The 1868 Artisans and Labourers Dwellings Act allowed the city corporation to demolish or improve the insanitary dwellings of Worcester. The city was slow to act and it was not until the 1920s and 30s that the city’s slums were cleared.
Images were captured of the city’s vanishing streets in the first half of the twentieth century on behalf of the Department of Public Health. The collection was donated to Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum in the 1980s and provides a unique catalogue of a changing city. The name of AD McGuirk is written on a number of them, although it is not known if McGuirk was responsible for the entire collection.
McQuirk’s beautiful photographs of Newport Street, King Street, Dolday, Bull Entry, Severn Street and Little Park Street amongst others seem to come from a lost time of close knit communities and families that lived side by side for generations. It is easy to feel nostalgic but the truth was that by the nineteenth century, whilst the wealthy still prospered, life in these streets became much harsher. The building of courts of one up one down houses without adequate drainage or sanitation encouraged a downward spiral and these areas became the slums of Worcester.
For more information regarding the AD McGuirk collection of photographs please contact David Nash or Garston Phillips at email@example.com