A Winters Day – Or Is It?

When I first saw this picture I thought it was a snow scene of Stockton High Street. I was looking for clues as to the possible date of the image and I noticed the shadows under the shop canopies and horse drawn carriages were directly beneath them. This shows the sun is high in the sky, practically overhead, of course this only happens at the height of Summer. Anybody who has walked along Stockton High Street in the Winter will know that the sun shines full in the face from the Bridge Road end of the High Street. I still think it looks like a covering of snow but if it isn’t I can’t imagine what it could be.

Image and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

11 thoughts on “A Winters Day – Or Is It?

  1. In London and presumably, elsewhere it was common at one time to spread a fine layer of sand over the highway, streets and cobbles, which later was swept up to clean the street of horse droppings? An alternative explanation is the Council had laid a layer of snow from the Council Snow Mills situated at the bottom of Finkle Street, many old-timers can still recall buying 10 snowballs there for a penny.

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  2. Could the dark track just be the natural pollution left by horses? Stockton High Street would be a very busy street in those days a lot busier than nowadays I should imagine.

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  3. This looks like a trick of the light in a grainy greyscale image. The road and pavement are the normal shade of grey for that surface as seen in other photos (see https://picturestocktonarchive.com/2002/04/23/stockton-high-street-1895/). The darker strip/track on the right makes it look like that this darker colour should be the colour of the road surface, when it isn’t. It’s this dark area that is puzzling? It follows the same path that the steam trams would follow, so that may be related? It could be that the road surface was wet so would have reflected light differently? or it was just really dirty on that day?

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  4. Bruce, what a pity we do not have a better view of the vehicle that is approaching the Shambles, and which seems to have been the cause of the marks in the High Street. My guess is that it is a cart carrying a large water tank, that is spraying water over the surface to “lay the dust”. Notice that the water is only being sprayed where the horse drawn traffic would go, and any dry dust would be disturbed.

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  5. Looking at the carts and carriages, I would expect to see lines in the snow. The dark area looks a bit like those from a tracked vehicle but could easily be damage to the original photo. I regularly photos where damage to the original looks authentic.

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  6. It isn’t that unusual to have snow in April, 2 months or less before the solstice. It certainly looks as if those tracks on the right are in snow.

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  7. Isn’t it that the roads weren’t paved, so that will be mud/dirt baked white in the sun? It’s probably why they took the picture, because they were in the middle of a heat wave or something.

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