A Victorian Heatwave

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During August and part of September 1906, Britain experienced a heatwave which drove a large number of the population to the beaches on the coastal resorts. These photographs were taken by Edward Linley Sambourne who — in addition to being the chief cartoonist for Punch — was also a keen amateur photographer. It seems that most of the subjects of these and some other of Sambourne’s photographs were unaware they were being photographed, as he used a concealed camera for non-studio images. This means we get to see Victorians looking a lot less formal than we’d get in a ‘posed’ situation — though the filming-without-consent aspect is slightly unsettling.

These images are from The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Library Time Machine blog, which has lots of beautiful photographs  — including this one of two Parisian women in mourning dress:

– isn’t that photograph totally wonderful? The outfits are amazing — probably the best I’ve ever seen of mourning garb being worn in an everyday situation (most photographs of people in mourning attire are very posed and formal).

But the blog is not just worth checking out for the images — there is a great amount of really fascinating information on there. I’ve spent ages on it and will go back time and time again. I wish more libraries had blogs like this one — I find most library sites to be fairly off-putting — it is almost as if they’re trying to prevent people accessing the information.I really believe that informal photographs like these ones help promote an interest in history and lessen the whole the-past-is-another-country feeling.

Also see this page of the Time Machine blog for some of Sambourne’s street photography.


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