It was on my 15th birthday in 1953 that I received my first camera, a Box Brownie which I still have, but sadly now showing its age. It set me off on a hobby that proved to be a photographic journey through the years.
I couldn’t wait to take my first picture of my sister and two brothers, and there followed a stream of photographs of various members of the family and friends, all carefully filed and labelled and still in my possession. One look through these albums and all the memories come flooding back, not just of family and close friends because my camera went with me everywhere.
During the 1950s I spent many happy years in a factory with a great crowd of girls, singing our heads off to Music While You Work and spending our lunch hours on the firm’s cricket field, picnicking on the endless warm sunny days – all captured with my camera and a joy to look back on.
When I changed my job my camera went with me. I made many friends over
the years and can recall them all, with summer trips and Christmas parties all there in my album.
The black and white photographs taken with my Box Brownie were printed 2V2x 3 /2in., but you could have them enlarged to postcard size – an En-print as it was known – for just sixpence.
In the late 1950s I started to experiment with a new idea that became available – “Colour Your Own Snapshots” – and although it was quite time-consuming it was extremely satisfying to see your photographs in colour. Glossy photos
Irene Purslow’s attempt at ‘Colour Your Own Snapshot ’ showing her sister and boyfriend.
had to be soaked in a litde water beforehand, but matt finish was a pleasure to do.
This new venture was shortlived because colour film became widely available, and black and white pictures didn’t seem so attractive any more.
By the time the 1960s arrived I’d progressed to a better camera than my faithful old Brownie, but it had set me off on a very interesting and enjoyable hobby. I was able to com-
bine that interest with my passion for the theatre and my love of the garden. I have taken numerous photographs of show business personalities I have met over the years, and have an album devoted to my garden through the seasons, and most precious of all, treasured photos of my daughter from baby to adult.
Towards the end of the 1970s I became more ambitious and turned to slide photography, which to my delight proved very successful. I now share that pleasure by visiting groups and clubs around Birmingham with my themed slide shows.
It’s all a far cry from my Box Brownie days, but that was probably the most significant present I ever had.