Alice Armstrong was born in Dovenby, Cumberland (Cumbria) in 1876. She was, the daughter of Betsy Graham and Tyler Walter Armstrong, a land steward for the Dykes family of Dovenby Hall.
Tyler Walter Armstrong, Alice’s father, was born in Penrith, Cumberland in 1842, the son of John and Agnes Armstrong and he married Betsy Graham at Penrith, in 1873. The couple had at least seven children, all of whom were born at Dovenby – Annie (born 1874), Emily (born 1875), Alice (born 1876), Arthur Graham (born1876), Louisa (born 1880), Colvin Tyler (born 1882) and Winifred (born 1885).
Tyler died in 1885 at the age of 43 and his widow, Betsy, took the family to Keswick, in the Lake District, where she let out apartments (“first class accommodation” and “splendid lake & mountain scenery”) to tourists and holidaymakers.
In the 1901 census, Mrs Betsy Armstrong and five of her children were residing in Clapham, London where Alice, aged 24, gives her occupation as “Photographer”.
By 1911, Betsy Armstrong had moved to Bexhill and was letting out apartments to holidaymakers at 32 Eversley Road, Bexhill. Alice gives her occupation simply as “assists mother” but it was from this address that she ran her photography business during the First World War. Alice Armstrong is listed as a photographer at 32, Eversley Road, Bexhill in the editions of Kelly’s Sussex Directory published in 1915 and 1918.
Right: Map of Bexhill-on-Sea showing the location of Miss Alice Armstrong’s studio at 32 Eversley Road (marked in red). Bexhill Railway Station is marked by a purple square.
The following are examples of Alice’s work:-
Left: Photograph of a young lad named John Hemery, taken about 1914. John was born in South America, at Georgetown, British Guiana, on 2nd September 1910; he was the son of Percy Emery (1851-1935), a British civil servant who was based in British Guiana for most of his working career. Percy returned to England, with his wife and children, in October 1910 and settled in Bexhill-on-Sea. Later, as an adult life, John Hemery emigrated to the United States where he started a new life in California. On 7th February, 2,000, John died in Luna, New Mexico at the age of 89.
The photograph was provided by John Hemery’s nephew, Richard Hemery.
Right: A postcard of Bishop Frederick Offen (1897-1976), photographed by Bexhill photographer Miss Alice Armstrong in 1918. Bishop Offen joined the Royal Navy in 1915 and served on board HMS Zinnia, a support vessel which saw action in the Irish Sea off the coast of West Cork during the First World War. A keen, amateur photographer, he photographed many dramatic scenes while serving on board.
The reverse of the postcard simply says, “With love from Bishop” and is dated 9th January, 1918.
The postcard was provided by Mark Offen, of Cape Town, South Africa, the grandson of Bishop Frederick Offen.