This page is 1959–Revisited. Added 5/9/09
All photos © Robert Darlaston unless otherwise stated.
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1959 – Revisited!
A Nostalgic Selection of Colour Photographs from 1959
a Prologue comprising a few pictures from 1957 and 1958.
Historical note: Colour
photography was comparatively rare in the
My father’s 35 mm transparencies were not quite the first colour photos in the family. In both 1957 and 1958 my parents had bought a 12 exposure 120 roll colour negative film for use in my camera whilst on holiday. The results were frankly disappointing, but with some aid from the computer a few of those photos have been smartened up and appear below as a kind of prologue.
Holidays in 1957 and 1958
For our 1957 holiday we stayed in Charmouth, Dorset during June.
Here is a view of Charmouth in June 1957, looking down the main street (then the main coast road, as there was no by-pass).
The parked cars both seem to date from about 1947: an Austin A40 (facing down hill) and a Standard 8 facing the camera.
Lyme Regis (left) and gardens at Abbotsbury (right) in June 1957.
At Lyme, my parents are standing by a building which was later demolished following a land slip. At a restaurant along to the left of the photo I was about to enjoy my first taste of lobster!
On Wednesday, 12th
June 1957 we visited
In the left hand picture, taken at about 3 pm, the S.S. St
Patrick manoeuvres towards the quay at the end of a crossing from the Channel
Islands, having left Jersey at 8.15 and
The right hand photograph was taken a little earlier, at
12.15 pm as the 8.20 am boat train from London Paddington arrives at the quay
with passengers about to make the crossing to the islands. Air travel was then still quite undeveloped
and most visitors to the
Look at the splendid line-up of motor cars on the right, with another Austin A40 in the foreground. No foreign cars in those days: one bought British and did not trust Johnny Foreigner to build a reliable family motor!
Robert and his mother
The photograph shows the smart funnel colours of the Great Western Railway Company: the British Railways funnel colours were yellow and black.
In 1958 we moved further west for our
holiday and stayed in Brixham,
It is Sunday, 31st August 1958: my parents are seen by the harbour at Brixham.
It is evidently a warm day as my father has removed his jacket and draped it on the wall, but he retains his tie and long sleeves (it was a Sunday after all, and standards had to be maintained).
(Left): From Kingswear we
look across the River Dart to
(Right): Dartmouth Castle and the estuary of the River Dart
An evening view across
the River from
Stepping back over fifty years to the summer when I left school is an evocative and nostalgic experience. So many of the scenes pictured have now changed significantly and sadly, many – most, even – of the people portrayed are no longer with us.
My father bought his camera, a 35mm Zeiss
Contina, from Harrisons Opticians on the corner of Snow Hill,
I managed to get hold of the camera for a photo of my parents with the River Severn beyond, and
Dad later took one of Mom and me with Woolworths’ to the left and Barclays beyond! How smart Woolworths’ then looked, with traditional gold lettering on a red background.
Circular tour: Sunday, 21st June 1959:
Left: a break at Hanmer, where the eccentric Welsh poet, the Revd R.S. Thomas, was curate from 1940-1942.
English spot is, in fact, about four miles over the border into
Right: A brief pause west of Overton-on-Dee, with
After driving through
Llangollen and Bala, the Wolseley climbed up into the
where we stopped to
admire the view, looking down into the
A wonderful day out, in weather typical of the glorious summer of 1959.
Back at home the garden was my parents’ pride and joy:
From the front: marigolds, petunias, sweet peas, runner beans.
July 1959: End of Term – End of School
Saturday, 18th July 1959: a perfect English summer’s day in my final week before leaving school.
One of the last events of the school year was the cricket match on the school ground between the School XI and the Old Edwardians.
Parents were invited and the occasion was rounded off with a strawberry tea.
A further view of the school cricket ground in Edgbaston, looking towards the Pavilion, with the school flag flying bravely in the summer breeze, while Darlaston sports the school boater.
Family visits: Warwickshire and
Occasionally of a Sunday afternoon, we would visit my mother’s cousin, Rene, who lived in the hamlet of Broadwell, near Southam in Warwickshire, where for many years she had run the village shop. We called to see her and her husband, Will, later in the summer of 1959 – and the new camera went too! Rene’s granddaughter Margaret would also come to tea, and duly had her photo taken with me. Sadly, that delightful girl was to die suddenly only a few years later, leaving a husband and two small children.
Trips to the family in
Four or five times each year we would visit Glamorganshire
to stay with my maternal grandparents, always setting off on a Saturday. In pre-motorway days, our route from
“Blue, remembered hills”
The magnificent Brecon Beacons would rise up before us as we headed west.
