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Percy Benzie Abery (1877-1948)

P B Abery, the son of a grocer and one of 13 children, originated from Folkestone, in Kent. He came to live in Builth Wells in 1898. When he was only 21 he bought a small photography business, and in 1911 he moved to larger premises, the West End Studio, where he remained until his death in 1948.

During the summer, P B Abery would make his living by taking photographs of the people who came to visit the Wells. The photographs would be displayed outside the shop the next morning, where crowds of people would gather to look for pictures of themselves.

P B Abery also loved the outdoors, and enjoyed nothing better than roaming the countryside taking photographs of views and rural life around Breconshire, Radnorshire and the Border Counties. When the Birmingham Water Works began construction work on the Elan Valley dams, he was appointed the official photographer for the project. In December 1947, shortly before his death, an exhibition of P B Abery’s photographs of the dams was held at the Birmingham Civic Centre.

P B Abery was also a regular contributor to the national daily newspapers, and the sporting and agricultural weeklies.

The P B Abery photo collection can be searched through the Catalogue


The Builth Wells Historical Pageant photograph album includes approximately 160 photographs, newspaper cuttings and other ephemera of the majestic pageant which was performed at the grounds of Llanelwedd Hall on 11 August 1909. The photographs were taken by P B Abery and Wallace Jones.

During this era, pageants were very popular and the performances usually depicted historical events. It was in this same year the Welsh National Pageant took place at the Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

The pageant was an epic production. According to a transcript included in the album, it took a year to prepare, over a 1000 people took part in the event, and it is reported to have been witnessed by a crowd of around 5000.

The album was presented to The National Library of Wales by the Builth Wells Development Association.

Further reading

  • Edwards, Hywel Teifi. Codi’r hen wlad yn ei hôl : 1850-1914. Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer, 1989
  • Edwards, Hywel Teifi. The National Pageant of Wales. Llandysul: Gwasg Gomer, 2009
  • Hereford Times. August 14, 1909
  • The Brecon County Times. August 13, 1909
  • The Brecon and Radnor Express and County Times. January 22, 1948
  • The Brecon and Radnor Express. August 19, 1901
  • Welson, John (Editor). Photographs of Radnorshire: P.B. Abery. Little Logaston: Logaston Press, 2008
  • Withington, Robert. English pageantry: an historical outline. London: Benjamin Blom, 1963