A walk back through time

IMAGES of old Gainsborough compiled on a new DVD will be taking viewers on a walk back through time.

It is volume four in a series of slideshows called A Century of Changes, looking at the town’s history over the past 100 years.

They have been produced by local historian Paul Kemp, whose own claim to fame is that his family was the last to live at Thonock Hall, and his older brother Alex was the last baby to be born there.

Paul, 50, of Greystones Road, Gainsborough, said: “My family has been here for hundreds of years and I’ve been interested in local history since I was about 14.”

“I remember going past Mick Ford’s photographers on the bus and seeing a big photo of Thonock Hall and my mum telling me the story of how they had lived there.”

“She showed me all the family photos we have at Thonock. I was interested in photography even back then so I copied a photo and enlarged it for her.”

“Ever since then if I see a photo of a building or a place I want to know all about the history behind it.”

Paul’s hobby has led to him now owning a collection of 27,000 old photos of Gainsborough and area, and he’s determined to record as much of the town’s history as possible before it’s too late.

He said: “A lot of people have disappeared in the past 30 years who had a lot of memories and knowledge of old Gainsborough, and more will disappear in the next ten to 20 years while I’m doing this, so I want to get as much recorded as I can now.”

“The previous DVDs have sold really well and it’s great when people tell me howdifferent pictures have brought back memories for them. That’s what it’s all about.”

Volume one focused on the area around Trent Bridge, then volume two went down the river to Caskgate Street and Silver Street.

Volume three was all about the River Trent from Spillers in the south to Keadby Bridge, near Scunthorpe, in the north, including the steam packets that used to plough up and down it and the whale that was found at Furley’s Wharf.

Volume four picks up from volume two and continues the walk along Etherington Street, where rag and bone man Billy Wright lived, Torr Street, Southolme, Hickman Street, White Horse Yard and Kebir Terrace, which is now Heaton Street.

“I’ve included a lot of aerial views and maps which show how crammed in everything was. Gainsborough had 127 different yards which were lost in the 1960s when they were clearing slums and widening roads,” said Paul.

“It’s a shame because with all those cobbled streets and yards Gainsborough could have been another York.”

Paul, who worked as a British Gas technician for 35 years, goes to antique fairs to buy photos, as well as having them sent to him by the public.

Wherever possible he tries to buy the original glass plate or negative, despite the fact that they cost more.

He used to be the archive officer for the Heritage Centre and copies of the DVD are available from there and from Gainsborough library.

“If anything happened to my collection there are copies at these other places so that it would not be lost,” said Paul.