Friday, March 25, 2011

Developing and Printing and Donne Studios

Reading Silverback's post about the days of Developing and Printing took me back to some very early memories.

The Communist was a pharmacist and when I was very little he had a shop in Halton, Leeds.

It was an unpretentious Victorian building with a dark interior - here's how it looked when I was last there in 2007.

As you can see, it wasn't a chemist shop in 2007: its days as a chemist shop were in the 1960s when the Communist owned it.

When I was little I used to be taken there sometimes. If I was very lucky the Communist would take me to a local field near a railway line after work. It was there, one August long ago, that I first saw harebells in flower and thought they were the loveliest flowers I had ever seen.

There's just one more thing I remember about that shop and I didn't piece together the whole story until years later, but I remember there was a lot of gossip going on at the time all round me and I didn't understand it.

One of the Communist's shop assistants was pregnant. It was a big surprise to everyone. It was a particularly big surprise to her, because although she had a regular boyfriend she had never had what was known in those days as Sexual Intercourse. What she had participated in, presumably with some enthusiasm, was what was known in those days as Heavy Petting.

This interesting incident was, perhaps, why the story of Mary and the baby Jesus never impressed the Communist very much. Whenever the topic was mentioned he would look a bit superior and mutter something like "Virgin birth? My shop assistant had one of those. Happens all the time."

Anyway - - - - of course, in those days almost everyone who had a camera took their films to the chemist for developing and printing. That phrase "developing and printing" - or D and P as the Communist sometimes called it - is such a part of my world!

There was always a little box of films to be delivered to the place that actually did the developing and printing - and writing this post, its name has just come hurtling back to me out of the past. Donne Studios. And, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I found its address: 6-10 GREEN ROAD, MEANWOOD, LEEDS 6, LS6 4JP - and the company is now dissolved but how amazing that I found it!

One evening, after the shop closed, I went with the Communist to Donne Studios, and they showed me round.

Some kind person explained to me all about darkrooms and developing liquid.

I was fascinated. Thrilled. The idea of spending the whole day watching the magic as films changed into photographs - - wonderful!

For about the next ten years, whenever anybody asked me - as they often do ask children - what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would unfailingly say that I wanted to work in a place that did developing and printing. It was, in general, not the answer that they were expecting.


Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:33 pm  
Blogger Michael said...

There's nothing quite like the thrill of opening up the developing canister and seeing the pictures that you have developed yourself. I'm going to shoot some film today with my old Leica and develop it in the kitchen sink. I sometimes use digital (well, iPhone) for the convenience, but I still prefer the film 'look'.

8:33 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

Another eminently readable post. However, one small factual error to address. I think you will find that Heavy Petting is a Gloucestershire hamlet, just up the valley from the villages of Light Petting and No Petting Tonight My Lad.
Verification word: MATES!!!!

2:04 am  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I wonder if that is Donne as in John "No man is an island" Donne....

12:40 pm  
Blogger Jan Blawat said...

YP must have spent some time in all of those places to know them so well.

11:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading this post,the old shop is still there ,I live opposite. Kind regards.

7:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to get taken in that shop for sweets, the owner then was called Mr Broadley

5:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donne Studios was run by my dad and my uncle. My dad was the photographer (and still is) and was most likely the kind person who showed you round. They did D&P for many chemist shops all round the Leeds area.

7:24 pm  
Blogger diane said...

would you be related to Beattie Lionel Norman and Renee Donne ?originally from Lithuania.Cousins of Rachel and Im the granddaughter.

8:43 pm  

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