I have recently given three talks at Kibworth Community Library entitled ‘Kibworth in old images'. I am delighted to say they were well-attended, because every ticket sold went to help the Library running costs.
It was the speaker who probably learned most from these talks, thanks to an audience who provided vital facts and figures, and it was a joy to meet a descendant of Alonzo Freeland, one-time village pharmacist (where Lloyds the Chemist now trades), and a splendid photographer - and a manufacturer of fizzy lemonade!
For our knowledge of Kibworth's past, we must thank Alonzo and two other local photographers, Walter Bale and Charles Cooper. They left a valuable record of our more recent history from when photography became a commercial possibility. Then, photography was an expensive occupation and time-consuming. Long exposure times meant asking anyone in the picture to stand still for several minutes in case the image was blurred. This was difficult if the subject was a group of small children, or perhaps a horse pulling a cart. So, every picture mattered. There was no delete button.
The subjects of these photographers are interesting. Mainly, they took pictures of ordinary street scenes. If children had gathered to see what was happening, they became part of the image. There was no attempt to produce a cosmetic view of Kibworth or to prettify the village.
This raises an interesting debate about recording the present day. There are many lovely buildings in Kibworth, but attempts to photograph them often involve avoiding three wheelie-bins and probably a Transit-type van parked on the kerb. Alonzo and his colleagues could stand in the middle of High Street or Church Road to achieve a long-shot of the architecture. You can guess how successful have been my attempts to achieve the same views!
The present is also our past. History depends on our age. It is all personal, and it is important.