Late Victorian and early Edwardian photographs of Derry’s streets are everywhere on social media but have you ever zoomed in, to see the background detail? Here are selection of things which we at the Friends found interesting. If you spot your great-granny, let us know!
When bus fares into town were only a penny.
This vehicle, belonging to the Londonderry Omnibus Company, was parked just outside Magazine Gate. As well as advertising its lowest fare for passengers willing to brave the element sitting on top, the Company used the sides of its ‘buses to advertise local businesses. Most clear are “Singer’s of 8 Ferryquay St.” and “Holmes & Mullin’s for Tea and Coffee”.
Getting through Waterloo Place on a bicycle.
As well as having to navigate through a street dominated by horse-drawn carts, ladies-who-cycle did so in full length skirts. Safer at times to dismount and wait until a safe passage appeared.
Buying spuds under Butcher Gate.
This tightly bonneted lady has her stall within the shelter of Butcher Gate and amongst her wares there appear to be potatoes. The three children in the photograph are barefoot.
Pushing your bike up Shipquay Street.
On a wet day, Shipquay Street looks busy with a cart with milk (?) churns in the foreground. A male cyclist has wisely decided to push his bike up the steep gradient. Beyond the Gate can be seen the horse-drawn ‘taxis’ in Shipquay Place waiting for passengers, railway trucks on the quayside and a coal-powered vessel in the river.
Did Holmes and Mullin supply the best tea and coffee in Derry?
The golden teapot in Waterloo Place gives an obvious clue to the trade carried out inside the premises of Holmes and Mullin; the sign marked with Tea & Coffee House confirms it. On the kerbside is a little hand cart.
Richard Gallagher in his Waterloo Street shop?
Looking closely at the window of this shop, you can see a butcher looking out, perhaps Mr Gallagher himself. Over the awning is a very handsome lamp. Standing within the doorway of Roulston’s shop notice a little girl. A display board indicates that excellent family tea is available inside.
A New Yorker in Derry.
The headstone of Charles John Merry of New York stands out in a photograph of St Columb’s Cathedral. Dying in 1838 aged 32, he was mourned by his wife and parents who added a poignant epitaph: “His body rests with Strangers in a foreign land. His soul we trust is in the Paradise of God.”
Can you add to our knowledge about these or other historical photographs?
Images courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.