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Authority record

West, Edwin Francis (1822-1880), photographer, Observatory, Clifton

  • Person
  • 1822 - 1880

In the 1851 census, West described himself as a ‘Portrait Painter’, as a ‘Photographer’ in the 1861 census and as an ‘Artist Photographer’ in 1871 census. Upon his father's death in 1860, he appears to have taken over the running of the Observatory as well as the photographic business. On the occasion of the opening of the Bridge on 8 December 1864, he advertised "strong seats" which had been erected on "the lower roof of the observatory", selling for 5s each.

West, William

  • Person
  • c.1793 - 1860

In 1828 William West leased and restored a ruined windmill to create the observatory in Clifton. He was an accomplished artist who also took an active interest in engineering and science. He travelled to Fribourg, Switzerland to research the use of wire in suspension bridges and on his return in 1835, he submitted a report to the Directors of the Clifton Suspension Bridge Company. Some of the bridge trustees - like T. L. Coulson - owned his paintings (Ref. "Conversazione of the Graphic Society", Supplement to the Bristol Mercury, 22 December 1860, p.2).
West also introduced early forms of photography to Bristol; in April 1839 he was advertising photosensitive paper for sale and displaying his photographs to the public, in November of the same year he was demonstrating the photographic process to school children and in 1842 he wrote to Fox Talbot asking permission to use his calotype process. (Ref. "Advertisements & Notices", Bristol Mercury, 27 April 1839; "Latest Intelligence", Bristol Mercury 9 November 1839)

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