Un­seen pic­tures of Moor­lands in days gone by

Leek Post & Times - - NEWS -

SCENES of Leek, Cheadle and neigh­bour­ing vil­lages in the Ed­war­dian era fea­ture in a new book devoted to the works of a ‘re­mark­able’ lo­cal pho­tog­ra­pher of more than a cen­tury ago.

The book, en­ti­tled A Moor­land Al­bum, is the first of its kind ded­i­cated to the pho­to­graphs of William Henry Niths­dale, who lived and worked in the Moor­lands be­tween the years 1903 and 1908. It con­tains more than 200 im­ages as well as a bi­og­ra­phy of the man him­self.

“Niths­dale was re­spon­si­ble for so many im­ages which give us a real in­sight into life in lo­cal towns and vil­lages be­fore the First World War,” said the book’s author, David Cliffe.

“Niths­dale came to work in Leek as a tax col­lec­tor and took his glass plate cam­era with him wher­ever he went. He would pho­to­graph what­ever he came across – from chil­dren play­ing in the street and Leek live­stock mar­kets to vil­lage pubs and shops.

“As well as street scenes, he would of­ten take pho­to­graphs of pub­lic events, such as pro­ces­sions through Leek or the well dress­ings at Rush­ton and En­don, and then pub­lish them as pic­ture post­cards.”

David has spent 10 years track­ing down pho­to­graphs taken by Niths­dale and re­search­ing his life, as well as col­lect­ing to­gether orig­i­nal documents and glass neg­a­tives which be­longed to the pho­tog­ra­pher.

Each pho­to­graph in the book has a de­scrip­tive cap­tion, of­ten quot­ing the pho­tog­ra­pher’s own thoughts on lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties as well as in­for­ma­tion taken from con­tem­po­rary news­pa­per re­ports. I’ve man­aged to find a num­ber of pic­tures which haven’t been seen in pub­lic be­fore and the book cov­ers the com­plete Moor­lands area in­clud­ing scenes of attractions at Rud­yard Lake, the Man­i­fold Val­ley and Dovedale which were very pop­u­lar in Ed­war­dian times,” David con­tin­ued.

“Niths­dale was quite a pioneer pho­tog­ra­pher, so there are also ac­tion shots from events such as a school sports day, Long­nor Races and Leek Agri­cul­tural Show.

“He also went in­side the tex­tile mills to record the dif­fer­ent pro­cesses.

“He be­came quite a well known fig­ure in the area, writ­ing ar­ti­cles and books about the Moor­lands. He also put on lan­tern slideshows in Leek and lo­cal vil­lages. It’s been fas­ci­nat­ing to dis­cover just how much he achieved in a rel­a­tively short time.”

A Moor­land Al­bum, which has 152 pages, is now on sale for £12.99 from lo­cal book­shops or email Moor­lan­dal­[email protected]

Left, William Niths­dale’s pho­tos show the Band of Hope pa­rade in 1907 mak­ing its way into Derby Street, Leek. Right, crowds of vis­i­tors at Rud­yard Lake in around 1906. Inset below, young­sters play­ing with spin­ning tops in Cheadle High Street in 1906.

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