Sunday, September 23, 2012

Albert Beaney's photographs

Albert Beaney
Swindonians of a certain age might remember Albert Beaney.  With his camera and his notebook he was a familiar figure on the streets of the town.

Albert George Beaney was born in Swindon in 1913.  He worked in the Post Office for many years, but photography was always his first love and he advertised the photography business he ran from his home at 50 Beatrice Street.  When the customers didn't come to him, he took to the streets for inspiration.

According to anecdotal memory he would take photos of children in the streets and parks, sometimes individually, sometimes in groups of friends - difficult to imagine in today's more fearful climate.  Having recorded their addresses he would return at a later date with the prints to sell.

Many of the photographs taken between 1945-1970 went unclaimed and in 1998 the Swindon Society helped towards the purchase of 40,000 of Albert's prints and negatives now held by the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.  Last year the collection formed the basis of The Back to Black and White Project organised by Create Studios, the Swindon Museum and Art Gallery and Swindon Youth Forum, backed by a £25,000 Heritage Lottery Fund.

In recent months still more Beaney photographs have become available and Swindon Society members Bob Townsend and Diane Everett are doing their best to identify them.  Albert's idiosyncratic record keeping consisted of a few notebooks of street names only; local landmarks captured in the background are sometimes the only identifying indicator. Albums of the prints accompany Bob and Diane to local fairs, fetes and events and occasionally they strike lucky.  A visitor to Parks Library was able to add her name to the growing list, although it was the family dog she recognised first!

Albert George Beaney died on August 29, 2006 aged 92 - remembered as a photographer and gentleman.

Ladies taking tea - thought to have been snapped in c1948

Snowballing fun dated to c1946

Men at work in c1948

If any of these faces look familiar or you would like to know more about the Beaney collection contact the Swindon Society

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Swindon Society Celebrates

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