St John’s Gardens
New Brighton beach, 1913
My last two posts generated an interesting discussion about childhood, poverty and happiness. I am sure that children from an early age understand poverty, or at least hunger and the cold of winter. However, a superficial look at the three young boys sunning themselves in St John’s Gardens gives the impression they haven’t a care in the world.
The same can be said for the well-dressed children playing on the beach at New Brighton. Halcyon days, although it would be wrong to make any assumptions about any of their futures. They would all be too young to fight in the impending War, fortunately, but the 1920s and 30s were difficult decades for many in the region. Without any judgement, two fascinating images of childhood.
I used to go to a lot of auctions in the 1970s. It was a great time to buy, Victoriana was out of fashion and the auction houses were full of huge sideboards, mahogany table, wardrobes and other effects that were being cleared out of the mansions as a generation passed away. I was particularly interested in books, which you could buy by the shelf (for less than a £1 usually). Sadly, to my lasting regret, I wasn’t looking for photographs at that time although, when I did show some interest in the early 1980s, I could still pick up 5 or 6 albums for a few pounds. They were usually full of topographical views, many from around the world, taken by professional photographers to sell to the tourist market. Every now and then, I would pick up a collection with Liverpool interest including a family album, taken in 1910 and 1911, which included these two photographs of a day out at New Brighton. I know my blog is about Liverpool but New Brighton was so much a part of people’s lives that I will make an exception. For many people, it was as near to a holiday that they got and must have been an amazing place on a hot summers day.
New Brighton 1889
Sefton Park 1889
While sorting out my lantern slides for further pictures of the Dingle to follow on from yesterday’s post, I noticed that the Sefton Park slide was dated February 11th, 1889. A few days too late for its anniversary, perhaps, but worth remembering that they had hard winters back then (and coped with them a lot better). The two photographs were both taken by N. Stephen, who also photographed the children carrying beer mugs in an earlier post. I have had difficulty pinpointing any real details about Stephen. The only match in Gore’s Directory (1910) is of a Nathan Stephen of 22 Russian Drive, Stoneycroft. Stephen is listed as a County Court officer, so was presumably relatively well-paid. Hand-held cameras had just been introduced in the late 1880s, so Stephen was an early proponent. The advent of hand-held cameras and roll film were to democratise photography. Even so, it still wasn’t a cheap hobby and it would take a further ten years or more before it became a truly mass medium.
If anyone has more information on Stephen, I would be grateful. It is good to give credit when due, however belatedly.