St. George’s Day Parade, April 1973, Derby

I’ve finally started to digitise some of the 8mm cine film that was shot by my father, brother and me during my childhood. The earliest reels are from 1964, with the latest being from 1979/80. Most of it is obviously just family stuff, but there are some more generally interesting scenes in amongst the holiday memories.

This excerpt is the 1973 St. George’s Day parade in Derby. From what I remember, these were fairly large events that started somewhere near the Council House and finished with a church service. Venues changed yearly – as I’m sure that as well as attending this one at St. Alkmund’s Church on Kedleston Road, a parade I took part in another year finished at the (now former) Queen’s Hall Methodist Mission on London Road.

If you look very closely you’ll see me marching with the 147th Derby, 3rd Ockbrook & Borrowash cub scouts …

The Mysterious Harper Gardens, Derby

Harper Gardens is a small public space sandwiched between the A6 Pride Parkway flyover and Siddals Road. Not much larger than many suburban gardens, it’s somewhere I usually pass without a second thought on my regular walks between the office and the city centre. But today I noticed the lovely flowering cherry tree in the north-eastern corner of the plot and stopped to photograph it.

Harper GardensIt’s a curious location for a public garden. A quick search of the internet reveals that at some point in the 1940s a paint factory burned down on this spot. Quite how the site ended up in the city council’s hands and became a garden seems less clear.

If anyone can fill in the details for me, the comment box awaits below!

Raspberry Pi – camera box

This weekend, I was finally happy that I’d managed to implement a reasonable temperature and humidity project as well as a motion detecting camera for my Raspberry Pi. I decided to invest £19 in a ModMyPi camera box to consolidate them onto my Pi 3. It arrived today, and after an evening’s fun this is the result.

Pi Camera BoxLid open for testing. The DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor is at the front, with the motion sensor and camera mounted in the lid.

Pi Camera Box - installed in the garageIn situ.

I think it looks much better than my original attempt, even if the rather fiddly assembly took a couple of hours (with testing) rather than the 10 minutes claimed by the manufacturer! It also means that as my camera is now mounted the correct way up, I no longer need to rotate the image by 180 degrees in my code …

Update: After I’d installed this in the garage, I started to get a large number of false positives. A change back to my Pi2 made little difference (although the original version I’d put together but without the DHT22 had worked well). Finally, soldering a 10k resistor between the data and ground wires of the PIR detector seems to have resolved the issue of the data pin going high without it sensing movement.

Raspberry Pi motion sensitive camera

Other than messing around with a few FORTRAN benchmarks and learning how to code using Python, I haven’t really used my Raspberry Pi computers for very much that’s been practical. However, having bought a Raspberry Pi camera to play with over Christmas, I decided to have a go at building a motion sensitive camera for the garage. It’s cheap and easy to find passive infrared detectors these days, so I acquired three for the princely sum of £5.

The passive infrared detector
PIR detector

The first challenge was working out the function of the three pins in the foreground. A little bit of searching led me to the conclusion that the top pin is the ground, the bottom pin the 5v supply, with the middle being the status pin. If the middle pin goes high, it means that motion has been detected. The sensitivity of the device, and the length of time the status pin stays high for, can be adjusted using the two potentiometers.

I connected the power pins to a couple of the available 5v supply and ground pins on a Raspberry Pi 2. I used physical pin 26 (GPIO pin 7) to connect up to the status pin.

The code

The next challenge was writing some code to detect changes in the status pin and take a photograph when motion is detected. Fortunately, there are plenty of code snippets available that made this task relatively straightforward. The current version of my code is below.

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time
from picamera import PiCamera
 
# Initialise the camera settings
camera=PiCamera()
camera.resolution=(1024,768)
camera.rotation=(180)
camera.meter_mode=('backlit')
 
# Use GPIO pin 7 (physical pin 26) for the PIR detector
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)
GPIO_PIR=7
GPIO.setup(GPIO_PIR,GPIO.IN)
 
# Variables used to determine when a picture should be taken.
# GPIO pin 7 => high (ts==1) from low (qs==0) 
# triggers the camera.
ts=0
qs=0
 
try:
 
  # Wait until PIR GPIO pin is low (0)  
  print "Waiting ..."
  while GPIO.input(GPIO_PIR)==1:
    ts=0    
  print "... detector is ready"     
 
