TAMH: Tours
Cox, Anckorn and Fraser - 1 | 2


William Anckorn: Photographer

W J Anckorn was a Town Councillor in Arbroath and a professional photographer. Many of the modern books on Arbroath gives his name as "Wilfred" but we have it on the good authority of his grandson that his name was, in fact, William John Anckorn. He took a large number of photographs of Auchmithie (and some of Arbroath) in the 1880s and 1890s, many of which he sold as postcards. He was, apparently, a livewire into his eighties and his party piece was standing on his head.

Many of his subjects were fishing and maritime related and his own life was very much shaped by a maritime disaster, his parents being among the 640 drowned in the Princess Alice disaster when she collided with the Bywell Castle in the Thames in September 1878. He was forced by this event to take a job in a Croydon firm of photographers, subsequently being moved to Scotland and then setting up on his own. His eight orphaned siblings were scattered to the winds.

He gave lantern slideshows of his pictures at Christmastime in the Annie Gilruth Memorial Hall in Auchmithie.

The advertisement is from the Arbroath Year Book of 1890.

Queen Victorias's Jubilee celebrations are featured elsewhere in the site. Anckorn, as a councillor, was put in charge of the Jubilee bonfire in Victoria Park. This was a large construction equuipped with gas burners so it could be ceremonially set on fire - by the Provost and his party who were to "process" up to the hill. Apparently the latter were late in arriving, so Anckorn took matters into his own hands and went ahead without them.

Anckorn taught his son Bert photography and Bert taught his son Gordon, and both worked for newspapers in Kent, and Gordon has several books to his name on Norfolk and Sevenoaks. One of the current crop of offspring is also a professional photographer, so it has stayed in the family.

(With thanks to Fergus Anckorn for additional information)


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