My grandfather, after a lifetime farming, was still kept busy in his 80s shepherding on the mountains above Gilfach Goch, a Glamorganshire mining village. In this panorama my grandfather and a friend are standing talking on the grass near the centre of the photograph. In the 1950s there were still several collieries working in the valley, but by 1961 they had all closed.
Left: “Tap”, one of my grandfather’s several sheepdogs, and the friendliest of animals, sprawls inelegantly on the lintel over the side gate leading to “Oak Cottage” as he waits to greet visitors.
Right: My grandparents in their garden. As can be seen, he was a keen vegetable grower.
Left: the view across the road from “Oak Cottage” as my mother and I set off for a walk
Right: we pause on a bridge near Brynchwith farm: I recall that my mother was comparing the yellow of her
cardigan with the yellow in her skirt!
Sunday morning walk: my mother surveys the view over Gilfach.
Autumn comes to Gilfach: at the right some of my grandfather’s sheep and chickens enjoy the sunshine
On Sunday afternoon
we would always visit my grandfather’s friends at Pentwyn farm near
Here, my mother leads my grandparents on a walk around the farm, and on another visit she watches Walter pouring milk into a churn.
On Mondays we would
visit my aunt and uncle at Gelli Farm in the
Here is a family group with my mother, Aunty Maud, my grandmother – and a couple of the dogs.
Joining in: My mother and grandmother help pick blackcurrants and my mother feeds the chickens
My grandfather as visitor (left) watches the activity of marking sheep
Several hundred lamb chops await their chance to return to the open mountain after marking
A social group at the Gelli, with my grandfather, centre.
Several horses were kept as they were used for gathering sheep, quite apart from being ridden for pleasure.
The nearest town of any size to my grandparents’ home was Bridgend, seen here on a busy morning in August 1959,
with a fine display of contemporary motor vehicles.
Penarth was a favourite destination on a summer’s afternoon.
There were always wonderful floral displays to admire and a pleasant stroll to be had on the pier, with views
across the Bristol
Penarth pier, seen from the jetty.
Another popular destination was Porthcawl. But whereas Penarth was situated so as to be sheltered from the
prevailing westerly winds, Porthcawl was decidedly bracing. My first visit to Porthcawl had been in 1943 when we had travelled by bus as petrol was not available. Traditional holiday activities were then boarded up “for the duration” and on a cold wet day the atmosphere had been less than festive, but by the 1950s Porthcawl had sprung to life once more. On Sundays in the 1950s the resort would be invaded by a succession of excursion trains from the mining valleys, but such activity declined rapidly in the 1960s.
Southerndown was our favourite seaside destination, a quiet and secluded beach, accessible only to the few who then had motor cars.
The beach was a
child’s delight and the cliff-top walks offered delightful view across to
All too soon, it would be time to return home. We would often vary our route on the way back: here we have
stopped to do some blackberrying near Malvern.
August 1959: Annual
A touring holiday was an innovation for us as all previous breaks had been “one-centre” holidays
Friday night: the Derwentwater Hotel, Keswick.
At the time of our holiday
After a night at Crianlarich, on Sunday morning we headed for Arrochar and Inveraray where these two
photographs were taken, with time for a tour of the castle, home of the Dukes of Argyll.
On Sunday afternoon we continued our journey to Oban (above), before spending the night at nearby Connel Ferry.
Note the fine line-up of fishing vessels
On Monday we headed
north from Connel Ferry, around the head of
picture of the Pap of
Glencoe, en route to
On Monday lunchtime
after lunch we joined the train for the spectacular ride to Mallaig and back, returning in the Observation Car
evening views across to the
On Tuesday morning we
set off on a round trip to
pausing on the way to admire these falls near Loch Laggan.
How young and attractive my mother looks!
After walking around
Inverness (above), we returned direct to
The Trossachs (right) where the steamer Sir Walter Scott offered trips on Loch Katrine.
We spent Wednesday and Thursday nights with Mr and Mrs Begbie in Callander (left).
On Thursday we drove
On Thursday evening
we drove to
That concluded our
first visit to
retracing our steps through Cumbernauld and Lanark
Once again we broke
our journey at Derwentwater, reaching the
Then it was back to the hotel (right) for the night, before
heading towards Wigan and
The last of 1959, back at home in Birmingham
An afternoon stroll
Winter has arrived: the view from our lounge into Stechford Road.
1959 was over: the swinging ’sixties were about to commence; but that’s another story …!
My childhood memories from the 1940s, with contemporary photographs, are at MemoryLane.htm
School memories from the 1950s, also illustrated, are at KingEdwardsSchool.htm
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