Beken marine photos go on sale for £5m

By Martin Neville

Published on Sunday, June 22, 2014 - 10:30


Beken marine photos go on sale for £5m

Coweslip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s boat, pictured off Cowes in 1961. Picture by Beken of Cowes.

ONE of the best known names in marine photography, Beken of Cowes, is for sale at £5 million.

The Beken collection has more than one million images, taken by three generations of Beken, Frank, Keith and Kenneth.

The Isle of Wight-based photographers have recorded all the major events on The Solent and also travelled the world to renowned regattas, including the America’s Cup and the Olympics.

Now, after more than 40 years afloat with his camera, Ken Beken is retiring and has put 200 years of maritime history for sale.

The assets of the business are the black and white archive, which goes back to 1888, and is on sale for £3.5 million, and the colour archive, which is up for £1.5 million.

The collection ranges from the era of glass plates to today’s digital images and has been described as a "national treasure".

Among those who have visited the business in Birmingham Road are Robin Knox-Johnston, Ellen MacArthur and crowned heads of Europe.

The business started in 1888, when chemist and photographer, Alfred Edward Beken, moved from Canterbury, Kent, to the Island and opened a pharmacy in Cowes. His son, Frank, was so impressed by the grand yachts, liners, steam yachts, merchant and Royal Navy ships sailing past his bedroom window, he decided to capture them on his camera.

Frank’s early photographs have fetched more than £1,000 at London auctions.

Frank’s son, Keith, photographed the famous J-Class before the war and started colour photography in the Fifties.

Ken followed them, taking photographs that made the Beken name famous in sailing.

Frank, Keith and Kenneth held Fellowships of the Royal Photographic Society and have been awarded Royal Warrants from Queen Victoria, King George V and the Duke of Edinburgh.



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