Friday, January 08, 2021

P W Luton- a New Cross Photographer

Percy William Luton was a photographer in the early 20th century whose Carlton Studio was at 34 New Cross Road SE14.  Electoral Registers and Post Office Directories show that he was there from at least 1909 to 1930, with his wife Florence. 

Portraits taken by him show up on ebay and other sites, often with no information about the subject. Nevertheless they provide a window into the past and its fashions.

An exception to this anonymity is this photograph, from the US  Library of Congress  which includes the name J.Lemm as well as name and address of the photographer. Seemingly this is John Lemm, a wrestler and a weight lifter variously known as the “Swiss Mountaineer”, the  “Swiss Mountain Climber" and the "Swiss Hercules" (I think we can surmise he was from Switzerland). 

Lemm competed in Europe and the USA in the years leading up to the First World War, including for instance a contest in New York in 1911 and the Oxford Music Hall in London in 1909:

How Lemm came to be photographed in a New Cross studio is anybody's guess, but I wonder if there is any connection with this 1909 photo of the Swiss Gymnastic Society also taken by PW Luton. The London branch of this had its HQ off Shaftesbury Avenue in central London.

The  house at 34 New Cross Road still stands - the left hand building below. Along with its white painted neighbour at no.32,  it is a Grade II listed building as a good example of an early 19th century house of this type.

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