New in the Archives: The Tax Inspector’s Photographs

Guest blog by volunteer Dave Smalley

Since April the volunteers at the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive have been beavering away scanning what could be over two thousand negatives, all taken by a tax inspector between 1935 and 1977. Why would they do this? Because the negatives are the greater part of the Ralph Charlton Cross collection and they have been missing for decades.

In the post war years Ralph Cross documented barns and bee boles, buildings now demolished, buildings now listed, and buildings now restored out of recognition. These often haunting black and white images capture the passing of a worn and weathered rural world. They are addictive whatever your age or background.


(Above: Image RAC1957.051.3, showing the interior of a barn at Bullion Farm in Blackshaw Head, 1957)

The negatives arrived thanks to collaboration between local historians in Rossendale, Pendle and Calderdale. It meant that the executor for an eclectic, but very valuable, private collection could place the photographs where they would not only be safe but could rapidly made available to the public. And that of course is the raison d’etre of Pennine Horizons.

The Ralph Cross collection joins several other collections on vernacular architecture in the South Pennine Archives, making this a real strength of our collections. As volunteers scan and catalogue these negatives, they are being published on the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive website, where you can become enraptured with them yourself!