Gosport 1936

My dad kept a photograph album from the age of nine until he was fifteen.  There is a gap and then pictures of him courting my mum start to appear in other albums; they married in 1943.

His earliest first pictures are accompanied by quirky observations in a clear precise hand that remained constant throughout his life, he was never destined for the medical profession.  As he approaches his later teens the comical asides disappear and the serious older boy simply writes pertinent information on the rear of the photographs, something I didn’t know was there until I pulled out the images for scanning.

All of them are roughly 55mm x 80mm and I assume contacts derived from 120 roll film. Despite his lifelong interest in photography there are not that many pictures in the album but film processing and printing costs would not have been cheap for a schoolboy with empty pockets.

On 31st May, Whitsun 1936, my dad, not yet sixteen, stood on the seafront at Gosport admiring the view across the water to Portsmouth.  Such was the scene that he was inspired to take a photograph.  In the foreground are local boats anchored near the town while in the distance can be seen the Naval Base and a warship moored in front of the Semaphore Tower Building.Dad's album ...

On this warm Whit Sunday he is feeling extravagant, turns to his left and captures the view northeast, towards Cosham:
Dad's album ...

A few months short of eighty years later, on a cold day in January, his son realises what he did at that precise moment in time and with a machine unimaginable in 1936, zips the two images together to see a scene that only previously existed in his father’s memory:

Dad's album ...

(click on the images to enlarge – but not by much – something has changed in WordPress and not for the better 😦 )


  1. easyweimaraner · January 15, 2016

    thanks for sharing some of this treasures… it’s so great that you still have this photos. I always was angry at my dad that he took so much photos, but today I’m grateful for everyone… even for those with the ugly 80’s sins.

    • northumbrianlight · January 15, 2016

      Yes, I am lucky that so much of my dad’s photography has been preserved – and there is a mountain of un-printed negatives which one day I must sort through. Something to keep me out of mischief in the cold winter months 😉

  2. LaVagabonde · January 15, 2016

    Awesome work, Robin. Your father would be proud. 🙂 I know what you mean about the changes. Lots of them and very few good.

    • northumbrianlight · January 15, 2016

      Thanks Julie, I like to think he would be impressed.
      BTW – would you believe, sat on my desk are two rolls of Super-8 marked Xochimilco/Olympic Park (from my Dad’s time in Mexico) and Bermuda. They must date from the early 70s but I have no idea what is on them – Dad would be more likely to film scenes than people but who knows – I intend finding out, inspired by your post. They were in a box in the loft which I had not opened in years.

      • LaVagabonde · January 15, 2016

        That’s great news! Hope you can find a way to watch them. 😀

  3. Ashley Lily Scarlett · January 15, 2016

    Like magic.

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2016

      It was – when I realised what Dad had done I still didn’t expect the two images to knit together as well as they did.

  4. Livonne · January 15, 2016

    how fantastic his photos are so great and that you were able to stitch them together.. terrific result

  5. Cate Franklyn · January 15, 2016

    A great read. I always enjoy the family lore with photos.

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2016

      Many thanks Cate and there is more from that album. Are you surrounded by deep snow?

      • Cate Franklyn · January 16, 2016

        No, not at all. It is raining again. It seems to be bright and sunny during the week, of course when I’m at work, and then rain on the weekend. Hopefully, it will clear by tonight so I can continue my nocturnal wanderings. I do wish for snow, though.

      • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2016

        That’s a shame (or maybe not if you have to travel in it) – I mistakenly got the impression that there had been a lot of snow in your area but admittedly the news source was Twitter so not the most reliable 😉

  6. greenmackenzie · January 16, 2016

    Wonderful modern trickery….what a wonderful thing to have his album and his notes, it must feel like getting to know another side of him💕

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2016

      At that precise moment in time it seemed like I was back there with him.

      • greenmackenzie · January 16, 2016

        That’s such a beautiful gift✨

  7. janemorley2014 · January 16, 2016

    What a wonderful legacy you have there Robin, I wonder what your father would have made of our modern contraptions!

    • northumbrianlight · January 16, 2016

      An interesting question Jane – dad was an industrial chemist by profession with a passion for the more complex colour processing and printing systems – Agfa primarily. I am undecided – I think he would have enjoyed the flexibility of digital but maybe he would have considered it cheating.

      • janemorley2014 · January 16, 2016

        Yes I can imagine the appeal of the alchemy of colour processing would be hard to replace with Photoshop!

  8. restlessjo · January 16, 2016

    Eeeh, but you’re clever! 🙂 You know when the eye perversely sees what it wants to see? Well- I read Gosforth… not quite the same thing 😦

    • northumbrianlight · January 17, 2016

      Thanks Jo – I was feeling rather pleased with self yesterday 😇
      Gosforth … dreaming of champagne under warm skies on Ladies Day?

  9. littledogslaughed · January 17, 2016

    What a wonderful walk back and forth in time Robin- what a treasure older photographs are!

    • northumbrianlight · January 17, 2016

      Indeed they are Meg – the closest we get to Jules Verne’s time machine. Hope you had a good weekend.

  10. Jane Lurie · January 17, 2016

    Awesome idea, Robin. Love the story behind the images. Wonderful.

    • northumbrianlight · January 18, 2016

      Many thanks Jane – it was just one of those spur of the moment experiments – I couldn’t believe how well it worked.

  11. socialbridge · January 18, 2016

    Oh Robin, this is such a heartwarming post. Vying for top spot in my posts of the year!

    • northumbrianlight · January 18, 2016

      Many thanks Jean, I must admit I was very pleased with this one – such a surprise when it worked. Have a grand week, all the best, R

      • socialbridge · January 18, 2016

        Glad you’re admitting it.
        Have a super-duper week!

  12. drewkfaulkner · January 18, 2016

    Awesome photos!

  13. Richard Baker · January 19, 2016

    Great post.

  14. litadoolan · January 28, 2016

    Beautiful images. I love Gosport and this is a priceless treasure. There is something so timeless about the coast. Awesome post.

    • northumbrianlight · January 28, 2016

      Thanks Lita, good to hear from you and a Happy New Year. I have never been to Gosport, only passed it on the way out from Portsmouth on ferries to France. Now I would like to go and try recreate my Dad’s panorama. All the best, R

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