I HAVE been collecting old photographs of Saddleworth for over 40 years and one thing I am regularly asked is about taking present day as it looks ‘now’ views. The idea sounds very simple but is certainly not always as easy as the idea suggests.
For instance, the early street view photographs of Saddleworth mostly published as old postcards were taken in an age before the proliferation of the motor car. The photographer would take advantage of this relative lack of traffic to set up their tripod in the middle of the road to equally record both sides of the street; with the traffic on our roads nowadays this certainly isn’t the easiest photograph to do.
Though there are many areas of Saddleworth that retain the same character there are certainly areas that have altered beyond all recognition and in many cases the sense of ‘working’ villages has been lost.
These changes are either man-made through new building, which over the last 50 years has been fairly prolific, or the removal of buildings which has recounted for the loss of numerous mills.
Another problem is that in the last 50 years Saddleworth has ‘greened’ itself with a proliferation of new trees growing both in the valley bottoms and on the hillsides. The greening of the area can be perhaps matched to the bringing in of smokeless fuels and the loss of mills bringing about a loss of the soot that used to fill the atmosphere and blacken the buildings and landscape.
These images feature a selection of views where, for various reasons whether man-made or natural, it is now impossible to record a matching or changed scene.