Britain, 100 years ago - A photographic record of the country in 1900 !!


These remarkable photographs show Britain at the dawn of the 20th century in a way that has never been seen before.

A photographic record of the country in 1900, from Clacton Pier to Dumfries, the delicate colours bring the scenes to life in what was then a revolutionary photographic technique invented by the Swiss printer Orell Fussli.

He combined photography and lithography, allowing a colour image to be reproduced from a black-and-white negative. He called his invention the Photochrome and the result was a revelation.

The green of the countryside, the colours of the sea, sunsets and portraits are rendered in their original beauty and with stunning detail. But what has become of those scenes? Here, we compare the original Photochromes from 1900 with the same places today ...

London's Cheapside, known for silk merchants and drapers, is a bustling thoroughfare in 1900 (top), while a statue of police force founder Sir Robert Peel looks down on a Victorian constable. Today (above) it seems to have lost its soul.

Seaside piers were a great British invention, and in their heyday our coastline boasted more than 100 of them. They became a phenomenal attraction, as this one at Clacton shows (top). Holidaymakers throng the pier and steamers moor up to take trippers to sea. Today Clacton Pier is still open - but not quite the same draw.

Dumfries in South-west Scotland was a prosperous agricultural centre and a cattle market was held near a weir on the river in the early years of the last century (far left). Today the site is a rather more prosaic car park.

Hastings, on England's south coast, had always been a centre for fishing - and smuggling. But in Victorian times, yachting was becoming fashionable here, too. There was no proper harbour and boats were launched from the beach, drawing large crowds. Today there is not a yacht in sight. They are all in marinas elsewhere.

In 1900, Portsmouth still looked much as it did in Nelson's day. It was from here that he sailed to Trafalgar in 1805, and the harbour, seen from the Gosport side, is still dominated by the sailing ships of the Royal Navy. In the foreground are the clutter of a Victorian dockside and the Gosport ferry, while on the skyline, the tallest building is a church. Today the view is dominated by the recently completed Spinnaker Tower. But the Gosport ferry is still running.

A steam-powered ferry crosses Windermere, in the Lake District, with a horse-drawn carriage aboard whose lady passengers are dressed in all their finery. How many fine ladies does today's rather less romantic vessel carry?