Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Fleet Street’s Finest

Posted by jonathanfryer on Wednesday, 4th July, 2007

This lunchtime I attended the Press View of the National Portrait Gallery’s new exhibition, ‘Daily Encounters: Photographs from Fleet Street’. There are scores of wonderfully evocative black-and-white images that really capture the spirit of their age. Some of the most striking are pictures of London in the Blitz, such as Winston Churchill touring bombed out buildings, and a milkman stoically carrying on with his round on foot through piles of rubble. There’s a splendid shot of Emmeline Pankhurst being lifted off her feet by a burly policeman, to stop her protesting outside Buckingham Palace in favour of votes for women.

Photos have been as essential part of the way we grasp news, ever since the Daily Mirror started publishing pictures on a daily basis in 1904. Fleet Street — where I went to work at Reuters straight after university — quickly understood the selling-power of a compelling image on the front page. One of the earliest was in the Mirror: showing two soldiers with rifles, lying on their fronts, in the 1911 Sidney Street siege.

There’s plenty to interest LibDem visitors in particular, from David Lloyd George and his family, also in 1911, to Jeremy Thorpe stony-faced outside the Old Bailey in 1979. Rightly the curators have gone for news rather than glamour, as that is what Fleet Street was all about, though the are plenty of pictures of royalty — not all of them flattering — for those into celebrity. The exhibition runs until 21 October.



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