Old Photographs Newtown

The Richard Christmas collection of photographs, 1952 to 1957

Richard was a very close friend of Brian Poole for many years. His health in his final years was poor so a visit was often made with help to go to town etc. Richard said that he had been a semiprofessional local photographer and the negatives had been hidden in a box for 55 years. This conversation took place in 2009 so the negatives were found and the late David Pugh placed them on to digital form. Brian then returned to Richard and each image was labelled from recall. Pictures are available via the following links in PDF format:

A brief biography for Richard follows. Richard was born in 1928 and his childhood was on a farm in Suffolk. Sadly, his father died in 1942. His mother, Dorothy, married Cecil Hopkinson later and they decided to use a legacy to purchase a farm in the Marches so they moved to Scafell or Ysgafell Isaf situated on the B road between Newtown & Aberhafesb. Richard attended a prep school and the Stoneyhurst Public School. He wanted to go on to higher education in Agriculture but places were being postponed as ex war servicemen had priority. The next stage was National Service in REME (Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers) so this gave valued transferable skills to the rapidly changing mechanisation of farming. He returned to the family farm in 1949.

Richard was introduced to the skill of photography by two Newtown men, Gordon Smith and Len Eaton. He acquired various cameras and equipment that was the latest technology. Part time commercial work followed for Pryce Jones, Shukers (agricultural machinery dealer) etc plus work with parties, wedding etc. He took many of the farm and surrounding areas. These show the rapidly changing scene that took place as rationing ended in 1954. A telescopic lens was purchased so photographs were taken of views over Newtown from the upper hills.

David Pugh described the contents of the box as gems of the area in the 1950s. The images reflect the skill of Richard, there is almost an artistic reflection in many images as well as the composition and technical quality. Richard generously gifted these pictures to local archives with the suggestion they are acknowledged to source. Brian Poole is proud that the skill of his friend has been recorded for posterity. It was a close run to find these negatives several years before Richard’s death where they may have been lost with house clearance. A selection follows with both Richard’s recall plus further updated observations from both David Hall and Brian Poole. An example is the huge alteration of views across Newtown such as the lost horse repository that is currently part of the site of Tesco supermarket.

Brian Poole and David Hall.

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