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28 October 2014

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Hull Photographic Society

A Victorian treasure

By Kevin Keane
They have been hiding away in a cupboard for decades but now the BBC has been given access to a treasure pot of Victorian photographs.

The collection of 55 stills were taken by the late John Pybus, a former city councilor and founder of the Hull Photographic Society. They show scenes from across Hull and East Yorkshire from 1870 through to 1900.

John Pybus

Amongst them is a shot of tourists enjoying the sea air on Hornsea Pier. The structure was partially destroyed by a ship shortly before it was completed and was only open for around six years.

Remembering how the ship struck at the end of a hot day, Dr Stuart Walker of Hornsea Museum said: "By the evening, the wind had changed to the north east and caused something like a hundred vessels to take shelter. 

"Ten of them were wrecked and one of them was the Earl of Derby, which crashed through the pier."

"They would be extremely popular in pre-cinema days... they no doubt caused great fascination to people who weren't as used to visual things as we are."
John Markham, local historian

Other photographs show huge crowds strolling along Bridington's North Promenade and groups of children paddling in the North Sea.

John Pybus was known to tour the region showing off his photographs on a cumbersome lantern projector. 

"They would be extremely popular in pre-cinema days," said local historian John Markham, "they no doubt caused great fascination to people who weren't as used to visual things as we are."

Hull's firemen can be seen, both with shiny helmets on an official parade through the city centre and on a genuine call out with steam belching out of the boilers used to operate water pumps. 

Great crowds can be seen watching both spectacles.

Bridlington's North Promenade
Bridlington's North Promenade

Glen Ramsden of Humberside Fire and Rescue commented: "Certain lamp-posts had strategically positioned bells on them that would ring when the fire brigade were turning out. One of them was at the Ferens Art Gallery. 

"Well, on a Saturday, you could guarantee a good crowd by the time the fire engines had actually got to the bell."

The glass slides are currently in the possession of Sheila Lambert, Pybus's granddaughter. She is planning to hand them over to the new Treasure House in Beverley.

last updated: 13/08/06
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