The Metropolis

A unique collection of photos of Edwardian Londoners

Mike Pollitt | Wednesday 21 August, 2013 10:27

The London borough of Sutton owns a collection of glass plate photographs taken between 1904 and 1917 by David Knights-Whittome. Knights-Whittome made something of a name for himself by photographing royalty, but of more interest are the portraits, taken in his shop, of the forgotten men and women of the Edwardian middle class.

Romantically, a large collection of these photographs was discovered in the basement of 18 High Street, Sutton in 1978. Less romantically, they have been in the borough’s archive ever since. Now there are plans to digitise the collection. But with 11,000 photographs, where to begin?

The borough are asking interested folks to suggest themes or topics they should focus on when deciding what to pout online first. You can respond to the consultation here.

Here are some of photographs which have already been put online at the borough’s Flickr page.

Some are very cute

Little Girl Cannon

Photo dated 3 November 1908. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

The note on this photo reads only “Little Girl Cannon”. Nothing more about it is known.

Some are very strange

Dr Oscar Phillips Napier Pearn

11 August 1911. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

This is the splendidly named, splendidly attitred Dr Oscar Phillips Napier Pearn, a Medical Officer at the Horton Asylum, Epsom. Cause of dress: unknown.

Miss Foulger

12 December 1912. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

This is the stern but kindly face of Miss Foulger. It’s thought she was probably a riding mistress, otherwise this photo becomes kind of hard to explain.

Some are very lovely

Mrs Hazel

5 May 1913. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

This is Mrs Hazel. I’m slightly in love with her.

W A Cross

7 December 1914. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

This is W A Cross. I’m slightly in love with him.

Some are very sad

B Draws

25 November 1912. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

This is Mr B Draws gesturing towards his illustration book. A study in pathos.

Pte C G Lovegrove

10 July 1916. © London Borough of Sutton – reprinted with permission.

Private C G Lovegrove was killed in action 3 months after this photograph was taken.

Respond to the consultation
Look at more photos on the borough’s Flickr site

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Mike Pollitt

About this writer

Mike Pollitt

Mike Pollitt is the editor of The Metropolis.


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