coventry’s photographers

There were many portrait photographers in Coventry during the nineteenth century but only one produced a range of outdoor views for commercial gain. It is due to the work of a chemist called Wingrave in the High Street, who started producing views of Coventry in the 1860s, that we have some record of Coventry street life in the nineteenth century. No other local photographer produced any views until the early twentieth century when photographic materials had become so cheap that postcard sized photographs could be made to compete with printed versions. Even so they still cost twice as much at 2d each, but with the craze for sending and collecting postcards at this time enough were produced to represent a valuable archive of the city at that time. Whist many photographs were produced by national organizations of the most common city centre views it is the work of the local photographers that yields the rarely photographed side streets and suburbs. It is they who hauled their wooden cameras and tripods and packs of glass plates to photograph the local festivities, disasters and noteworthy events. They provided illustrations for local news before technology made it cheap enough for the newspapers to be fully illustrated – a fact of life today. Their work is acknowledged in the following pages.