Little bits of history hiding on the shelf

In most households up and down this funny old country are lots of little hints of local history caught on film. Most people have a collection of old photographs from their or their family’s past, either sat on the bookshelf or hidden in a dusty box in that dark corner of the attic. More often than not, people often think that these little collections of windows into the past are of no real interest to strangers; after all, who wants to see that grainy photograph of Great Uncle Bob stood next to a tree? To the casual observer, that photograph of Great Uncle Bob in the 50’s is just that: a photograph of Great Uncle Bob. To somebody who doesn’t know Uncle Bob, these pictures can still reveal a lot, especially if you know where and when the picture was taken. A lot of hidden gems can be hiding in the backgrounds of some of these old photographs, especially if they were taken outside. If the shot is wide enough they can act as a handy little window into the area (and era) in which the photograph was taken. Photography wasn’t as easily accessible back then as it is today so people only tended to take pictures of things that they thought were important, mainly involving loved ones or important events. I love these old photos and am always on the look out for these taken in my sphere of interest: Norwich, Norfolk and Mile Cross.

A lady I work with has been following my blog since the beginning along with her husband, Stuart, who also happens to be an old ‘Miley’. Stuart grew up on the estate during the 50’s and 60’s. When I inquired (as I often do) into whether he had any old photos of his childhood on the estate, the response was that  there were a few but probably not of any real interest. I asked if I could see them anyway and he kindly agreed. The next day Margaret brought in a handful of tiny photographs and I went through them like an excited School kid. Did they reveal anything interesting in the background? Let’s take a look at what I found…

First up is this image of Stuart’s father taken on a bright winter’s day back in 1955:Asda junction 1955smallContinue reading “Little bits of history hiding on the shelf”

The Boundary

Boundary Road 2017When you’re sat in one of the 5 lanes of traffic crawling along Boundary Road at a snail’s pace it’s hard to imagine that less than 100 years ago this now-vital traffic artery was little more than a rural path; a single-tracked sandy lane, rather conveniently named: ‘Sandy Lane’ up until the early 1900’s, before being renamed as the ‘Boundary Road’ we all know and ‘love’ today.Continue reading “The Boundary”

Kodak Brownie 127. Sort of…

It’s been a while since my last post but that’s because I’ve had my fingers in so many little pies that I haven’t had the chance to stop long enough to concentrate on any one thing. Anyway, before my next post about Mile Cross (yes, there is one on the way) is this post about a little Kodak Brownie 127 that was given to me on New Years Eve. I was with a lovely lady named Cecilé, who was showing me around the barn at the back of her pub, The Marlpit Arms – the barn section of which will hopefully be part of a wedding venue overlooking the nearby meadow when planning is granted – anyway, I digress. As Cecilé was showing me her grand plans for the barn, I spotted an old Kodak Brownie 127 sat on a dusty window ledge that didn’t look like it had been moved for decades. Cecilé kindly let me have the old camera and I took it home with me. On closer inspection I found that – unfortunately – there was no film inside and no mystery photos from the past for me to develop. I put it on the shelf with the rest of the camera gear and decided that I would take to Google to see if I could find some 127 film to fit it.Brownie0Continue reading “Kodak Brownie 127. Sort of…”

Nigel Neale

I must admit that I’ve talked quite a lot about Drayton Road in this blog, mainly because it has a lot of stories to tell and partly because I’ve lived on (or just off) it for all bar seven years of my life. This is the main artery for traffic in and out of the City from the North-West and effectively chops about a third of the estate off along the southern portion. Located in the Island part of the estate from the estate’s creation and up until about ten years ago sat the majority of the estate’s schools (Dowson First and Mile Cross Middle), so getting the kids across Drayton road safely required a lot of work from the two sets of dedicated Lollipop ladies.

The first set operated at the crossroads of the Drayton, Bignold and Parr Roads and the second set a few hundred meters down the road at the (long-since closed) junction of Drayton and Wheeler Road. In the early to mid 1980’s, both sets of ladies witnessed their fair share of drama and tragedy.

Two incidents stand out amongst the madness that was – and still is – getting across Drayton Road as a child and I’ll start with the later incident first:

In the mid-1980’s a driver claiming to be unsighted by the low morning sun as he came up Drayton Road from North West ploughed straight through a crowd of Mile Cross Middle and Dowson School children being shepherded across the road by the crossing lady. How nobody was killed is beyond me; one boy ended up near the bus stop, the boy walking just in front of me was thrown 20 feet into the air…. blood, chunks of hair, scattered books and Panini stickers littered the scene.

The result was this pelican crossing, installed slightly east of the junction: MXspeed3Continue reading “Nigel Neale”

EOS 500 35mm follow up

I wrote a post a couple of months ago about how I’d dusted off the old 35mm Canon I’d found in a charity shop a few years back. The more I used it, the more it started to fail, making me realise I was beginning to waste money on a pointless venture. It costs about £20 to buy some film and get it developed and scanned, and my last attempt gave me about 6 usable pictures out of a roll of 36.Continue reading “EOS 500 35mm follow up”

Sorbus’ final hour.

When the finishing touches were being applied to the estate back in the late 1920’s, tree planting was an important aspect of the ‘Garden City’ design and layout. A mixture of trees were used, and their size depended on the hierarchy of the roads they were to be planted on. The two main arteries: Aylsham Road and Drayton Road were lined with Horse Chestnut and Lime and the smaller roads were lined with smaller species such as the Sorbus shown in these pictures.MXsorb3Continue reading “Sorbus’ final hour.”

Retrace your footsteps

As a photographer it’s easy to fall into the age-old trap of believing that all you need is the latest and most up-to-date-gear to feel happy with your work. This simply isn’t true. My two main work-horse cameras are the trusty old Canon 5D mk3 and the recently-replaced Canon 6D; both, technically, great cameras; however, having owned and used both of these cameras heavily for the last 3 years, I can’t help but feel that they both lack a photographical soul. This may be down to me being stuck in a rut, or (more likely) because I’m getting bored of the throwaway nature of modern photography: Simply being able to take thousands of digital photographs in a day and then being able to just use the best ones, or in some cases editing the best of a bad bunch into something usable, isn’t the spirit of photography.5D399Continue reading “Retrace your footsteps”