Originally from Hornsey, Albert Smith started in business in Jersey in 1892 from premises at 59 New Street, which were maintained until 1931, after he died in 1914. He also had outlets at 13 Beresford Street and 45 Bath Street from 1899 to 1907, but he closed these and opened an outlet at 3 Broad Street, which also continued to operate until 1931.
Albert Edmund Smith was born on 12 August 1856 in Hornsey, the son of Henry Smith and Mary Rawlings. Albert, three of his five brothers, his father, and his grandfather, Clement Smith, were all London stockbrokers and members of the London Stock Exchange.
Albert was admitted to act as a broker within the City of London on 28 March 1876. He married Josephine Elizabeth Coutts, daughter of an Aberdeen surgeon, James Coutts and Helen, nee Russell, in St Patrick's Catholic Church, Wapping, on 22 October 1879.
He was a stock broker in Weybridge, Surrey until the early 1880s. His first child was born in Weybridge before the family moved north to Scotland. Subsequent children were born in Buckie, Banffshire, and Coatbridge, Lanarkshire before the family moved to Waterloo, Lancashire about 1887. Two more children were born in Waterloo, where Albert took up photography. The 1891 census records Albert as a Photographic artist at 15 Neville Road, Waterloo.
By the time of the birth of his sixth child in 1892 he and his family had already moved to St Helier, Albert having purchased the photographic studio of Ernest Baudoux, at 59 New Street, St Helier. Another son was born is St Helier in 1896. In the 1901 census the family are shown at Meadow View, Beaumont. In the 1911 census, Albert and family were recorded at 1 Waverley Terrace, St Helier. Albert's son, David Edmund, who married Marion Cockrane Crauford Macadam Vincent in 1910, lived at Heathcot, Beaumont in 1911.]
Albert took an interest in early Xray photography while working at 59 New Street, St Helier. In 1896 The Star, a Guernsey newspaper, reprinted an article about his work using XRays, previously published in the Jersey Express.
He died from heart disease on 22 April 1914 and was buried at Almorah cemetery. Albert's son David Smith continued to operate the photographic studio in Broad Street under the name Albert Smith Ltd. David was the only child of Albert to remain in Jersey.
Winefride Josephine Mary Smith, eldest daughter of Albert and Josephine, left Jersey in 1913 to marry her fiance, Henry Edward Coen, in Sydney, Australia. She had a family in Australia, moving to Tasmania in 1923.
Albert's wife died in Southampton in 1937. She left Jersey about 1926. She was an artist and exhibited her work:
The Jersey Weekly Press and Independent dated Saturdey 8 July 1899 contained a report, probably concerning the Eisteddfod: "The Art Section commands increased attention as being really a most attractive feature. One might mention four oil pictures hung by Mrs Albert Smith, an excellent group of fruit, a portrait of her little three-year-old boy, the Corbiere Lighthouse, and Wapping Old Stairs."
Her great-granddaughter Elizabeth Young, who sent us the information about the Smith family, told us that the painting, actually called Off Wapping Old Stairs is now in her possession in Tasmania.
Thousands of the Albert Smith business's images survive as glass plate negatives and subjects include studio portraits and portraits of cattle. Many were sold as postcards. He and his staff not only worked on commissions, but also captured many scenes of island life and events of historical importance. Nearly 2,000 of his images can be seen online in the photographic archive of La Société Jersiaise, out of a total of nearly 3,300 held in the archive.
Among these are undoubtedly many not taken by Albert Smith himself. Not only, as mentioned in the introductory box above, are there images acquired from Ernest Baudoux, and others taken by employees of Smith, but some are also dated after 1931. It had been thought that family involvement in the business ceased at that time, but it is possible that David Smith sold his the business started by his father and that it continued to trade under the familiar name, probably until the Occupation brought such enterprises to a halt. It is not clear who took photographs after 1931, but many are included in the Société Jersiaise collection, and private collections. There is little doubt that they have been correctly attributed, because there are photographs, bearing Albert's signature logo, taken at the Battle of Flowers in the mid-1930s and at the opening of Jersey Airport in 1937.
The Albert Smith business's photographs were taken to sell and, in addition to those in negative format in the Société Jersiaise collection, many thousands of prints remain in circulation, notably in two collections in South Africa and the United States, to which Jerripedia has been given access.
Smith published a book in about 1910 of 102 Views of Jersey and the Channel Islands, which includes pictures of early Battles of Flowers, and a selection of pictures of Guernsey. Among other advertisements in the book is one for his own series of Hartmann's coloured Jersey postcards.
He was in partnership for a short time with Thomas Henry Billinghurst and also with Victor Vandycke.
This gallery of photographs shows the extreme diversity of Albert Smith's work. Although all of these photographs may not have been taken by him personally, they are all attributed to his business. Many are overtly commercial, but others constitute a fascinating documentary of life in Jersey in the late 19th and early 20th century. Although an early advertisement promoted portrait photography in clients' homes, Smith, unlike many of his contemporaries in Jersey was not predominantly a portraitist. He preferred to work out of doors, photographing groups on carriage and charabanc outings. This gallery only contains a limited selection of the hundreds of Smith photographs to be found throughout the site.