Daily Mail, by Dave Burke for MailOnline, November 26, 2016
This set of fascinating black-and-white pictures give an intriguing insight into signs gone by. The images were taken by John Thompson, a photographer who wanted to show the reality of life in the 1800s. In 1876 he set out with writer Adolphe Smith and together the pair spoke to people, and the shots were later published in magazine, Street Life in London.
The pictures, now stored at the Bishopsgate Institute, capture the lives of street beggars, chimney sweeps, street doctors and market sellers among many others. Mr Thompson, who was born in Edinburgh, spent his life capturing the lives of people and landscapes around the world, and explored photography while the craft was in its infancy. His pictures received critical acclaim and Thompson published a number of books which included works from China, Cambodia, Thailand and Cypress. Today nearly 700 of his photographs are kept at the Wellcome Library in London.
Each month, three of Thompson’s shots were printed in the book for a year, starting in February 1877 and each had the text written by Mr Smith. Thompson aimed to help middle class Victorians gain an insight to what life was like for those living in poverty. The people pictured were always ‘hard working, honest individuals, prevented by their station in life from further advancement’.