Can you help family find out more about nostalgic photos of Matlock?

Feature on Harry Gill's photos
Feature on Harry Gill's photos

These old photographs of Matlock and the surrounding areas have been sat in a box gathering dust for many years.

Taken by former Matlock photographer Harry Gill, they chronicle various moments in the town’s history.

Feature on Harry Gill's photos

Feature on Harry Gill's photos

Harry passed away in 1970, at the age of 69, his daughter Phyllis Higton, 84, kept his thousands of photos from his newspaper days stored at home.

Phyllis said: “My dad was a photographer for as long as I can remember. When I was a girl we lived in Matlock and he had a studio on Dale Road at the back of what is now the Magpie.

“We moved to Matlock Bath when I was 12 and when the charabancs/buses used to stop he used to take photos of the visitors and people would order them.”

Harry was a freelance photographer and would get paid two shillings for every picture used by the Mercury.

Phyllis said: “After he died the photos got put away in suitcases and boxes at my mum and dad’s house.

“He took photos all his life. He never went to school because when he was young he fell down a drain hole and one leg was shorter than the other. Kids called him hop-a-long.

“What nobody knew was that my mum was a trained photographer and that’s how they met.”

Phyllis’s daughter and Harry’s granddaughter, Wendy Hodgkinson, used to be a junior reporter at the Mercury in the early 1970s, helped by her grandad. She said: “Ella Smith was the editor and was a formidable lady. My grandad talked to her and told her I was interested in journalism. I originally wanted to be a photographer but in those days anything other than domestic science was considered not to be a woman’s area. But my grandad said all was not lost and talked to her about me doing a bit of reporting. I had passed my literature and language and that’s what she wanted.”

Wendy said her grandad was always buzzing about stuff: “If there was an accident he would get in the car and off he would go. He was very professional,” she said.

Harry was born in 1902 and became the main local photographer in Matlock and surrounding villages between the 1930s and 1960s becoming a freelance photographer, selling some of the photographs to the Matlock Mercury where he was paid two shillings for every photograph they used.

Now the photos have emerged, Harry’s great granddaughter Lisa Wildgoose has started putting them on a website.

Lisa, said: “Working for the Matlock Mercury, Derbyshire Times and other local papers, he managed to collect thousands of historical images that have been sat in my grandma’s garage for years.

“She thought it was time we shared these memories and tried to piece together the missing information, while the people who could potentially tell us about each image are still around. Hopefully bringing the older community together with the younger and creating a real picture of the past for our own children.”

The original photographs are being stored at the local history section of Derbyshire County Council where they can be preserved properly, as the condition of some has deteriorated and they require professional attention.

Lisa, who runs her own photography business, said: “My dad has taken hours painstakingly scanning them, but there are still thousands more to go and there is so much information missing.

“That’s where I decided I could help, being a blogger, and running my own website and business I knew I could take on the task of starting the blog and Facebook page to get the community involved and try to get the word out.”

All of the black and white photos have been scanned and uploaded onto a website in the hope that people will have more information on them

• The photographs taken by Harry Gill can be seen at www.matlockpeakdistrictmemories.blogspot.co.uk and on Facebook by searching for Matlock and Peak District Memories.