Monday, 21 June 2021

Henley Probus Club

THE talk at our June meeting was given, on a return visit, by Tony King whose

THE talk at our June meeting was given, on a return visit, by Tony King whose subject was “If Dickens had a camera”.

Tony provided us with a superb slide show of 19th century photographs taken in and around Dickensian London.

Charles Dickens was born about 14 years before the birth of photography.

In 1835 William Fox Talbot became the first person to produce a negative from which several prints could be taken.

We were shown images from the building of Nelson’s Column right up to the time of Dickens’s death in 1870.

The slides also illustrated the changing modes of transport. Dickens would have seen many of the 700 stage coaches which served the capital every day.

We also saw images of the comings and goings at the Bell Savage staging inn on Ludgate Hill.

At this time the railways were pushing their way through the suburbs, destroying thousands of homes and leaving the occupants homeless and without compensation while the landlords were paid £5 per property.

The railway companies were forbidden from building their termini in the City of London itself and today the only exception is London Bridge.

The Hungerford Market, which had been in use for more than 30 years, was torn down to make way for Charing Cross station.

The railways put the coaches out of business and the last coach for London left Louth on December 7, 1845 and, ironically, was put on a train at Peterborough for the final part of its journey.

An altogether excellent talk.

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