Town Hall Photographers’ Collection – A Progress Report
As one of the volunteers on the Town Hall Photographers’ Collection digitisation project, one of the phrases that crops up regularly in the original ledgers that contain the details of all the negatives is “Progress Report”, usually when there’s a major building project or new road in full swing. But what progress is being made on our own project to unearth Manchester’s recent past?
Going by the comments that some make on social media, we know that there are a good number of you who are keenly anticipating the next batch of uploads, and are wondering when they are going to appear. Well it’s quite a big job, and to give you an idea of what it involves, I started working on the project at the start of January 2018, when we were halfway through the 1970 images, and the whole batch wasn’t uploaded until December.
Do bear in mind that the average number of negatives per year is around the 2,000 mark! The good news is that the 1971 photos are all ready to go and at the time of writing are gradually being made available for your viewing pleasure. Also, in case you think we’re resting on our laurels, we’re busy rattling away as fast as we can through the 1972 batch. In fact, in the last week or so we’ve just reached December ‘72, so all being well, we should be able to make those available to you all later this summer.
We’ve also been doing a little reorganising of the Town Hall images on the Archives+ Flickr pages, as the master album that contained the whole collection to date was becoming rather unwieldy. With over 17,000 images in there, we’d be the first to admit that navigating through it was becoming bothersome. As we’d already uploaded the 1970 batch into its own album, it seemed a logical move to divide the master album into similar handy “bite size” chunks to make it easier to navigate, so your humble blogger set about this task with gusto.
All the 1950s images can now be found in one album (as there were only around 220 images for the whole decade) and each year from 1960 onwards has its own album apiece. Not only that, we’ve also arranged all the Town Hall albums into a special Flickr collection for added user-friendliness!
Finally, what delights do the latest batch of images contain within? Well there are the usual things like the classic cars and old adverts that we know lots of you just can’t resist (and your blogger is definitely guilty as charged here!), but the photos capture an intense period of change in Manchester at the start of the 1970s, a transformation from the world of Coronation Street to the world of Life On Mars. The new fangled SELNEC buses, resplendent in their snazzy Sunglow orange and white livery, were starting to appear on the streets of Manchester while quite a few of the streets themselves were about to undergo some serious transformation as well.
The maze of backstreets and courts north of Market Street were about to make way for the “lovely” Arndale (so goodbye to Cromford Court, Liston’s Music Bar, the Magic Village, the boutiques on New Brown Street, the old market stalls on Withy Grove, the Cinephone cinema, and C.P Scott’s old domain, the Manchester Guardian offices at the bottom of Market Street and Cross Street). Lots of the old Victorian terraces were biting the dust in places such as Moss Side, Gorton, Longsight and Harpurhey in favour of modern properties, and the Princess Road extension and the Crescents were making Hulme totally unrecognisable from what it used to be only just a short while before. In what seemed to be double quick time, the city was leaving behind the Steam Age of the mills, warehouses and terraced houses and entering the Jet Age, a bright modernist concrete vision of streets and homes in the skies. But, as is so often the case, the shiny new future that this vision promised didn’t quite match up to the reality. However, perhaps that’s one for another blog…
Anyway, enjoy the latest uploads, and we hope they give you as much satisfaction to look at as they do to all of us on the team who scan and catalogue them.