Woman discovers rare photo of her mother in 1960s on E&S archive

Posted Wednesday, November 13, 2019 by Chris Leggett under News Uncategorized

Sisters Wendy Chater and Jane Lloyd, from Netherton, with the photo of their mother Alice Griffiths, who was a chainmaker in their hometown from the 1960s through to the 1980s and was in a photo at work, which ended up in the E&S digital archive

A woman has snapped up a rare photo of her mother at work in the 1960s for a chainmakers after spotting it on the Express & Star’s archive website.

Jane Lloyd, aged 55, of Purlin Wharf, Netherton, Dudley, came across the photo of her mother Alice Griffiths online by chance after it was among 3,000 from the archive to be digitised for a free website.

She had never seen the image of her mother, who died in 2016 aged 91, at work at Joseph Woodhouse, in Cradley Heath.

The archive photo, stamped with the date January 21, 1961, is attached to a newspaper cutting which says: “Mrs Alice Griffiths, of Cradley Heath, working at a modern machine. Some of the chains, however, can still only be made by hand, like a very complicated double link type.”

Jane said: “The photo was taken three years before I was born and I had no idea it existed.

“I was doing some online research into local history for Cradley Heath on behalf of a friend when I came across the Express & Star photo archive website.

“When I was scrolling through the photos of Cradley Heath, I was taken aback to see my mum in there. It brought a lump to my throat as none of the family knew she had been photographed at work back then. It was unbelievable to see her.”

Mrs Griffiths, a grandmother of three and great-grandmother of two, worked at Joseph Woodhouse from the 60s through to the 1980s as Jane, who works as a human resources and health and safety co-ordinator, remembers well.

“Chainmaking was a very, very dirty job back then,” she said. “Health and safety was nothing like it is today.

“Mum would regularly come back with holes in her apron from work and the dirt would get everywhere.” Mother-of-one Jane said she and her sister Wendy Chater were delighted to see their family past brought back to life through the photo.

Jane said: “Mum never spoke about being photographed for the Express & Star. 

“It was probably around the time she started work there so I was really pleased to see the photo online.”

She was the first person to order a copy of a photo from the Express & Star website, which went live in March to share images from the region’s industrial past not seen since they appeared in print in years gone by.

Historic photos of the Black Country and its surrounding areas have been digitised for future generations.

They were then published on the website https://photo-archive.expressandstar.co.uk The Express & Star Photographic Collection partnership, co-ordinated with the University of Wolverhampton and council-run City Archives, received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to digitise photographs dating back over the past century.

After volunteers gave the equivalent of 260 working days to sort all the photographs and get them digitised, the launch realised the partnership’s ambition of making the photos available through a single, free web portal for anybody to use for historical research.

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