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April 9, 2017

19 Captivating Candid Vintage Photographs That Capture Everyday Life of the Corke's Meadow Travelers in the 1950s

London-born photojournalist Bert Hardy captured the black and white snaps that were published in a collection entitled The Unromantic Gypsies. The candid snaps give a snapshot into the lives of the St Mary Cray community in Kent in the 1950s.

Hardy visited St Mary Cray in the mid twentieth century, capturing the everyday lives of the 300 people that resided there. The region housed the largest settlements of Romani groups and Irish Travellers in the UK. It was a popular stopping place as it had convenient access to the capital, as well as being near to agricultural labour opportunities.

Many of the travelers were temporarily employed in agricultural work in St Mary Cray, where they would toil on hop and soft fruit farms. When it wasn’t harvesting season, the male travelers were able to make a living by taking up casual laboring or repair work. Women in the community also made money going door to door flogging various goods, including pegs and flowers.

Today, Corkes Meadow no longer exists, as it has been urbanised and built upon over the years. There are fewer traveller families in the area, as many stopped frequenting the area when the farms they worked on replaced their task-force with machines.

A woman and a young girl relax in their Corke’s Meadow caravan in 1951.

An elderly traveler sorts through scrap metal, which could be flogged off to earn a living.

A mother washing her child at the travelers’ camp in Corke’s Meadow in 1951.

Hardy snapped this candid mother and son moment at St Mary Cray in 1951.

A group of travelers congregate together on the agricultural land in Kent, 1951.

London missionary William Larmour talks over problems with settlers in Corke’s Meadow, which is overshadowed by gasometers and strewn with rubbish.

A group of Romany children at an encampment at Corke’s Meadow in Kent, July 1951.

Two young traveler boys spar with boxing gloves as their friends eagerly watch the fight unfold.

Travelers camp beneath the shadow of a gasometer in St Mary Cray.

Traveler children hold hands as they walk through the temporary settlement in Corke’s Meadow.

Young girl clad in filthy clothes sits by the wheel of a caravan clutching her doll.

A traveler woman combs through the tangles in her son’s hair outside their caravan at Corke’s Meadow.

Two women polishing their silverware on the steps of their caravan at the Corke’s Meadow encampment.

An elderly Romany man camping at Corke’s Meadow in Kent in 1951.

A family sits the steps of their caravan at the Corke’s Meadow encampment in Kent.

Portrait of a beaming traveler that has settled in the community in St Mary Cray.

The settlement of 300 travelers living in Corke’s Meadow, Kent in July 1951.

A woman cooks dinner in an iron pot hung over an open fire in the Kent traveling community in 1951.

A candid portrait of one of the 300 Romanies living on Corke’s Meadow in Kent in July 1951.

(via The Sun)


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