Power to the People

Party crowd

When reflecting upon key moments in recent history, pictures of large crowds - celebrating, crying, protesting - are often at the forefront of our minds. In our personal lives, too, images of family members and friends at events play an important role in our memory of them.

Some occasions just can’t do without a lavish celebration - a wedding featuring local celebrities, for instance. In the case of Miss Phyllis Weston (daughter of Police Constable Weston of Abbott Road, London) and Police Constable Alex McCracken of Bells Hill, Lanarkshire, many attended to hear them say “I do!”. The groom in particular caused something of a stir, being the light heavyweight boxing champion of the Metropolitan Police Force. The wedding took place at All Saints Church, Poplar, where the bride and groom were mobbed by the crowd leaving after the ceremony.

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was and is an internationally famous figure: a prolific writer of plays, novels and poems, Andersen is best known for his fairy tales. Andersen’s town of birth, Odense in Denmark, has been honouring its famous inhabitant for over a century – not only by naming its airport after him, but also by organising festivals and celebratory events. This picture takes us back to a feast in 1930, with the crowd gathered at the town hall for official speeches in praise of the legendary storyteller.

Putting on a celebration for a large crowd can be something of a challenge – even for the most experienced party planner. The fashionable crowd attending Finals Day at Henley Royal Regatta in 1938 indulged in recreation and relaxation. In this image, a plethora of white costumes, straw hats and wicker baskets is scattered over the Thames, as the smart captains try to line the boom.

Other festive occasions draw a huge crowd because of their unique character and symbolic value. The inauguration of the monument commemorating the Battle of Jemappes was exactly that. One of the first major offensives of the French Revolutionary war, the Battle (November 6, 1792) brought victory for the armies of the infant French Republic. The obelisk, throned by a proud rooster symbolizing France, was flanked by hundreds during its unveiling on September 24, 1911. French photographer Maurice-Louis Branger has made the most of the solemnity and importance of the occasion by tilting the perspective to an upward angle, portraying the mass as a pedestal to the monument.