Review of ‘Echoes of the Dales’, by Ron Duggins

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 20th November 2006, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by Ron Duggins
Published by Landmark
ISBN 1-84306-306-9 (2006)

The name of Ron Duggins can mean only one thing ... photography. Ron is one of those rare people who has found their perfect niche in life, earning a reputation for his instinctive knack of capturing everything which made the news around Matlock over several decades. A pictorial historian in fact.

Anyone who knew the area in the 1950s will treasure this book as an album packed full of memories - some 200 photographs and the stories behind them. While centred on the Matlock area, the images range from Beeley to Wirksworth and Youlgrave to Crich.

Thousands of named faces look out from school photos and line-ups of poultry keepers, football teams, carnivals, outdoor swimming galas, plays, bellringers and well dressers. It is good to see old friends who have been part of local business life: Ella Smith, Harry Gill, Remo Tinti, Herbert Hardy and many more .... one scene includes a little girl named Caroline, now proprietor of a famous carriage museum.

Numerous images stand out for capturing the era - with glimpses of Brylcreem, hairgrips and Fairisle sweaters - and the moment: here is Alderman Charles White taking possession of the keys to Smedley's Hydro, now County Hall. An earlier photograph shows the delivery of a colossal boiler to Smedley's via Bank Road, which had to be closed for two days.

In another scene 'shaken' residents gather on the street in Winster, swapping stories after their famous earthquake. And here are the Dukes of Rutland and Devonshire sharing a ride on the miniature railway in Hall Leys Park. Whenever an event made the news, Ron was there and this 1950s nostalgia trip shows only a fraction of his historic collection. He is already working on sequels for each decade into the 1970s.

Review by Julie Bunting

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