yeovil trades & traders

Jarratt Rudston beckett

Photographer of Hendford


Jarratt Rudston Beckett was born 2 December 1839 at North Frodingham, Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire he was the son of farmer Thomas Beckett (1797-1870) and his wife Jane née Clark (1801-1881). In the 1841 census Thomas and Jane were listed living in Main Street, North Frodingham, with their children; Selina (b1830), Craven (b1832), Mary (b1836), Jane (b1838) and one-year old Jarratt. By 1851 the family were living in Middle Street, Great Driffield, and Thomas now gave his occupation as a tea dealer. The older children had all left home by this time but Jarratt now had two younger brothers; Thomas (b1844) and George (b1846) and all three boys were listed as scholars. By 1861 Jarratt was one of seven assistants living on the premises of John Robinson's East Riding House of Commerce - Robinson was a 'Grocer, Draper & Tallow Chandler' and 21-year old Jarratt was employed as a Grocer's Assistant. In 1870 Jarratt's father died and he went back to live with his mother and brother Thomas in Dale Street, Ossett Gawthorpe (just west of Huddersfield). He founded a local newspaper, The Osset Observer, with his brother Thomas in 1864 and in the 1871 census Jarratt listed his occupation as 'Printer, Stationer & Publisher employing 4 boys (apprentices)'. Thomas later went on to own and publish the Eastbourne Gazette from 1871 to 1908.

By the 1870s Jarratt was living in Worcester, with a photographic studio at 39 High Street and in January 1875 advertised (see below) his new photographic invention of a machine that gave an "enamel-like surface" to photographs.

On 16 April 1876 Jarratt married Sarah Lockwood, seven years his junior at Huddersfield. They first lived in Sheffield (where their children were born) but moved to Eccleshall, between Stoke on Trent and Stafford. The move was most likely due to Jarratt being declared bankrupt, as noted in the 23 December 1879 edition of the London Gazette. A second dividend was noted in the London Gazette's edition of 14 April 1882.

In the 1881 census they were listed at 261 Abbey Dale Road, Eccleshall, with their children; Beatrice (b1877), Charles (b1879) and Constance (1880-1882) and a domestic servant. Jarratt now listed his occupation as a Master Printer employing five men and three boys. On the move yet again, by 1891 the family had moved to Manningham, a suburb of Bradford, but now instead of owning his own business Jarratt gave his profession as a Printer's Traveller. He lived with Sarah, their two surviving children and a domestic servant at 20 Whetley Grove, Manningham.

At some time after 1896 Jarratt moved his family yet again, albeit for the first time outside of Yorkshire. He moved to Yeovil and took over the photographic studio of John Bell at Fern Bank Villa in Hendford (adjoining the Masonic Hall) and immediately styled himself as a 'Photographic Artist'.

In 1897 Jarratt published a book to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria entitled "Somerset viewed through a Camera: Part IV - Yeovil & District" in which many of his photographs feature - most of which were later used as postcards and are noted as such throughout this website.

He was listed as a photographer of Hendford in the 1898 edition of Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser and in its edition of 12 October 1898, in its account of the proceedings of the Corporation during the opening of the new Council Chamber in Borough House, the Western Gazette reported "During the business Mr JR Beckett, photographer, attended, and handed over a well-mounted set of photographs of the members of the Corporation, to be hung on the walls of the Council Chamber.... The Mayor accepted the gifts, which he said would tend to brighten the walls of the Council Chamber." (see photograph in gallery below).

In the 1899 edition of Whitby's placed an advertisement that read "JR Beckett, The Children's Photographer, 'Fern Bank, Hendford, Yeovil. (Successor to J Bell). Very Successful with Children and Adults." In April 1899 Jarratt placed the following advertisement in the Western Gazette "Man (young) Wanted to canvass. One with own bicycle preferred. Liberal salary. Mr Beckett, photographer, Yeovil."

