Historypinner in Residence: The End

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This week marks the end of my time spent working with English Heritage. These past 6 months have flown by, but over that time I have been able to browse through the largest photographic archive in the country, containing work from hundreds of photographers taken from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.

When we started the project we intended for there to be a nice spread of images across the country, and this is something I feel we have achieved. The English Heritage team had a number of photographers’ work they were keen to upload to their channel so I took the names and began search through their archives. I began with John Maltby, who’s work covers the boom of the Odeon cinema during the 30s and 40s, moved on to some larger collections from Eric De Mare and John Gay. I also selected work from smaller collections by photographers such as Rupert Potter, father of Beatrix, and S W Newbery as well loooking at some of the amazing images from the Early Photographic Print Collection.

Looking at images from the Early Photographic Print Collection

As this is my final blog I decide I would pick my all time favourite images that I took from English Heritage’s Archives, so without further ado:

St Edward's Church in front of Ferrybridge Power Station. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

I love the contrast between old and new in this photo, with the church in the foreground, and the power station cooling towers dominating the rest of the image. De Mare has a knack of bringing buildings to life in his images and this image is no exception. The dark, greystone gothic church is a stark opposite to the sleek modern concrete of the cooling towers, which creates a tension.

Odeon Cinema, Kettlehouse Road, Birmingham, July 1935. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

This image epitomises for me the art deco cinema trend that began in the 30s. Art deco was a movement that I really enjoy seeing work from, it is a shame to see most buildings from that period have been demolished or fallen in to disrepair. Luckily some are still kept in their original condition, such as the Hoover Building in West London. Whilst working on the Maltby images I found that many of the Odeon theatres were gone, but some were still in use as cinemas and bingo halls, though none held the same elegance and beauty as when originally opened. Seen in daylight this building would be covered glistening white tiles reflecting the sunlight, a shining beacon of cinematic entertainment! The night shot shows the glamourous side of the theatre with its flowing lines and bright lights, offering a piece of hollywood to the everyman.

Looking over the harbour at Portscatho, Cornwall, 1950s. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

Portscatho is in Cornwall, where John Gay and his wife took many of their holidays. This photo is very representative of Gay’s work that I looked at. He focused on everyday British country life, building up an extensive archive of images ranging from Country Fairs to fisherman, and beachside tourists. The sleepy side of England, which makes me think of time spent with my grandparents in Somerset.

To see my blogs from the past click here, and to see English Heritage’s great channel, click here.