Tales from the Derek Evans’ archive

Derek Evans left behind a mighty catalogue of work, the majority of which has lain unseen in boxes for years. But, hopefully, with a band of dedicated volunteers, not for much longer. With great care and attention, they are going through his archive at HARC (Hereford Archive and Record Centre) and, along the way, are uncovering some gems. It’s hard not to get distracted at times.

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Like any photographer worth his salt, Derek’s record keeping was exemplary – it had to be in those pre-computer, pre-digital days. And his photographic record books are a joy to behold. Well thumbed pages with frayed edges, a bit dog eared in other places, and held together with tape in others, these books hold the key to the countless and thousands upon thousands of negatives the late photographer accumulated over his working life.

Much like a map’s legend unlocks the secrets of the swirls on a page, so these books tempt the reader with just a tease of a story.

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The books contain pages and pages of handwritten notes recording the negative number, followed by a brief and often tantalising description and date. They are a fascinating snapshot – excuse the pun – of a busy press photographer. From the inane and ordinary – I lost count of the number of gold watch retirement presentations at Bulmers, for example – to the unexpectedly stellar and glamorous – Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton was a surprise –  the notes lay it all out.

The research is throwing up some wonderful curiosities. Who remembers footballing legend Stanley Matthews visiting Edgar Street in 1966? What about the Mods gathering at Hillside Ballroom, also in ’66? Or even the opening of the new swimming pool in 1976, in which Derek, as City councillor, played a role. And what about Frank Owen, all but forgotten from local history now. Derek was on hand in 1956 when Mr Owen campaigned in the city for the by-election. These are a mere sample of what lies among the thousands of negatives.

There are countless passport photos, weddings, traffic accidents, terrible tragedies, football, May Fair and hop picking. Former photographer of the Hereford Times and friend of Derek’s, Ray Lloyd, has also made a special request. He wants his wedding photos.

He said: “Derek took some when we got married and we never saw them again. If you come across them in his archive let me know. I’d like to see them!”

Stay posted for more tales from the archive.Claire researcher.JPG