Saturday, January 19, 2008

Photos as promised

In my post 'Tommy and the Tulips' I mentioned a project that I had done for the Museum Association's Diploma and that I would post some photos that I had used of women connected with the Bulb Industry around Spalding.

Apologies about the poor quality of the photo above which shows Elizabeth Quincey of Fulney Hall, Spalding. Elizabeth was one of the earliest recorded bulb growers. After her father's death she carried on his work of market gardening, experimenting with bulbs and flowers and she is listed in an 1885 Trade Directory as a 'wholesale fruiterer and bulb grower'. On the 1881 census her husband, Christmas Quincey, is listed as a 'gardener and seedsman'.

Below are a couple of photos of women workers in the tulip fields, the first one is a particular favourite of mine, probably taken around 1910, when the bulb and cut flower industry was at its height, all the women are tidy and spruced up ready for the photographer, stern gang master or farmer in the background. The second photo is slightly more natural, although again posed and all of the women except one wearing the regulation bonnets which were worn, both in agricultural and horticultural field work to shield the face and neck against the sun and to guard against sun stroke. These bonnets were worn well into the 1950s but were gradually replaced by hats and scarves.

The photographs are charming and make the work look clean and easy, but of course it wasn't, as we all know any land work can be a back breaking, thankless and sometimes extremely miserable task, especially in inclement weather conditions.


  1. These are such interesting photos, it's unusual to see people smiling in photos of that era too. I really like the sunbonnets, wish they'd come back into fashion as they are so flattering and also very practical. I'll look at the library for the book you mentioned,

  2. glad you liked the photos, Rowan - I like the sun bonnets, too. Hope you enjoy the book :)