'Wisbech: Market Place', 1857
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of the Market Place in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, by Samuel Smith on 15 June, 1857, at 6.30am. In this photograph, Smith includes the shops of Barley and Foster who moved to the Market Place when their previous premises in Cornhill were demolished. Samuel Smith was a successful timber merchant who moved to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire in the late 1840s when he retired from business. He took up photography in the early 1850s and used his camera and the paper negative process to systematically record Wisbech during a period of dramatic growth and change. Although his photography was confined to barely more than a decade of his long life he is regarded as one of the pioneers of documentary photography.