19th Century Whitby: The Photos of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe

I found an article online about this Victorian portrait photographer. He took hundreds of photos of the English fishing port and tourist town of Whitby, in the 1880s. Whitby is in Yorkshire, and is still incredibly popular with tourists to this day. The town also inspired Bram Stoker’s novel, Dracula, and is the setting for Dracula arriving after a Russian ship is wrecked nearby. It was also the home of the famous explorer, Captain James Cook.

I have visited the town a couple of times, and enjoyed the delicious fish and chips sold there. Whitby is also known for the sale of Jet jewellery. Jet is a gemstone made from decaying wood under extreme pressure. It’s a type of coal-substance that washes up on the beaches of Whitby that’s approximately 182 million years old.

Here are some of Frank’s wonderful sepia photographs.
(They can be fully enlarged by clicking on them, and the detail is superb.)

Fish sellers at the harbour.

A member of the Lifeboat crew wearing a cork life-jacket.

A ‘smoke-break’.

Steam-tug towing a larger vessel into harbour.

Ships at anchor in the harbour. The abbey ruins can be seen on the hill behind.

Farming outside the town.

Local women preparing shellfish on the cobbled street.

More fish-sellers.

The view across the harbour.

A similar view in modern day Whitby. (Uncredited.)

The Real Wild West In Photos: 1880s

Like most people, I was shown a version of the Wild West by Hollywood films, and TV shows. Gunfights, saloon bar brawls, brave sheriffs, and cowardly bushwackers. The nice guys wore white hats and tin stars, the bad men had black hats, robbed stagecoaches, and shot people in the back. It was not until I was older, reading books and looking at actual photos from the time, that I realised just how romanticised and inaccurate all of that was.

Wyatt Earp. (Not much like Kurt Russell)

Wild Bill Hickock.

Butch Cassidy. (Nothing like Paul Newman.)

Doc Holliday. (Val Kilmer was a good choice for the role in the film ‘Tombstone’.)

Cole Younger. A member of the James Gang.

Jesse James.

Johnny Ringo, a notorious gunman killed in 1882.

Some of Wyatt Earp’s deputies.

Calamity Jane. (I had only known of her from the Doris Day musical film.)

Judge Roy Bean’s Saloon in Texas.

Gambling in a Missouri Saloon.

William Bonney, known as Billy The Kid.

Saloon-girl prostitutes.