THIS BUSINESS HAS CLOSED
Kimco Studio – City studio closes shop
17 Jun 2015, DFA, MURRAY SWART STAFF REPORTER
SOUTH Africa’s oldest photographic studio has shut its doors in Kimberley after playing a crucial role in immortalising the history of the Diamond City.
Dating back to 1880, Kimco Photographic Studio in Du Toitspan Road, was established less than a decade after the city itself and has now closed down after 135 years.
Over nearly a century and a half, it has changed names and ownership but has played a key role in preserving the history Kimberley for posterity.
The studio first started doing business in the heyday of the diamond rush and was bought by JE Middlebrook who ran it from its current premises opposite the Kimberley Club. The name Middlebrook can still be seen on the pavement at the shop’s entrance.
A number of well-known photographers were based at the studio, including C Evans, Wunsch, Atkinson and Dyer, who documented Kimberley’s early days.
By 1906, Middlebrook’s was bought by Frank Hancox and when German, Charles Seidenstucker, arrived in South Africa, he promptly became the studio’s new owner.
Seidenstucker changed his name to Charles Leonard in 1917 apparently due to the prevalence of anti-German sentiments at the time, which also saw the Oppenheimer family forced out of town.
That same year Middlebrook’s also had a name change and was renamed Kimco Photographic Studio, which it retained for the next 98 years.
Kimco was the Leonard family business, with Noel Leonard running the studio until the mid 1980s.
In 1960 Sandra Ward became Kimco’s colourist and would remain with the shop for decades to come. Under Noel’s guidance, the 16-year-old saw the industry change dramatically, with black and white photography no longer standard and later, film making way for the digital revolution.
Ward and her brother eventually bought the business in 1986 while she became the sole owner five years later.
She was a regular feature at functions and events as a photographer. She passed away earlier this year, leaving her daughter, Evie Brevis, to run the shop in recent months.
This year marks Kimco’s 135th year of operation, with Ward enjoying 55 of those. Yesterday, a note on the closed door, above the Middlebrook-inscribed pavement, stated that Brevis can be contacted for any queries.
Meanwhile, a few doors down Dutoitspan Road, the Africana Library, has an illustrated history of Kimberley in its archive and recently received a box of camera equipment spanning nearly the last 150 years, courtesy of Kimco.
City studio closes shopMURRAY SWART STAFF REPORTERDFAJun 17 2015SOUTH Africa’s oldest photographic studio has shut its doors in Kimberley after playing a crucial role in immortalising the history of the Diamond City. Dating back to 1880, Kimco Photographic Studio in Du Toitspan Road, was established less than a…read more…©1999-2015 Independent Online. All rights strictly reserved.
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