Philip Brannon will always be associated with Southampton for his well known engravings and panoramas of the town as well as for his informative and highly collectable book ” The Picture of Southampton” published in 1850. Philip was born on 27th July, 1817 at Wootton on the Isle of Wight where his father George Brannon was an engraver, printer and publisher. In his early life Brannon set up a “ragged boys” school in Newport before moving to Southampton in about 1844.
The census of 1851 shows Philip living at 31½ Above Bar with his wife Emma. Also living with the family was his engraver Peter Moore from Devizes. We know from the census that he later moved to 12 Portland Terrace.
Brannon was a typical Victorian in that he was industrious, inventive and versatile. This is shown by the census entries which show him as variously artist, engraver, engineer, architect and school teacher. Philip was a Unitarian and had designed the Unitarian Church in London Road, Southampton which no longer stands. He designed the original plinth on which the statue of his fellow liberal Richard Andrews originally stood but was removed due to the rapid erosion of the stone used in its construction.
Brannon produced many trade cards for business people in the town at that time and also a detailed town map to accompany his book. Brannon had hoped to design the Hartley Institute but it was not to be. By 1871 he had left Southampton and was lodging in London, where he worked as an engineer trying to sell his innovative ideas. By 1881 his family had joined him in Hackney where he worked as a civil engineer. At this time he also undertook artistic work including engravings of the great Exhibition. Philip subsequently returned to live on the Isle of Wight where he worked as Clerk and Surveyor to the Shanklin Board of Health and where he died in 1890.