My partner, Sue Cartlidge, & I shifted to Alston Moor in 1976. After a few other moves – wages clerk at The Foundry, barmaid at The Blue Bell, she reluctantly took up teaching again, in Samuel Kings School. Mostly she taught French and English but she also collaborated with Richard Turner- a senior master- over collecting and teaching local history- a long-gone curriculum topic!
Richard and I curated an exhibition based on a collection of glass plates once help in Don Middleton’s ironmonger’s shop. Some were by von Dix and Smedley, others by his predecessor ironmonger Hugh Walton and others by one of the Nicholson family It was around 1982 and we called it “Alston Now and Then”. Prints were made in London by a bloke with a cold cathode enlarger.
Jump forward to 1999. We’d been away farming in Scotland but missed Alston Moor. I’d got back into photography after over 20 years & set up shop on Front Street. Financially it was a big failure but I started to copy images brought in by older folk- all wet process and hand-printed… then came the digital world- scanning and the chance to write the images’ stories “behind “ them…
Cut to 22 years later and I’d accumulated well over 3,000 almost entirely out of copyright images of the area and stared to digitally record all manner of tales. In the shop one wise person had told me. “You know what you’ve got here, don’t you? Just a social club for the old ones to hang around in- swapping stories.” I miss it!
Now I’m a part of the revived Alston Moor Historical Society. We aim to publish all their own and my collection of old local images.
Elsewhere on my site you can see a few short videos which combine our oral and pictorial histories.