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William Henry Rammell

41 Lower Street
10 Napier Terrace, West Street
8a St. George’s  Place


Occupation: Plumber, House Painter & Photographer

William Henry Rammell was born in Deal in 1830. His father, Nathanial’s occupation is entered on the baptism as ‘painter’.  William later advertises himself in the trade journals of the day as a ‘Plumber, painter and photographer’. Quite a strange mix we thought.

It seems you could undertake a short course on this ‘new photography’ and once you had purchased or hired the equipment, you could add to your income with a new venture.

William married Sophia Maxted Baker in 1852 and by 1858 they are living in Napier Terrace, West Street and it was from here that he became a photographer.

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald – Saturday 17 July 1875

We have a feeling that there is some sort of a story behind his relationship with William Sawyer, another photographer, who, when he started on his career, was using the loft space of his father’s shop, as his studio. This was in St George’s Place (later St. George’s Road), where the Deal Maritime Museum is now situated.

We think it is safe to say that the news reporter became confused between the two Sawyer men when reporting this altercation, as Willard was the father. It would appear that William Rammell was something of a rabble-rouser in the town as he is in the papers again for being part of a crowd of men protesting about a right of way being blocked by some boatmen.

Dover Express – Friday 27 March 1874

A year earlier in 1874, in aid of a new Chapel at Ripple, William ‘entertained’ the Congregational Church with a Scripture talk and Magic Lantern Display of  about seventy images. The fact that we can’t find baptisms for his last four children may point to William and his family having converted to Congregationalism as the records for the Congregational Church in Deal are missing for that time.

After William’s initial ‘flirtation’ with photography he eventually returns to being a painter. He has, however, managed to pass on his enthusiasm for the art of photography to his son, Frederick. Frederick moves to Sittingbourne where he sets up a large photography studio and by 1891 he is being assisted by his brothers and sisters who have all left home and had moved in with their brother!

To date, we have been unable to uncover any examples of Rammell Snr’s photography. He must, however, had been a fairly successful Painter & Plumber as when he died he left £699 which in today’s money is just over £54,000.

Sources and further reading:
Newspaper image © The British Library Board. All rights reserved.
With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive (
Probate records avaiable on Ancestry and Gov.UK