  # Loop until quit signal
  while 1:
 
    # Read PIR state
    ts=GPIO.input(GPIO_PIR)
    # DEBUG print ts
    if ts==1 and qs==0:
      # Create unique filename with timestamp and set qs high
      t=time.localtime()
      timestamp=time.strftime('%Y%m%d-%H%M%S',t)
      filename=("img" + timestamp + ".jpg")
      camera.capture(filename)
      print "Movement detected - ",filename," created"
      qs=1
    elif ts==0 and qs==1:
      # GPIO pin 7 has returned to low, therefore set qs low
      qs=0
 
    # Wait for a second
    time.sleep(1)      
 
except KeyboardInterrupt:
 
  # Cleanup GPIO
  GPIO.cleanup()
  print "PIR-PiCamera program terminated"
The results

My Raspberry Pi 2 is now set up in the garage with the motion detector and camera. At the moment it’s simply saving the images onto a drive available to my home network, but I’m probably going to experiment with sending email alerts as well.

Raspberry Pi motion sensitive cameraI’m pleased to report my motion sensitive camera has already caught an intruder …

C7 thief!

Spondon in 1962: outside of the centre

As a follow-up to the 1962 Spondon village centre photographs I posted here last weekend, these are the remaining images from the same film that were taken elsewhere in the village.

The first is the junction of Willowcroft Road with South Avenue.

Willowcroft Road - South Avenue 1962Willowcroft Road sweeps round to the left. At the top of the hill is the junction with Sitwell Street. Two photographs were taken here, the first looking to the left. The spire of St Werburgh’s church is visible to the right of the large tree in the grounds of The Homestead.

Willowcroft Road - Sitwell Street away from centre 1962The second is taken from approximately the same place, but looking to the right of the junction. The Co-op (which I remember as a supermarket from my childhood, but is now a funeral parlour) is visible in the background.

Willowcroft Road - Sitwell Street to centre 1962The next photograph is taken slightly further along Sitwell Street. The building immediately on the left is still there today. However, the buildings next to it have been replaced by houses and, I think, Spondon Village Hall.

Sitwell Street 1962Turning right here leads onto a lane that brings you to Moult Avenue. The houses shown in this photograph are there today, but the surrounding area on South Avenue was later developed for housing, so it all looks rather different now.

Moult Avenue 1962I assume that the next photograph is looking back towards Sitwell Street from this lane, but confirmation would be welcome!

Unknown Spondon 1962The final photograph is of Potter Street. This is facing away from Hall Dyke, with the Malt Shovel Inn just out of sight on the right. The houses in the background were demolished and replaced some years ago.

Potter Street 1962

Spondon village centre in 1962

These photographs of Spondon were taken by my father in 1962. Most of the village centre remains recognisable today, albeit that the businesses have mostly changed.

The first photograph is a view of the village centre looking towards Chapel Street. The edge of the White Swan pub is just visible on the right hand side. The halt markings have long since gone, replaced today by a mini-roundabout.

Spondon Centre towards Chapel Street 1962The second photograph is another view of the centre, looking directly towards the White Swan. The House Agent is now a fish and chip shop (and has been so for as long as I can remember). The zebra crossing and its Belisha beacons belongs to a bygone age, replaced by a pelican crossing more suited to today’s traffic conditions.

Spondon Centre towards White Swan 1962While the first two photographs remain largely recognisable today, the next shows significantly greater change. This is Chapel Street, looking towards the location that the first photograph was taken from. The buildings on the left hand side were demolished and replaced with a shopping precinct sometime during the late 1960s or early 1970s. The buildings near the lamp-post and bus stop on the right hand side have been replaced by Chapel Street Medical Centre, a chemist and other shops.

Chapel Street Spondon 1962The final photograph is of Moor Street and Spondon Liberal Club. The Liberal Club is still flourishing today. However the buildings to the side of it were demolished to make way for a car park and extension.

Moor Street and Spondon Liberal Club 1962

The lost art of the end of the roll photograph

One of the lost arts of the digital age is the end of the roll photograph. These were the pictures taken, almost at random, so that a film could be developed before the significance of the events captured in the earlier frames was forgotten. These are some of my favourite examples from my father’s archives.

