'Sufferers from the Floods', 1877.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate produced using the Woodburytype proces, taken from 'Street Life in London' (London, 1877) 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. This picture shows residents of Lambeth who have become victims of the annual tidal flooding of the Thames, standing outside a shop. The book laments the negligence and complacency of the metropolitan aurthorities in failing to prevent the recurrence of the floods with their attendant risk of disease.