During the late 70’s and 80’s a photographer who also happened to be a paramedic by the name of Chris Porsz would spend his days wandering around the streets of a city in England called Peterborough. He would take photos of everyday people from schoolkids to shop workers to policemen. The images he captured were always an honest and endearing depiction of life during that time. Now, nearly 40 years later Chris has made the amazing decision to return to his project of old . . .
He has spent the last seven years tracking down as many of his former subjects as possible and then getting them to do the same poses from his old photos.
“I don’t think anyone else has tracked down so many strangers and recreated photos in this way before,” Porsz told Metro. It took “tenacious detective work, meticulous planning and, often, unbelievable coincidences,” but I must tell you that results are super interesting. They give you a unique insight into how these people have aged over the years and how their styles have changed.
Not only was this project an amazing chance for these subjects to be photographed again but it also gave them the chance to meet up with old friends and acquaintances some of whom had not seen each other for many years.
Together with writer Jo Riley, Porsz has compiled photos and stories into a book aptly-titled Reunions. It is now available through his website.
I have compiled some of the amazing photos for you to enjoy below:
Dog And Tina (1985 And 2015)
Punks Tina Tarr and her partner Dog were pictured near the Cathedral in Peterborough when Tina was 18. The couple left the city in the 1990s and went travelling. They have twins, but are no longer together. Tina now lives in Dorset and makes willow products and hosts weaving workshops. Dog does hedge laying and gardening and lives in South West Wales. “I remember the photo being taken, it was a brilliant time. I had various styles of punk hair for quite a few years,” said Tina. Dog added: “They were good times, I still had hair then”.
Five Boys Running (1987 And 2016)
Andy, who has been married for 21 years and has a daughter, said: ‘I remember playing the arcade game Phoenix, which involved birds hatching out of eggs.’ Andy went into the Army after leaving school and drove trucks in the Transport Corps. He left in 1987 and has been working for the Royal Mail in Werrington, near Peterborough, ever since. Richard is now an electrician in Peterborough and is married with two boys. He said: ‘There were only about 70 of us in our school year and we were all really close. They were happy times.’ Tony James works as a stone cutter and has two children; Aaron works at Ikea and is married with three boys. Devinder moved to Yorkshire in 1986 and is married with two boys and works for the Housing Association. They’ve organised a school reunion and plan to keep in touch.
Hairdressers Shop (1980 And 2016)
Dressed in a fur jacket and gloves, Sandra Burford was pictured going into a hairdressers. Hairdressers Shop – Reunion, June 2016. Sandra said: ‘I used to go there occasionally to have my hair cut by the apprentice, because it worked out a bit cheaper.’ She used to work at the Hotpoint factory, but is now retired. Sandra is widowed and has a daughter and three grandsons. The hairdressers has changed hands and is now a Toni & Guy.
Pink Mohican (1985 And 2016)
Punk Badger Farcue can still remember winning the Pizza Eating Competition in Cathedral Square. The contest was organized by Stefan Malajny, who ran the Papa Luigi pizza restaurant. Stefan said: ‘I remember Badger managed to eat his pizza in about two minutes, which was very fast.’ Badger was 20 at the time of the contest and worked as a labourer, building dry stone walls. He said: ‘My friends encouraged me to enter and we had to try and eat a 12-inch cheese and tomato pizza as quickly as possible. I won and got a round of applause and front page of the local paper.’ Badger, who has five children, moved to Somerset in 1991 and now tarmacs roads.
Sisters (1980 And 2013)
Left to right, Shehnaz Begum, her twin sister Rukhsana and their older sister Itrat were spotted sitting in the window of their house on Cromwell Road. ‘We often used to perch in the window and watch what was going on in the road,’ said Shehnaz. ‘My twin sister and I were about seven and Itrat was nine. We loved riding our bikes with the other children in the street and were good friends with another set of twins. Mum said we were quite a handful’. The three sisters still live in Peterborough and see each other regularly. Shehnaz, who is divorced, has a daughter and looks after elderly and disabled people, together with her twin, who is re-married and has five children. Itrat works for the post office and is married with six children.
County School Girls (1979 And 2016)
Sandra Williams, Carmen Chin and Maureen Mayers were friends from County Grammar School but lost touch over the years and the school was converted into sheltered housing in 1985. ‘Carmen was my best friend and lived in my road, so we were always together,’ said Sandra, who is now married with four children and a step-daughter and works as a passenger assistant for disabled children and in a coffee shop. Carmen, who is married with four children and now lives in Lincolnshire, where she has a small holding said: ‘I think we were the first year to go to the grammar school after it changed from being a comprehensive.’ Maureen, who still lives in Peterborough and has four children, had broken her right arm when the photo was taken and hid it behind her back. She said: ‘We’d had freezing cold weather and we were playing tag and I slipped over on the ice’.
