Brickmaker and son in Southborough, Kent

This carte-de-visite may have been made at High Brooms Brick and Tile Company, founded in 1885 in Southborough, Kent, England.  It’s hard to tell what the father is sitting on, but we can see he’s wearing gaiters of some sort below the knees, probably to keep his legs dry or clean.

The photographer is identified on the reverse as H.L. Mills, but I found no record of a studio under that name.  The design on the back is quite complex–a scene within a scene–and the dragonfly near the top is an unusual element.  The castle looks like an architectural fantasy rather than a real building.

Brickmaker and son 3

The CDV was in a large box of portraits I bought a couple of years ago at an auction in Boston, Massachusetts.  The portraits had belonged to a dealer, who had written a price and an inventory number on the back of each one in pencil, occasionally adding notes about the subject, sitter or photographer.  I almost never write on photographs myself, except to add the identity of a sitter or an important date.  Since the dealer always wrote in pencil, it would be possible to erase the prices.  I’ve decided to leave them, as a record of what one owner felt the portraits to be worth.  In a way, the valuations are now part of the history of the photographs.

Some Highbrooms Brickworks buildings remain.  One now houses a pub called The Brick Works Freehouse.  It was formerly the High Brooms Tavern.

Brickmaker and son 2


6 thoughts on “Brickmaker and son in Southborough, Kent

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  1. I think it’s miraculous to have the price of the photo, and I agree that it seems quite expensive, but compared to a painted portrait it must have been quite a bargain. What a charming image! The castle on the back reminded me immediately of the tower that remains of Sissinghurst castle, also in Kent, and built, I think, of brick. That was, of course, the home of Vita Sackville-West, and her beautiful garden is still one of the most famous in the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How fabulous, Carol! The tower has a slightly different look, but I noticed right away that the gazebo at Sissinghurst looks exactly like the one in the drawing on the back of the photo. About the price, it wasn’t the original, unfortunately. The owner before me (a dealer) simply chose that spot to write because it was convenient. Thanks so much for your comment!

      Here’s the gazebo at Sissinghurst:


  2. Right at the bottom on the back there is ‘Manufactured (?by) Jonathan Fallowfield, London. I don’t know if its the same one, but if it is, theres soime info about him here (and sorry about horribly long link!):

    The castle may be fanciful but I wonder if it’s possibly a Folly or similar that no longer exists… also it’d be good to know what the flower is on the back, I thought it was honeysuckle but the leves are wrong.

    The father is probably sitting on a workbench or similar.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the link! According to your source, Jonathan Fallowfield (the company) was at 146 Charing Cross Road in London from 1890 to 1923. My guess for the date of the CDV would be 1900-1910. That’s late for a CDV, but the quality is very high.

      I know you hate typing on your tablet, but I’m glad that hasn’t deterred you!

      Liked by 1 person

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