As regular readers know, Alan looks after the photographic archive at the museum, much of his time being spent scanning early photos and trying to identify where and when they were taken and what they were about…
Scanning old glass negative plates is always exciting.
The camera would have been large and very heavy and the effort of taking a photograph with it was quite involved compared with today. The photographer would have had a number of unexposed glass plates which he would have brought with him; another appreciable weight. Thus, because of the cost and effort involved, each exposure tends to be well thought out.
The image below has so much in it. The camera would have been on a stand and thus no camera shake. This means that a scan at high resolution and then zooming-in can show much detail.
Besides the original full image I have included a zoomed-in part. The first quest is usually to try and discover where the photo was taken. The masts of sailing ships and a line of railway wagons suggest a port. Then thanks to the clarity, when one zooms in on the buildings, it shows the probable names “POOLE” and “PORTSMOUTH”. But there is another short three letter word after the word PORTSMOUTH, just not clear enough to make out.
Similarly, all the signs on the walls on the lower right are not quite clear enough for me to read. Is that LSWR on the sides of the railway wagons? Then the benefit of experience pays off. Maybe there is a listed building in the scene? I can just make out the name John Carter on one of them….
Yes, success. I discover from the web, details of Grace House-The Quay, Poole, which was formerly John Carter (Poole Ltd) Warehouse. Grace House is to the right of The Portsmouth Hoy Warehouse. A look on Google Earth confirms it is still there.
The three letter word after Portsmouth is “Hoy”*. No wonder I couldn’t guess it! Now what is the date of the photograph? There is no fence between the railway wagons and the street, as was common in a port. No cars or lorries, only horses and carts working. One female figure (perhaps a young girl?) far right is perhaps drinking a cup of tea (or some other beverage!) outside a hostelry with her dress not down to her ankles. There is a host of information about how we used to live.
The one item that stands out to me as being unusual is the dress code of the cyclist. I wouldn’t have thought that a boater was appropriate for riding a bicycle; plenty of lift surface for the wind to remove it from his head!
Also in the picture are a sack truck, a life buoy, another cyclist, three gas street lights. Thus I would think a date of around 1910. Maybe you can use the information in the image for a better guess.
I had no idea that the railway made it down to this bit of Poole Quay.
- Hoy – a coastal vessel
This photograph from the Poole Tourist Board shows that, in some ways, the Quay has changed little since the early 20th century. In the photographs which Alan has shown us, the small two-storey building with taller warehouses or granaries beyond is still there today (white, red tile roof) and is still a pub called the Portsmouth Hoy. The taller building, also white, is the building once called Carter’s (now Grace House) and the low green building was and is the Poole Arms. The railway tracks were certainly still there until recent years with the main line about half a kilometre away. But a lot of gentrification has taken place. Most of the warehouses are now apartments. But the sailors can still slake their thirst….