No bicycles appear in this photograph, but the sign at upper right tells us that the occasion for this gathering was a cycling club rally of some kind. Unfortunately, no one in the group is identified, and some of the names of the clubs are cut off at the edge of the photo.
The cabinet card was made by Arthur Simmons (1855-?), whose studio was at 258 Westminster Bridge Road. Originally from Nottingham, Arthur appears in the 1881 census as a boarder in London, unmarried and working as a photographer, but it isn’t clear where he works. He appears again as a photographer in the 1885 city directory, now at 258 Westminster Bridge Road. Perplexingly, in the 1891 census his occupation is listed as Confectioner. He’s also married with one child, a daughter named Ethel May.
However, Arthur’s career as a photographer didn’t end in a cloud of powdered sugar. In the 1901 census, he’s back in the studio at 258 Westminster Bridge Road. He has a second daughter, Beatrice. His older daughter, Ethel May, now nineteen years old, is working with him as a Photographic Assistant. Sadly, at this time Arthur is a widower.
Sometime in the next few years Arthur remarries. He appears in 1910 on a baptismal record for his third daughter, Ivy Doris. On the baptismal record, Arthur’s profession is Photographer. However, just a year later, in the 1911 census, Arthur is once again a Confectioner. His second wife and his middle daughter, Beatrice, who is now twenty-six, are working with him. Ivy Doris is one year old.
I had planned to research the history of cycling in the UK for this post, but got sidetracked trying to sort out the creative endeavors of Arthur Simmons. If you’re into cycling, please feel free to comment on the photo! If you aren’t into cycling, you can always leave a comment about confections.