England In Colour: 1928-1932

These photos were taken by Clifton R. Adams, who was sent to England by National Geographic magazine to photograph life in the country.
(Most can be slightly enlarged by clicking on them.)

Mr Adams, who died in 1934 aged just 44, had instructions to record its farms, towns and cities, and its residents at work and play. He took the images in colour using Autochrome Lumière, which was the most advanced colour photographic process of the day. The plates were covered in microscopic potato starch grains coloured red, green and blue-violet, with about four million per square inch. Light passed through the colour filters when an image was taken, with the plate then processed to produce a positive transparency.

Children on a beach. Isle of Wight, 1928.

A postman in Oxford, 1928.

A fashionable lady posting a letter. Oxford, 1928.

Girl standing outside a cottage in Clovelly, Devon. 1928.

Proud of their sandcastle. Bournemouth, 1932.

Boy posting a letter. Sussex, 1928.

More cottages in Clovelly, 1928.

Boy Scouts on parade in Surrey. Exact date unknown.

A girl outside the Cat and Fiddle Inn, Exeter. 1931.

Passengers ride on ‘Billy’, a miniature locomotive running at the Kent seaside resort of Margate, 1931.

A tradtional thatched-roof cottage in Hampshire. 1931.

A girl harvesting barley. Lincolnshire, 1929.

Yeoman Warders parade at The Tower of London. Exact date unknown.

Kew Gardens, London. 1929.

On the white cliffs in Sussex, 1931.

51 thoughts on “England In Colour: 1928-1932

  1. (1) Caviar News: On the Isle of Wight, the black roe can be found in aisle eight, row one.
    (2) Holy smokes! I can get a haircut, a shampoo, and a close shave at a tobacco store?
    (3) I like the fact that the red pillar box is slightly taller than the lady in the blue dress. (Thanks for posting the photo.)
    (4) That girl in Clovelly is outstanding.
    (5) The name of the girl that made that sand pyramid is Faye Rowe.
    (6) Postcards from the Hedge.
    (7) What a Clovelly lady!
    (8) Overheard:
    Boy Scout #1: “What’s today’s date?”
    Boy Scout #2: “I don’t know.””
    Boy Scout #3: “Ask the photographer.”
    Boy Scout #4: “Hey, what’s today’s date?”
    Photographer: “I don’t know. This is a camera, not a calendar!”
    (9) The girl at the Cat and the Fiddle Inn was given a fork to eat her custard off the table. That’s because the dish ran away with the spoon.
    (10) Overheard:
    Wayne: “Honey, I shrunk the kids—and the train!”
    Diane: “Would you stop kidding me? You made me lose my train of thought!”
    (11) I like the thatched-roof cottage. Was the thatcher named Margaret?
    (12) That girl is half hidden. I can barley see her!
    (13) The four Boy Scouts grew up to become Yeoman Warders. And they still don’t know the date! (And neither does the photographer!)
    (14) I’m itching to play a game of billiards. Since I see a lot of trees in the background of the garden photo, I’m wondering if might I find a Kew stick there?
    (15) Overheard:
    Catherine:: “How about a game of lover’s leap?”
    Heathcliff: “You go first.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s in software. As well as a routine to fix the color fade from various old processes. Photos from the 70s and 80s face a grim deterioration into browns. I have a program that offers to fix scans as they’re inbound. And one that miraculously reads greyscale well enough to accurately pull color out where there was none without the cheesy colorization look.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The process of producing these photos is amazing and the results remarkable. It seems England had some warm weather back then! My grandmother lived in a thatched cottage just like that. Do they still exist?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the post and I love the pictures but I do have one question you might be able to help me with since you have been a paramedic dealing with the wider public — How come there never seems to be any Afro-English People in any photographs I have ever seen? Is England something like America in that it has issues with ethnicities? I am not trying to make a case… I am asking a question out of innocent curiosity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have posted photos including African and Indian/Pakistani Immigrants,, John. But most did not settle in this country until after 1948.

      British Social History: Photos By Thurston Hopkins

      I could find you hundreds of more modern photos showing large immigrant communities, which are mostly found in the larger cities of Britain.
      There is Racism in this country, usually espoused by Far-Right political groups. The current issue of illegal immigrants arriving by boat from France has made it headlines again.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. John, some areas of England are still predominantly white – I live in one. Urban North East – if you see a black or Indian person it almost makes you turn your head! This is because, I imagine, it’s a fairly rundown area. Also Norfolk, where I lived from 2000-2009 – a small seaside town. An Indian friend came to stay with me, and when we were walking around the town he said, ‘Are there not many Indian people here? Everyone’s staring at me’. He was right; the only Indian families were those who owned the two restaurants. There were only two black families, too – a doctor, and a maths teacher.

      A lot of villages are still like that, too.

      Liked by 1 person

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