Photo collection puts the Fifties in Focus

Berwick and its surroundings in the 1950s are brought sharply into focus in a fascinating new book which is guaranteed to provide older readers with a real nostalgia trip.

By The Newsroom
Saturday, 17 December, 2016, 08:04
Fifties in Focus

The Fifties in Focus, published by Berwick Record Office on behalf of The Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives, features pictures from the Photocentre Collection.

The introduction states: ‘In September 2012, The Photocentre in Bridge Street, Berwick, closed its doors for the final time. On leaving his post at the Berwick Journal, David Smith started his own press agency in Hide Hill, before moving to 17 Bridge Street in 1953.

Fifites in Focus - Berwick May Fair

‘Over their 60 years in business David Smith, and later his son Ian and their staff photographers, created an archive of well over three million images documenting every aspect of life in Berwick, north Northumberland and the Scottish Borders.

‘To ensure this unique collection stayed in the town, the negatives were purchased by Berwick Record Office with the help of the Friends of Berwick and District Museum and Archives.

‘The images reproduced in this book offer a glimpse of the area between 1951 and 1959 through the lens of David Smith and his staff. It is merely a selection but provides an indication of what has been preserved.’

The pictures include long queues waiting to see The Dam Busters at the theatre on Hide Hill in 1955.

Fifites in Focus - Berwick May Fair

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Pubs and hotels also feature, including Wood’s Hotel on Marygate in 1952 and the Old Bridge Tavern on Bridge Street from 1955, the latter pulled down in 1963 to make way for a car park.

Long-gone shops are also featured, including Towers & Bishop the confectioner and sweet shop in 1958 and Cowe’s grocery store from 1953.

Pictures from the Queen’s first royal visit to Berwick in 1956 are also included, as well as parties held for her coronation in 1953. Her visit to Holy Island in 1958 is also documented, along with the opening of the causeway in 1954.

Views of Berwick quayside and its ship-building industry recall its heyday, along with associated trades such as Leith’s sailmakers on Pier Road.

The town’s long association with the salmon industry is noted, along with pictures of the Pringle knitwear factory.

Most bizarrely of all, the visit of circus owner Billy Smart in 1954 is also noted. He led a procession of 10 elephants from Berwick station to Lamberton!

The Fifties in Focus is available from Berwick Record Office and Grieves, £7.99.