My dad was born in 1930, Cochrane Road in Dudley. He was a very private man in some respects but always a family man with many interests, a very proud man as well. He had numerous hobbies, and he constantly improved his own talents I can remember him developing his own photographs.
He trained at school and college to do technical drawing and later worked at very intricate toolmaking - skills which later on would help with his hobbies researching chainmaking in the black country - as he did very intricate drawings for his chainmaking books. He always seemed to put his hand to anything - he'd make things for us as children then he made things for the grandchildren. He had lots of talents and always time to help us all with whatever projects we had. He was a good dad, a very quiet dad whereas mum was a lot more outgoing. But he was really interesting to talk to. Since his passing I just marvel at how he fitted everything into one life!
The photo on left is my mum Sylvia and was taken when they were courting it would have been taken at either Holt Fleet - because my grandad started the caravan club there – or at Ludlow. Their summer holidays were at Ludlow camping with my dad's cousins and aunts and uncles. I remember my mum saying my grandad wouldn't let them get married until she was 21. She was 21 on the 30th September and they got married on the 3rd October in 1953. That's always a lovely story - four days after she was 21, they got married. In this photo I love her pose and how she was very fashionable having a little jacket over the bathing costume. Mom’s hair was lovely – in fact her hair is still lovely.
Dad in the picture on the right was taken by mom on their honeymoon in Weymouth – dad looking so smart even on the beach – he always looked smart and took pride in his appearance.
Dad got called up for National Service and he went to Egypt and Malta. The tales I remember him telling us was of Egypt and how he got stung by a mosquito and got malaria. Mum tells these stories really well about him coming back on leave and the doctor coming to him while they still lived at nan and grandad’s and he was really yellow and could never give blood because he nearly died from malaria.
Mom also tells the story about dad coming home and all the girls wanting to dance with him because he was so tanned but mum was the one he chose. They met at Edna Homer's Dance School which was at the Worker’s Institute building down at the bottom of Cradley Heath. It is so lovely that the story comes full circle as dad was very instrumental in helping to save that very building which is now in the Black Country Museum. I went with Dad to the opening of the Institute at the museum and as we went upstairs saw the old gramophone player possibly the same one which played records that mom and dad first danced to.
You can see how handsome he was, I can see why mum was attracted to him. And his hair! as a small child he would let me play with his hair put curlers in it he'd got beautiful hair. And he was always really smart, the shirt, it's unusual for him not to have a tie on but obviously this is casual look but I can always remember Dad with a shirt and tie as that generation always dressed well.
Mom on the left looking very relaxed and happy – dad always managed to get beautiful pictures of her he probably would have instructed her to look at something in the distance to get a natural shot of her we can all remember him “setting the scene” for his family photos.
The group photo is of dad’s mom and dad (on the right) and his aunt’s lovely family camping at Ludlow
This is dad's brother Ken, who was 3 years younger than dad, with Olywn who mom always calls her ‘nearly sister-in-law’. They were engaged at one point and then unfortunately split up. Mum has always kept in touch with her because they were devoted to each other.
Dad had always got two cameras, a slide and a print film and then when colour came in he'd always got one camera for black and white and one for colour. I can still remember him now changing the reels.
Mom and dad never went to pubs as he never drank. They never had expensive holidays abroad as mom wasn’t keen on travelling over water - so the furthest she went was the Isle of Wight. There are not many places in Wales that dad hasn't taken us because he always made a point of taking us somewhere different. It would always be a little bit on the beach but then we would always go off walking and have a look at something of interest.
So both my brother Gary and I are both interested when we go on holiday to explore and we have inherited that curiosity from dad. Also when Dad would be driving on holiday we'd stop and have a picnic at the side of the road. It wouldn't be an expensive meal out or anything, it would be a lovely family picnic which mom had prepared - I think this is why I do this with my family now as well.
The wedding picture is of dad’s cousin Margaret – seen in the camping group photo earlier sitting on the grass. Dad always took many photos of family weddings. He did both mine and my brother’s wedding photos making sure he took groups of all the people attending the wedding and reception so we both have some lovely photos to treasure.
Dad built a caravan a which mom and dad had at Holt Fleet and some of mom’s family had caravans there too so dad took many pictures of us family and group family shots when he would set up the timer on the camera and then run to join the group. The picture in the caravan is very simple, there's no television, no electronics, it is just family-time and enjoying the countryside. There was less to choose from and it was a lot harder but it was more enjoyable I think. From what I remember as a child, the sun seemed sunnier and everything seemed happier.
I remember being in many caravans in Wales, nothing like the caravans these days, very basic but we all always enjoyed it. Dad only wore sneakers on holiday. I love the pictures they remind me of a very happy childhood and I can vividly remember we'd always took our own entertainment we would play Ludo and Snakes and Ladders when the weather was bad or at night and play and bat and ball games in the day. I can remember things like fetching the water and mom and dad making up the beds at night from the seating area.
Dad got a lot of his creativity from my nan. My grandad used to work at a factory that made plastic string. My nan used to hang it on the handle of the door and plait it and then make it into mats. It just used to amaze me how just from that string she'd make a mat. And she would get geraniums, that's why we always have geraniums in our garden to remind me of my nan. You know how the petals come off, she would put them on my fingers like as if I'd got nail varnish. And she would knit and crochet and garden and all sorts. So yes, dad got his creativity from my nan.
My brother Gary was born 1958 and I was born in 1955 Mom tells a story that we were all ready for bed and dad decided to do these photographs. It could have been when nan and grandad were visiting. This was sitting at the big table in the living room and mom or dad have put a picnic blanket on it to make it look smarter. Again, we're looking up, up the corner so dad had obviously told us to look at something to get this lovely shot. The photo of dad’s parents Sarah and Benjamin – is also a lovely natural shot holding a china cup and saucer which nan liked.
It's just so lovely looking back at them now, never appreciated it until you started this project, of how lucky we are having all these photographs.
This is my brother Gary with a family friend Valerie who used to take Gary for walks in the pushchair – taken in the back garden of the family house in Dudley Street Old Hill.
He had the foresight to take photos of everything, not just family and industry - things he knew weren't going to be there anymore. My mom couldn't understand it at the time but now we can see the value of it. People love to reminisce and obviously I'm lucky to have all these photographs to reminisce about childhood and it sparks off such lovely memories.
He was very talented at what he did and because he was interested in photography he was able to take very good photographs. He wasn't a professional photographer but he could adapt what he wanted and he learnt the art of photography. In the early days his interest allowed him to capture all sorts of people and places. That's why his collection is unique from that point of view.
He always read a lot about everything and that's why he could talk a lot about different things. Because of his background where he started off in the drawing office everything was very meticulous and everything was kept beautifully.
I can hear my dad saying “don't take shortcuts - do it properly” “If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well”. That could be Dad's motto really “Take your time. Do it properly.”
We are amazed now looking through dad’s book collection of how many of his photos have been reproduced in local history books many written by members of the Black Country Society and since he passed away on the 4th April 2019 so many people have expressed their appreciation of his photos, his dedication to his research and amazement at his many, many talents.