John Darwell's photographs of forgotten Stockport show a town and industry in transition

By Culture24 Staff | 25 February 2011
a photo of a woman hanging skins on a wire wall
Stretching Skins in the dyeing room by John Darwell (Joshua Kershaw and Co Tannery) © John Darwell
Exhibition: Working Lives, Photographs by John Darwell, Stockport Art Gallery, Stockport, until March 30 2011.

A photographic exhibition exploring the industrial development of Stockport is offering a fascinating glimpse into a way of life on the cusp of change at Stockport Art Gallery and Museum.

Working Lives includes photographs from the 1800s donated by the Stockport Image Archive, displayed alongside objects taken from Stockport museums’ industrial collection and a fascinating series of photographs taken by John Darwell in 1985.

Darwell’s photos were commissioned by Stockport Council and depict the working lives of those once employed in Stockport’s factories and workshops. The images capture the people and industrial processes employed, mainly in textile manufacturing.

With only two companies featured in Darwell's work still running, the poignant photos provide a snapshot of Stockport’s industrial landscape and an industry in flux as factories began to close and textiles began to give way to new kinds of industry.
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