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The Cherry Brothers of St Albans

Arthur and Edward Cherry are well known for their topographical etchings of English scenes, but their careers began in a family photography shop in St Albans. They were the sons of Edward Cherry (1859-1934), who was born in Wednesbury in Staffordshire. He married a Yorkshire dressmaker Ann Kirby Phillips in 1880 and two years later they had moved to Barrow-in-Furness where their first son Frank was born. Aged 22, Edward was employed as an engine smith, but by 1883 the family had moved to St Albans where Edward worked as a ‘colporteur‘ a seller of books, newspapers and religious tracts. Daughter Emily was born that year, followed by Arthur Leonard in 1884 (born in Birkenhead – the place his parents had married), their brother Edward Joseph followed in 1886 and Annie in 1887. Tragically they lost two further children in infancy.

St Albans CherryIn 1891, the Cherry family were living at Clifton Street. This is in the St Peter’s area of St Albans, where a photographer H.W. Lane was registered in the 1895 trade directory. It is just possible Mr Hine introduced the Cherry family to the craft because four years later Edward is recorded in the directory as a photographer in the Market Place. By the 1901 Census the family were living at French Row which is within the market area. Now aged 19, the eldest son Frank, was employed as an architect’s draughtsman, and Arthur was working as a photographer in his father’s shop aged 16.

By 1902, Edward had moved into new premises at 3, London Road where he now advertised as Cherry and Co. Photographers and also had a studio at 2, Chequer Street. It can be assumed that several of the children were now employed in the family business. Certainly Arthur was working as a photographer in 1911 and living at Liverpool Street with his wife Margaret, together with her sister Ivy, who was also employed as a photography re-toucher. Cherry and Co. was still operating from both London Road and Chequer Street in 1914. During WWI Arthur joined the RAF and produced some war sketches in France and Belgium which he self-published as facsimiles. He later went on to produce his series of London views and English architecture, again often self-published by the Cherry studio. 

However, in 1910 the elder brother Frank emigrated and began work as a commercial artist (graphic designer) with an advertising agency in Vancouver. Here he married Elizabeth Parry also from England. He may have been encouraged by his brother Edward, who had already emigrated to Vancouver in 1907, and had set up a photographic and framing business there. Edward married Frances Heskett in 1915 but enlisted with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. He spent two years in a military hospital after he was gassed and began making many pen and ink sketches. By 1920 he was discharged and returned to England and it was during the 1920s that he worked prolifically, creating etchings of religious and other interesting buildings including his series the Colleges of Oxford. He gained recognition for his work in 1928 when he was elected fellow of the RSA. However, he returned to Vancouver in 1931 where he set up his own studio. He died there in 1960.

View our printshop range of Edward and Arthur Cherry prints.



Illustrators of the Gentleman’s Magazine


  1. Lucy Cherry-Smith

    This article is an extremely useful potted history of the work and lives of my grandfather Arthur and his brothers Edward and Frank Cherry. In particular I am delighted to see that my great Aunt Ivy features in your article. Arthur died before I was born but I knew Ivy.
    I have sent your article to my cousin in Australia as he has a part to play in this saga since, as a toddler he lived with Arthur and his wife Margaret during the 2nd world war so he remembers his grandparents Arthur & Margaret.
    Thanking you!
    Lucy Cherry-Smith

    • W355eX_ar7

      I have always admired the detailed graphic work of the Cherry brothers and as a historian I have enjoyed delving further into their background. Thank you Lucy – it is lovely to hear from a family descendant – it helps bring the artists and their work alive. NP

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