Hayling Island 1933

These images are taken from the same album as Gosport 1936.  Dad was born late 1920 so this summer on Hayling Island he would be 12 years old.  He is responsible for the delightfully composed first image.  His dad, Alfred, looks like a prohibition gangster but nothing could be further from the truth – a builder by trade and a lifelong teetotaller, he was raised in the village pub at Fyfield , Hampshire.  He knew the consequences of the demon drink and passed this valuable knowledge onto his son.  The message was too watered down by the time it reached me.

There is telling detail in the first image – the picnic basket, the football and camera case lying on the sand.  Alfred is deep in thought and stares out to sea.  Agnes appears to be asleep but look closer and she is shading her eyes from the sun with a newspaper. Perhaps she is peering at the camera – “Please Kenneth – do not take me like this! The twelve year old schoolboy labelled this image: “Hayling Forest – Edge of Desert”.

The second image must have been taken by Agnes and the “One and a half dreams” are placed dead centre – Alfred has removed his hat, a too heavy coat is draped over a deck chair and an itchy wool bathing suit hangs to dry from the beach tent; one summer long ago.

Hayling Forest ... Hayling Island ...

The fascination with these images is not confined to the past. In these eyes and the shapes of these mouths, I see not just myself but my boys.


  1. Tish Farrell · February 7, 2016

    That first image is indeed very striking, Robin. There is so much that’s wonderful – the angle of the limbs of Agnes and Alfred echoing each other, but grandmother folded more towards a foetal position and grandad with that open, and as you say, gangsterish look. Fascinating in every way.

    • northumbrianlight · February 7, 2016

      Thanks Tish, Dad would be pleased. I love that first image for its unlikely informal composition, something that does not occur again in any of the old family albums – there is almost a feeling of Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières.

      • Tish Farrell · February 7, 2016

        Definitely. It is a little work of art in its very own original way. Natural talent.

  2. LaVagabonde · February 7, 2016

    That first photo is definitely atypical of photos from that period, which are usually so contrived. Film was precious back then. Love how candid it is. In the ghosts of the past, we so often find ourselves.

    • Sue · February 7, 2016

      I had the same thoughts….

      • northumbrianlight · February 7, 2016

        Thanks Sue – good to hear from you – hope all is well

      • Sue · February 7, 2016

        Hi Robin! Yes, all well, just been a bit absent from blogging lately…life gets in the way! Trust all good with you…

      • northumbrianlight · February 7, 2016

        All good here thanks Sue but it has been a long ‘winter’ – I am suffering from cabin fever with far too few ride-outs on the motorcycle and too few days on the golf course 😦

      • Sue · February 7, 2016

        Oh, I’m a SAD, but had too much to do indoors for it to worry me unduly this year ….

    • northumbrianlight · February 7, 2016

      Thanks Julie – your phrasing is wonderful – I love that last sentence. Have you read Anne Enright? A similar talent – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Enright

      • LaVagabonde · February 7, 2016

        No, I haven’t read her, but will seek her work out. Thanks, Robin!

  3. easyweimaraner · February 7, 2016

    your photos take me back to a time many moons ago… it’s like magic sometimes :o) Many thanks :o)

    • northumbrianlight · February 7, 2016

      There is power in these old photographs; I am fortunate to have so many. Many thanks for your continuing encouragement.

  4. Cate Franklyn · February 7, 2016

    The best part of family photos like these, is it makes your past “real” not just family stories past down by word of mouth or in a diary but, your eyes seeing through their eyes. This is why photography is so important. Great post to read while having a very late breakfast on a Sunday morning.

    • northumbrianlight · February 7, 2016

      Many thanks Cate – I get a real buzz out of scanning and zooming in on the detail, it puts you right back in the moment. Enjoy the rest of your day; the light is fading here as the short day closes.

  5. sustainabilitea · February 8, 2016

    These are so much fun. Thanks for sharing some more.


  6. socialbridge · February 9, 2016

    Oh Robin, these images are wonderful. That swimsuit speaks volumes!

    • northumbrianlight · February 10, 2016

      I vaguely remember swimsuits made from unsuitable fabrics but fortunately not one as fashionably challenged as this 😮

      • socialbridge · February 10, 2016

        Oh I remember wearing ones that were not unlike the one in the photo – a family hairloom!!

  7. restlessjo · February 15, 2016

    I do like wandering through your old albums. 🙂 Like most people, I found that first image compelling.

    • northumbrianlight · February 15, 2016

      Thanks Jo – it is very special that one – I can say that because it’s not mine 😉

  8. Leya · February 26, 2016

    Beautiful in their own right. The first one , candid.as said in your comments, is very special. photos in the old days are not usually that

    • northumbrianlight · February 26, 2016

      Many thanks Leya – I am still surprised by that image, no matter how many times I see it. All credit to the photographer.

      • Leya · February 26, 2016


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