Where was this photograph taken?

Can you help and tell me identify this vintage image

Where was this photograph taken? I’m having trouble identifying the place. I certainly don’t know the identity of the lady gardener.

I’ve been sifting though more of my extensive archive of old negatives and transparencies again. Sorting and then scanning those photographs that have stood the test of time. It’s such a time-consuming job that I can only do it is short bursts of a couple of days at a time. Frankly, I find sitting in front of a computer tedious and boring. Still, it has to be done.

vintage black and white photograph of lady in her allotment
Can you tell me where this photograph was taken? The church in the background should be a clue, but I cannot remember where it was

Allotment Lady

Anyway, I came across this picture the other day. I really quite liked it. The negative strip of four was in its own sheet and is labelled simply – ‘Allotment Lady’. The label has a date of 1990. Nothing else to give a clue as to where I took it. I certainly can’t remember taking it – but then that’s quite common. I have taken a lot of pictures in my long career.

I’m guessing I may have taken it either in Stoke-on-Trent, or in The Black Country – maybe around Wolverhampton or Tipton.

Rear view

And who is the lady? Well, I suppose a rear view is not the easiest way to identify someone, but you never know.

So, just where was this photograph taken? If you can help, please contact me and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Carl Dania

    Hi Philip. St Margarets Allotments at Durham comprise 5 acres of allotments that date back to the Middle Ages. They were saved from development about 25 years ago, and are still in existence today. A major feature of the allotments is that the cathedral tower can be seen in the background . I am pretty certain that is Durham Cathedral in the photo – it looks awfully familiar. The allotments have their own website.

    hope this helps. best regards,

  2. Philip

    Hello Carl,

    Good to hear from you, and thank you for taking the time to consider this.

    I’ve looked long and hard at the church tower in this photograph and compared it to that of Durham Cathedral. I just cannot reconcile the two.

    I photographed Durham for The Sunday Times many years ago, and the cathedral actually has three towers. One of them is massive. There is a link to one of those old photographs here. I’m convinced that, given the exposed nature of the church tower in the ‘allotment lady’ picture. we must be able to see at least one of the other towers if it were Durham Cathedral.

    Durham Cathedral. Photograph by Philip Dunn for The Sunday Times

    One minor problem, is that the ‘allotment lady’ picture must have been taken on a very dull day and the film pushed quite heavily. I must also have used a pretty wide aperture which reduced the depth of field. As I must have focused on the lady herself, the background is not exactly needle sharp, so fine detail is difficult to see.

    Anyway, Carl, Thank you so much.

    All good wishes, Philip

  3. Carl Dania

    Yes, I’m afraid you are right! At first sight I immediately thought of Durham, and the popularity of allotments in that part of the world convinced me. But I have since found my own stock images from a visit to Durham some years back, and it is clearly wrong. The main tower at Durham does not have the ‘spikes’ at the corners, and the other two towers should be visible. Allowing that we would be on the opposite side of the river, they would be in the background. Mind you , it could be fixed in Photoshop – but probably not a good idea………

    On a more general note, I find these photographs hugely emotional. The local paper sometimes publishes pictures taken at primary schools many years ago. The children are almost always smiling and looking happy and content. But allowing for the passing years I can’t help but wonder how all those young lives worked out. Photography is powerful stuff.

    Sorry to introduce such a red herring, and it is little consolation that there are a huge number of possible locations to choose from – I do hope that someone can come up with the right answer.


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