A Photograph Album – Natal and Boer War Interest –

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Photograph album of Ernest C.D. Wire, son of Alfred Philip Wire, teacher, photographer and noted naturalist. Alfred’s bookplate is at the front paste down. Ernest appears to have been a primary school teacher in Pietermaritzburg in 1902. The album contains a total of 110 photographs. Twenty-four are full page – 20 x 13.5cm of which fourteen are collotypes. The remaining ten are albumen prints. There are eighty six smaller (between 9.5 x 7.5 and 11 x 8.5) albumen prints. Most appear to have been taken by Wire and a number of others appear to be purchased photographs. Images of Pietermaritzburg, Albert and Howick falls. The 1902 sea crossing on “Umsinga” with a view of Las Palmas along the way. A 1902 view of Durban from the Berea, fourteen collotype prints of rickshaw drivers, government buildings, Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the Bluff etc. Two full page images of the Duke and Duchess of York’s visit in 1901 and numerous other images documenting Durban and Pietermaritzburg areas. A number of images of a survey party and of the breakwater at Port Shepstone. There are six images of Merebank Concentration Camp which incorporated Windermere, Hazelmere and Grasmere. Images of children at the camp and of their school room, also one of the “Africander Store”. The history of Merebank is fraught with contradictions, one being the large salaries that were offered to British teachers to work at the camp. The schools were however short on desks, books, blackboards and other teaching necessities. The Boers made some attempt to start their own schools, less vulnerable to imperial propaganda, but these were swiftly forbidden. There is no evidence of Ernest Wire teaching at the camp, though he may have done so. There are also images of the tin buildings that were unique to Merebank. Due to the sub-tropical climate of Natal, the bell tents used in the camps of the Transvaal were not suitable. These buildings however lead to problems of their own. Fleas, lice and mosquitoes were a plague and privacy became a great issue. (A.U. Wohlberg – The Merebank Concentration Camp in Durban 1901-1902 MA Thesis.) There are also two striking full page prints of a “Zulu Indaba” showing mostly Zulu women and of “Zulu Soldiers” in full battle regalia. One image of Chamberlain’s Reception in Pietermaritzburg followed by what appears to be a tour of Anglo-Boer War battle sights in 1903. Ladysmith, Spion Kop, Wagon Hill, Caesar’s Camp and Col. Cunyngham’s grave. Images of the boys drilling at the Pietermaritzburg Model School and others. Condition is good. General wear to the binding and the spine has been re-backed. Front free end paper is loose and rear end paper is half loose. There is age toning a cockling to the album boards and fading to some of the photographs.

Condition: Good

Dimensions: 27 x 23cm

Additional information

Weight 2000 g