Brothers work to bring old photos to light

LABOUR OF LOVE Jonathan Ring, 18, and Matthew Ring, 22, right, with their grandmother Doris Hedges.  Picture: Sarah Standing (121166-7589)
LABOUR OF LOVE Jonathan Ring, 18, and Matthew Ring, 22, right, with their grandmother Doris Hedges. Picture: Sarah Standing (121166-7589)

From broken bones to new beginnings

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Jonathan and Matt Ring had always known that their grandparents had hundreds of photographic slides tucked away in a dusty cupboard.

But it wasn’t until last summer that they decided it was time they started rifling through them to discover more about their family history.

SHOW Dolphins performing on the seafront in the 1970s.  Picture taken by Stanley Hedges

SHOW Dolphins performing on the seafront in the 1970s. Picture taken by Stanley Hedges

Both keen photographers, their grandparents Doris and Stanley Hedges had always taken photos. So their private collection offered a unique look back at the history of Portsmouth through their eyes.

Jonathan, 18, and 22-year-old Matt decided to start scanning the images onto their computer at home as a way of archiving what they’d found.

Little did they know that it would end up with them putting together their very own published book of photographs from the early 1960s to 2006 – Portsmouth From Family Archives.

Jonathan, who studies graphic design at Fareham College, says: ‘On our mum’s side of the family our grandparents were really into photography. We always knew they had the photographs but last summer we decided to start scanning them in.

‘They were all slides on film that they had hidden away. We knew they had them but we never got around to doing something with them. We scanned lots of them in because it gave us something to do.’

Jonathan, who lives in Southsea, started showing them to family and friends and they decided to make a book to give as a gift.

‘I showed people our idea and they said they’d wouldn’t mind going out and buying it,’ he explains.

Just 17 at the time, he even designed the cover and the content of the book himself.

‘The cover was designed around old-fashioned handwriting and I really wanted it to focus on the family side of the photographs,’ he adds.

‘I asked around and we found a local publisher, Tricorn Books, that was happy and keen to publish it.

‘A lot of money has gone into it and our parents had their concerns, but we said it would all be fine.’

Even though creating the book was an exciting project for the brothers – and it allowed them to show their family and friends their history – there was another reason for compiling the photos into a book.

Jonathan explains: ‘Some books go so far back people won’t remember it.

‘But in this book hopefully most people will go “Oh yeah, I remember when it was like that!”

‘I like Portsmouth a lot and it’s surreal seeing old photographs of what it used to look like. It’s strange but looks like fun.’

Doris now lives in Old Portsmouth and didn’t realise what the boys were up to at first.

Sadly Stanley passed away in 2001 so never got to see the photos he took presented in such a loving way by his grandsons.

‘They gave me the book for Christmas and I was very proud,’ adds Doris.

‘But I didn’t know what they were doing. They’d been up there looking at the photos and they kept taking some away and coming back.

‘It’s wonderful – the photos don’t go too far back. It’s just the right amount of time for people to remember.’

Portsmouth From Family Archives is available to buy from Waterstone’s in Commercial Road and Bonzo Studio and Southsea Gallery on Albert Road for £14.99.

To see more photos of what our area looked like in the past, see the Remember When page in The News every day – and send your pictures to Chris Owen at The News Centre, Hilsea, Portsmouth, P02 9SX.