This project explores how Surrey and its people responded to the Great War.
At the beginning of the twentieth century photography had become a widely popular amateur hobby for the middle classes, and a thriving commercial industry with professional photographers on the High Streets of most small towns. Kelly’s Surrey Directory of 1913 lists no less than 140 photographers plying their trade in the county, along with a number of businesses involved in photographic processing, enlarging and manufacture. Upon the outbreak of war, photographic studios did a brisk trade in portraits to be used as keepsakes for loved ones.
Surprisingly, there were relatively few official military photographers during the First World War and in the early stages of the conflict civilian photographers were sometimes used. However, the availability of small Kodak “pocket cameras” made it possible for those on active service to record their experiences first hand. See photographs of the 1914 Christmas Truce taken by 2nd Lieutenant J B Coates of the 2nd Battalion of the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website.
View the First World War portrait photographs of Sutton photographer David Knights-Whittome via the Sutton Archives “The Past on Glass“ project website.