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Charles Smith Allen (1831-97), a pioneer photographer in Wales, is renowned as the finest of Tenby's early camera artists.

Born in Rugeley, Staffordshire, in 1831, a few surviving paper negatives show that he was recording Tenby in silver towards the end of the 1840s.

He set up business in Tenby, buying the old Assembly Rooms and building his 'Excelsior Studios' on to it. This had a fully equipped darkroom as well as a complex system of shutters and blinds which controlled the level of daylight that entered the studio. He often took photographs 'on location', having built himself a portable, horse-drawn darkroom. He also had a shop and studio, 'The Mortimer Studio', in Tredegar House, High Street, dealing in stationery, as well as a studio in Priory Street, Cardigan.

Allen photographed all over Wales and this album is one of many produced by him for individual customers - in this case, a family called 'Belfield'.

C. S. Allen died in Tenby in 1897.

[Based on description supplied by Tenby Museum and Art Gallery]

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