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The Thorns – Bude’s Pioneer Photographers

Posted on Nov 7, 2016 by in Article | 0 comments

Layout 1THORN PHOTOGRAPHERS OF BUDE – 1850s to 1932

£24.99 from Spencer Thorn Jewellers or Spencer Thorn Bookshop

Signed Copies from Spencer Thorn Jewellers

The Thorn photographers were pioneers of the art in Bude. This book celebrates their enormous contribution to Cornish history. Over 250 fantastic images taken from their original glass negatives, many never before published, showing the landscape, seascape and shipwrecks, of North Cornwall, as it was in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries. It is packed with personalities and characters, recalling the hard but gentle pace of Cornish life as well as the incidents that live on in the memory of the Cornish people.

Harry Thorn was the first photographer in the village, as it then was, in the 1850’s (population around 600). He started to record the events of the day. Inevitably these included many shipwrecks which were a common occurrence. He did not have the advantage of wealth, his father was a carpenter and he was one of ten children, but he managed to start a career in photography from very little and became accomplished at the new art. He was a true pioneer for Bude in a field with many hazards, particularly the chemicals used, about which not a lot was understood, chemistry was in its early days. It is probable that the chemicals lead to his early demise, at the age of 38, in 1876.

In the 1860’s he was joined by his sister Sarah, brother Samuel Jnr, later his niece Nellie and Jake Harrison, who carried on the business after his death until 1928. Between them they have left us with a wonderful pictorial record of the area from Clovelly to Tintagel. After 1900, many of their photographs were printed as Postcards which immediately appealed to collectors and this continues today.

Their legacy to the Bude area has not been fully appreciated and it is hoped that this book will give them the recognition they deserve,

Written and Compiled by David Thorn and Stuart Thorn.

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