In the late 1870’s a Yorkshireman named William Umpleby Kirk arrived in Cowes and established himself at premises in the High Street, where he traded as a Marine Photographer and purveyor of photographic views.

It was in 1881 that he invented an “instantaneous” shutter for his plate camera which enabled him to become the first maritime photographer to capture a yacht in motion. The shutter was, in fact, constructed from cigar boxes and rubber bands, but so effective was it that his photograph of “Alberta” - one of Queen Victoria’s smaller vessels was brought to Her Majesty’s attention, and in due course W.U. Kirk was awarded a Royal Warrant.

A considerable portion of Kirk’s early plates are now in the care of I W Councils Cultural Services Dept. where they have been restored and catalogued for future generations to enjoy.

These days, the technology has progressed somewhat from the glass plates of W.U. Kirk’s time, although at least one of our photographers is old enough to have “cut his fingers” on glass plates!

So advanced are today’s digital cameras, that action photographs which W.U. could only have dreamed of are possible, and rest assured that we use state of the art equipment from the world’s leading manufacturers.


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