George William Greatrex, Photographic Artist, was undeterred by bankruptcy in the 1860s, and was possibly the same George Greatrex who overcame the failure of an unusual business venture in the 1870s. He ran photography studios in London, Southampton, Lancashire and perhaps briefly on the Isle of Man. Although his name was Greatrex, carte de visite portraits were produced in the name Great Rex.
Carte de visite 1860s.
Greatrex was the son of a surgeon, born in Gravesend in about 1830. The 1841 census recorded George Greatrex with his parents and 9 siblings living in Walton on the Hill, Lancashire. George married in Liverpool in 1850 and his wife was recorded staying with her widowed mother in the 1851 census. George Greatrex has not been found in the England census of that year.
According to anecdotal evidence, Greatrex nearly died in 1855 after accidentally drinking coffee from a cup contaminated with potassium cyanide. Between 1856 and 1858 Greatrex had a photography studio in Regents Street, London. In 1860 the London Gazette published a list of insolvency hearings, including a George William Great Rex, (formerly of Albrighton Salop, Windsor Regent Street and Hanway Street), trading as Alexander Duval, Photographist. Greatrex was listed as 'Artist, Photographic' in the 1861 census, at Berwick Street, London.
Carte de visite 1864, advertising association with Rider and Preston
In 1864 Greatrex was in Southampton at the former studios of Rider and Preston at Clarendon Terrace, Bridge Street. (See separate entries for Preston, Rider and their partnership.) The 1865 Bennett Southampton directory listed Greatrex in the photographers section. In 1865 Greatrex filed for bankruptcy. However, he continued to trade as a photographic artist in Southampton for a further 2 years before the London Gazette published a notice of the bankruptcy of George William Greatrex, Southampton, in January 1867.
Carte de visite 1860s.
The 1871 census listed George Greatrex and family at Kirkdale, Liverpool. A photographer named George Greatrex worked on the Isle of Man briefly in 1874. In 1909 an Isle of Man newspaper, The Manx Quarterly, published a story about a Mr Greatrex's failed business venture there in 1876. According to the newspaper story, while in America in the late 1860s Greatrex observed the popularity of newly invented roller-skates. Despite the craze for roller skating at the time, the Isle of Man skating rink closed down after a dispute over the infringement of the patent on the design of the roller skates. George Greatrex may well have set up a studio in Douglas, as the Isle of Man was a popular tourist destination at the time, and ferries ran regularly between Liverpool and Douglas.
George Greatrex died in Birkenhead in January 1881. The census of April 1881 listed his wife Helen as Artist's widow. By 1891 Helen and daughter Carrie had established a ladies fashion business.
Carte de visite c 1864, with inked on moustache and beard