Every picture tells a Storey; FOR nearly 50 years Ernest Sto orey has been documenting the North East for posterity with his c camera. The result is an archive of pictures which makes him the e go-to man when exhibitions of the history of the region are st aged. He opened his personal photograph albu m for Mike Kelly.
It was 1983 and the new Redheugh Bridge in Newcastle was being opened by her. As ever at such occasions, Ernest was there with his camera to record the events.
"I had a good position to take a picture from then, lo and behold, she came across to speak to me," he said.
While he was extremely chuffed to have a oneto-one chat with Princess Diana, the problem was that as he had the camera, he didn't get a close-up picture of them together. Decorum meant he couldn't pull her close and take one of those armslength self portraits, much beloved of drunken parties and nights out.
Instead, he had to make do of a picture of Diana as she made off. Still, he was there and Ernest has managed to develop a Zelig-like ability to be wherever history in the North East is happening.
As a result, when Newcastle International Airport celebrated its 75th anniversary recently, it asked him to submit pictures for a special book it was having published to mark the event.
He had taken early images of what was then known as Woolsington-Newcastle Airport with planes carrying the now defunct Tyne Tees Airway livery. He was there when the first jumbo jet arrived from Canadian Pacific airlines and also when Concorde touched down.
CHRONIC Ernest Sto When North Tyneside Council were looking for pictures of Spanish City over the years as part of an exhibition to mark its renovation, Ernest's pictures took pride of place in it.
He was born in Wallsend, North Tyneside, and his interest in photography was kindled by his mum and dad. "My parents had taken a lot of family photographs. I was always interested. I liked the idea of documenting the family," said Ernest, 68.
He got his first camera at 11 after his family moved to Harrogate, and after he left school he went for a job as a photographer at the local paper, the Harrogate Advertiser.
Ernest said: "I'll never forget when I was interviewed by the MD, or one of the directors. On his table was a Hornby electric railway set which he played with while we talked. I never got the job and never tried again to work as a Press photographer.
It's one of my biggest regrets."
After his grandmother, Isobella Little, was taken ill back in the North East the family returned to the region to run her newsagents' business in Byker, Newcastle. Over the years he moved on, first to work with T&G Allen's then as a porter for the Xray department at North Tyneside hospital, the one constant being his photography.
He said: "I look through all the magazines and papers to see what's happening like buildings being knocked down and other events, and if I think it's worth documenting, I go along."
As a result, his archive contains pictures of old landmarks long since gone, like Blyth Power Station, the old Redheugh Bridge and the Handyside Arcade.
CLER orey He snapped the ever-changing face of Newcastle's Quayside and the disappearing docks along the River Tyne. When the Sir Tristram arrived on the River Tyne, battle-damaged from the Falklands War and in the region for repair, he was there too. There is something chilling about the sight of it.
"It looked a wreck," remembered Ernest. "It just brought home how intense the fighting had been in the Falklands."
At his home in Tynemouth, where he lives with wife Hilary, who he married in 1971, he shuts himself away for hours at a time cataloguing his pictures. As we look through them there are mutters and murmurs of recognition from both of us at old haunts long since gone and landscapes which have radically changed over the years.
He said: "The North East is a beautiful place with so many lovely buildings. Some have been gotten rid of too quickly, their value to the region isn't recognised. I like to think my pictures have preserved our past in some way."
The decorated fishing boats at North Shields Fish Quay Festival, 1990 HRH The Princess of Wales opening the new Redheugh Bridge in 1983 Newcastle Quayside warehouses in the 1980s Crossing the old Redheugh Bridge, 1983 Handyside Arcade, Newcastle, 1982 The St Tristam returns to the Tyne bomb-damaged after the Falklands War in 1983 The old bus station at the Haymarket, 1987 The old Manors station, 1985 The Queen Mother's visit to Newcastle for the 900 celebrations in 1980 The new and old Redheugh Bridges, 1983