Top field

Top field Victoria Park, St.Helens.

Memories of many happy years exploring the park. Our house was very near the park and in the Summer we sometimes made our way with the plates, cutlery and pan and had a picnic meal on the top field just near the top hedge. Hotpot was one meal remembered.

3 static negatives

Animated gif file made from 3 consecutive black and white negatives shot in the 1970s as part of my duties to photograph the school teams and provide prints.

 

Team photos taken at Cowley Boys School in the mid to late 1970s.
It was sleeting as I took the pictures. As always I shot a few frames of each team so as to minimise the chance of anyone spoiling the shot by blinking or gesticulating.

Some forty years after taking these images I can recover a time element by animating between the three negatives, a highish definition black and white video of a time gone.

A separate image from another day and using the side of the quad rather than the steps.

Fountains

Victoria Park St.Helens, 1979.

 

Fellow Cowley pupil Robert Williams takes a photo as I record him and Victoria Park during a 6th form Photo Society outing in 1979.
Pilkingtons Glass was a major manufacturer based in the town and employed a whole lot of townsfolk in the factories dotted around.

Foggy hometime

St.Helens, across Ormskirk Street to the site of the new NatWest Bank yet to be built. Mid 1970s.

 


I have come to love this hopeless light, neglected and fading.

Two memories come to mind.

Ladies in their  older years always wearing scarfs over their heads, though I don’t think it was for religious reasons. Memory is of them hiding curlers or perhaps a bouffant protected from the wind.

A visit from the new manager of the bank when it was completed to the Cowley Sixth form. I cannot remember the purpose of the visit (perhaps recruit future staff?). I recall taking a very low view of the new bank, it seemed to me to be a way of extracting money from the local economy.

Decades later after many scandals and fraud it turned out that I may have had a point.

1980 filming at Cowley.

The early Summer of 1980 being the end of 6th form education for me it was a treat when a film company used the school as a location in the final week of term. Being a little less than honest in saying “I was from the school magazine” I was fortunate that the director Hugh Hudson allowed me to photograph the scene he was filming in the changing room. This was destined to be the Paris Olympics changing room towards the end of the film “Chariots of fire”.

Being pretty much still the 1970’s Health and Safety was not a consideration, the images do provide a window into the period, pupils sitting on the low wall on the roof of the school, boys standing on the power cables to the big lights, chain smoking crew that knew how to swear in a very full and knowledgeable way….

It looks like a private school but it wasn’t, it was a very good school, needed a bit of updating but then we would not have had changing rooms that have not been altered since the 1930’s and the crew would not have come

 

Large powerful lights act as the sun shining through to the subterranean changing rooms. Top left shows boys dressed for sports emerging from a similar changing room at the other end of the school.
The Headmaster Mr McDonald emerges from the side entrance and monitors the situation.
The talent bus parked near the scene of the filming.
Being the 1970s things were a little more relaxed than these days.
Standing on the high current power lines going to the lights passes the time as the boys keep an eye on the onsite catering.
Lots of cigarettes.

Hugh Hudson (director) with his cameraman David Watkin. (David Watkin was also the cameraman on the film “Return to Oz” a far darker follow on from “The Wizard of Oz” would have been nice to have a chat with him if he were not so busy..)

 

Notes: this article has been updated to the correct year of 1980, originally I thought this was the Summer of 1979 but I was wrong! As new information arrives I will be updating details of other images also, if you have additional information then please contact me at stephen@sheringham.org.
Many thanks

Team photos

My first income from photography came from taking over the team photos at Cowley Boys School. I didnt charge very much, 50p bought a whole plate (8.5″x6.5″) print in black and white. Cheap even at the time this enabled me to buy short lengths of outdated film or chemicals for the darkroom.

Sleet added to the atmosphere in this shot. Of course I should really have followed a Masters advice and photographed the teams directly after a match – much less smiling!
St.Helens.

Meeting ourselves

Waiting for the lights to change at the pedestrian crossing on Bickerstaffe Street, St.Helens approx 1975.

I was returning to the large building on the right which is the Gamble Institute and needed to finish the film I had been given at the photo department there.
I had been loaned a twin lens reflex camera and told to go for a walk and learn to use it. I would not have printed a frame like this at the time as I would have considered it “too ordinary”.  With the passage of time it becomes more and more interesting, the clothes, the attitude, the smoking, the lack of smart phones…

Some of the people noticed a shy 14 year old with a funny looking camera pointed at them and responded, as is natural.  With time I have realised that capturing the “ordinary” is one of the greatest of photography’s gifts

Petrol at the YMCA

Fellow Cowley Boys 5th form pupils play for one night only at the YMCA in St.Helens town centre in 1978. I was asked along to record the evening by Les Glover one of the singers.

Petrol were opening for another band and the hall started to fill up as they played. I had to use flash as it was so dark, manual cameras and slow film were the tools at hand and compromise had to come somewhere.

It would have been good to photograph the audience as well, perhaps a modern dSLR or mirrorless camera and a time machine would finish the job.

Changing room antics

The far changing room at Cowley boys school, St.Helens, 1976 or 1977.

Not the changing room used for filming the final changing room scene in the film “Chariots of fire” at the other end of the building a few years later. Timer exposure Lubitel II camera on a tripod.

Mrs Ellwood

“A” level Geography lesson underway in Cowley Boys Sixth Form Centre.


By the motion blur on the papers I would guess an exposure of approx 1/15th of a second at f2