'An Old Clothes Shop, Seven Dials', Covent Garden, London, 1877.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate produced using the Woodburytype proces showing women workers in a clothes shop, taken from 'Street Life in London' (London, 1877) written by Adolphe Smith with photography by Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921). The aim of this book was stated as 'to bring before the public some account of the present condition of the London street folk, and to supply a series of faithful pictures of the people themselves'. It is one of the first examples of photography used as social documentary. Seven Dials was the name given to the six (later seven) streets which radiated out from the sundial erected by Thomas Neal when he was granted land north-west of Covent Garden by William III. This area was a notorious slum although it is now a model of urban regeneration.