A few years ago I was offered a group of photographic lantern slides of Lancaster, a city in the north west of England. I live about one hour’s drive from Lancaster and have visited many times but have no personal connection with the City. Nevertheless, as a collector of social history photographs, I purchased the collection in the belief that, one day, they might prove useful. And they did.
When I was still presenting magic lantern shows, I was invited to perform at Lancaster Castle, which until fairly recently was, among other things, a prison, court and council chamber. As part of the performance, I showed a few of my Lancaster slides and was delighted that audience members were able to throw some light on the locations and the changes that have occurred since the photographs were taken.
The three slides shown here are St. John’s Church, Rosemary Lane and Cheapside. These are low resolution images but the slides themselves are very sharp and form a valuable record of life in the City in the early 1900s. The one of Cheapside has an interesting caption ….. ‘commencing to pave Cheapside with wood’. The workmen appear to be digging up the stone cobbles (are these cobbles or setts, I’m never quite sure what the difference is) to, presumably, lay wooden blocks. This seems rather odd but there is an article on the internet about hexagonal wooden blocks being used to replace cobbles in London in the 1840s because iron horse shoes on stone were very noisy and the inhabitants demanded a bit of peace. Perhaps that’s the explanation of the Lancaster photo caption, an early form of noise abatement!