In June 1914 St Mary’s Church Sunday School went on a trip to Niddrie, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. As a member of the United Free Church, which encompassed St Mary’s Sunday School, WF Jackson took some photographs of this particular school trip; it also appears that he knows some of the people involved in the trip as their names are included in the captions.
Schooling during the Edwardian period if often characterised as strict and even cruel, so it is interesting to see a collection of more light-hearted photos which seem to demonstrate the opposite. Both children and adults have been photographed running around and playing, everyone seems to be having a great day out. One photograph appears to show a skipping game, the rope just visible. There was also a picnic with some children squashed onto a bench and many sat on the fields clutching china cups. The Reverend is not a distant figure but is seen with the children, taking part in the day.
Other photographs in the album demonstrate that perhaps Edwardian children were not dealt with quite as severely as is usually perceived. In one set some girls have gone paddling on the beach and have hitched up their skirts! Other photos show Jenny and Mary Cameron juggling in the garden and playing with Snark IV. There are many images which show the adults at play too, demonstrating that Edwardian life wasn’t as straight-laced and proper as less personal, contemporary photography suggests.
Photographs like the Edwardian school trip show the importance of the albums of William Fulton Jackson. In providing images of everyday life and events we are able to better understand our ancestors. Formal photography from the Edwardian period was a serious affair; WF Jackson’s photographs are more playful and intimate. As well as knowing where he went and what he did we are given a real insight into Jackson, and his family’s, character.
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