The Essex Herald

Home of Pop Quiz and Essex News and now incorporating The Landfill Tawny Echo


There is much debate as to exactly when and who invented the first camera. A recent find in the Landfill Tawny archive states that local man David Leigh Bailey invented the camera in 1820

Mr Bailey was a local businessman and founder of the first ever recorded local newspaper, “The Happy Tawny’s”.  Only good news was printed so publications were few and far between.

Mr Bailey also played the organ at the local church. He was highly accomplished and many said that he could hold a chord well

It was on a summer’s day in 1820 that Mr Bailey decided to redecorate his home. Whilst removing paintings from his wall he observed that the wallpaper behind the pictures was far darker than the surrounding area. He concluded that light had reacted with the exposed paper and faded the colours.

Straight away he realised the possibilities, using a lens he could focus the light and make a picture. Getting someone to pose for his picture could prove problematic as the exposure required would take several years.

In a frenzy of activity Mr Bailey set about finding a process to speed up the reaction. Within days he had found a chemical (a secret formula he took to the grave) that greatly sped up the reactive process.

Bailey wanted his first picture to be memorable. He was due to take his annual holiday in a sleepy backwater village in Norfolk called Mundesley. Knowing he couldn’t take his house with him he made a much smaller model of it. Basically a box with a lens on one side and a piece of his special wallpaper on the other. He went to the beach and took the first ever picture.

On his return home he developed the picture and was extremely disappointed to find that it was upside down.  Several more attempts were made but all gave the same result. Knowing there was no future in upside down pictures Mr Bailey abandoned the project


Six years later in France Nicéphore Niépce was credited with taking the first picture. Mr Bailey wrote to the inventor and asked how he had managed to get the pictures the right way up.  He never received a reply.

Who knows, if David Leigh Bailey had discovered a method of getting photographic images the right was up he would have gone down in history as one of the greatest inventors of his age