Beyond the Caption: James Martin, Dairyman

Our lantern slides were collected by the University for using in lectures. The lantern slide in today’s post comes from the Department for the History of Art. A commercial slide sold by Newton and Co., it was probably bought to be used in a lecture on the history of church architecture. The photographer intended the picture to capture the imposing structure of Canterbury Cathedral, and in case you were in any doubt, the caption also tells you very clearly what it is that this picture illustrates.

"Canterbury Cathedral. 38650. Newton & Co"

“Canterbury Cathedral. 38650. Newton & Co”

In the foreground, unremarked by the caption or the photographer, a horse and cart stand patiently, freezing a moment in the life of a dairyman whose family lived here. Their house is on the street to the left of the picture, and, behind a high brick wall, you can see their orchard which leads on to the cow shed and milking parlour nestled against the city wall.


HEIRtagger EastMarple1 spotted the farm, made out the name on the gate, and did some investigating. She told us:

According to 1901 census (, James Martin, 58, lived at 110 Broad Street. Dairyman and pork butcher. Employer at home. Born Canterbury. He was living and working as a dairyman from that address in 1891 too, but was elsewhere in Canterbury in 1881. He had died by the 1911 census and his widow and family had moved to Church Street.

She adds that the place where the farm stood on Broad Street is now a carpark. As this view on Google Streetview shows, there is nothing at all left to indicate that James Martin and his family once lived and worked here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 16.35.15

We began this project to research the changes to historic monuments and landscapes over the last 100 years. Images like this are also a reminder that while some big monuments seem hardly altered by time- the castle walls and cathedral in this picture, for example – lantern slides also provide a detailed record of major changes in society and the social use of space.

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