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Plaque recalls photographer

A photographer best known for his snapshot of Bognor Regis at war is to be honoured in the town.


A blue plaque was being installed this week to remember the work of Frank L’Alouette.


The historic symbol signifies the site of his studio at 32 West Street from 1931-55.


Members of his family celebrated the unveiling of the plaque by the Bognor Regis Heritage Partnership Board, with Bognor Regis Town Council, on Sunday.


One of Mr L’Alouette’s daughters, Jennie Hickman, said: “We are delighted with the plaque and surprised as well. We are also proud of our father.


“When he and my mother started the business, they worked all day to build it up for the first five years until they started a family. One of their selling points was to offer photographs in just a few hours.


“I worked in the studio until I was 22 with a friend of mine who lives in Felpham, Joy Brown, now Bryant.”


Mr L’Alouette was born in Windsor in 1901 and trained as a photographer’s assistant. He moved to Bognor in the 1920s to work in the photography section of a chemist and branched out on his own at a time when cameras were becoming popular along with Bognor Regis as a tourist destination.


He worked as a general photographer for businesses, newspapers, portraits and weddings as well as developing and printing his work and selling photographic items.


Mr L’Alouette was unable to join the armed forces when the war started because of a hole-in-the-heart condition.


He instead applied for a Ministry of Information permit to enable him to photograph wartime events around the town.


His contacts enabled him to capture a south coast town, with its barbed wire beach and pier cut in half, as its residents endured life in the Second World War.


His realistic shots showed the effects of frequent German air attacks and the hardships of an existence under rationing. He continued to run his business after the war before he retired around 1956 and passed away in 1968.


Helping to launch the plaque, town mayor Cllr Phil Woodall said: “Those who knew him recalled a warm, friendly man who was cheerful, resourceful and energetic in his work.”


Mr L’Alouette was put forward for the plaque by town resident Jason Passingham. He said: “Frank L’Alouette is the one person in Bognor Regis who has captured the town the most in photographs. He didn’t just take pictures of buildings. He took a lot of pictures of people – what they doing and what they were wearing.


“He captured that moment in time just before and after the Second World War.”


The plaque is the second to be installed by the board and council after one recalling architect John Hawes at The White Tower in Aldwick Road. A total of ten plaques will form a heritage trail.


Pictured above, l-r, are Mr L’Alouette’s daughters, Jennie Hickman and Sue Trotman, and great-grand-daughters, Delilah L’Allouette, and Susie Donovan, both seven.

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