Noting the scanty representation of Wales among the notabilities whose photographs he had to sell, he embarked upon a venture which became his life's work. He began, in 1863 , by purchasing a camera and inviting a number of famous Welsh preachers to sit to him. He had at first to battle with a prejudice against ‘street photographers,’ but he persevered, and in 1867 opened his own photographic business at 53, S. Anne Street ; this became known as ‘ The Cambrian Gallery ,’ a name which it retained (at various addresses) for thirty years, until it became ‘ Yr Oriel Gymreig ,’ when it was acquired by ( Sir ) Owen M. Edwards . In 1867 , too, Thomas made his first professional visit to Wales — to photograph the Calvinistic Methodist General Assembly , then in session at Llanidloes . Thereafter he travelled the length and breadth of Wales , photographing notabilities and ‘characters,’ churches and chapels, homes of famous Welshmen, ancient buildings and places of scenic beauty — all this despite difficulties of open-air photography by the wet process,’ and difficulties of transport. Realising the unique value of his collection, he selected over 3,000 of his plates and sold them ‘ for a very moderate sum ’ to O. M. Edwards , who used them for illustrating Cymru and ‘ Cyfres y Fil ’; they are today in the National Library of Wales .
Thomas had other interests. He wrote extensively in Cymru (O.M.E.) and other Welsh periodicals. He was a deeply religious man, a member of Rose Place C.M. church until its dissolution in 1865 , and afterwards of Fitzclarence Street C.M. church .
He m. ( 1861 ) Elizabeth Hughes , of Glandwr , Bryneglwys, Denbs. (d. 1895 ); they had four children: Jane Claudia , afterwards Mrs. Hugh Lloyd ( 1863 - 1934 ), William Thelwall , Robert Arthur ( 1866 - 1932 ), and Albert Ivor ( 1870 - 1911 , a medical man ). He d. 14 Oct. 1905 , and was buried in Anfield cemetery , Liverpool .
Emyr Wyn Jones, M.D., F.R.C.P., (1907-99), Pwllheli / Liverpool
Published date: 1959