King’s Lynn Directory: S


SARONY, Oliver F X

Canadian by birth, Oliver Frances Xavier Sarony was an itinerant daguerreotypist and (from 1855) collodion photographer. He travelled widely – often in partnership with John Baum (or Baume) – and his enterprises included temporary studios in Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. From November 1856 to mid-March 1857, he set up his studio (two large horse-drawn wagons) on Common Staithe Quay, behind Lynn’s Corn Exchange.

Lynn was the last town to be visited during his wholly itinerant period. He subsequently settled and prospered in Scarborough.


An itinerant photographer offering ‘cheap photographic portraits’ in Bazaar Row at the Lynn Mart from mid-February to 3rd March, 1855. 


Lynn-born Skerry followed a series of occupations over the years, and his work as a photographer may have been part-time and/or intermittent. Some postcards from the early 1900s have been identified as his, but no evidence has yet been found of studio portraits.

Trade directory evidence:

Bridge Street, Lynn

KN1896, KN1900

(The indexes of advertisers in SL1904, SL1905 and SL1906, list J Skerry of 1 Valingers Road, Lynn, as a photographer; but the advertisements themselves show him only as the proprietor of Morgan’s Ales & Stout Stores. It is not clear whether it was active practice or just his reputation as a photographer that extended into the new century.)

SMITH, Thomas, & Sons

Though he never operated under his own name, John William Smith was the principal of Thomas Smith & Sons for three decades . His father, Thomas, was primarily a cabinet maker of Brigg in Lincolnshire, whose sons ran studios in Norfolk and Lincolnshire under the family name. The name of the Lynn business did not change after Thomas died in 1888.

John Smith opened their High Street studio in May 1880, aiming to position himself at the upper end of the market. He continued there until declared bankrupt in 1911. He had a branch studio in Fakenham in the second half of the 1880s. He also briefly ran 4 London Road as a second Lynn studio from (probably) 1894, but he may not have continued there long after 1896.

Some carte mounts – possibly dating from the 1880s – refer to an additional studio in Swaffham. A carte mount, dating from the mid-to-late 1880s, refers to 60 High Street as the ‘Central Studio’ and lists those at Fakenam and Brigg in subordinate positions.

(For employees, see Blyth, William; Harrison, Edwin; Reynolds, William; Robertson, George; Thompson, James.) 

Trade directory evidence:

60 High Street, Lynn

WN1883*, KN1883, LNA1885, LNA1886, LNA1887, KN1888, WN1890, KN1892, LR1894, LR1895, KN1896, KN1900, TC1901, KN1904, KN1908, AN1916†

Norwich Street, Fakenham

LNA1885, LNA1886, LNA1887

4 London Road, Lynn


High Street, Lynn


* Listed as ‘T Smith & Son’ in WN1883. All other entries show ‘& Sons’.

† AN1916 comes five years after Smith’s bankruptcy and should not be relied on. KN1916 shows 60 High Street as the studio of L Vilenkin (q.v.) and is to be believed.

SMITH, William L

A son of the Mayor’s Officer, Smith, aged 15, was recorded in the 1871 census as ‘photographer’s apprentice’. He is believed to have been the ‘boy’ mentioned in the same census as employed by Edwin Bullock (q.v.).

SPANTON, Frederick 

Recorded in the 1881 census as photographer’s assistant to W. S. and W. J. Dexter (q.v.).


A member of a Rugby family of photographers, Speight worked as assistant and branch manager to Jasper James Wright (q.v.) of King’s Lynn from July 1898 to May 1900. 


The son of artist/photographers, Squibbs grew up in Somerset but spent much of his late teens on the move, working for a series of photographers and  pursuing his loves of sketching and fishing. He was in Lynn in 1901, boarding in Windsor Road. Since he was described as ‘photographer’, he was presumably working in one of the town’s established studios. He returned to Somerset in the early 1900s and by 1910 he had moved to Wales and was running his own studio in Cardigan.

STOWERS, William

Stowers’ presence in Lynn is attested to by just one trade directory entry, so his stay in the town was probably quite short. By 1881 he was practising (again, it seems, briefly) in Wymondham.

Trade directory evidence:

Austin Street, Lynn



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