Thursday, 15 March 2012

Britain's First Photo Album

A brief recommendation if you didn't catch it: Britain's First Photo Album, the ongoing BBC2 series in which John Sergeant is recreating the itinerary of Francis Frith, who "embarked upon a colossal project to photograph as much of Great Britain as possible during the second half of the 19th century".

This evening's instalment started with visits to a couple of locations I know intimately: Blackgang Chine (which has been a recurring topic on this blog) and Ventnor Botanic Garden (where the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest formerly stood). I found it surprisely moving to see these places celebrated on television - the landscape and history of the Island has become so intertwined with the whole rediscovery of my past and family that I feel a powerful connection to it, especially the southern coast, even to the point of having direct personal links to its story (for instance, I'm distantly related by marriage, via one of my sisters, to the family who own the Chine theme park; and another relative was coxswain of the Brighstone lifeboat in the 1880s). The programme is on BBC iPlayer for 15 days from now: Isle of Wight to Stonehenge.

There's a commercial site,, which sells products based on the Frith collection; it does, however, provide a searchable index of reasonably-sized previews of Frith's photos

- Ray

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