Manchester

Photographs reveal forgotten Manchester and Salford slums

Shirley Baker exhibition Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption Photographer Shirley Baker captured images of slum life at a time when substandard housing was being bulldozed

Photographs taken at the time of Manchester and Salford's post-war inner-city clearance programmes have gone on show.

Photographer Shirley Baker died in 2014 aged 82, leaving behind a body of work that had received little attention over her 55-year career.

An exhibition of her images is now on show at Manchester Art Gallery.

It focuses on what Baker saw as the needless destruction of working-class communities between the 1960s and 80s.

The museum held an open day in the hope of tracking down people who featured in the photographs, some of whom have come forward.

Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption Children are pictured playing in the Hulme area of Manchester

Baker's images often show families going about their daily lives, with gangs of children playing in the street.

Broken urban landscapes of rubble, junk and abandoned shops also feature widely, at a time when dilapidated old houses were being bulldozed.

Many hundreds of homes fell into disrepair in the post-war era - sometimes due to bomb damage - forcing some families to leave for new areas.

Baker, who was born in Salford in 1932, once said: "Whole streets were disappearing and I hoped to capture some trace of the everyday life of people who lived there.

"I wanted to photograph the mundane, even trivial aspects of life not being recorded by anyone else, rather than the organised and official activities."

Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption This boy's attention appears to have been drawn to an abandoned blackboard

Mary Sullivan, Sally Sheldon, Kate Withington and Bridget Cunniffe grew up in Honduras Street in Chorlton-on-Medlock, which features in some of the photographs.

Ms Cunniffe said: "We didn't have much room to play in our house, because it was just a two-up, two-down, and we had just a little back yard where all the washing used to be done.

"So we were always outside. Those demolished playgrounds were our playgrounds."

Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption Shirley Baker's work often focused on the rubble and dereliction of clearance programmes

Brothers Stephen, Derek and Peter Williamson, who lived as part of a 10-strong family in Gertrude Street in Ordsall, Salford, are pictured in the exhibition.

"It was known as tea leaf alley, because all the old ladies used to empty their teapots into the road," Derek said.

"I smile when I see [the photographs] now. I think they were good times. I appreciated everything we had."

Women and Children: and Loitering Men will be on show at Manchester Art Gallery until the end of July

Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption Many of the colour images were taken in the 1960s
Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption Children often feature in the photographs
Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption Baker's photographs were developed using different colour tones
Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption The photographer often preferred to work in black and white
Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption A gang of children appear happy as they play in a rubble-strewn street
Image copyright Shirley Baker
Image caption A father and his children are shown wearing clothes that now appear rather old-fashioned

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