Whitby's iconic Victorian photo studio closes its shutters

Paul Anthony Wilson, of the Victorian Image at 11 Sandgate, Whitby. Picture by Ceri Oakes.
Paul Anthony Wilson, of the Victorian Image at 11 Sandgate, Whitby. Picture by Ceri Oakes.

Whitby’s famous photographic studio specialising in Victorian portraits has closed its shutters after 37 years.

The Victorian Image in Sandgate has produced images for star names, including model Elle Macpherson, comedian Vic Reeves, paralympian Hannah Cockcroft, artist Sir Peter Blake and Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs.

The last ever Victorian Image taken at 11 Sandgate featuring Paul Anthony Wilson, William the resident cat, and Lynne and Shelley.

The last ever Victorian Image taken at 11 Sandgate featuring Paul Anthony Wilson, William the resident cat, and Lynne and Shelley.


The popular attraction closed its doors for the last time on Sunday, prompting floods of messages of thanks from past customers.


Owner Paul Anthony Wilson, who has run the shop since 2000, said: “It’s quite sad to be leaving for us but also it’s exciting not knowing what’s going to happen next.
“Thank you to all our extremely loyal customers who have returned time and time again...many have become friends over the years, who we will miss.”


The family-run business was first established in 1980 and allowed customers to pose in a range of costumes from the Victorian era.


It has been run by Paul, alongside his colleagues Lynne Valentine and Shelley Spaven for many years, attracting visitors from around the world: “It’s the end of an era really, the shop has been there since 1980. All three of us would like to thank everybody that has come and the returning customers have been very loyal. Some customers have been for as many as 20 or 30 pictures.”

Paul Anthony Wilsoh. Picture Ceri Oakes.

Paul Anthony Wilsoh. Picture Ceri Oakes.


Reflecting on why he has chosen to close the shop on Sandgate, Mr Wilson added: “I have got to that point where I would like to do other things in photography. I would like to pursue other types of photography like landscape and street photography.”


But the offering might yet return to Whitby at some point in the future. He added: “We are taking all the business with us, all the clothes have gone into storage, so in the future we may do a pop up in the summer, but nothing is planned at the minute.”


Visitors to Sandgate will also likely be familiar with a ginger cat who goes by the name William who made somewhat of a home in the photography studio. “We are going to miss him, in fact we will have to visit Whitby regularly to see him,” Mr Wilson added.


The Gazette understands that the shop on Sandgate will now be used for retail purposes.

A rail of costumes at the Victorian Image. Picture Ceri Oakes.

A rail of costumes at the Victorian Image. Picture Ceri Oakes.

Customers past and present expressed their sadness at the news on Facebook.
Andy Wilson: “Whitby won’t be the same.”
Dave Sargent: “Mines still up on the wall. Good luck with all your future plans.”
Sue Parton: “I have been coming into the shop since the end of the 1990s. I am so sad you are no more, I wish you all the best, thank you for your great pictures.”
Katharine Sibley: “So sad to hear this. Thank you for our beautiful pictures.”
Eve Lomax: “Can’t believe it! The Victorian Image is a Whitby landmark!”

One of Paul's landscape images of a fire on the moors. An area of photography he wants to pursue more now.

One of Paul's landscape images of a fire on the moors. An area of photography he wants to pursue more now.