Photographs of Stockport Market, 1970s | Heidi Alexander

British Culture Archive

9th July, 2020

One of the greatest pleasures at British Culture Archive is stumbling across a body of work that has been sat unseen in a photographers archives for many years. This was the case with Heidi Alexander, whose incredible images from Stockport in the 1970s eventually saw the light of day after delving into her archives during the first covid lockdown.
Elder stall at Stockport Market
Elder. Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
On discovering the images we got in touch to find out more about this incredible body of work and Heidi’s path into photography.
 

Nomadic Childhood

Heidi “I was born and raised in Switzerland by my American single mother, I started snapping bits of a nomadic childhood with cheap plastic cameras given to me by my absent father, a motor racing photographer.

In 1969 my mother brought myself, along with my four siblings to Scotland. I think that’s partly why I was drawn to take photos in the streets here, (in Scotland and England) – it was all so unfamiliar, almost exotic.

Darkroom

After attending Stirling University during the 1970’s I eventually settled in Edinburgh. Marriage and family took priority over the offer of a place at David Hurn’s Documentary Photography course in Newport in Wales in 1977, though I spent my first pregnancy building a darkroom and took my film camera along to mother and toddler groups”.
Boars Head Stockport 1970s
Singers outside The Boars Head. Stockport, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.

“The work of Weegee, Robert Frank, W. Eugene Smith, Diane Arbus, Eve Arnold, Mary Ellen Mark, Vivian Maier, David Hurn, and Martin Parr, to name a few, have always been an inspiration.

Everyday Situations

Since my recent retirement from a career in Child Protection Social Work, I continue to enjoy documenting life with digital equipment, mainly of people and everyday situations, on local streets in the UK and during my travels abroad.

Stockport In The 1970s

“Recently, our 2020 Covid-19 lockdown prompted a clear out, and the discovery of old negatives such as the Stockport Market collection. Apparently, in 1977, I was doing what is now popularly known as ‘street photography’. The images bring back happy memories recording a lively atmosphere of warm community alongside hardship and hard work. 

Bustle and Noise

I only visited Stockport Market twice in the 1970s, and only shot five rolls of Tri-X on a Leica M4 – I wish I’d taken more!I remember the bustle and the noise, especially the street pastors and their singing followers competing with the shouting traders for customers’ attention.

Hot dog seller Stockport
Anton Papay's Cart. Photo © Heidi Alexander.

One or two noticed a young female with a camera, but most were too busy finding that bargain or exchanging the latest gossip. Despite the bleakness, the atmosphere was unmistakably warm and energetic and jolly.

It was forty-seven years ago, but I wonder where some of those characters are now”.

Chatting customers at Stockport Market
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.

“Looking at the images I am chuffed at the lack of cropping required in my results, which tells me I was really enjoying myself. The negatives have endured several house moves and occasionally dodgy storage in Scotland.

Thanks to social media and Instagram, I was delighted to come across British Culture Archive. Tish Murtha is a new discovery, thank you!’ I hope people keep having these clear outs, and sharing their own historic photographic treasures of their lives and communities.”

Gallery

Bert's For Shoes.
Bert's For Shoes. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Marple East Stall. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Hot dog seller stockport
Anton Papay's Hot Dog Cart. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977.
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Market, 1977.
Potts Fruit and Veg Stall. Photo © Heidi Alexander.
Stockport Cooling Tower
Stockport Market, 1977. Photo © Heidi Alexander.

All images © Heidi Alexander, all rights reserved.

Exhibition

We’ll be featuring a selection of Heidi’s work as part of our series of exhibitions throughout the UK. Date to be confirmed.

You can see more of Heidi’s work on her website and Instagram page

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British Culture Archive is a non profit independent resource set up to document 20th century culture and social change in the UK. In 2022 we plan to open our permanent gallery and exhibition space where we can showcase our People’s Archive alongside exhibitions from our featured photographers. 

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