View the old and new

By Richard Peck. City Centre panoramic.''For feature on Facebook group Sheffield Pictures Old And New
By Richard Peck. City Centre panoramic.''For feature on Facebook group Sheffield Pictures Old And New
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It must be one of the biggest collections of Sheffield photographs.

With more than 30,000 images of the city over many decades, you’d imagine this historic treasure trove to be safely stowed in an archive, or perhaps a museum.

But it’s actually on Facebook.

Pictures of Sheffield Old and New started as an online space for keen photographer Hedley Bishop to share retro pictures in 2008.

Now it has spiralled to a group with over 8,000 members and resulted in several exhibitions.

There are fans spread across the world - even including the Lord Mayor of Sheffield in Sheffield, Alabama - discussions last for days and around 20 photographs are posted every 24 hours.

Hedley, who runs the group with friend Jim Lambert, said: “We have soared in membership recently.

“There are at least 20 people joining us a day. People from India, New Zealand and Australia are members – lots of them Sheffield ex-pats.

“When I first started and it got 50 members I was quite pleased. Then I started going on the radio and we did some displays, we thought then that it couldn’t get any bigger.”

Fellow photographer Jim, of Netherthorpe, added: “We couldn’t have done this without Facebook as a platform.

“We looked at other ways but they didn’t work. This is the only way that everyone can join in.

“We’d like to get more public displays. People know all these pictures are on Facebook but they have never seen them in real life.”

The range of photographs shared on the group is huge - from black and white snaps of old schools to colourful graffiti art and panoramic views taken from city centre apartment blocks.

People share pictures to wallow in nostalgia, share news and provoke debate.

And there are some scenes which crop up more than most...

“The fountains, the shiny balls in the Peace Gardens, the hole in the road and bottles of Henderson’s Relish taken around the city”, said mental health nurse Hedley, of Woodseats.

“We get a lot of those. We allow pictures of the Peak District and surrounding areas as well because it is a place where Sheffield people go.

“It has become a big discussion forum. As soon as you put something up people start saying ‘my auntie used to run that shop’ and one debate lasted for a week.

“But there are also pictures of places cropping up that people knew nothing about.

“The other day someone put on a picture of the old prisoner of war camps at Lodge Moor. We’ve got quite a range of history up to the present day.”

Displays put on using pictures from the group have been well attended and some have even been shown to help dementia patients.

There are hopes the flourishing project could eventually lead to a book but for now it is encouraging people to explore their city.

Jim, aged 58, added: “There are a lot of people saying Sheffield’s history has been lost or destroyed.

“We always say that most of it is above eye level. Remember to look up because that’s where all the history is.”