The faces that make a town

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A slide show of photographs from the 1980s and 1990s has delighted its audience.

Desborough Civic Society recently gave a first slide show of some of the photographs taken by local man Dennis Pudney, who donated them to the heritage centre several years ago.

One of those who attended the show, Jenny Blair, said: “The pictures brought back so many memories. Seeing Station Road how it was with all the people shopping and a lot fewer cars, and seeing the old faces was lovely.”

Gill Chapman also went to the show at the Services Club in the town and said: “It was a wonderful show.

“I remember Mr Pudney going round with his camera. It was just a hobby for him, he was very polite and would ask ‘can I take your photo?’ and talk to people.

“He went into the shops as well and took pictures of shop assistants.

“I can distinctly remember him taking my photo.”

Mr Pudney was a rear gunner in a Lancaster bomber based at RAF Mildenhall during the Second World War and donated his uniform and a painting of him shooting down a German bomber to the heritage centre when it first opened.

The incident captured in the painting earned Mr Pudney a Distinguished Flying Medal. He was on a mission to Rostock in September, 1944, in Lancaster G1-F for Freddy when it was attacked by a Luftwaffe JU-88. Three of his four guns jammed so he waited for the JU-88 to finish its first attack and cleared the guns before shooting down the German plane when it returned for a second attack.

Lancaster G1-F for Freddy was shot down, with a different crew, over Frankfurt the next night.

His photographs of Desborough inhabitants are contained in more than 50 albums and capture people at work, shopping, with their pets and just out and about.

In a lot of the portraits the subject is looking slightly away from the camera, a trick Mr Pudney learned in the RAF, where he was also a photographer.

Most of the photos are carefully labelled with names, but Belinda Humfrey, of Desborough Civic Society, said: “The photo albums are here for people to browse through and we’d love it if people could come in and fill in the gaps and confirm the names are correct.”

Volunteer at the heritage centre Jill Freeman said: “Mr Pudney used to take the photos but someone else told him who the people were so they don’t all have Christian names.

“The photographs are beautifully clear and I think they are a wonderful legacy for Desborough.”

Some of the people captured by Mr Pudney are well-known characters in Desborough, including John Foster, who founded and runs a children’s mission in India, Dorothy Crouch and Eli Hazelwood.

The collection of 688 named photographs was digitally scanned by Steve Richards to produce the slide show, which is bringing back so many memories for people.

Mr Richards is carrying on Mr Pudney’s work, and has started taking photographs of important events in the town, such as the recent anniversary celebrations for the Cheaney’s shoe factory at The Ritz, as well as photographing its inhabitants.

To see Mr Pudney’s photographs go along to Desborough Heritage Centre, in Station Road. It is open Monday to Thursday from 10am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 4pm, on Friday from 9am to midday and 2pm to 4pm and on Saturday from 9am to 12.30pm.

The slide show will be shown at Desborough Conservative Club and at a civic society meeting later in the year.