Clifford C. Ashton 1913~2008
As promised on the previous page, I am honoured to feature some of the work of Clifford Ashton, with thanks to his widow, Eileen, for her support and encouragement.
Despite the number of pictures included on the following pages, they are but a fraction of the total nuber of incidents photographed over a 60 year period. I wouldn't like to begin to estimate just how many photographs Clifford took at fires, but I know that they must number several thousand from 1934 - 1994. The first recorded fire was in Stuart Street, Rochdale, 9 September 1934 when he was just 21. The last recorded was at Wrexham Industrial Park in North Wales, 26 September 1994, by which time he had reached the age of 81. There are one or two periods that were not covered, most especially the war years when he was called up for war service. That said, his attendance at fires and accidents that will be featured on the coming pages, is only a small part of his life's work as a Press Photographer. Working predominantly though not exclusively in the Rochdale area he covered everything from Church Walking Days to Royal Visits; from the Knocker-Up to Construction of Motorways. It's all there.
Despite the nature of his work, Clifford Ashton always remained true to his beliefs. He was a life-long member of Hope Particular Baptist Church in Rochdale. For many years he was a Sunday School Teacher and for 25 years he was Sunday School Superintendent. He last worshipped there on the Sunday before he died. Accordingly, his Christian beliefs greatly influenced his work, and he never hesitated to turn down work that would in any way compromise those beliefs.
I hope you, the visitor, will enjoy viewing some of his work. I apologise in advance for any poor reproduction of pictures. That is due mainly to the limitations of my equipment. It must be appreciated that until the early 1960s glass negatives were used. In some cases, I have been able to use captions written by Mr. Ashton himself. Such captions appear in " " marks. All other comments are my own.
Finally, it is worth mentioning
that during his latter working years, Clifford Ashton took many photographs
on behalf of insurers, and this is reflected in the fact that his pictures
were usually taken a day or two after the fire. I have included a
selection of these covering some incidents of note.
For anyone interested in seeing
further work by Clifford Ashton, a book has recently been published "Rochdale
~ A Press Photographer's View" by Hannah Haynes
ISBN 978-0-9524457-1-5 price £14.99 and is highly recommended.
More recently, the whole collection
of Clifford Ashton's fire related pictures and negatives has been passed
to the Greater Manchester Fire Service Museum in Rochdale, along with the
copyright. Accordingly I am unable to deal with any further enquiries
regarding the collection, which should now be made directly to the Museum,
please. Contact details are available on the page dedicated the Museum.