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News: 24 June 2019

Volunteer Profile � Barbara West LRPS
Barbara West is one of almost 1,500 volunteer photographers working hard to record England's listed buildings across the country. Here she talks about her interest in photography and experiences of taking photographs for the Images of England project.

Magazine to former Hillsborough Barracks, 1848-54, Sheffield, South Yorkshire - IoE number: 455302 © Mrs Barbara A West LRPS Although I have always been taking family photographs in a point and shoot way, I got more involved with photography after the children fled the nest. I had bought my husband a Pentax for his 40th birthday but wanted to know how to use it to best advantage, so I enrolled at an evening class at Sheffield College of Further Education. The others in the class, mainly men, seemed to be much more knowledgeable than I was. It was like a foreign language to me. After a year I still felt there was so much more to learn, so I joined a City & Guilds course for professional students, which lasted three years. One of the modules was about architectural photography.
It was after I had done that module that I thought that there was a book in the offing here. So, I did just that, writing up Grade I and II* buildings in Sheffield and listing all the others which took 10 years from inception to publication!

Then I read in the Royal Photographic Society Journal that photographers were required for English Heritage's Images of England project so I applied. I have covered almost all of Sheffield's 1000 or so listed buildings and some surrounding villages too, having taken 1,080 images so far and still working at it.

As I am interested in old buildings, I have had great enjoyment from it. Many owners are so enthusiastic to talk about their old homes that one can be entertained for longer than time permits. Two vie for the honour to claim theirs is the oldest dwelling in the city.
Baslow Lodges, Gates, Piers and Railings at North Entrance to Chatsworth Park,Derbyshire - IoE number: 81580 © Mrs Barbara A West LRPS
Guide Pillar circa 1740, Bradfield, South Yorkshire - IoE number: 335411 © Mrs Barbara A West LRPS There have been down moments, like arriving at a target area in clement weather to find torrential rain setting in after only one or two images have been done. The first time out, with husband as chauffeur, nearly caused a severe rift in the relationship. The targets were Guide Pillars up on the moors at Bradfield, which is also the largest parish in England. The Pillars are large stones about four feet high sited at cross roads to guide foot travellers, packhorse men and maybe the odd coach and pair drivers on their route across the moors. My instructions gave the names of the roads but the maps did not, neither did the lanes have name plates, so finding them was quite a challenge. We were very green in those days and have learned a bit more since then.

There have been some missing targets including a milestone that has disappeared. However it has been and still is an enjoyable task, finding places I didn't know existed and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be involved.

If you are a volunteer photographer and would like to share some of your experiences while working on the Images of England project please send them to Alexandra Saxon:

To view more of Barbara's photographs click here.

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