David Bowen - another Fishguard photographer

Carte de Visite - D Bowen
Barclays Bank in the early 1950s
Seren Cymru

From the style of dress, this pretty little image of a young girl dates from the 1860s. This fits in with the style of the reverse of the photograph which has a quite simple advertisement – later photos had much elaborate advertisements on their reverse.

Who she was, we will never know but she was probably the young daughter of a shop keeper or professional person in Fishguard who would have been better placed than most to having their daughter’s image recorded.

The photographer was a David Bowen who apparently had his studio in High Street. This is the only example of his work that we seen and so we have tried to find out a bit more about him.  He was born in Fishguard in 1843 to a clogmaker and his wife, Levi and Mary Bowen. The family lived in Yet y Bontpren in Dinas but at this time this part of the village of Dinas was included in the Fishguard parish. It seems it took him some years to decide upon his line of work – at 18 he was clogmaker – at 28 a theology student (his brother James was a photographer) and it was only when he reached his 30s that he appears to have decided to stick with photography.
By the age of 28, he and his brother James had moved to Prendergast – he later married and settled in Haverfordwest where he stayed until his death in 1900 at which time his eldest son took over the family business.  The photographic studio in Haverfordwest was known as Caer Alun Studio.

Local trade directories reveal entries for David Bowen in High Street, Fishguard  in 1884 and Picton Street, Prendergast from 1891 through to 1914 – he died in 1900 so presumably his son kept the same business name.
One interesting advert in the historical newspapers for David  Bowen shows that he was working as a photographer back in 1865. The advert tells of the availability of copies of a photograph taken of Rev Thomas Evans – Missionary –  by David Bowen – it also gives a review of his work by the said Rev Thomas Evans – who was happy to confirm it was a good likeness!


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