Exhibition puts city past in focus

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A landmark photo exhibition shows Sheffield over the last 150 years. Colin Drury meets the organisers...

Buffer girls polishing cutlery, Castlefolds Market standing grand in Exchange Street, newspapers on sale in Fitzalan Square and Don Valley Stadium before the bulldozers moved in?

Buffing Shop 1940s by Bert Housley. From Sheffield Photographic Society 150th exhibition

Buffing Shop 1940s by Bert Housley. From Sheffield Photographic Society 150th exhibition

Ah, welcome to Sheffield Past.

These evocative images showing our city down the decades are among dozens which have gone on display this week to celebrate the landmark 150th anniversary of Sheffield Photographic Society.

Many are so old they’ve had to be taken off glass slides especially. All are thought to have been taken by members of SPS - one of the oldest such groups in the country.

And as part of the exhibition - being held at Sheffield Cathedral until Sunday - current members have gone out and taken ‘now’ shots to correspond with many of the ‘then’ photos. So, for example, the 19th century Castlefolds market can be compared to the new Moor version.

Sheffield Photographic Society  Images from  Annual Exhibition, Winter Garden, Feb 17-23 2014'''Fading Icon, Don Valley Stadium, April 2013, by Richard Hall

Sheffield Photographic Society Images from Annual Exhibition, Winter Garden, Feb 17-23 2014'''Fading Icon, Don Valley Stadium, April 2013, by Richard Hall

“Which looks better?” ponders Julia Greenwood, spokeswoman for the 100-strong group. “No comment.”

Other images of note include a couple of shots of the group in its early years (mostly men, mostly sporting magnificent facial hair), the city’s main thoroughfare Fargate down the decades and the Sheffield skyline from various angles. The oldest - taken at Maltby’s Roche Abbey - dates back to 1865.

“This is an exciting year as we are one of a few societies in the world to have marked its 150th year,” says current president Mike Smith. “It is very different to our usual exhibitions. When you see some of the photographs, it is amazing to see how times have changed throughout the decades, both in the city and in photography. It is a fascinating record which we hope will appeal to everyone.”

And the group, which meets at Saint Peter’s Church in Greenhill, are hoping that future members will be looking at their photos in another 150 years time.

Castlefolds Market 1890s by J R Wigfull. From Sheffield Photographic Society 150th exhibition.

Castlefolds Market 1890s by J R Wigfull. From Sheffield Photographic Society 150th exhibition.

“Why not?” says Mike. “Everyone has a camera these days so I think photography is getting even more popular all the time.”

* Exhibition opens officially at 2pm today. Free entry.

Sheffield Photographic Society council 1914-15. From Sheffield Photographic Society 150th exhibition

Sheffield Photographic Society council 1914-15. From Sheffield Photographic Society 150th exhibition

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