For nearly three quarters of a century the social history of Ramsey was captured by Midwood photographers, whose studio was on South Promenade, next to the Lifeboat Station.
The business was founded around 1880 by Thomas Horsfall (T. H.) Midwood and was continued by his son, Charles (Charlie), until his death in 1948.
Now, for the first time, a galaxy of 240 images by father and son is brought together in an exhibition at Ramsey Town Hall. From carnivals to army encampments, weddings to funerals, all human life is there.
Sponsored by Cains Advocates, event coordinators Richard Radcliffe, Les Clarke, Ray Stanfield, Alan Kelly and Mike Kelly are all keen collectors of Midwood postcards.
Artist Michael Starkey said: ‘A big part of Ramsey’s history is here. Without the Midwood family we would not have this unique insight into the town as it was, with people and buildings that are no longer with us’.
Portraiture formed a big part of the portfolio, especially in the First World War era. ‘Often they had their portrait taken before they went to war, as a memento for their loved ones. It may have been the only picture they ever had taken, as so many did not return’, noted Mr Radcliffe.
Guests at the opening included family members Mary Midwood, who assisted her father Charlie in the shop, Derek Midwood and daughters, Dawn and Julie, and Julie’s daughter, Fenella Mett, 34, a professional photographer in London.
Fenella marvelled at the sheer range of her great-grandfather’s work:
‘It was much more problematic to be a photographer in those days. You had to do all the thinking yourself – not like today when cameras are automatic.
‘Some of his shots are quite contemporary in terms of composition and lighting. Some are even a little bit quirky!’
Admission to the exhibition is free and it will remain on show until May 2, when it will transfer to Ramsey Heritage Centre (Quayle Hall).