Rare glimpse of colourful past

COLOUR photography is taken for granted today. From family photographs to television news we expect to see colour.

David Kindred

COLOUR photography is taken for granted today. From family photographs to television news we expect to see colour.

Digital cameras have made colour cheap and practical to everybody. This was not so when Alan Valentine took photographs of Ipswich in the 1960s and early 70s. Most people recorded events in black and white because of cost and using colour was technically more challenging. Many amateur cameras did not have lenses which were colour corrected.

At the Evening Star there was no facility to reproduce colour so all the photographers worked in black and white.


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Alan, who had lived with his parents at 85 Rectory Road since his birth in 1942, had been interested in transport since his time at both Luther Road and Tower Ramparts Schools. During the 1950s he used his box camera to capture the end of the era of steam locomotives on the railways. After leaving school Alan joined Mills and Allen as a printer at their premises in Princes Street, where he worked until the company closed in 1970. The company produced the huge street advertising hoardings once a familiar sight in Ipswich.

After working for ABT Plastics at Martlesham, Alan was offered a job as a printer in Newcastle in 1971 where he has been ever since. He took his precious set of colour slides with him, which captured life and transport in his home town in rare colour.

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Alan, who is now retired, was a founder member of the Ipswich Transport Museum and is still a regular visitor to their events.

Alan has sent me some of his colour slides so we can share his excellent and unique images taken with his simple Ilford Sportsman camera, which was entirely manual. He used Kodak Ektachrome transparency film, which was very “slow” (not very light sensitive). The film had to be posted to Kodak for processing.

I will feature more of Alan's fantastic images soon. If you can tell us more about any of the photographs write to Kindred Spirits, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP1 4LN or e-mail info@kindred-spirit.co.uk

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