CHURCHILL SPEAKS TO THE FARMERS - An original press photograph of Winston S. Churchill giving a speech from the back of a farm wagon in Epping after his nomination on 4 November 1935
Epping: Keystone, 4 November 1935. Photograph. This original press photograph shows Winston S. Churchill with his wife, Clementine, using a farm wagon as a makeshift stage for a campaign speech on 4 November 1935 in Churchill's Epping constituency. The gelatin silver image measures 8.125 x 6 inches (20.6 x 15.2 cm). The paper is crisp, clean, and bright, though with modest creasing to the left edge, pin holes at the corners, and four .125 inch (.32 cm) circular holes punched along the top edge (affecting only the second story shopfronts in the background). This photo features the circular ink stamp of Keystone press agency, the original typed Keystone caption, and the copyright ink stamp of “A.B. Text & Bilder”, a Swedish press agency. A reasonable assumption is that the photograph was captured by Keystone, who thereafter provided it to A.B. Text & Bilder. The original typed caption is titled “MR WINSTON CHURCHILL SPEAKS TO THE FARMERS.”, is dated “4.11.35”, and reads: “Mr. Winston Churchill, National Conservative candidate for Epping, addressed farmers and agricultural workers from a farm wagon in the market place at Epping today, after handing in his nominations.”
This is a fascinating study in twentieth century evolution of life on the hustings. This photograph depicts Churchill at his nomination at Epping in the General Election of 1935, a seat that he held for four consecutive decades over the course of his long political career. Churchill’s career spanned the drastic social, political, and technological evolutions of the first half of the twentieth century. He recalled “When I first began [campaigning] had to be done in a two-horse landau, at about seven miles an hour.” (“Some Election Memories”, Strand Magazine, September 1931) Churchill’s second and final premiership (1951-1955) would be the first covered on television.
This photograph depicts a remarkable midpoint. Here Churchill stands on a horse-drawn wagon, behind a cow pen in the Epping market giving his speech on an electric loud speaker. The device had not been in wide use in the previous General Election, and it had a dramatic effect on the electioneering process. During this election a London journal published an article (illustrated by this photograph) titled “Modern Electioneering Weapons: How the Loud-speaker is Revolutionising Political Warfare”. Churchill first stood for Epping in 1924. The following year he officially rejoined the Conservative party and was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer by Stanley Baldwin. Epping carried Churchill through his wilderness years of the 1930s. When the Conservatives fell to Labour in the 1929 General Election, Churchill lost his Cabinet post as Chancellor of the Exchequer, but nonetheless retained his Epping seat. He would not return to the Cabinet until the outbreak of war in September 1939.
At the end of the Second World War in 1945, Epping was subdivided and Churchill stood for the new (and politically more tenable) Woodford Division. Woodford would subsequently re-elect Churchill in 1950, 1951, 1955, and 1959. He would serve Woodford as M.P. until October 1964. Four years before this photo was taken Churchill had mused on his Parliamentary career, “…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) So it did, though certainly Churchill’s sojourn as Member for Epping included times neither restful nor mundane.
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, like this one, published or deemed useful for potential future use, their versos typically marked with ink stamps, notes, provenance, and captions. Item #005567