My apologies for the short break – and also for the quality of today’s photograph, an 1890s lantern slide which has deteriorated over the years. Nevertheless, it is a great image of street life taken with a hand-held camera. In my book on Charles Frederick Inston, I outlined the way in which camera technology became more portable and film became faster and easier to use once roll-film came into use. Naturally this changed the way photographers worked and candid street photography became a fashion that was reflected in the competition categories amongst amateur photographic societies. Within a short period of time, photography shifted from being a rich man’s pursuit to a popular medium within the pockets of working men and women.
The photograph is captioned Squeaking Jimmy, Church Street. The building in the background is Russell’s Building, which was bombed during the War and later replaced by Littlewoods (now Primark). As for Squeaking Jimmy – I can only guess that he was selling those little toy whistles that imitate bird noises or something similar – unless there is a more sinister interpretation to his name.

Squeaking Jimmy, Church Street, 1890s

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