Photography still a developing art when docker picture was taken

SNAP CHAT ... a very old picture, but we only know this chap as 'a docker.'
SNAP CHAT ... a very old picture, but we only know this chap as 'a docker.'

OLD photographs are an important part of Cookson Country.

But we maybe seldom appreciate the skill that went into taking them, especially at a time when the technology perhaps wasn’t fully developed.

I’m fascinated by this picture from Kevin Blair, for instance.

This is very old, but all we know is that it shows ‘a docker.’

Given that the photographer’s address is given as ‘Tyne Docks,’ does that mean the chap worked there?

Talking of Tyne Dock and photography, the two come together in something I came across recently, going all the way back to when the new Jarrow Docks – as Tyne Dock was originally known – were officially opened in 1859.

A contemporary report records that the opening ceremony was photographed by W&D Downey, who were pioneering photographers in Shields at the time, with a studio in the Market Place, next to St Hilda’s Church.

But this is what’s interesting. They are noted as having used “the dry collodion process” which had allowed some of the pictures to be taken in – wait for it – three seconds!

The comment was: “This is almost instantaneous and with such a rapid process moving objects can of course be taken with greater accuracy than has hitherto been the case.”