With exclusive access to the Hulton Getty Picture Collection, The Independent's photographic survey of the 20th century arrives at 1948. The camera never lies, they say, but occasionally it's a little economical with the truth.
The photographer, Bill Brant, had originally been commissioned by Picture Post to portray life in one of Britain's most deprived areas, the Gorbals in Glasgow. Finding his subjects incongruously well-turned out, given their grim surroundings, Brant allegedly "grubbied" them up in the dark room, only to have most of his series rejected by Picture Post editor Tom Hopkinson. Bert Hardy was dispatched north to return with an undoctored reflection of existence in the tenements and produced his uncompromising story "The Forgotten Gorbals". The montage above - of children playing in the only playground available to them, the Corporation Burial Ground - is not quite the gritty reflection of reality it purports to be, however. Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that the boy on the far left is also pictured on the far-right, vaulting a gravestone.
Picture Post's characteristically gritty depictions of post-war social deprivation served as a constant reminder to those who doubted the wisdom of Britain's fledgling welfare state. The National Health Service, the highlight in the Labour government's cradle-to-grave pledge, came into being in July, bringing over 2,700 hospitals and 19,000 doctors under its control. The NHS's maternity resources were put immediately to the test when official figures confirmed what many suspected might follow the return of troops from the war: a baby boom. In the first quarter of 1948, nearly 200,000 babies were born.
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