. (To me! There were five other bidders.)
And a card of St James’s Hall in Montague Street sold for £9-77. This I already had, having, oddly enough, bought it from the late Geoffrey Godden – the doyen of Worthing postcard-collectors – when he came to a talk I gave on the Victoria Series postcards of the town a couple of years ago.
The earliest Victoria Series cards of Worthing date from the summer of 1902, and the company had ceased trading by around 1909.
John Davis’s firm was thus one of the many excellent firms that briefly soared high during the postcard craze of the Edwardian age, and then fell to earth as postcard sales began to decline and competition became cut-throat.
Davis did not employ his own photographers, and we know that some of the photographs he used were bought from the Worthing Portrait Company, whose shop was near the railway station.
However Walter Gardiner probably also provided Davis with some images, including presumably the photograph taken from above his shop in the Broadway.
It was – as already indicated – common in the early days of postcards for the same image to appear on cards published by more than one firm.
Few firms employed their own photographers and, rather surprisingly, publishers seem rarely to have bothered to insist on exclusivity when they bought an image from a local photographic firm.
In the most extreme example of this in my collection – as it happens, it is again a view of the Broadway – one particular photograph was used on cards published by no fewer than eight different postcard publishers.