London: Topical Press Agency Ltd., 31 May 1929. Photograph. This original press photograph shows Winston S. Churchill with his wife, Clementine Churchill, on stage at the announcement of his Parliamentary victory in Epping on 31 May 1929. This press photo is from the archives of the Topical Press Agency of London. The image, measuring 6 x 8.125 inches (15.2 x 20.6 cm), is a gelatin silver print on glossy photo paper. Condition is very good plus, as near fine as one can ask from a nearly century-old photo. The paper is crisp, clean, and free of creasing or bruising with sharp corners and minor scuffing visible only under raking light. The image is crisp with good contrast. The verso bears the copyright stamp of “The ‘Topical’ Press Agency Ltd.”, some handwritten notations, and a typed caption. The caption is titled, “THE GENERAL ELECTION DECLARATION OF THE POLL FOR THE EPPING DIVISION OF ESSEX VICTORY FOR MR. CHURCHILL.” and reads, “Photo shows:- Mr. Sharpe [sic], the Liberal candidate, congratulating Mr. Churchill (left) on his victory after the declaration of the poll at Epping, Essex, to-day.” This photograph is housed in a removable, archival mylar sleeve within a rigid, crimson cloth folder.
This photograph depicts Churchill shaking the hand of his opponent, Gilbert Granville Sharp (1894-1968), upon the announcement of his victory at Epping in the General Election of 1929, a seat that he held for four consecutive decades over the course of his long political career. The 1924 General Election was both Churchill’s first victory at Epping and against Sharp, with nearly double the number of votes. In 1925 Churchill officially rejoined the Conservative party and was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Stanley Baldwin.
The General Election of 1929 saw Churchill and Sharp again running against each other; this time Churchill’s victory was far narrower. Sharp and Churchill would face off a last time in the General Election of 1935 when Churchill would again prevail. In 1945, Epping was subdivided and Churchill stood for the new (and politically more tenable) Woodford Division. Churchill's re-election by Woodford in February 1950 was decisive; his vote tally was double that of his challenger. Woodford would subsequently re-elect Churchill in 1955 and 1959 and he would serve Woodford as M.P. until October 1964. The general election of 1929 was a personal victory for Churchill but a loss for his Party, which fell to Labor, costing Baldwin the premiership and Churchill his Cabinet post as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Though he did not know it, Churchill was entering his decade of “wilderness years” which he would spend out of power and out of favor, not returning to the Cabinet until the outbreak of war in September 1939. Two years after this photo was taken Churchill would muse on his Parliamentary career, “This is certainly as much as should satisfy anyone, and makes me earnestly hope that I have now found a resting-place amid the glades of Epping which will last me as long as I am concerned with mundane affairs.” (“Some Election Memories”, Strand Magazine, September 1931) Of course, it would not be long before the affairs of the world would draw Churchill out of his "resting-place" and into his far from "mundane" role as Britain’s indispensible, iconic wartime Prime Minister.
This press photo originated from The Topical Press Agency. During the first half of the twentieth century, photojournalism grew as a practice, fundamentally changing the way the public interacted with current events. Newspapers assembled expansive archives, including physical copies of all photographs published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps and notes providing provenance and captions. Today these photographs exist as repositories of historical memory, technological artifacts, and often striking pieces of vernacular art. Item #005025