RETRO: Image maker who captured our city

Blind match seller outside Cambridge Arcade in Pinstone Street, May 1975. From Sheffield In The 1970s by J R Wrigley
Blind match seller outside Cambridge Arcade in Pinstone Street, May 1975. From Sheffield In The 1970s by J R Wrigley
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He’s been called the man with the cam and Sheffield’s unofficial photographer.

Over the last 57 years Jack Wrigley has taken some 30,000 pictures of Steel City scenes and sites. He may be an amateur but his images have so wowed people, publishers have released 14 books of his work.

Shoppers in High Street going down to the Hole-in-the-Road in 1975. From Sheffield In The 1970s by J R Wrigley

Shoppers in High Street going down to the Hole-in-the-Road in 1975. From Sheffield In The 1970s by J R Wrigley

Now, this Christmas, one of the 86-year-old’s most popular volumes is to be brought out afresh.

Sheffield In The 1970s captures the Steel City in the decade of change. And, today, to celebrate The Star shop stocking the book, Midweek Retro brings you some of the most evocative images from this most evocative of tomes.

“I always felt it was somehow my responsibilty to take these photos,” says Jack at his home in The Wheel, Ecclesfield. “It was important to take pictures of places before they disappeared.

“This was in the day before everyone had cameras. I would go out to a different part of the city when I had some spare time with a couple of 35mm reels and just take hundreds of pictures.”

The corner of Surrey Street and Norfolk Street, June 1974. From Sheffield In The 1970s by J R Wrigley

The corner of Surrey Street and Norfolk Street, June 1974. From Sheffield In The 1970s by J R Wrigley

Among the sites captured in this book are some which have disappeared (the Hole-in-the-Road, obviously), sites which have changed (younger readers will be astonished by a hugely different Sheaf Square) and sites which (for now) are more or less the same - Castle Market, for example.

Not that Jack ever envisaged back when he started shooting in 1956 that his pictures would be turned into books.

That only happened after he met publishing boss Michael Liversedge of Pickards, based in Fitzwalter Road. Michael was so impressed he asked if he could work with Jack on a series of books. Now both are hoping Sheffielders will enjoy their spot of Seventies nostalgia this festive season.

“It’s satisfying when people like them,” says Jack, a retired book seller and grandfather-of-one.

As for him and his cam, he’s slowing down slightly these days. He’s stopped driving which means he can’t get around as easily and he’s focusing on digitising all those thousands of negatives he has.

“There’s plenty of people taking pictures these days,” he says. “I feel like the baton has been passed on.”

n Sheffield In The 1970s is available in The Star shop now, £8.