This photograph comes from a period of my grandfather’s life that I knew nothing about until recently. I had always assumed that Evan George went straight from Hescwm Farm, Dinas to an apprenticeship on the barque ‘Glance’ at Swansea and then, when that turned out to be a dead-end job, followed his older brother to London to work for the fire service. His fire-station, so I was told, was in Borough High Street, Southwark.
This photo, however, shows him, in East London’s docks. He is the fireman second from the left in the front row, seated on the board where I expect the men rested their feet when they were speeding to a fire. They must have sat up high where the helmets are shining.
The ship you can see in the background, SS Highland Glen, was built in Glasgow in 1910 to trade with Argentina, which at the time was one of the 10 richest counties in the world, attracting so many European immigrants that in 1914, half of the population of Buenos Aires was foreign born. The SS Highland Glen was built for the meat trade and carried both passengers and cargo from London to Buenos Aires and back until she sustained fire damage in the East India Dock in 1933. By that time, however, my grandfather had moved on.
The photo of my grandfather and his work colleagues was taken by George L Shotter, who worked from his shop at 340 Barking Road, London E, now E13. George Shotter also photographed the British tug-of-war team that won a silver medal in the Swedish Olympics of 1912. Click here for more photos.