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A Sepia Toned Glimpse into Newcastle's Past

RESIDENTS are being urged to rummage through their attics to help provide a sepia-toned glimpse into Newcastle’s past.

Local historian Jon Heal believes many families may well have examples of the work of renowned North Staffordshire photographer William Blake tucked away in storage. And he wants people to come forward with their own historic pictures for a four-week course he is running on social history, as depicted through the eyes and lenses of Blake and other prominent local photographers.

Blake was a Longton-based stationer/newsagent, whose skill as an amateur photographer created an invaluable record of working life, social conditions, the landscape and buildings in and around the area.

“For anyone who has seen one of those iconic old photographs of potbanks, belching smoke into the North Staffordshire skies, the chances are it would have been taken by William Blake,” said Jon, who will present ‘Looking at Newcastle and the Potteries: old photographs and social history’ at the Brampton Museum from 9-30 June. “We will be studying a lot of my own collection of Blake’s photographs on the course, as well as many from the Museum’s own archives, but it would be great if people could look through their own attics and bring along their own old photos, too.”

Jon’s course focuses on the 20 years before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, when photographs recorded all aspects of society for the first time. In particular, the ‘Golden Age of Picture Postcards’ preserved views of events, people and places that would otherwise now be long forgotten.

‘Looking at Newcastle and the Potteries: old photographs and social history’ runs on Thursdays from 2pm-3.30pm on 9, 16, 23 and 30 June, in the Brampton Museum’s Red Room. Places cost £30 (£28 for concessions) and are restricted to 25, on a first-come, first-served basis. Bookings can be made by calling at the Museum or by telephoning 01782 619705.