Coachmen and visitors at the Royal Mews, c.1920. (All Photos: © Christina Broom/Museum of London)
From 1904 to 1939, Christina Broom ventured out into the streets of London to capture the face of a changing city. She started her photography business at the age of 40, at a time when women were still campaigning for the vote and ten years before the outbreak of the First World. As a means of supporting her family, Broom ran her own stall selling the photographs as postcards in the Royal Mews in London. Her husband wrote the captions and her daughter made the prints.
Broom photographed all aspects of life in the early 20th century, from heated rallies to shopping streets crammed with horse carriages, making nearly 40,000 photographs of everything from royal events to rowing competitions. Among the most remarkable are her photographs of the suffragette movement, including a portrait of Christabel Pankhurst, the co-founder of the Women’s Social and Political Movement, and her poignant photographs of soldiers heading to the “war to end all wars.”
The Museum of London Docklands currently has the first major retrospective of Broom’s work on display until November 1st. Below, a black-and-white glimpse of London street life a century ago, in all its vibrant, sprawling glory.
Christina Broom with her stall at the Women’s War Work Exhibition, Princes’ Skating Rink, Knightsbridge, 1916.
Suffragettes taking part in a pageant organized by The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, 13 June 1908.
Christabel Pankhurst, co-founder of the WSPU, photographed inside The Women’s Exhibition.
The first American contingent of the War, briefly in Wellington Barracks, 1917.
A Grenadier Guard with a poignant banner at Chelsea Barracks, Christmas Day, 1915.
‘Bermondsey B’hoys’ from the 2nd Grenadier Guards inside their base at Wellington Barracks, c. 1914.
Group photograph with Irish Guards on St Patrick’s Day, Wellington Barracks, 1908.
Women police officers and Inspector Mary Allen, a former suffragette, at the Women’s War Work Exhibition, London, 1916.
King Edward VII, Queen Alexandra, future King George V and Queen Mary, and Princess Victoria, at the Duke of York’s School, Chelsea, 1908.
The Oxford rowing team at the University boat race, with photographer Alexander Korda at the water’s edge, Putney, 1911.
An early Broom photograph taken along Oxford Street, c.1905.
An early Broom photograph of a J. Lyons tea stall on the platform at Victoria Station, c.1905.
St George and the young knight, at the Army Pageant, Fulham Palace, 1910.
Portrait of Christina Broom taken by her daughter Winifred Broom, prior to the funeral of King Edward VII, May 1910.