The 1901 census listed Jarratt, Sarah, Beatrice and Charles, together with a domestic servant, living above the studio at Fern Bank. Jarratt, now aged 61, gave his occupation as a 'Photographic Artist' as did his 22-year old son, Charles.

Jarratt's final listing in a Yeovil trade directory was simply as a 'Photographer of Hendford' in Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1903.

What happened to Jarratt after 1903 is something of a mystery. In the 1911 census Sarah was listed as a boarder at a large (over 30 boarders) boarding house in Torquay; she was aged 64 and listed as still married but there is no sign of Jarratt in the census. It is known, however, that Jarratt died in Birmingham in 1922 aged 83.




An advertisement for Jarratt's new photographic finish in the 16 January 1875 edition of the Worcestershire Chronicle. At this time his photographic studio was at 39 High Street, Worcester. The advertisement ran for at least the first six months of 1875.


The Masonic Hall seen in a colourised photograph of the 1960s. The house to the right of the Masonic Hall was Jarrett Beckett's home and photographic studio. The house is still there but is now offices.


The Council Chamber, Borough House. The photographs of members of the Corporation on the wall were taken and presented by Jarratt Beckett.


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson

The frontispiece of Jarratt's book "Somerset viewed through a Camera" of 1897.


An advertisement, dating to about 1897, from Beckett's book "Somerset viewed through a Camera".


.... and another advertisement, also from Beckett's own book.


From my collection       

A carte de visite by Jarratt Beckett, who specialised as a children's photographer, dating to the 1890s. Most babies, unless 'in arms', were photographed with a ribbon around the waist which tied them to a hidden support placed behind them so they didn't fall over. Cameras really only advanced enough from the 1890s to capture the quick movements of babies and children.

Cartes de visite were introduced in Britain in 1859 and were a relatively cheap way for almost anyone to have their photograph taken. Cartes de visite (also known as cartes or CDVs), are small paper-on-card photographs. They typically measure 4" x 2½" (102mm x 62mm) and the photograph which was pasted on to the card was roughly cut to about 3½" x 2¼" (90mm x 57mm).


From my collection

A cabinet card by Jarratt Beckett on a nice dove-grey card stock. The card is dated on the reverse - 30 May 1899.


Courtesy of Bill & Audrey Robertson

A cabinet card by Jarratt Beckett also dating to 1899. The couple are Sidney Edward Clements (eldest son of Thomas Clements, provision merchant of Wyndham Street and High Street) and Myrtle Grace Pittard.


From my collection

A gold-edged carte by Jarratt Beckett of “Sherborne & Yeovil”. The sitter appears to be a Captain of the Medical Corps and the photograph dates to the Boer War period. 


Somerset viewed through a camera: yeovil


The following photographs were all taken by Jarratt Beckett and included in his book "Somerset Viewed through a Camera: Yeovil & District" published in 1897 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.


The George Hotel, Middle Street.


This colourised photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

Princes Street, southern end.


Princes Street, northern end.


Lindsay Denner's shop, High Street.


This colourised photograph shows William Maynard's shop and restaurant, the Borough.


This colourised photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

James Bazeley Petter's shop, the Borough.


The Borough.


Middle Street seen from the Borough.


A colourised version of Charles Hook's Golden Canister Stores, Middle Street.


 This colourised photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'.

Belben's Bazaar on the corner of Middle Street and Vicarage Street.


Church of the Holy Ghost, Higher Kingston.


The Hospital, Fiveways.


St John's church.


Holy Trinity church, Peter Street.


This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

Christ Church, Park Road.


St Michael's church, St Michael's Avenue.


Wesleyan Methodist church, Vicarage Street.


This colourised photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs'

Baptist Chapel, South Street.


Yeovil Grammar School, Kingston.


Girton House School, Preston Road.


Bridge at Nine Springs.


Assembly Rooms, Princes Street.


Liberal Club, Middle Street.


Sidney Gardens.


From my collection

Newton Surmaville, produced as a later postcard.