Most people think their own granny is a complete legend. Heroic, courageous and caring, grannies the world over sit at the pinnacle of idolatry in the minds of their own grandchildren. But David Short, a Sheffield-based photographer, has more proof than most that his really was a remarkable woman.
David’s grandmother Evelyn was a local celebrity in the ex-mining town of Dinnington. Her meals at the local chippy were always free and she was well known and adored by the entire community. “If you ever went anywhere with her,” David recalls, “it would take forever, because she chatted to every single person she bumped into.”
A lifelong resident of the South Yorkshire town, Evelyn spent her later years frequenting Silverdales, one of the village’s two social clubs. Every weekend without fail, Silverdales put on a show known as a “turn”, and the community came together to dance and drink. (It’s also worth noting that Evelyn never had to buy a drink either.)
And at the end of each night, posters from event boards were taken down and often signed by the performers. And Evelyn began a growing collection of these posters. “Any act that wanted to promote themselves, wherever they were from, needed a poster or flyer to promote their upcoming appearance at the social club,” explains David. Even if it was a bad photocopy or a signed bingo strip, at any cost, Evelyn collected each and every bit of memorabilia relating to the club’s performances, even if it had to be mailed to her directly at a later date.
The collection swelled to around 800 posters and other items, which now reside in David’s studio. On Evelyn’s passing at the age of 93, the collection was handed down to David’s mother (Evelyn’s daughter-in-law) and then on to her photographer grandson. “It was only when my mum asked if I wanted them that it occurred to me that it was a uniquely special collection that would one day make a fantastic book,” he tells It’s Nice That.
The posters are now the stars of a new book, designed and edited by Patrick Fry, featuring an essay by Liv Siddall and published by CentreCentre. “I hope the book evokes memories and conversations from all generations as an archive collection,” says David. “It’s reminiscent of an era that makes people smile, and collecting these posters was something my grandmother enjoyed as she did her nights out. So in the spirit of Evelyn, I hope people enjoy it.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.