Barnsley Photographic Society celebrates 90 years

Fair Ground Barker (c1950) From Barnsley Photographic Society.
Fair Ground Barker (c1950) From Barnsley Photographic Society.
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It is a town which has changed hugely during the last 90 years.

In 1924, Barnsley’s mining industry was booming, the landmark Town Hall had yet to be built, and Albert Hirst, the famous Black Pudding King, could be found selling his chops in Cheapside.

Locke Park Tower (2013). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Locke Park Tower (2013). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

But one thing has remained the same down the decades: the Barnsley Photographic Society has been there snapping the town and recording the changes.

The group celebrates its 90th anniversary this year with a special exhibition showcasing the best pictures from its long history.

And today, ahead of the month-long event, The Star brings you these never-before-published images from the group’s archive.

They show Tarn jewels – including Cannon Hall, Stainborough Castle and Locke Park – in a range of periods. In one, a Fifties fairground barker regales townfolk. In another, from the Thirties, a milkman delivers his round by cart. A third captures Elsecar’s Reform Row in 1975. It looks pretty much the same as today.

Reform Row, Elsecar (1975). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Reform Row, Elsecar (1975). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

“We have several collections in the Barnsley Archives but it’s only when you start putting them together like this that you realise just what a pictorial history has actually built up,” says president Philip Holmes.

“We don’t just take photos of Barnsley. The society has always organised trips away during the summer and members are encouraged to shoot all range of subjects.

“But, for something like this, it’s been a real pleasure going through these old pictures of the borough.”

The club itself was founded on May 21, 1924 in the Shambles Street photographic studio of a Mr A Roberts.

Stainbrough Castle Folly (2013). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Stainbrough Castle Folly (2013). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

The handful of members were then – like today – a mixed bunch. They included pharmacists, doctors and clerks. Women were encouraged to join and there was at least one juvenile. The original fee was five shillings per year. Today, it’s £20.

“Why has it kept going all these years?” ponders Philip, a retired teacher, 63, who actually lives in Chapeltown, Sheffield. “I think photography is a hobby with timeless appeal and I think we have always managed to keep the society fresh and relevant.

“It’s people who share a common interest and who come here to expand their knowledge, share hints and tips, and enter competitions.”

Like Barnsley there have been changes to the society.

St Edward the Confessor Church, Gawber (2013). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

St Edward the Confessor Church, Gawber (2013). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

“New technology like the use of magnesium flash apparatus in 1924 or colour photos have tended not to be immediately welcomed,” admits Brian Crossland, the group’s general secretary, 61, of Worsbrough. “There are minutes from 2004 saying members don’t believe digital photography will catch on.”

And yet the group has kept moving with the times.

The current 30 members come from across the borough, and range in age from 30 to 90. And after this exhibition they are looking forward to snapping their way to 100 years.

* The society meet Mondays, 8pm, at the Emmanuel Methodist Church, in Huddersfield Road, Barnsley. The 90th anniversary exhibition will be at the Cooper Gallery, in Church Street, from April 28 to the end of May.

Stainbrough Castle Folly (1975). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Stainbrough Castle Folly (1975). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Cannon Hall South Side (1975). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Cannon Hall South Side (1975). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Milk Man With Cart (c1930). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Milk Man With Cart (c1930). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Two Girls In Street (date unknow). From Barnsley Photographic Society.

Two Girls In Street (date unknow). From Barnsley Photographic Society.