Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer

Recent news

The stories behind famous images of 1960s Manchester and Salford

(28 July 2017)

Professor Penny Tinkler, School of Social Sciences, has led a project to discover the stories behind Shirley Baker’s famous images of everyday life in Manchester and Salford during the so-called slum clearances of the 1960s and 1970s.

Pioneering British photographer Shirley Baker is thought to have been the only woman practising street photography in Britain during the post-war era. Her photography showed people going about their everyday lives - women in back yards, and children playing on the streets or even among the rubble of demolished streets. They are now part of a major exhibition taking place at Manchester Art Gallery.

Penny has worked with exhibition curator Anna Douglas to collect the stories behind the photographs. She has been interviewing people who lived and played in the inner city streets that Baker photographed, and some of her interviewees have even been able to spot themselves in Baker’s images.  You can listen to Geoff Knight as he recalls his friend making him a go-cart, and also to Norma Barratt as she talks about the excitement caused when some neighbours got an exciting new innovation…a phone.

“Collecting these life stories is a way of helping people better understand the lives of the people in Baker’s photos, and of making the histories of people from disadvantaged communities more visible,” said Penny. “The stories people told us were fascinating, funny, moving and sometimes startling, judged by today’s standards.

“Community was at the heart of everyday life and interviewees had intense memories of the importance of friends and neighbours. The bull-dozing of these so-called slums was remembered in diverse ways. For some it represented an unwarranted destruction of place and community. Others recalled excitement at the new possibilities afforded by living in high rise flats and the novelty of having an inside toilet.”