Tasbir’s First Job (1982 And 2016)
Tasbir Singh worked on a stall at the market for four years after leaving school. Tasbir’s first job – Reunion, July 2016. He then worked for BT and Royal Mail, where he is today. He still lives in the city and is married with three children and four grandchildren. He said: ‘I worked on the stall from the age of 18 until I was 22. It was hard working in all weather’.
Double Bubble (1980 And 2012)
Sisters Anna (left) and Emma Hankins posed for a picture blowing bubbles with Hubba Bubba bubblegum in Bridge Street. Anna was 11 and Emma was 13 and the girls were waiting for their mum while she was shopping. The siblings, who both went on to have careers in hairdressing, are now married and have families. They still live in Peterborough and see each other regularly. Anna now works in a pharmacy and Emma works for the Ideal World shopping channel. ‘It was hard trying to blow bubbles again after such a long time and took quite a few tries,’ said Anna.
Ice Cream Seller (1980 And 2014)
Genesio (Gino) Borrillo bought an ice cream van when he moved to Peterborough from Italy and travelled around the city in the summer selling ice cream. Ice cream Seller – Reunion, July 2014. In 1992, GIno set up a pasta shop in the city, which he still runs with his daughter. He is married and has three children and four grandchildren.
Good For Teeth And Bones (1983 And 2014)
Layla Gordon is pictured drinking her daily bottle of milk at Queens Drive Infants School. She is now a housewife, with a long-term partner and two children and still lives in Peterborough. ‘I still like milk but sadly it’s not free anymore,’ she joked.
Metal Mickey (1980 And 2016)
Steve Osborn was known as Metal Mickey in the 1980s as he broke both his legs several times in a series of motor biking accidents and had plates and bolts put in them. He said: ‘I even carried on riding my bike with my leg in a cast!’. Steve, who now uses walking sticks to get around, lives in Spalding, Lincolnshire and is married. He had four children, but his son died in 2012. Steve plays the guitar with different bands and has raised more than £20,000 for the National Association of Bikers with a Disability.
Nobby (1980 And 2015)
Scotsman Michael Ross, affectionately known as Nobby, lived in a bus shelter for 10 years in terrible conditions after his house burnt down. Nobby, who used to be a head teacher, was given some golf clubs by a passer-by and indulged in his passion by sneaking onto the local course. Local residents thought he had died when he went into sheltered housing around 10 years ago and gave up his bus shelter home.
Flute Player (1986 And 2015)
For many years, Neil wandered around Peterborough town centre and played the flute outside the Co-op bank in Westgate. Flute Player – Reunion, 2015. When the book went to print, Neil had not been seen for several months.
Ice Creams (1981 And 2015)
Donna Yarnell was five years old when she was photographed with her three-year-old brother Steven licking ice creams in their front garden. Her family moved out of the house two years later so it brought back lots of memories when the pair returned to the street in February 2015. ‘I was really surprised because the front gate was exactly the same,’ said Donna, who works in a pub, still lives in Peterborough and has four daughters. Brother Steven also lives in the city and has a son.
Star Road (1982 And 2014)
Sisters Maria (left) and Annamarie Plavecz were photographed in Star Road. In 2014 the siblings, who have a Hungarian father, both now work as carers.
Pin Badges (1970 And 2013)
Punks (r to l) John Church, Gary Beckett, Ade Lawrence and Pippa Hodgson were pictured in Cathedral Square, wearing pin badges. John, who is now a painter and decorator in the city, said: ‘The other lads were school friends and Pippa was a mutual friend. We used to hang out together and listen to punk music. I think I was about 15 and on the verge of becoming a punk.’ John is still friends with Ade and they play in a band together. Gary emigrated to Australia, where he works as a project manager and Pippa now lives in Spain.
Jewellery Assistant (1990 And 2015)
Vicki Gracey (nee Frost) worked as a sales assistant at a jewellery store in Queensgate Shopping Centre for two years. Vicki has since had jobs behind bars, in retail, hairdressing and restaurants and currently deals with tenancy sustainability. She still lives in the city and is married with two children. ‘I’m a people person and I’ve always had jobs which involve working with the public,’ she said.
Butcher (1980 And 2015)
Richard Price started work at the butchers when he left school at 15 and is pictured here selling meat outside the shop when he was about 17. In 2015. Richard worked at the shop for three years. He still lives in the city and works as an entertainer. The butchers shop became a cafe.
Eating Chips (1983 And 2016)
School friends Martin Coulson (left) and Andy Randall were eating chips bought from the arcade which has now been replaced with Wilkinsons. ‘I think it must have been a Saturday and we’d been to the chip shop. The chips were a bit like McDonald’s fries and were always good,’ said Martin, who was a warehouse manager and is currently re-training. He is married with two children. Andy is a telematics engineer and is married with three children. He added: ‘We were probably going around the toy shops together as we had a Scalextric track’.
All Photos © by Chris Porsz/Geoff Robinson