Friday, January 29, 2010

Benge & Pratt Store Fire and Explosion, 28 March 1914, Upper Hutt #5

The Benge & Pratt Store Fire & Explosion. The body of William Flynn, 35, railway guard, was recovered approximately where the man is standing on the footpath in the middle of the picture. The Provincial Hotel may be seen in the background. A garden hose was deployed from the upper landing on the staircase in a futile effort to hold the flames back. Click on image for larger view. Photo: Joseph Zachariah, "Zak", 1914. Alexander Turnbull Library

Renowned Wellington photographer, Joseph Zachariah, was quickly on the scene of the Benge & Pratt store fire and explosion in the days following. In the early 1900s, photographs were not yet printed in daily newspapers. By 1914, they were starting to appear as seen in yesterday's post from the Evening Post of 30 March 1914. 

Residents of a community instead relied upon local photographers to capture images of local happenings such as parades, sports events, and disasters. Typically, these would be sold as real photo postcards by photographers and buyers would either keep them in their personal collections or send them to family & friends elsewhere to keep them up to date on the local happenings. The emphasis was on timeliness so photographers such as "Zak", who became a master at the art, would appear on the scene smartly to take photos and within just a few days have copies for sale from their premises, newsagents, bookstores and the like.

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