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 Council’s Cultural Services Dept. where they have been restored and catalogued for future generations to enjoy.