Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

The first photographers who captured pictorial images of Fishlake and its inhabitants.

By 1900 portrait photography was already well established while the recording village life was just becoming fashionable. Consequently, the first decade of the 20 th century saw a surge of interest in local scenes. In that regard Fishlake was no exception.

The development of local photographic images goes hand in hand with the popularly of postcards. Postcards were a cheap form of communication especially for those living in rural areas. In 1894 the Post Office gave authorisation for their use through the mail with an adhesive stamp. Then in 1902 the Post Office allowed both an address and message to be written on one side of the card. So the trend began.

There were a number of both professional and amateur local photographers operating during this time, however, there are only two we know of for certain. One was Edgar Leonard Scrivens of Doncaster the other John Alfred Brewins of Thorne. Here are some background notes about these individuals who pioneered local photography and left us with a wonderful legacy of fascinating images of past times.


John Alfred Brewins, 1881-1917.

Born in 1881 at St Austell, Cornwall.His father William Brewins was born in Rawcliffe, Yorkshire, his mother Lucy Ann was born in East Cowick, Yorkshire. John had an elder brother and sister. His father was a Wesleyan Methodist Minister.

By 1901 the family were living in South Parade, Thorne and John is recorded as an ironmonger’s apprentice. By 1911 John describes himself as a professional photographer, living at North Fields, Thorne.

He was responsible for the 'Austell series' picture post card series dating from at least 1908, named after his birth place. I am not sure when he began his photographic career but it must have been sometime between 1901 and 1908. It ended when he volunteered for military service in 1914. He joined the King's Own Light Infantry 2nd Reserve Battalion as a private (33233).

He died from pneumonia due to his war wounds on March 7 1917. He is remembered with Honour at Cerisy-Gailly Military Cemetery, France and on Thorne War Memorial.

Brewins undertook a series picture of the Fishlake vicarage, choir and working party between 1910 and 1912. Usually the photographs have his name printed on the front but the 'Austell series' placed his details on the reverse side with the location name scratches on the front, eg internal view of the Fishlake church.


John Alfred Brewins

JABrewins with his camera.



Brewins cards

Brewin caption

Two examples of Brewins legends.


The photo and some of the above information is thanks to Thorne and Moorends Now and Then on Facebook.


Edgar Leonard Scrivens, 1883-1950.

A Doncaster photographer who was active between 1909 to mid 1930's. Scrivens took many pictorial records of Fishlake. Born in 1883 he was a press photographer before starting his own business in 1909. He died in 1950.

All his pictures carried his initials ELS followed by a number donating a place, for example Fishlake was 28, then the number in the series. In the 1920's and 1930's he re-photographed areas recorded earlier in his career adding the letter G or V depending on the period.


Screvins in car

Scrivens and family in his car.

Thanks to the Yorkshire Post.

In addition there were other less known photographers who have left a photographic legacy. There is one with the initials JWT active during 1920's, whose identity is yet unknown. Others who have not put there name or initials on there work remain anonymous.


Rob Downing January 2020.