Breaking

Rare color photos capture England at work and play, 1928


In the late 1920s and early 1930s, photographer Clifton R. Adams was hired by National Geographic to document life in England. Adams's beautiful autochrome—a process of producing color images using potato starch—present images that capture the last part of England that was slowly moving toward modernity.

Adams, who died in 1934, was instructed to record his farms, towns and cities and its inhabitants at work and play. Color images were produced using Autochrome Lumiere, the most advanced color photographic process at the time. The plates were covered in microscopic potato starch grains in red, green, and blue-violet colors with about four parts per square inch.

The gap between the lampblack-filled grain and the coated layer allowed the exposure to capture a color image. When an image was taken, light passed through a color filter, then processed to produce positive transparency along the plate.

The 1920s was a decade of contrasts. World War I had ended in victory, peace had returned and with it came prosperity. It was a transitional period between two types of society and two economies. There was a depression yet the standard of living was generally rising. Steam power was gradually replaced by electricity. Transportation became petrol engine driven.

Early plastics were often used instead of base metals and man-made fibers such as regenerated rayon, called artificial silk (known as art silk), were increasingly complemented by cotton and silk. The resulting expansion of the chemical industry created jobs that helped transform the economy from a heavy industry domination.

An English woman proudly points to her farm cart in Cambridgeshire, England. The Wicks of Wiesbeck built horse-drawn caravans used by Romani families traveling across Britain.

The status of women in Britain was changing. After the war ended in 1918, women over 30 were given the vote if they were householders. By 1928 all women over the age of 21 were given the vote. Nevertheless, a protectionist attitude towards women still existed and women were still regarded in some circles as an ornamental appendage of men, but with no other purpose than to give birth to children.

Slowly the women were breaking the old attitude. The war gave ordinary working women the option of domestic employment. He found that he liked working on the land, in factories and in buses. Families were of smaller size compared to Victorian families while children were educated until the age of fourteen.

In 1921 the Education Act raised the school leaving age to 14. The state's primary education was now free for all children and began at the age of 5; Even the youngest children were expected to participate throughout the day from 9 am to 4.30 pm.

In the country, students from some schools were still practicing writing with a tray of sand and a stick, moving to a slate and chalk as they became more proficient. Classes were large, rote learning was required, and books were shared among groups of students, as books and paper were expensive. Nature studies, sewing, woodworking, country dances and traditional folk songs were also taught.

From a decade that began with such a 'boom', the 1920s ended in an almighty bustle, the likes of which were not to be seen again for eighty years.

Informal portrait of a farmer and his cart in Crowland, Lincolnshire. Decoy Farm is now the site of a recycling center and a housing estate.

A police constable spends the day with farmers in Lancashire.

Two women resting for lunch in a Lancashire meadow.

A young girl plays in the sand in Sanddown, Isle of Wight.

The actors dress up as Britannia and her knights for a contest.

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