Pictures prove popular in online Sheffield gallery

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An online gallery with some 30,000 pictures of Sheffield is attracting more members everyday. Colin Drury meets the men behind it...

IT was all started by one man who liked looking at pictures of his home city.

Cholera monument at sunset by Jason Harley. From Pictures of Sheffield Old and New.

Cholera monument at sunset by Jason Harley. From Pictures of Sheffield Old and New.

In 2007 Hedley Bishop set up Pictures Of Sheffield Old And New, an internet group, in the hope a few enthusiasts would share their snaps of the region for all to see.

“I remember being pleased when it got to 50 members,” he says today.

Yesterday, some seven years after Hedley posted the first image online - a rather blurry picture of a Fargate flower market - the group’s 16,000th member signed up. In the intervening time, more than 30,000 pictures have been posted.

They include everything from images of bygone streetscapes and long-gone school days to current snaps capturing big moments in the city’s history - such as the Tour de France and the last day of trading at Castle Market.

So many pictures were being sent in by 2010 that Jim and Hedley organised an exhibition - also at Castle Market. Since then there have never been a time when the group’s pictures aren’t displayed somewhere in the city. A bunch are currently on show in the old Redgates store in Furnival Gate. Next month, The Diary can reveal, another selection will be shown in an empty unit in The Moor.

“It’s just snowballed and never stopped,” says Jim Lambert, who today runs the site with Hedley. “I guess people like looking at pictures of Sheffield.”

Now to celebrate the landmark member and new exhibition, the pair are showing off some of their latest submissions exclusively here.

“If you think about it, this is probably the single biggest collection of pictures of Sheffield anywhere,” says Jim, 58, of Netherthorpe. “I don’t imagine the museum or archive service has this many.

“And the special thing is it’s all created by ordinary Sheffielders. We don’t have quality control. We say if it’s a picture showing some aspect of the city or surrounding area - or it has some link - then it goes up. And I think, in a way, that encourages quality, because it encourages people to experiment.”

The group is free to sign up to as long as you have a Facebook page. Then every image posted goes straight into each member’s online feed. People have signed up from all across the world.

“We have members in Canada, India and Australia,” says Hedley, 45, of Woodseats. “The lovely thing is when a picture provokes discussion and nostalgia, and you can see friendships being formed.”

It continues to grow too. By time The Star went to press last night there were already 16,020 members.