I can finally show you my all time favourite photograph of Gertie Millar. As you can see, she is sitting on what is probably a flower stand in a fancy, striped playsuit acessorised by striped socks, lovely white shoes and a Struwwelpeter wig. The actress is surrounded by soft toys (what kind of animal is hanging next to her head?) as the photo alludes to Toy Town, a musical number from the revue Bric-à-Brac, which premiered at the Palace Theatre (the one where Priscilla Queen of the Desert has replaced Les Misérables) on 18 September 1915, roughly a year after […]
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The story of London Tweed
So this is how the story goes. In 1826 a London merchant decides to buy some cloth from a weaver in Hawick, a town in the Scottish borders famous for its cloth production. Very happy with his order, he decides to get some more but – crucially – misreads the weaver’s dashed handwriting. Instead of ‘twill’ this Londoner reads ‘tweed’, and assumes this new cloth must take after the River Tweed which runs fast and clear through the textile areas of lower Scotland. ‘Tweed’ and not ’twill’ has been the term used ever since.
The Great Dock Strike – 125 years on
“The St. Lawrence is mere water. The Missouri muddy water. The Thames is liquid history.” So declared John Burns – a great advocate of London’s history – when asked to compare the Thames against those other great rivers in 1929. Forty years earlier in 1889 Burns had been a towering figurehead of the Great Dock Strike, thus sealing his own place in those murky waters. As the 125th anniversary of the strike approaches (14 August – 16 September) it feels an opportune moment to reflect on what this particular passage of liquid history might mean today.
Christina Broom: A pioneering photographer
It is almost a year now since I first laid eyes on an extraordinary private collection of photographs by Christina Broom.