John Wilkes Poundley (1873-1932) was one of the last in the line of one of the old families of Montgomeryshire. Family tradition stated that the family accompanied Lord Clive when he moved to Powis Castle in the early 19th century. His grandfather, also John Wilkes Poundley (1807-1872), was County Surveyor.
J W Poundley trained as a solicitor. He worked in Wigan before setting up his own practice in Bishops Castle. This he later relinquished to help his father, John Edward Poundley (1839-1916), who was land agent for a number of local estates including Kerry and Dolfor. Too old to enlist he spent the First World War organising supplies of timber for the Army Ordnance Corps.
However his chief interest was in leading the life of a country squire rather than in office work. His interests lay in country life, especially angling and shooting. He was regarded as being a cunning angler and a crack shot. After the death of his father he gave up his professional activities. Poundley soon became a stalwart of Kerry society - he was chairperson of the Parish council and a County Councillor for many years.
It is for his photography that J W Poundley is remembered, though what drew him to photography is something of a mystery. His interest may have been kindled by his acquaintance with J B Willans of nearby Dolforgan, also a keen amateur photographer. Poundley also revelled in the company of the many “characters” living in the Kerry district.
As well as the many local characters he was intimately acquainted with the tramps and poachers that passed through the neighbourhood. It was amongst this strange group of individualists that he found inspiration for his most interesting works. He revelled in their company and would listen patiently to their life stories. His good nature frequently saw his house besieged by these friends.
This series, known as ‘Kerry Characters’, is heavily influenced by the pictorialist movement. The pictorialists emphasised photography as means of creating images with purely artistic quality rather than for any documentary or social interest. From these photographs we can see how successful J W Poundley was in his artistic achievements.
His other photographs, over a 160 in number are of the landscape around his beloved Kerry. They include views of the local railway, Powis castle and other local landmarks.
J W Poundley suffered a severe attack of Bronchitis in 1929. It was said that he never fully recovered from this. He passed away on June 30th 1932 whilst visiting cousins.