Léopold Alexandre Valentin Guillon
Léopold Alexandre Valentin Guillon (known as Valentin) was born in France on 15th February 1855 to Jean Victor Valentine Guillon and Anne Sophie Euphrosine Théolinde Guillon (nee Moreau.) The second oldest of three children, he had one older Brother, Maximillien and one younger Sister, Marie.
In the 1860s, the family moved to Jersey and Valentin's Father worked as a merchant. Valentin can't be found on the 1861 census, but is listed on the 1871 census, aged 16 and living at home with his parents.
Sometime after 1871, his brother Max relocated to England but Valentin stayed behind with the family and set himself up as a photographer. One of his earliest pictures was taken in 1878, probably on a plate camera.
In 1880, Valentin moved to England with his Father, Mother and Sister. A year later, the 1881 census places them all in Plymouth. After the death of Jean Guillon in that same year, the family moved again to Bristol and Valentin set up his first photographic studio at 23 Lower Ashton Terrace.
On 5th February 1890, Valentin married Alice Shellard in Bristol. They had two children, Valentine Guillon (1891) and Victor John Guillon (1892). Their son Valentine died in 1891 and Alice died in 1892.
Three years later on 12th October 1895, Valentin married Mary Ann Ford in Bristol. They had five children, Valentin Wilfred Guillon (1896), Alexander Charles Haddon Guillon (1898), an unknown male child (1900), Edith Ivy Guillon (1902) and Amy Caroline Guillon (1904). The first three children are presumed to have been stillborn.
Like his brother Max, Valentin mainly took photographs of buildings, but we have also discovered one or two portrait/group photographs. We have yet to find any cartes de visite or cabinet cards accredited to him.
A few years ago, we discovered a collection of 30 postcards, all taken by Valentin and currently owned by Bristol Record Office. Nearly all of the postcards feature private houses, with the exception of a couple that feature factory workers.
In the early part of the 20th century, Valentin briefly employed his son, Victor John Guillon. We know this because he began printing 'V. Guillon & Son' on the backs of his postcards. The partnership ended when Victor emigrated to Canada in 1917. We have often wondered if Victor forged a career as a photographer in Canada, but have never found any evidence to suggest that he did.
In 1932, Valentin travelled to Canada, presumably for his son Victor's wedding. He took his two daughters Amy and Ivy with him and they all stayed out there for 3 years. We don't know if he took any photographs to sell whilst he was out there, but we think he may have taken a few family pictures.
Valentin eventually settled in Poole, Dorset and died in 1945 at the grand old age of 90.
23 Lower Ashton Terrace, Bristol
Fishponds Road, Bristol
Parr Street, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset