Many years ago now the local museum ran an exhibition about local photographers and showed examples of their work. In a leaflet I picked up at that time it mentions 9 main photographers, the earliest mentioned in a Trade Directory for 1864. 
These nine photographers (with very brief details from that leaflet) were:-

Trade Directory listing 1864 (business ran 1852-1904? Son Arthur E Ashley
involved 1895-1912 then moved to Sutton In Ashfield)

ASH Thomas
Trade directory 1869

Trade directory 1869 & 1876 Fred Wellstead purchased studio in 1876 .

Came from Hull, advert in Retford Times 1876.  He must have run the business between 1876 and 1888.


Photo of Fred Wellsted opposite sent to me by Sue & Brian Nicholson of Lancashire


1888 Wellstead sold premises to Hinkins. Hinkins died 1935, he was assisted by son Bertram.

HODSON Charles
Listed from 1876 as photographer, died 1890, firm then listed HODSON & HARDMAN.

WELCHMAN Edgar & Howard
Set up studio in town in 1904. Photographic side of business ceased in 1960’s.

Searches of the photos from Welchmans can be done on the Bassetlaw Museum website.

LAWS Percy
Opened studio in 1923. (Percy died 1972)

GREEN Claude H (Jimmy Green)
Born 1898, spent some time in London as well as Retford. Died 1980.

I have also seen some Carte De Visits (CDV’s) on ebay by CUBLEY of Retford

By knowing when the photographers were in business may help when trying to date old photographs.

I know from my family’s own collection of photographs that they had photographs taken at Welchmans, they emboss their name on the bottom corner of the photograph generally. 

I found the photo below by Hinkins on a local flea market stall, so I can narrow this photo down to being taken somewhere between 1888 (when Wellsted’s exchange street premises were sold to Hinkins) and 1935 (his death). It may be narrowed down even further if we knew more about the fashions and maybe backdrops used.