Tag Archives: 1880s

The George Woods photographic collection: fishermen and boats at Hastings in the 1880s and 90s

George Woods Collection

The George Woods Collection of photographs held by East Sussex Libraries is a fantastic thing – and you can see it for yourself on Flickr.

Many of the photos are very posed – with men dressed in oilies on what are clearly dry, fair-weather days and girls in summer frocks – but they do present an interesting perspective on the gear that was in use. And some of the photos are clearly not posed at all…

George Woods was born the son of a draper in St. Albans, Hertfordshire in 1852, but after his father died became a successful stock market investor – which provided him with time to work on his photography.

During the late 1880s and early 1890s photographed Hastings beach and in the local countryside. He left the photos to his daughter Ethel, who donated most of his prints to Hastings Museum in the early 1960s shortly before she passed away. Woods’ glass plate negatives were acquired by local solicitor and historian, John E Ray, and were acquired by Hastings Library following  Mr Ray’s death.

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A well-travelled skiff

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Venus the well-travelled skiff in Victoria

Venus, a well-travelled Thames-style skiff spotted in Australia by Jeff Cole

Lest we get too doomy, and serious I’ve decided to post this photo of an 1880s single-scull Thames-style skiff hanging in a country nursery at Victoria, Australia. Jeff Cole, who spotted and photographed Venus for us, says the story is that she was imported from Scotland, and was built by the nursery owner’s great-grandfather.

It’s clearly very well-travelled for a small river boat. I wonder what the rest of the story may be – did a River Thames boatbuilder move to Scotland? Did a Scot learn boatbuilding on the banks of the Thames? Or was great-grandfather an amateur who worked from a book? Or were skiffs of this kind far more widespread in the last 19th century than we tend to think?

Whatever the answer, the boat in the photo looks very much like the one shown in this earlier intheboatshed.net post.

Once again, my thanks go to Jeff Cole. To see some earlier material he has sent us, including some mouthwatering shots of early 20th century racing yachts, click here.

For some photos of later skiffs with rather more sheer at Ruswarp on the River Esk in Yorkshire, click here.

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