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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Punks, video games and kids just hanging out: How the Paparazzo of Peterborough documented life in town during the 70s and 80s


Changing faces: Paramedic and amateur photographer Chris Porsz took these remarkable pictures of Peterborough in the 1970s and 80s

A group of 'psychobillies' - ex-punks, teds and skinheads - stare at a camera in a shopping arcade... the flat-top hairdo of one dyed a similar colour to the logo of a C&A store in the background.
Elsewhere, young boys gaze longingly at chunky video games, such as Firefox and Scramble, in a computer shop.

Nostalgia: The son of Polish immigrants, Chris Porsz, would take up to 300 photos a day of his everyday surroundings in Peterborough

This was the face of Peterborough in the late 1970s/early 80s, caught on camera by paramedic Chris Porsz, who spent hours walking the streets taking up to 300 photos a day.
Now, the 59-year-old's remarkable record of life in the Cambridgeshire new town has been published in a book, called New England.
Mr Porsz, nicknamed the 'paramedic paparazzo', spent four decades shooting scenes that captured the spirit of the town.

Relaxation: Chris Porsz said taking photos helped him unwind from his stressful day job as a paramedic

Style: A group of young punks congregate on a step complete with ripped denim and Dr. Martens

Many of the images are heartwarming: children playing carefree in parks; smiling as they are served school dinners; and queuing to go to the cinema.
Others are more downbeat, depicting a place of poverty where youngsters run riot in derelict buildings.
Peterborough was one of many towns which was expanded after the Second World War and attracted young people tempted by the promise of a better life.

Remarkable record: As an amateur photographer in the 1970s and 80s, Chris Porsz tried to improve his skills by taking snaps of people in the streets

In the decades that followed, it also saw an influx of residents from Europe, who arrived with the same hopes and dreams.
By the early Eighties, Peterborough, like many new towns, was seeing huge and cultural changes and struggling to juggle the arrival of new cultures against high unemployment.

New town: Peterborough saw an influx in population after being designated a New Town following the Second World War

After being designated a New Town to house London's overspill, the population increased by almost 50 per cent between 1971 and 1991.
A major shopping centre, Queensgate, was built in the town centre with more than 90 outlets and parking space for 2,300 cars.

Memory Lane: The photos recall the fashion of the times with some wearing colourful punk outfits and others wearing flared jeans

Cultural mix: An influx of immigrants from Italy, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe changed the social dynamic of Peterborough

Mr Porsz, the son of Polish immigrants, was a young amateur photographer at the time and decided to improve his skills by snapping people in the streets.
Until now, he had hidden away the pictures in a dusty cupboard.
'Photography has always been a hobby for me and a way to relax from my stressful job,' said Mr Porsz, who has worked as a paramedic for the last 20 years.

Laughter: A group of girls sporting 1970s school outfits and haircuts

Hidden: Chris Porsz had left the photos collecting dust in a cupboard for forty years before he decided to dig them out for a new collection

'I've always been interested in taking pictures of people and if there is something unusual happening that catches my eye, I will snap it.
'When I looked back at my photos from the 70s and 80s, I realised just how much had changed in Peterborough in the last 40 years.
'The pictures provide a real insight into life in those decades in a town where great changes were taking place.'

Well-known figure: Chris Porsz picked up the nickname 'Paramedic Paparazzo' because he was always out taking pictures in Peterborough

During that time, new towns were coming of age and families from different backgrounds, including Poland, Italy, Pakistan and Bangladesh were living together as neighbours.
New shops sprung up to cater for these new cultures, but at the same time heavy industry declined and three million were unemployed.

Insight: The photos paint a fascinating picture of Peterborough from the 1970s and 80s

The photos recall the fashion of the time with colourful punk rockers and children wearing flares and tracksuits.
It also shows the changing face of technology with pictures showing an old computer show, chunky TV's piled in the streets and children playing video games in a store.
In others they are seen hanging out with their friends at a time when playing on their own outside was considered much safer than today.

Giveaway: A teacher has chalked up Inspector Clueso on the board - the series of Peter Sellers films were hugely popular in the 60s and 70s

All smiles: A group of children pose for the camera at the school gates

They are captured blowing bubblegum, on their bikes and eating fast food.
But the pictures also show a tough side to life in Peterborough, with rundown play equipment, paint peeling off gates, broken windows and rubbish dumped in the streets.

The man himself: Chris Porsz poses with some his photos when he still had a moustache

Chris, who is married to Lesley and has three children, Simon, 34, Adam, 32 and Emma, 30, was born in Peterborough in 1953.
He added: 'I am proud of my photographs of Peterborough although I never imagined I was creating a record of social history.
'I still walk the streets, documenting change, and I have extended my portfolio well beyond my home town, photographing Paris and New York as well as other British cities.
'I think I somehow capture the spirit of a town in the faces of its people and I'm pleased to see that most of the time, most of the faces look happy.'
The new hardback book has 170 images and can be purchased at for £17.99.

source: dailymail

Punks, video games and kids just hanging out: How the Paparazzo of Peterborough documented life in town during the 70s and 80s Rating: 4.5 Diposkan Oleh: andre tupang
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