Greenwich Hill 1906
After the delights of the Maze Hill Photo last Wednesday I couldn’t resist this postcard that local author Graham Dolan sent over to me. If it wasn’t taken at the same photo session, or by the same photographer, it was almost certainly using the same opportunity – the scaffolding around the power station chimneys.
Graham tells me that there was a bit of fibbing going on with the labelling of the card though. Edwardian tourists were variously told that this picture was taken ‘from the air,’ ‘as seen from a balloon,’ as seen from an aeroplane’, ‘a bird’s eye view’ and just plain ‘Greenwich Park’ on the sundry captions – this card by Perkins & Son is of the ‘as seen from an aeroplane’ flavour. I guess no one wanted to admit on a tourist memento that four whopping great industrial chimneys were being plonked in the middle of the classic vista of Greenwich Park (they were originally taller than those we have today.)
It’s another fascinating view – the backs of the houses along Park Vista (most of which survive) the Obsevatory (if you zoom in you’ll see people on top of Flamsteed House- presumably astronomers, since it wasn’t open to the public at the time) a very fuzzy MacCartney House and what look like deer in the foreground (they were still roaming free at that time), but it’s also fun to note that this was a time before the General Wolfe statue.
I find it incredible that that position was left open for so long – the top of Greenwich Hill seems somehow focus-less without it, yet despite a splendid design (by John Webb, if memory serves) for a sort of classical temple-thing at the top of the Giant Steps, which remained a twinkle in Charles II’s eye through the usual lack of funds and even a competition for an eyecatcher in the 18th Century a there was nothing there until the 1930s.
In theory, I guess it’s possible that there were photos taken at all 360° from the power station – after all, it was a golden opportunity for Greenwich’s numerous photographers to get ‘unique’ shots. The phantom mailbox is always open to seeing any more…
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