Book steps back in time

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EVER wondered what a familiar landmark looked like in the past?

Or how much trees and cars have made a difference to a street scene?

That’s the idea behind a new book called Retford Through Time, which takes a fascinating pictorial look at the market town’s history.

Author Nicola Davison-Reed lives in Retford and has traced the way it has developed over the centuries, by cleverly marrying up old photos with present day shots to show how streets and landmarks have changed.

She was awarded the contract for the book, published by Amberley, through her membership of Retford Photography Society.

Nicola, 44, said: “I went to Bassetlaw Museum where they have digitised 20,000 old photos, and I looked through 4,000 of them.”

“I absolutely loved it, it was a real privilege. Then I took photos of the same places now.”

“You can see how the trees have grown up and how much more traffic there is.”

After choosing the photos, she then set about researching and compiling information to include with them.

Nicola’s husband Simon, daughters Nina, 11, and Zoe, six, and their bulldog Hugo, have cameo appearances in the photos.

Nicola has been taking photos all her life. The first time she remembers holding a camera was an old Instamatic on a family holiday at Blackpool in 1976, when she spent most of the time chasing her big sister, trying to take pictures of her.

She prefers to work in black and white and said most of her work has an urban, gritty feel to it.

She is currently showing her work in a travelling exhibition called The Beauty of Life, and will have another exhibition in Macclesfield next year.

Nicola said: “Taking photos is my joy because I enjoy preserving time for others and myself.”

“I also love to write, so to take photos of the town where I live and present myself as an author is an honour.”

The book is a best seller at Retford’s independent bookshop Bookworm.

Co-owner Angela Meads said: “It’s our best seller for Christmas. It’s well produced and local history always does well.”

The first photo in the book shows firefighters - or firemen as they were back then - in the Market Square in 1897.

The small engine on big wheels, belching out smoke, is in stark contrast to the modern red fire engines pictured below.

Similarly Bridgegate in 1897 has horse and carts travelling on a mud road, a far cry from today’s Tarmaced road, although the buildings on either side remain pretty much the same.

As well as seeing the changes, it’s just as interesting to note the buildings which have remained exactly the same, such as the Georgian Poplar House on Grove Street.

There are also shots of the Market Square in 1958 and once-familiar landmarks like Billy Bowskill’s shop selling comics and sweets in 1933, and Woolworth’s in 1956.

While Retford railway station refreshment staff are pictured in their finery in 1910, in stark constrast to today’s waiting room.

Retford Through Time is priced £14.99 and is available from Bookworm and other outlets.