Chartist meeting, Kennington Common (1848)

Image dated 1848

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Photo taken in a southeasterly direction · Oval · SE11 ·
MAY
5
2019
On 10 April 1848, William Kilburn took daguerrotypes of the Great Chartist Meeting on Kennington Common – taken from the top of The Horns tavern were the first ever photos of a crowd scene.

Chartist meeting, Kennington Common. Widely thought to be the earliest London photograph depicting a crowd. (1848)
Credit: William Kilburn
William Kilburn opened his portrait studio on London’s Regent Street in 1846. He was commissioned to make daguerreotype portraits of the Royal Family between 1846 and 1852 as the Royal Photographer, and was awarded a prize medal for his photographs at the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The Chartists who took their name from Magna Carta were the first British national working class movement. Their meetings had a carnival-like atmosphere.

Tensions were high on that April morning – there were those who feared that civil strife would break out. Between 6-10 April, extra troops were brought to the capital and the authorities enlisted 170 000 special constables. However, on 10th, instead of the half million expected, only about twenty to thirty thousand Chartists demonstrated, and there was little violence.

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Oval

Oval tube station in Kennington is named after The Oval Cricket Ground, which it serves.

The station opened on 18 December 1890 as part of the City & South London Railway. It opened as Kennington Oval, and was designed by Thomas Phillips Figgis with elements of early Arts and Crafts and neo-classical detailing. The structure was made distinctive by a lead-covered dome with cupola lantern and weathervane which housed some of the lift equipment; the main part of the building was of red brick. The station building was rebuilt in the early 1920s when the line was modernised and was refurbished during late 2007/early 2008 at street level with a modern tiling scheme inside and out, giving the station a more modern look. Reflecting its proximity to the cricket ground, the internal decorative tiling features large images of cricketers in various stances.
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