John’s vow after fire wrecks photo studio

May 05 2015

A PHOTOGRAPHER says it’s business as usual despite a fire at his shop in Downend.

john hancockA PHOTOGRAPHER says it’s business as usual despite a fire at his shop in Downend.
John Hancock, of John Hancock Photography, received a phone call from police in the early hours of the morning of April 14 to say offices above his studio at 38 Downend Road were on fire.
He raced to the scene to find two fire engines and a paramedic car outside. Firefighters had axed through his door and broke the window to get to the fire.
The blaze which started in an office above hadn’t reached the shop but extensive damage was caused by smoke and water.
The incident could not have come at a worse time for John as he was preparing to celebrate the shop’s 10th anniversary of being in Downend.
Luckily John stores his finished work elsewhere so clients’ photographs are safe.
It is too early for the insurance company to come up with a figure for the damage at the shop but it is expected to run into thousands of pounds.
His equipment, including cameras, has been taken away by the company so they can assess the damage.
John, 45, said he is remaining upbeat and will look to hire a hall in the area so he can continue to work.
“When I got there the road was cordoned off and there were police directing traffic away from the road.
“I had to approach the policeman and say who I was to gain access to the area. There were firemen going into the property and hosing down the top room above the main shop area.
“I was dazed. I just couldn’t believe it was happening. I was gearing up to celebrate 10 years of being in Downend.
“Thankfully I store clients’ portraits elsewhere ready to deliver and most of the stuff which was damaged in my shop was promotional material.”
Work to restore the premises is expected to start on May 15 and could take two or three months.
John is determined not to let the incident ruin his business.
“I’m going to try to find a hall locally that I can still operate out of and book people in for appointments. I’m going to carry on trading the best I can so it’s not going finish me.”
John has postponed clients who were booked in his diary until he finds a temporary home.
“Weddings won’t be affected so that’s not a problem. But family, baby and pet portraiture will be. The insurance company has assured me I can hire extra equipment whilst mine is being checked out”.
John said he was coming up to his busiest time of year.
“The winter is usually a quiet time but this is the time when things start to get busy for photographers. The build up to the summer holidays is pretty crucial to the business.
“I was going to do a special promotion to celebrate 10 years of being in Downend. I was going to take prices back 10 years for a month as a special thank you to the people of Downend. That will happen - but later.
“It’s going to be hard work but I managed to get through a recession so I’m not going to let a fire get in the way.”
The office where the fire started is believed to be home to Unison South Gloucestershire.
A spokesperson from Avon Fire and Rescue said: “Two fire engines from Kingswood Fire Station were called after reports of the blaze were received.
“Once on scene crews found a fire within an office space on the first floor. Two firefighters in breathing apparatus, as well as a high pressure hosereel and a jet, were used in the operation to fight the fire.
“Crews were successful in preventing the fire from spreading into adjoining properties, however the blaze did cause extensive damage to the office.
“The fire was found to have started accidentally.”
Downend Voice contacted Unison but at the time of going to print the organisation had not responded to our call.
Do you have a hall you can rent to John until his studio is back up and running? If you can offer your help, please email

john hancock photography