George Street 1900s

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Featured in the Plymouth Extra on the 18 June 2009

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PD/19/13 Photograph, George Street, Circa 1900

"Early views like this of George Street are few and far between, and certainly most are posed or lifeless by comparison. This wonderful snapshot in time appears to have been taken around the turn of the nineteenth century and for all those struggling to place it in today's context, the key is the distinctive stonework on the far right - it belongs to the Dorset and Wiltshire Bank. Better know now as simply 'The Bank' and currently a public house rather than a financial institution, this is the only clue to our current vantage point as the photographer would have been standing with Derry's Clock behind him - everything else is now long gone.

Traffic is clearly not a major concern for these pedestrians, walking across the street seemingly without a care in thr world - doubtless the horse-drawn coach heading this way would have been slow enough and audible enough to pose no sudden danger. Indeed it's hard to imagine what street sounds filled the air over 100 years ago, but almost certainly the footfall of most walkers would have made more noise in their hobnail boots and leather soled shoes than most footwear makes today. Hicks and Co the wine merchants, on the corner of Hicks Lane, were coming up to their centenary, and note, on the other side of the road, the contemporary equivalent of the pound store - The Domestic Bazaar Co, where 'any article' cost just sixpence - that's less than 3p (they went out of business when Woolworths opened in the 1930s).

Picture courtesy of the Denise Bailey Collection at the South West Image Bank (01752 665445) ref: PD/19/216."

(Commentary by Chris Robinson)


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