Oldham ’85. Sheltered Housing, Care of the Elderly: Portraits and Conversations
This project was commissioned by Oldham Leisure Services and North West Arts, these photographs and conversations were made during the summer of 1985 and exhibited at Oldham Art Gallery in September later that year.
All the schemes I visited were in the former cotton mill town of Failsworth, within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, Greater Manchester. Failsworth was known for its textile manufacture and in particulate hat making, however today its disused cotton mills still dominate the urban landscape and high levels of unemployment make Failsworth an economically deprived area.
Sheltered housing is specifically designed to provide accommodation to elderly and vulnerable people allowing them to live independently, yet with the security and support of an ‘on site’ warden. The sheltered housing schemes I visited were the self contained flats at Charles Morris House, Walton House and individual bungalows at Iris Street and Lynmouth Avenue which were supported by an ‘off site’ warden.
The residents I photographed are the last of a generation that were born at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, most lived through two world wars and endured the hardships of a long life of manual work. I particularly wanted to include in the exhibition the conversations I had with the residents as I photographed them, their comments and thoughts were recorded on a tape recorder, transcribed and edited later.
I was interested in their childhood, work life particularly in the cotton mills, war work and military service, marriage, family, happy times and living here in sheltered accommodation. These conversations were intended to give the residents the opportunity to recount personal stories and experiences that add understanding and insight to the wider historic events they lived through.
These photographs were taken using a Plaubel Makina W 67 camera and tripod.
All images are Strictly Copyright © 2017 Bill Stephenson All Rights Reserved
[OL 01] Mr Sam Whitehead b.1891 and Mrs Lily Whitehead. Charles Morris House.
[OL 02] Ann Slack b.1923 and Gail Coward warden at Charles Morris House.
[OL 03] Mrs Turner b. 1899. Walton House and the Rector Quance from St John’s Church, Failsworth.
[OL 04] Mrs Rose Branwood. b 1904. Lynmouth Avenue.
[OL 05] Mr & Mrs Bardsley and Rector Quance. Walton House. Mr Bardsley b.1910
[OL 06] Kath Sharples b.1924. Charles Morris House.
[OL 07] Mrs Edna Wall b.1911. Iris Street.
[OL 08] Miss Betty Cadd b.1903. Lynmouth Avenue.
[OL 09] Mrs Hughes and Stanley. Iris Street.
[OL 10] Eileen Davey b.1915. Charles Morris House.
[OL 11] Mrs Lily Whitehead b.1903. Charles Morris House.
[OL 12] Mrs Bella Prince b.1900. Walton House.
[OL 13] Bill Moran, decorating his room at Walton House.
[OL 14] Resident at Walton House.