The summers seemed brighter, the weather warmer, the days more leisurely. The First World War—”the war to end all wars”—was long over and the 1920s began as a decade of great prosperity.
But by 1925 the years of plenty were over. The gap between rich and poor widened, with unemployment rife and beggars—many old soldiers—a common sight on the cities’ streets.
In 1926, a General Strike almost brought down the government when unions showed solidarity with one million mine workers who had been locked out of the mines by owners who wanted them to work more hours for less pay—a drop of 13% of the miners’ wages.
Where farming had once thrived, one in four farms were sold during the 1920s to pay to financial obligations—over 600,000 farmers went bankrupt.
Families were of a smaller size compared to Victorian families—with children educated until the age of fourteen. There was more freedom for middle class and upper class women—women over 30 were given the vote in 1918, which was finally extended to all women over the age of 21 in 1928.
In 1928, photographer Clifton R. Adams was commissioned by the National Geographic to document life in England. Adams’ beautiful Autochromes—a process of producing color images by using potato starch—present images that are seemingly at odds with the historical reality of the time, capturing the last of an England that was on the cusp of an irreversible change during the about the 1930s Depression.
England’s dreaming: More of Clifton R. Adams’ Autochromes, after the jump…