Friday, February 3rd. 2012
This evening after work, Tigger fancied taking the 63 bus instead of our usual one, in order to see some different scenery of the way home. Accordingly, we set off on foot to find a bus stop. Somehow we missed a turn and ended up in Webber Street.
Even though I had my camera with me I hadn’t taken any photos, because of the cold. I will tell you a secret: for photography in cold weather I wear combined mitten-gloves. These are like ordinary gloves but can be folded back to liberate the fingers when using the camera.
Even so, I was a bit reluctant to expose my digits to the chilly wind and left my camera in its belt pouch until we arrived in Webber Street.
The first thing that merited a photo was the Hope Mission. I have to say that I unfortunately know nothing about this building or its founding institution or, for that matter, when the mission was built. I am guessing that it is early 19th century, when a lot of small chapels and missions were founded, often by small groups breaking away from other churches or feeling they had a special mission among the poor. I will keep on looking and perhaps some information will eventually turn up. Today, Jeff’s Cafe & Grill occupies the ground floor.
Next to it is this Victorian apartment block bearing the date 1893 and named The Priory. Was there once an actual priory here? I have no idea, but have added it to the list of things to investigate. In the above photo, you might be able to spot a blue plaque in the centre of the the first floor. This was the most exciting discovery of all.
Of working class origins, Hardy was employed as an assistant in a photo processing shop attached to a chemist’s. This must have sparked his interest in photography as he bought a camera of his own and did so well with it that he began to find publishers for his pictures.
Working for a while as a freelance photographer, Hardy was the first professional to use a 35mm film camera (a Leica) as his instrument of choice. Recruited onto the staff of the Picture Post, Hardy covered the Blitz until he was called up into the army as a photographer in the Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU). In this capacity he covered the D-Day landings and was one of the first journalists to enter the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Later, he was to cover the Korean and Vietnam wars.
Hardy’s photographs, those of peacetime life as well as those in war, have become famous and are still found in books, galleries and exhibitions. Many of them have “gone feral”, becoming familiar images that have taken on a life of their own. I am glad to see that the plaque, set up by Southwark Council, is endorsed “Voted by the People”, an indication that Hardy is appreciated by ordinary people as well as admired by photographers.
We carried on down Webber Street to Blackfriars Road, where the old Blackfriars Foundry (now an office block) stands on the corner, and found a bus stop. It was not the one we had been looking for but no matter: we simply took two buses instead of one and were soon home in the warm.