 

Market Cross Malmesbury 1951The market cross in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, taken in summer 1951. This is on the end of a roll of film that features a holiday in Devon, so this must have been the stopping point on the way back to the Midlands. The woman on the right hand side of the photograph doesn’t look as if she’s having a very good day.

Haste ye back to ScotlandTaken at some point in the mid-1950s as the last photograph from a holiday in Scotland, this end of the roll photograph was presumably a heartfelt wish. It was certainly a popular destination when we went on holiday as a family in the 1970s.

Hanging basket 1983A random photograph of the hanging basket outside our house from 1983. Looking at the angle of the picture I can only assume that it was taken from halfway up a step-ladder!

GNU 706NAnd finally, also from the end of a roll of film shot in 1983 a rear view of my first car that I don’t remember ever having seen before I scanned the negative yesterday evening. Complete with a Radio Derby car sticker from the era before the BBC insisted on imposing a boring corporate brand uniformity across all their local radio stations and a fluffy toy owl on the parcel shelf.

Which leads me to ask a question every bit as random as these end of the roll photographs are. Has anyone ever used a parcel shelf in a car for putting parcels on? No, I thought not.

Exeter Cathedral: two photographs taken 65 years apart

Yesterday morning I was sat at home in Derby, working through my father’s photographic archive. I happened to scan this photograph of Exeter Cathedral, dated 1951. Even though I know the Cathedral well, it took me some time to recognise it. I think this was because of the covering over the West window. I’ve since seen another photograph of the Cathedral taken on VE day which also shows this covering. My guess is that it may have been related to the bomb damage the Cathedral suffered on 3-4 May 1942 as a target of the Baedeker raids. While the Nazis usually targeted sites of military, economic or strategic value, these raids specifically targeted culturally or historically important sites. Much of Exeter city centre was destroyed but the Cathedral survived relatively intact, with the main damage being restricted to St James’ Chapel on the South side.

Exeter Cathedral 1951I took the second photograph a few hours later after my eldest daughter had successfully driven her first car (and me) 220 miles down the motorway to her home. You can, of course, no longer park directly in front of the Cathedral and the mature tree on the left of the picture is long gone. The stonework around the entrance seems to be much cleaner than it was, probably due to a combination of hard work by the cathedral stonemasons and lower air pollution. Otherwise, in a city that has seen many changes since the 1950s, the 600 year old Cathedral comfortingly looks much the same as it did 65 years ago.

Exeter Cathedral 2016

More photographs of Spondon Garage in the 1950s

It would appear that my father had a mild obsession with Spondon Garage in the 1950s. I’ve found a few more photographs that may be of interest to those who remember the place before it was demolished to make way for housing.

The first I can date very precisely, as there was an index card with the negative. It was taken at 5.45pm on 23rd June 1951 – a Saturday. There’s someone on the forecourt, but other than that it looks deserted. Not many garages are at that time on a Saturday these days! It’s also interesting to see different brands of fuel represented at the same garage – Shell, Esso & BP Power.

Spondon Garage 23-06-1951 1745The next photograph was in a box marked 1953 and although at first glance it looks very similar, the Esso pump from 1951 has been replaced by one serving BP fuel and there’s also a shelter for the attendants on the forecourt (which wasn’t present in the photographs I have from 1952). Business also looks to have picked up a little!

Spondon Garage 1953The final two photographs from 1953 show the view from the forecourt, the first of which looks towards Willowcroft Road. This view seems very similar to how Nottingham Road appears today. You can also see that the garage has a National branded fuel pump. My own earliest memories of Spondon Garage are from when it sold fuel under the National brand (who would ever forget their merchandising tie-up with the Smurfs).

Nottingham Road to WIllowcroft RoadFinally, a view looking in the other direction towards Derby. The traffic island leading towards British Celanese look very well-tended, with a number of smart ‘Keep Left’ bollards. On the right hand side of the frame you can just make out the Westminster Bank sign. This building still exists today but is now a private house. What’s very noticeable by their absence are the houses that now exist on that side of the road leading from the bank to where the traffic island with the A52 dual carriageway is today. Oh, and of course, there’s hardly any traffic to be seen.

Nottingham Road Spondon - view towards Derby

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