Wearside Echoes: Picture perfect shots of the past

FAWCETT STREET

FAWCETT STREET

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A SMALL photograph album proved a huge hit at Sunderland History Fair.

Dozens of visitors were drawn to the picture-perfect views of Wearside snapped by Walter Binns during the late 19th century.

Wearmouth Bridge and Lambton Drops.

Wearmouth Bridge and Lambton Drops.

“The album is one of the jewels in the crown of our collection. It certainly proved very popular during last weekend’s fair,” said Douglas Smith, president of Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

“Walter’s pictures are a marvellous record of the town between 1890 and 1898. They provide a real flavour of what Sunderland was like in late Victorian times.”

Dozens of photographers once plied their trade across Wearside – capturing the lives, loves and fashions of the town’s wealthier classes.

But, while photographic artists such as Martin Fries and Bolko Schmiechen made their money with portrait pictures, Walter concentrated on scenes of the town.

The Harbour

The Harbour

“We don’t know much about Walter, although we are fairly certain he was an amateur photographer – as his name doesn’t appear on lists of professional ones,” said Douglas.

“He toured the town taking photos of the buildings, streets, parks, river and industries. He then put these wonderful images into the album we now have in our archives.”

The River Wear ferry at Manor Quay, Christ Church on Ryhope Road, Lambton Coal Staithes, the Town Hall and Museum were all captured by Walter’s camera.

Images of St George’s United Reform Church, Mowbray Park, the paddle tug Pactilus, Bridge Street, Fawcett Street and the Winter Gardens are also included in the collection.

Bridge Street Corner

Bridge Street Corner

“We know that the album was originally presented to a WA Metcalfe by an Alfred Binns, as that is recorded in an inscription within the book,” said Douglas.

“But who WA Metcalfe was, or why Walter took the pictures in the first place, we just don’t know. It would be very interesting to find out more.”

l Look out for more of Walter’s photos next week.

If you have any information on Walter, or old pictures you would like to share with the Antiquarian Society, contact 520 0570.

* The next meeting of Sunderland Antiquarian Society will be held at Sunderland Minster on June 23, from 10am-noon. Admission £1, which includes refreshments.