Postman turned photographer Herbert could make the mundane interesting

Blackpool history is framed: Just a few of the images that make up The Herbert Ball Collection, including the derelict South Shore Signal Box, in March 1982; the combined phonebox, stamp machine and letterbox at the corner of St Annes Road and Harcourt Road, South Shore in January 1980; and  North Station Platform Four, January 1973
Blackpool history is framed: Just a few of the images that make up The Herbert Ball Collection, including the derelict South Shore Signal Box, in March 1982; the combined phonebox, stamp machine and letterbox at the corner of St Annes Road and Harcourt Road, South Shore in January 1980; and North Station Platform Four, January 1973
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How many readers can recall traditional red phonebooths with a postbox and stamp machine attached?

There was one at the corner of St Annes Road and Harcourt Road, South Shore, replaced by a bland stainless steel booth, which does not merit space here.

The Herbert Ball Collection'The phonebox and stamp machine at the corner of St Annes Road and Harcourt Road, South Shore January 1980

The Herbert Ball Collection'The phonebox and stamp machine at the corner of St Annes Road and Harcourt Road, South Shore January 1980

But when eagle-eyed Herbert Ball was walking the Blackpool streets during his years as a postman he was familiar with all manner of structures and buildings.

Even in retirement, during the late 1970s and 1980s, Herbert was back outdoors with his trusty cameras around his neck, capturing what to others would be mundane street scenes.

But his focus was on properties under threat and his camera shutters flickered constantly as he caught buildings before, during and after their demolition.

From North Station to South Station and seemingly all streets between, his collection runs to more than 1,000 colour transparancies and a slighty smaller number of prints.

A rare picture of Herbert Ball, usually to be found behind his cameras in November 1977

A rare picture of Herbert Ball, usually to be found behind his cameras in November 1977

There is also one, just the one, black and white photograph of Herbert himself.

Nephew David Schofield, of South Shore, has passed the boxes to Blackpool’s local history librarian David Sharkey and once they’ve been catalogued they will be available for public inspection.

David says: “My uncle lived in Powell Avenue and you never saw him without a camera. He was interested in any buildings likely to be pulled down.”

Tony Sharkey says: “We are delighted to have what we are calling The Herbert Ball Collection, with many interesting images of a changing Blackpool and thank his nephew David for donating his uncle’s work.

The Herbert Ball Collection'North Station Platform 4 January 1973

The Herbert Ball Collection'North Station Platform 4 January 1973

“What the photographs and slides do show is that material of historic interest doesn’t have to be ancient, as these are comfortably within the living memory of many of us.

“He captured images of a changing Blackpool that the rest of us didn’t catch, or didn’t think to catch, and that makes Herbert’s actions far-sighted.

“Sometimes preserving heritage is just about doing something that doesn’t occur to anybody else.”

Here we share just a small selection of the far-seeing Herbert Ball Collection.