Adrian Francis Harding (1882-1968) was a well-known photographer in Godalming from c.1910-1939. He was born in Clapham, the son of Charles and Julia Harding. Charles Harding was the architect for Holborn Viaduct, London. The family moved between 1883-88; and the 1891 and 1901 censuses show the family as living in Guildford. In the 1901 census Adrian was listed as a photographer’s assistant (‘worker’). His sister, Cecilia, was also listed as a photographer’s assistant, working on her ‘own account’ at home.
Although Adrian documented people and places in Godalming before 1910, from that year onwards he signs his photographs ‘The Barn Studio’, and is first listed at these premises in the 1910 Godalming Trade Directory. That year he also marries Dora Winifred Taylor; he was then aged 28 years. There is an advert showing the Barn Studio in the 1915 Directory, where he advertises as a “specialist in child portraiture and all branches of photographic art”. The advert shows a timber and corrugated iron building behind Clarke’s the tailors, at 38a High Street (now 100).
Adrian was attached during the First World War to the Royal Flying Corps, and posted to Canada, documenting the planes and aircrew. He returned to run ‘The Barn Studio’, photographing children, local dignitaries, school groups for Charterhouse, and many local events. Privately, he would also document local town life. He photographed the 1924 Godalming Carnival; and designed many of the costumes. An entire issue of Kodak’s The Professional Photographer (August 1924) was dedicated to his work at the Barn Studio (containing three photographs of the studio itself). The museum library has over 50 photographs taken by Adrian, which include portraits, buildings and views. The family were Catholics and many of the museum photographs are of the Catholic Church of St Edmund, Croft Road.
He was also a good amateur watercolour (and tempera) painter, producing many scenes of the Godalming area; a portrait miniaturist, sculptor and wood craftsman, making his own furniture. Involved in local amateur dramatics, he would paint scenery, design costumes, and play various roles.
Adrian is listed in the 1934 Directory as living at Lyndhurst, Busbridge. The next directory the library holds is 1939 and he is no longer listed. In 1939 Adrian retired, selling the Barn Studio to another photographer, Alan Chaplin Jones. Most of the photographic records were destroyed at this time.
Adrian had two sons; Adrian Isadore Gore Harding who first married Gladys, a studio assistant at the Barn Studio from 1929-39, employed as a finisher and retoucher, print-mounting, receptionist and book-keeper; and John Laurence Harding who also worked in his father’s photographic business as a photographer for much of the 1930’s, later to run his own publishing business (1955-80).
Adrian and Dora retired to Bracken Close, Milford. Dora died in 1958. He then moved to Portsmouth, then Walton-on-Thames. Adrian died in 1968. He and Dora are buried in Milford cemetery.
Godalming Museum © 2006