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15 – 16 King’s Parade

History of 15 King's Parade


Robert Hills senior, photographer



Robert Hills, 29, photographer, b Oxford

Helena L, 24, b Cambridge

Robert A, 1, b Cambridge

Charles E, 5 mos, b Cambridge

Carrie Salmons, 20, servant, b Haddenham

Sally Neale 18, nursemaid, b Norfolk

The following is taken from the Cambridge Photographers web site:

In 1871 Robert Hills Senior had moved with his family to 15 Kings Parade Cambridge. Robert senior was described as a photographer. Robert Junior, then aged 19 years, was described as a “photographer’s assistant”. Also present in the household were Robert Senior’s other children Elizabeth b:1847, Mary S. b:1849 and Henry James. b:1858.

In 1881 Robert Hills Junior, (b:1852 at Oxford), was living on the firm’s premises at 15 Kings Parade Cambridge with his wife Helena Louise Hills, (b:1857 Cambridge), with their two infant children Robert A. Hills (b:1880) and Charles E. (b:1881). With them were a domestic servant and a nursemaid. Robert Hills Senior and the rest of his family had by this point returned to Oxford where he was employing 13 men and 6 boys. Robert Senior died in Oxford in 1882 (his estate was valued at almost £30,000). It appears that at this stage the firm was divided up among members of the family. Robert Senior’s wife Ann and son Henry James Hills ran the Oxford business, but in July 1889 they gave notice in the London Gazette that their partnership was dissolved, Ann continuing the business.

Robert Hills Jnr took over the running of the Cambridge business from 1882, but without any capital to ensure its successful operation. Worse still he had agreed to pay the estate of his late father some £6,500 for the goodwill of the business, to be paid in annual installments of £800. In the event, none of these payments were made. Despite the business being under-funded, Robert took on another branch of the business, a studio in St Mary’s Passage formerly run by Edward William Nichols. The branch traded as Hills & Co and was operated until June 1888. In the 1891 census Robert Hills Junior is shown as the occupier of 15 Kings Parade, listed as a photographer with his wife, 5 children and 2 servants. Robert obviously struggled to keep the business afloat, sinking gradually into debt. In February 1892 Robert filed for bankruptcy. His gross debts totaling some £831 and his assets valued at £817. When examined Robert stated that the business was making about £100 per year – the photography business was very competitive. “People always run like a flock of sheep to any new place, coming to the old places for credit” he observed, “but taking their ready money to the new”. He had by this time been taking his own photographs and had dismissed his operators. The Cambridge office of the firm closed after bankruptcy in 1892. The receiver had hoped the business could be sold as an ongoing entity, but this was not to be and on 28th and 29th June 1892 a sale was advertised of all the “modern furniture together with the remaining stock in trade, fixtures, trade utensils and requisites of a high class photographer and picture dealer”. The Cambridge Independent Press announced on 27 Jan 1893 that following the business failure of Robert Hills, trading as Hills and Saunders of Cambridge a dividend was announced, first and final, of 5 shillings.


Thomas G Jacobs, 40, clerk kitchen, b Cambridge

Emily Mary, 37, b Middlesex

Arthur, 10, b Cambridge

Rosalie, 7, b Cambridge

Robert E, 4, b Cambridge

Elizabeth S, 2, b Cambridge

Mary Anne Tweed, mother in law, 63, b Cambridge

Rebecca Rooke, 17, servant, b Cambridge

Harriett Franklin, 16, servant, b Cambridge

Charles S Bayley, lodger, 30, b Cheshire


Robert Hills


(15) A Colin Lunn, tobacconist and cigar merchant

A Langley

(16) Angus W Crisp, carvers, gilders, picture frame and carved oak manufacturers


Cecil Lady Taylor, first floor flat.

She had been the wife of Major General Sir George Taylor, director of Army bomb disposal 1940-42. After the war she wanted to paint but he wanted her to be his secretary. So she left him and set up in Cambridge.


(15) Campkins Cameras

(16) A W Crisp, heraldic artists

Miss D V Crisp

16 King’s Parade (1974)


(15) Noa Noa


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