Brislington Community Museum

W A Camwell

William Arthur Camwell is known for photographs and video of transport themes, particularly the railways and trams. It seems it was the latter that brought him to Brislington, and his photographs produced three postcards at Brislington Depot and one at the tram terminus. All are dated in manuscript on the back: 14 July 1938.

He was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, in 1906, and the 1911 census shows him still living in the town along with his younger brother, his father William (aged 33, born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire, and employed as an iron founder) and mother Eunice (34, also born in West Bromwich). The 1939 register shows him living with his parents at the same address. He was employed as a bank cashier, while his father worked as an iron moulder, and his mother was employed in unpaid domestic duties. While living in Handsworth Wood, a suburb of Birmingham, he died in 1995.

Brislington postcards

Brislington Depot - [ Untitled ] features an advert for Georges Beer.

Brislington Depot - [ Untitled ] features an advert for Henry Jones.

Brislington Depot - [ Untitled ] features an advert for Hartley's Marmalade.

Bath Road (A4) - The Square - [ Untitled ].

Some notes

The handwritten notes on the back of these postcards are presumably by the photographer himself, and all show the same date: 14 July 1938. The postcard of the tram advertising Hartley's marmalade also features some other adverts, including one (partially hidden from view) for an event in July 1938. This corroborates the assumption that the date relates to the day on which the photographs were taken.

A snippet of information found online (Bibliophile Ltd 2023) - that Camwell obtained a Rolleiflex camera in 1934, which he appears to have used prolifically - gives us a rare insight into the equipment employed by a postcard-producing photographer. It was a high-end camera produced by a German manufacturer, prized by photographers for its portability.

Ken Taylor


Bibliophile Ltd 2023, Camwell's Birmingham: One Man's Transport Perspective, London,, (assessed 10 September 2023).

We can't exhibit these postcards yet - they are still in copyright and we don't know who holds the legal rights.