Victorian Characters: 1880-1900

Photographers of the time were keen to record the various characters on the streets of London and other towns and cities. They also took a lot of interest in the Police Force, which had only come into being in 1829, and hade been modernised in the Victorian era.

A Young girl living on the streets and begging to make a living.

A proud publican outside his London pub.

A family photographed in the Spitalfields area of East London.

A toy seller outside Greenwich Park.

Two boys described as ‘Street urchins’ in East London.

Victorian policewomen in uniform.

A man with a very fashionable forked beard. Photographed in Sussex.

A newly-qualified policeman shows off his equipment.

A man described as a ‘criminal type’ in East London.

A blind street musician with his dog.

A policeman directing traffic.

Two policeman making an arrest of an ‘undesirable’.

30 thoughts on “Victorian Characters: 1880-1900

  1. There are fascinating. Some pretty sad as well, and some curious. I also didn’t think there were policewomen at the time, but your explanation is the same that came to my mind. I’d love to learn more about them. Thanks, Pete!

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  2. (1) “Je pense, donc je suis…misérable.” (Auguste Rodin is sympathetic, but says that at least she has clothes to wear.)
    (2) The publican has Cremorne Arms. But what about his Legs? Are they Cremorne, too?
    (3) Did you hear about the salivating scarecrows in the spittle fields?
    (4) That guy’s a toy seller? He looks like a living human seller to me.
    (5) And those boys don’t look like globular echinoderms either.
    (6) Those Victorian policewomen are actually Charlie’s Angels in disguise. (They’re investigating a corrupt antique shop dealer.)
    (7) The man has a forked beard. And he has a mustache that reminds me of the bent spoon in The Matrix.
    (8) What the newly-qualified policeman is not showing you is the electric shaver bug detector in his right pocket, and the bug sweeper in his other pocket that allows him to detect hidden electronic microphones.
    (9) The man was described as a criminal type because he was caught stealing a Sholes & Glidden typewriter.
    (10) The blind street musician was named Peter. His dog was named Wolf. While being photographed, Peter was playing something by Prokofiev. (Rumor has it that Peter sometimes put his violin on a leash and tried to play his dog.)
    (11) The blind policemen was pretty good at directing traffic. Too bad he got trampled by a horse. He didn’t see that coming!
    (12) Lolita found the man undesirable due to his poor hygiene. But did she really have to file a complaint with the police? All he needed was a good bath and some cologne!

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  3. I have to admit I didn’t know the police force included women back then. What sort of background would they have come from? Those criminals don’t look too scary. The young one just looks a bit desperate. The other probably just needs a cup of tea and biscuit. I agree about that awful beard. I don’t mind a neat one on the right face but I do not find facial fuzz attractive at all.

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    1. I am not a fan of facial hair of any kind. And men with pony tails or buns are equally unacceptable to me. (Call me old-fashioned, because I am. 🙂 )
      They needed policewomen to deal with female prisoners; searching them, etc. The Victorians were ‘outwardly moral’ in that respect, though strangely happy with child prostitution, and exploitation of child workers too.
      I have no idea what background the policewomen came from, but like you, I would be interested to know.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

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