Historypinner in Residence: The End

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.

John Gay, Rupert Potter, English Heritage’s own

The end of March saw us launch Historypin Channels, where profiles changed in to a completely different beast. Users now have a personalised Historypin map on their Channel page which displays only their content. Historypin Repeats are viewable as well as stories that people have added to your photos. The work that I have been doing with English Heritage Archives has been gearing towards this launch, so seeing the photos I have chosen up on the site and in this new format has been very rewarding.

Kenilworth castle, Eric De Mare. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

That is not to say that now we have launched Channels that my time with English Heritage is up. I will be spending the next 3 months working with their cataloguing team, finding more great images to put up on the site.

I am currently working my way through the extensive collection of images from photographer John Gay. Gay was born in Germany in 1909, but moved to London in 1933 as Hitler rose to power, beginning his career as a photographer. He primarily made pictures of people, but covered a wide range of subjects from animals for pet food adverts to architecture and country fairs. Gay is perhaps most famous for his series on Blackpool holiday makers, which typifies the traditional British seaside holiday. Look out for images from the John Gay Collection, we’ll be uploading them soon.

A horned cow, Royal Agricultural Show, John Gay. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

In the meantime there are already hundreds of images on the English Heritage Channel, from a number of different photographers such as Eric De Mare, one of the foremost architectural photographers of the 20th century. There is also the smaller Maltby collection of Odeon cinemas, which I mentioned in my last blog, as well as a set by Rupert Potter, father of children’s author Beatrix Potter. His images are all of Edwardian London, depicting London Zoo and various street scenes within the square mile. As well as all this work from some amazing photographers there are Tours and Collections to be viewed. My favourite being the cataloguing team’s own selection of images from the Early Photographic Print Collection, a body of work containing some of Britain’s earliest known photographic works, going back as far as 1840, you can view that Tour here.

Gloucester Cathedral, Sydney pitcher. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

Look out for more images from John Gay on the English Heritage Channel on Historypin, also find all these images and more on English Heritage Viewfinder. If you’d like to find out more about what I do you can see my first Historypinner in Residence blog here.

Miles Dell: Historypinner in Residence at English Heritage

Hi, I’m Miles and I’m a Historypin Assistant. I spend my days looking at new content, researching institutional partners and manning our social media streams. At the beginning of the year I started as a Historypinner with the English Heritage Archives. This involves me working directly with EH at their archives in Swindon, where I get to search through their collection and curate content for Historypin. Every so often I will be posting updates on my progress and giving you a sneak peak at some of the great photography that English Heritage has to offer.

My first few weeks involved me getting to grips with the cataloguing and archive systems they have in place here and, of course, getting a tour of the archive itself.

14km of shelving, approximately 12 million items. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

12 million photos is rather a lot to be getting through on my own so the cataloguing team, led by Helen Shalders, gave the names of a number of photographers’ work they’d like to see on the site. One of those, and the first collection that I chose to look at for the site, was John Maltby.

In the 1930s Maltby was commissioned to take photographs of Odeon cinemas across the country by Oscar Deutsch, the founder of the chain. The collection reflects the architectural and social trends of the period. The boom of the movie theatre meant that every large town boasted its own art-deco behemoth, where patrons could enjoy visual news as well as light entertainment. Sadly many of these theatres are now no longer in use, many have been demolished, while others have been reincarnated as bingo halls, or in one case a furniture showroom. Here is one of my highlights from the collection:

Odeon Colwyn Bay. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

Look out for images from the John Maltby collection and more when we upload later this month. If you just can’t wait to see this collection then you can view it on English Heritage’s site here.

Look out for more posts from myself over the coming months for more English Heritage related photographyness.