Saturday, August 18, 2012

Swindon ankle-biters

Early photographic experiments were greeted with both wonder and suspicion.  Until the mid 19th century portraits had been the prerogative of the privileged.  But with the advent of the cartes de visite in the 1850s, photography was available to all but the very poor, and Swindonians were quick to get in on the act.

During the 1860s at his studio in Short Hedge, better known today as Devizes Road, J.S. Easter charged 10s 6d per dozen for the two and a half by four inch photos.  Ten years later the price had come down considerably and the magnificently named Zephaniah Dodson produced them for four shillings a dozen at his studio in Prospect.   By the 1880s the town was gripped by cartomania and the Kelly's Trade Directory of 1889 lists four photographers in Old and New Swindon.

Here is a selection of photos from the Swindon Collection, Central Library - visit

Taken around 1884 by Henry Hemmins

This 1895 image by George Stone shows the child posed in front of Angel's wings.

This 1905 image taken by William Hooper is possibly a 'post mortem' photograph, taken after death. The setting would appear to be in the child's home, rather than Hooper's studio and the crib is tilted against a chair to enable a clear view.

A baby in her posh pram pictured c1890

Someone has helpfully chalked the information that this child is a boy - taken outside a Swindon home c1890.

The Cove family pictured in c1910 when photography was available to the just about everyone.

This image of little Sydney Wilkins aged one years old, was sent to his father on military service during the First World War.

In 1913 my grandfather took his three little daughters to be photographed dressed in mourning for their recently dead mother.  Eldest daughter Lily died from measles the following year.  My mum (on her father's lap) and Auntie Ruth lived into their 80s but this is the only photograph I have of them as children.

A member of the post war baby boom generation, I am pictured here aged about one.

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