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January 13, 2023

Candid Snaps of a Group of Women Spent Time Together in a Pub in Bermondsey, on a Day Trip to Margate, ca. 1950s

Mother’s Day Off was a photostory by British photographer Grace Robertson about a group of women from Bermondsey in South London enjoying a day-trip to the coast. It was one of a series of articles in which Picture Post looked at the ways in which working-class people spent their free time during the summer months. On a rare day off the women are enjoying a drink at a local bar before departing for Margate, Kent, England. This has clearly sparked off the curiosity of the children playing outside.
“I felt I was an observer of society. I never thought about my presence in it. My driving force in photographing women was to find out what makes them tick.” – Grace Robertson
Captured in 1954, the series depicts a group of women traveling from a pub in Bermondsey, London to the seaside resort of Margate in Kent. Robertson spent three days in the women’s company, drinking at their local pub, in order to gain their trust. The method worked, Robertson gained an intimate insight into the women's lives and their tight-knit community.

Robertson described the series as her “most enjoyable” – the photographs revel in the women’s unselfconscious, joyous celebrations – singing, drinking and entertaining. However, there was also a sense that this community was disappearing, and Robertson wanted to preserve it with her lens. When Robertson first pitched Mother’s Day Off to Picture Post, it was rejected on the grounds it lacked “broad appeal.” Determined, Robertson submitted the photographs to the editor. They clearly had an impact, forming the lead story in the next publication. In 1956 a similar story was commissioned by Life magazine, cementing the series’ fame internationally.


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