By Chris Hughes
I have recently digitised my old colour slide collection and the moment came when I was certain all of them had been saved and the large pile of card and film was now completely redundant. It was still some days before I could finally take them to the bin, finally cast them in and know that the step was irreversible. I am now part way through scanning old photographs and while some have gone straight from scanner to shredder many of these are kept as the look and the feel of the old photograph cannot be replaced by the computer image, no matter how much I am able to improve it with the magic of Photoshop. These treasures will carry on until another generation makes the decision to cast them into the wheelie bin.
But…… some images have stuck in my mind as I have gone through this sorting process…
The photo above is one. It shows my father and I standing by our 1955 Morris Minor waiting in the queue to cross the River Mersey by the Runcorn Transporter bridge. This was, for many people, a daily occurrence but at this time you can also see the new road bridge being built next to the old transporter is well advanced in its construction. Once complete, with traffic flowing freely across without waiting (more than it often does today!) the demolition of the transporter bridge began and another major feat of Victorian/Edwardian (completed in 1905) engineering was no more. However in thinking about why this photograph has stuck in my mind among all the thousands I have sorted I have concluded that it is not about the place but the time, the very moment in time that this image has stored. I don’t know whether it is age that makes people consider the idea of a time, certain times, or an age, or whether it is just the old idea that history makes more sense when you have a history of your own, but I then began to look at my photographs differently and to consciously select images that illustrate ‘A Moment in Time’:
Just outside the village of Dent, walking past this old house when the elderly gent came out to see who was passing by. A moment, half way through his shave, cut-throat razor still in hand, shaving foam still on his chin. Two minutes later and the moment was gone.
An old mining village in County Durham in the late 1960s; a demolition site, a playground, a development opportunity?
The Mersey ferry terminus, early 1970s when a river cruise cost 60p and it cost 12p to sail ‘over the water’, is she going for the cruise?
Finally a Whooper Swan in flight, is she arriving for the winter after a journey from Arctic Russia? Or is she leaving after passing the winter on the marshes outside Southport? Who knows?
Anyone else out there with images of moments in time?
Words & Pictures: Chris Hughes
More, please, Chris! Can you remember the name of the mining village? This was soon after I left Ushaw – the local mining villages were Langley Park, Esh and Ushaw Moor … and when I’m back you can give me tips on digitising slides!
I wish I could remember the name of the place but I don’t. A few slides had names and places written on the mount and Kodak always stamoed them with the date. But this one had been re-mounted in plastic. Having digitised the slides I am now scanning the old prints……….
Marvellous, Chris! Oh! for the mind and eye of an artist!