'Looking Downstream: Part of The River At Low Water...', 1861
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A photograph of sailing ships moored on the River Nene, in Wisbech, by Samuel Smith on 18 September, 1861. The ships are the 'Carolina', 'Queen', 'Alexandra', 'Robert James Haynes', 'Protector' and 'Richard Young'. Smith probably took this photograph as part of a series used to illustrate engineer Thomas Page's report on the development of the Nene Valley. The full title reads 'Looking Downstream: Part of The River At Low Water Which Will Form A Portion Of The Proposed Dock'. Smith was a successful timber merchant who moved to Wisbech in Cambridgeshire in the late 1840s when he retired from business. 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.