The Braddock Collection

Hornsey Historical Society holds the negatives of 30 Braddock photographs of Hornsey.

Alfred Braddock was a typical early photography enthusiast. He started his working life keeping a tobacconist and stationers shop in Hackney, became a keen amateur photographer in the 1870s and turned professional in the early 1880s. He took a large number of photographs in Hackney and then moved to live in Hornsey in 1890.

Alfred and his son carried on his professional photographic business in Hornsey for some twenty years. He lived firstly in Alexandra Road, Wood Green, and then moved to 120 Turnpike Lane, to a house which was later demolished for road improvements.

A costly business

When Braddock took his photographs in the last quarter of the nineteenth century reproducing an image was costly and cumbersome. Individual photographs would have been printed from the negative and then pasted down on card mounts (see North Middlesex Photographic Society Collection).

To make a living as an early photographer Braddock would have had to produce multiple copies of his prints. By the turn of the century printing methods improved, ushering in the age of the mass production of postcards.

Alfred Braddock was keen to record the changing appearance of the area in which he lived at the turn of the century. This was a time of rapid change with old cottages and pubs knocked down and rows of terraced houses and shopping parades taking their place.

Local people

A prominent feature of his work was the number of local people of all ages he invited to appear in his pictures. He knew that a group of people would enliven a simple topographical view and increase its saleability.

However, it would have taken him a long time to set up his camera and tripod. He would have attracted a lot of attention and the curious passerby was usually persuaded to be lined up strategically with the rest. Those wearing uniform – the policeman and the postman – always added interest to a photograph, as did handcarts and perambulators. When all was ready Braddock exposed a plate.

The exposure time created problems as the plate required an exposure time of between a half and one fifteenth of a second. As a result, these street scenes have a frozen, stage-managed quality.

Different lives

There is nothing more poignant than looking at photographs taken a hundred+ years ago and trying to imagine a very different life from ours in streets that bear the same names as we know now. What did they think about their lives? How long were their working hours? What were their customs and beliefs? What would they have thought if they had known that people in a very different century were looking at them?

Please enquire if you are interested in purchasing a print from one of the negatives.