Thursday, 16 May 2013

1960s Rochdale Photography Shop

The other day I introduced my great-uncle Percy Alston. He owned and ran a photographic shop on Spotland Road in Rochdale in the 1960s.

Last night I came across a photograph he took of the interior and counter. Behind the counter are films and boxes of photographic paper. On the left are boxes of either cine films or audio tapes. The magazine Movie Maker and another Cine related magazine are on sale from the stand on top of the counter.

The above shot shows Spotland Road, Rochdale, but unfortunately not the shop exterior. I'd guess at somewhere around 1963, but am happy for someone to tell me otherwise.

Uncle Percy sold tape recorders in the shop and I have a couple of tapes that he must have used when demonstrating machines to potential customers. Using a microphone to record his own voice he counts up from one to ten and then says "This is a recording made on the Grundig tape recorder. Any background noise you can hear is made by traffic passing by outside the window..." A canny lad, my great-uncle!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Singing In The Rain at Witton Park

Today we played at Witton Park in Blackburn. I think it would be true to say that the weather could have been kinder! But we managed to attract a good sized audience at least during the early afternoon before the rain really set in.

We had gone armed with some bin liners to put over the speakers and we managed to stay dry by playing from inside the entrance to one of the old stables around the courtyard.

And we had a bit of help when we took on the Take That song, The Flood!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Percy and Elsie Alston

Introducing my Great Uncle and Aunt. Auntie Elsie was my paternal Grandmother's sister. Her husband Percy was a sub-mariner during World War One and went on to own and run a camera shop on Spotland Road in Rochdale. They unfortunately never had any children and both died within a fairly short time of each other some time in the 1970s.

A while ago a collection of colour slides and a few black and white negatives came into my possession and I've only today started to look at them. Uncle Percy was an enthusiast. He stocked and used both still and cine cameras in his shop and was commissioned more than once to produce films of coach tours on the Continent, which he and Elsie did by taking their saloon car across to Europe and then following the route of the coach, arriving in time to shoot footage of the coach approaching and then disembarking its passengers. I have a couple of these films on 16mm stock and some old Zonophone reel tapes of Austrian music that he used to accompany them during promotional showings of the films by the coach companies.

Above left Percy and Elsie are seen with Elsie's mother, my Great-Grandmother. Few of these photographs are labelled (we don't do it do we?) so I've no idea where many of them are.

So this introduces them. I'll be bringing more photos from their collection to the blog every now and then - though perhaps the photos of my Great Uncle in his seventies, nude in the garden at their bungalow near Morecambe might stay private and unscanned... They did make me grin though as I always remember him as a fun character!

Aberystwyth Evening

This week included a trip to Wales for work, starting on Tuesday evening as I arrived in Aberystwyth on the west coast.

It must have been about the - oh, let's see - the first mild day of the year... I dumped my bags in the hotel and set off to look for somewhere to eat, no coat, hat, mittens or anything!

It was quite pleasant to walk along the promenade - Marine Terrace, they call it there. The pier juts out into Cardigan Bay and I passed by, seeing the unmistakeable walls of a castle in the distance.

Just before the castle was an impressive building that turned out to be the Old College of the university. This had been built as a hotel but the owner had problems and sold it to the then University College of Wales in the 1860s. A most impressive building with a tower and three-panelled frieze. I suspect the crazy golf course is more for the benefit of holidaymakers in the town rather than the students, but you never know!

Two dragons stand guard over the doorway, perhaps as a warning to students. One is named "Error" and the other "Darkness". A trifle harsh perhaps... do we not learn from mistakes? Anyway I had occasion to visit the new campus of today's Aberystwyth University the following day and managed to run a workshop for university and college managers without being shrivelled up by dragon fire!

Large versions of the photos: seafront, pier, crazy golf and old college, old college, error (the dragon - there's not an error in my page!!!), darkness (such a temptation to link to a totally black image, but I resisted and you will see the dragon!)

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