I recently met with Sue Bonnington the granddaughter of a chap who worked in the photo department of London News Agency in Fleet Street for most of his working life…even returning in retirement. The LNA is an agency we are regularly asked to trace photo licensing enquires for. Thousand of their prints survive in newspaper archives around the world but the negative archive has disappeared. LNA was one of the leading agencies in the golden days of UK press photography so to have this detail from Sue is just great.
Here is the working life of Alfred James Robinson – London News Agency Photos 1908 – 1964
↑ Alfred James Robinson – London News Agency Photos 1908 – 1964
Sue’s email to the Press Photo History Project:
I have been reading with interest the work that you are doing in compiling information about the Fleet Street news agencies.
My Grandfather Alfred Robinson worked as a photographer for the London News Agency from a young boy in the early 1900’s in fact he worked there from the day it started. I don’t actually know the date he started work there but I do have a presentation cigarette case (see photos below) for his 40 years service on the 40th birthday of LNA presented by Thomas McArthur. I have several photo’s of him and his colleagues who he worked with.
When he passed away in 1977 I was left his collection of photo’s which he took or printed during his time there. They include 2nd world war, royal family, silver screen film stars and general interest photo’s. Most of them have the LNA stamp on the back and a press release write up.
I would love to show you the collection for your advice of what to do with them as they are of great social interest.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
↑ Sue with her Grandfathers cigarette case – and close up of the engraving ↓
Timeline for Alfred James Robinson
Date or Birth: 2nd May 1894 in Greenwich, London.
He grew up in Islington the son of Alfred Robinson, who worked as a warehouseman for the Daily Express newspaper in Fleet Street.
Alfred left school aged 14 in 1908 and started work as a printer for the newly established London News Agency Photo’s Ltd – 46 Fleet Street and by 1914 he had become a staff photographer for the agency.
He served throughout WW1 with the 5th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in 1915 -1918 and the 31st Squadron of the RAF until 1919 as an air mechanic and observer photographer serving in France, Egypt, India and Afghanistan and clocked up over 600 hours flying time taking thousands of Arial photographs behind enemy lines.
He returned to LNA and continued to work for them as a press photographer until the agency closed in 1964 having worked for the LNA for 56 years. During that time he received his 40 year service award of cigarette case in 1948 on the 40th Anniversary of the LNA. He also received a watch for his 50th year service award and a clock on leaving the LNA in 1964.
He continued to work every day in Fleet Street for Industrial Photographic Features (London) Ltd. until his death on 4th June 1977 aged 83.
All photos supplied by Alfred’s Granddaughter Sue Bonnington
↑ A wonderful early photo of Alfred with LNA workmates in what looks like a Fleet Street pub after work
↑ Alfred with workmates photographed on what looks like the roof of the LNA building Fleet Street
↑ Alfred at work printing photos at the LNA offices Fleet Street
↑ Alfred preparing a shoot in the LNA studio
↑ Alfred with workmates at LNA offices Fleet Street
↑ London News Agency 46 Fleet Street
↑ Alfred with Thomas McArthur, Director of the LNA
↑ Alfred photographed in the LNA offices
↑ Alfred receiving a watch from Thomas McArthur for his 50 years service award
↑ A clock as his “retirement” award after 56 years service
↑ Alfred in the RAF (1918) aged 22. Stationed in Risalpur India Rank: Air Mechanic 1st Class Rank (2nd) Photographer
↑ other workmates or Key staff at LNA?
If you have any LNA information please drop me a line
History of the London News Agency
History of the London News Agency – supplied by Sue Bonnigton
Started operations in 1893 from 47 Fleet Street with a staff of 2
It was founded by Mr Edward Henry Wroughton born 1876 Died 5th Jan 1939 aged 63
The London News Agency Photo’s Limited was formed in 1908 based at 46 Fleet Street
Arthur W Thorpe became managing director from 1901-1919 when it was taken over by the Press Agency. He died in 1952
Thomas Herbert McArthur was Director of the LNA photo’s ltd from ?1919 to 1952. From census records he started work as a photographer journalist.
Thomas McArthur was married to Elsie and had 2 children, Grant and Joyce. Grant worked as a photographer at the LNA, he joined the RAF in WW2 but was killed in a flying accident in 1941. His daughter Joyce married an Australian pilot
In 1952 Thomas McArthur emigrated to Australia with his wife.
The London News Agency Photo’s Ltd ceased operations in 1964.
• No one agency claims ownership or copyright on LNA images. If you wish to indemnify yourself you could purchase an orphan works licence from the IPO – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/copyright-orphan-works