William Softley Parry was a toy dealer and photographer in 4 Bridge Street from 1872, when he took over the business of Alfred Lane. There is a series of eight splendid Cartes de Visite c.1873 taken by William Parry showing various views of the town. In 1882-83 the Parry family moved north. By 1903 the premises were occupied by Mr A. New, a cycle maker.
- Market Place, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- Bridge Street, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- Market Place, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- Lower High Street, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- Bridge House and the canal bridge, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- The Bear Inn and Charnham Street, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- Upper High Street, cdv by WS Parry c1873
- Market Place and Corn Exchange, cdv by WS Parry c1873
W S Parry family history:
William Softley Parry (1826-1915), photographer, was baptised at Gateshead 19 Feb 1826, son of James and Barbara Parry (England Births & Baptisms 1538-1975, Family Search International). He was living with his family in South Shore Gateshead at the time of the 1841 census along with James Parry, 41, grocer; Barbara Parry, wife, 45; William Parry, 15; James Parry, 10; Margaret Parry, 10; Thomas Parry, 8. No record found for the 1851 or 1861 census.
The Newcastle Journal of Sat 31 Jul 1869 includes an advert for Mr W S Parry, photographer, of 17 Eldon Square, Newcastle. "Cartes de Visites", "Cabinets", "Vignettes" etc. Mr Parry respectively invites attention to his choice and extensive collection of first-class Photo-Portraits, at his room, 17 Eldon Square. Open from 10 till 4. "Mr Parry's card portraits are amongst the finest we have ever seen" - London Photo News.
On 8 Sep 1869 he married Annie Graham at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It seems they already had a daughter, because the 1871 census shows them living at Eldon Square - William (45), Annie (23, born North Shields), and Elizabeth S Parry (daughter, aged 9, born Newcastle).
They moved to Hungerford shortly after, and the Berkshire Chronicle of Sat 31 Aug 1872 included a report of Mr Henry Clements catching "a very fine trout. weighing nearly seven pounds, in the Kennet. This is the heaviest and best conditioned trout caught about her this year. It has been photographed by Mr Parry of Bridge Street."
In Oct-Dec 1874 their son Frederick William Parry was born, but it seems his wife Annie died around the same time, aged 26 years.
The family home at 4 Bridge Street was flooded in Sep 1876. The Reading Mercury of Sat 9 Sep 1876 reported "Deluge of rain - Early on Wednesday morning we had the heaviest rainfall known in this district for many years past. The lower part of the town was deluged. Mr Parry, Mr Skinner, Mr Hawkes, and Mr Hart, in Bridge Street, had their shops inundated with water and mud and Charnham Street was turned into a river."
WS Parry remarried in Oct-Dec 1877 - Alice Nightingale Stagg at Highworth Wiltshire. He was aged 51, and she was 22/23.
In Jan-Mar 1881 they had a daughter Alice Ann.
The census of 1881 records them all in Bridge Street - William S Parry (47 - but actually 55!). Alice (26), Fred (6), Alice (1m). Parry's consistent understatement of his age from this time onwards probably reflects some unease about the 30-year age difference between him and wife.
The Reading Mercury of Sat 7 Jul 1883 recorded: "Primitive Methodism - The Primitive Methodists of this district held their annual demonstration on Tuesday. They met at the chapel in Bridge-street, where a procession was formed, headed by the Swindon brass band. After they had proceeded through the town, a camp meeting was held in a meadow in Park-street. At four o'clock there was a garden party in the Rev. J Hancock's garden, which was numerously attended. The gathering was photographed by Mr Parry of Hungerford. At six o'clock a large meeting was held in the Congregational Chapel (lent for the occasion). Addresses were given by various ministers and friends. Collections were made during the day to pay off the circuit debt."
It seems that around this time the Parry family moved away from Hungerford.
Various press records include:
1884 Q2 – Dudley District, Staffs - birth of Florence Parry, daughter of William S and Alice Parry.
1891 census – Middlesbrough, Hill Street – William S Parry, 52 [actually 65], boarder, photographer, b. Gateshead.
1891 census – Wilts, New Swindon, Propsect Hill – Alice Parry, 34, artist/sculptor, b. Swindon, Wilts; Alice Parry, 10, daughter, b. Hungerford; Florence Parry, 5, daughter, b. Harborn, Staffs.
1901 census – Middlesbrough, Russell Street – William Parry, 65 [actually 75], photographer, b. Gateshead; Alice Perry, 45, wife, b. Swindon; Alice, 20, daughter, b. Hungerford; Florence, 15, daughter, b. Harborn, Staffs.
1911 census – Middlesbrough, Russell Street – William Parry, 73 [actually 85], photographer, b. Gateshead; Alice Parry, wife, 55, boarding house keeper, b. Swindon, Wilts; Florence Parry, daughter, 25, b. Harborne, Staffs; 8 boarders.
William Softley Parry died in November 1915. The Newcastle Journal of Fri 3 Dec 1915 reported: "Blown over by the wind. An old man's sad death at Middlesborough. An inquest was held yesterday at the Middlesborough Police Court by the Coroner (Mr O H Cochrane) on the body of Wm. Softley Parry (75) of 6 Russell Street, Middlesborough, who died on Nov 30th.
Florence Parry, daughter of the deceased, said her father went out on the night of July 19th last, with a small clock in his pocket, which he was going to set right by the Town Hall clock. It was windy at the time, and a few minutes after he had gone out he was brought back by two men. He told his daughter that the wind had blown him over. The doctor who attended him said that he had fractured his right thigh.
Dr Howat, who gave evidence, said that in his opinion death was due to exhaustion accelerated by the accident.
A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was returned."
The Daily Gazette for Middlesborough of Wed 1 Dec 1915 also recorded his death.
His actual age was 89 years. It seems that his achievements as a photographer had apparently been forgotten.
[With thanks to Will Swales who researched this article, Nov 2018]