Philip Brannon made his name in 19th century Southampton as an artist, engraver, architect, inventor and engineer.
Born in Wootton on the Isle of Wight in 1817, Brannon moved to Southampton in about 1844, setting up business as an engraver and art teacher. One of his sidelines was designing advertisements and trade cards (many of which survive) and some of the leading tradesmen in the town were among his clients (image 1). He also produced guidebooks, the most famous of which is his Picture of Southampton (1849) which included a collection of steelplate engravings. Although Brannon allowed himself considerable artistic license, particularly in the use of perspective, his illustrations are one of the best sources for understanding what Southampton looked like in the mid-19th century.
He was raised as a Unitarian and married the first of his two wives in the Unitarian Church in Newport in 1844. He later designed the Unitarian Church of the Savior, which formerly stood in London Road, Southampton. He also designed the ornate statue of five-times mayor and fellow Liberal Richard Andrews which was erected in East Park in 1860, a truncated version of which still stands.
He later returned to his native Isle of Wight where he became clerk and surveyor to the Shanklin Local Board of Health. He continued with his artistic work, but his business life was less than successful and he appeared in the bankruptcy courts several times. In the 1870s he was in London trying to find backers for his flying machine and other engineering ideas. He died in London in 1890.
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p20-21. (HS/t)
Southampton Occasional Notes 2nd Series, by ‘Townsman’, p40. (HS/h)
Familiar and Forgotten, by Southampton Art Gallery. (HS/t)
‘Philip Brannon 1817-1890’, by Amy Markwick in Hampshire Field Club Proceedings, vol. 45, 1989, p173-182. (HS/f)
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