Two final portrait shoots

The final two portrait shoots of the We are Waddington project took place at two very different kinds of place; one was the RAF station church, the other was the Three Horseshoes pub. Both offering sustenance of different kinds…

It felt odd going to the RAF church, as this was the church at which my dad was formerly the station Chaplain, when I was born. The present Chaplain, Kevin Hart was very welcoming, and actually remembered my dad, which was nice. And the church was much like many of the station churches that my childhood revolved around, so it was something of a sense of deja vue for me… Funny to think I’d been there before…

Anyway, after the service I was able to take some portraits of members of the congregation…

The Three Horseshoes; a small but very welcoming watering hole in the middle of the old part of the village. One of those pubs where everyone seems to know each other, and there’s loads of good friendly banter… A great pub. Though rather quiet on the evening I turned up with my camera. We did a group shot of everyone there, and then did some smaller groups afterwards;




You can see these, and more of the portraits from the project at the Three Horseshoes pub, which is one of 8 venues showing work in the ‘We Are Waddington Photo Trail’….


The Ran Tan Tan shoot

So, on the 21st June (the longest day, and it was…in so many ways!) the good people of Waddington gathered together, in the true spirit of Ran Tanning, and got dressed up at the Youth Club building, and were photographed in a temporary photographic studio, enacting various elements of a Ran Tan (for more info on ran tanning was see;

The plan was to photograph everyone in costume, against a plain background, and then to digitally cut them out and place them into a historically appropriate background, to re-create the atmosphere of a Ran Tan Tan in Waddington. There are records of one happening in Waddington, in which an effigy of the wrong-doer was burned in a field at the top of the ridge, after the village had gathered outside his house to make lots of noise and publicly shame him (for whatever his crime had been…) I’d already been and photographed a house which I wanted to use as the background to this scene; Ward cottage, one of Waddingtons oldest houses (and presently boarded up). Here’s how it looked;


What a day! We had a pile of costumes, obtained from various quarters, including the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, 1-2-1 disguises, and the fantastic Jane Haddock, and her brother Robin Whealdon, both of whom had an incredible selection of genuine old costumes. We were unsure how many people would actually come, on the day…in the end we had over 50! Emma Belli, and her mother Jane Haddock worked tirelessly all day to get people dressed in costumes that looked right – we were trying to recreate the population of Waddington, at around late 19th/early 20th century.

We had a great assortment of props for making lots of noise with (although we didn’t need to actually make noise, for a photograph!) including a drum, pots, pans, buckets and dustbin lids, as well as a selection of brass instruments, and even a couple of hunting horns. Each person was then photographed separately, or in small groups, acting out various imagined roles and characters. Here’s some pictures taken by Giuseppe Belli, documenting the day;


So, here’s the result of the first two;

Ran Tan no 1 V3FLAT


Ran Tan Tan no. 1

Ran Tan no 2 FLAT Final

Ran Tan Tan no.2

In Maureen Suttons book ‘We didn’t know owt’ there is a record of a Ran Tan Tan happening in Waddington, in which an effigy of the ‘bad guy’ was burned in the Gambles top field. So, as the gambles family still farm that bit of Waddington I asked John Gambles if we could set fire to our effigy in his top field, for the photo series, and he very kindly agreed.

So, later the same evening, we went up to Green farm, with Robin and Nick Whealdon, and Emma and Giuseppe Belli, to set fire to our effigy, and photograph it burning. Nick, the fire master gave ‘him’ a good dousing in diesel, and lit the match while the rest of us stood well back and got the shots we needed;

001Gambles top field 002Gambles top field 003Gambles top field 004Gambles top field 005Gambles top field 006Gambles top field 007Gambles top field 008Gambles top field 009Gambles top field

Trouble was that there were some very large cows, and a bull in the same field…

010Gambles top field

Fortunately John kept them at bay while we had the burning…I love this picture by Robin Whealdon, of John Gambles staring out the bull…

011Gambles top fieldAnd the final result…

Ran Tan no 3 FLAT final



Ran Tan Tan (time travels with a camera…)


I mentioned a while back about my love of photography’s ability to transport us back through time… You look at an old photograph, and you are looking at a real moment, from some time before now…it’s a window back through time.

Before photography came along, the past was conveyed to the present by stories passed down by word of mouth, or written down, or by paintings or drawings. And then some time around 160 years ago photographs were able to record those moments, for us people from the future!

Here’s one such moment from 1917;

Scan 31_b_lowres

(Photo; Museum of Lincolnshire Life)

The picture shows something called a ‘Ran Tan Tan’ (which meant ‘rough music’) taking place in Washingborough in 1917. I’ve been reading up about Ran Tanning, in a book called “We Didn’t Know Owt”, by the wonderful Maureen Sutton (a resident of Waddington) who is a published poet, and writer on local folklore. In the book, she describes the practice of Ran Tanning in some detail; it was a form of social justice, meted out by the community to those guilty of committing socially unacceptable crimes such as wife beating. The practice varied from village to village, but the principal was the same; the community would come together, march through the village and gather outside the guilty persons house to make a right old racket by banging pots and pans, or anything that could make a loud noise, and singing songs about the wrongdoer. Sometimes it would go on for a couple of hours until they ran out of steam, and sometimes it would go on for 3 nights in a row! There would often be some kind of mock court, in which the offender would have to promise not to repeat the behaviour, and sometimes he’d be taken to the horse pond and put in the water on a ducking stool. A case in Waddington recorded that, after ducking the offender, an effigy of him was taken to the Gambles top field, an set alight.

The practice was apparently outlawed in the late 1900’s, but was still going on at least until the 1930’s. It’s a kind of vigilanteism I guess… And I’m not advocating it, but I confess to finding it an interesting yard stick on how communities worked then, and how they operate today… If we did that today half the village would end up in court! It’s interesting to speculate that the practice was probably just as much about coming together as a community and having a little mischief. As Maureen says in her book;

“This custom is probably due less to the moral indignation of the self-constituted champions of the beaten wife than to the love of excitement and mischief, and the delight in mere noise and action which characterise young folk, especially boys.”  (Sutton, 2012:202)

If you’re interested in local folklore I thoroughly recommend Maureens book (“We Didn’t Know Owt”, published by Shaun Tyas)  it’s a great read.

So, time travelling with photography….This coming Sunday, 21st June (fathers day) I’m going to attempt to take us back in time, and recreate a Ran Tan Tan! By the wonders of technology; studio photography, costumes and props, and composite imaging, I’m hoping to get as many volunteers as possible to come along, dress up, and let me take their picture, which will then become part of a composite image depicting a Ran Tan in Waddington.

Also, on a slightly different note, I have a couple of genuine WW2 RAF bomber pilot uniforms, complete with flying helmet and goggles, and Mae West life jacket, which I’m hoping to get someone wearing, so I can do a little composite image about that part of Waddingtons heritage too…


When; Sunday 21st June, anytime between 11-4pm,

Where; Waddington Youth Club building, High Street, Waddington, LN5 9RF

Who; Anyone, all ages.

What should I bring; Costumes will be provided, but if you can wear brown or black leather shoes, a plain shirt or blouse, and plain trousers or skirt, that would be really helpful.

And if you want me to do a free family portrait while you’re there, then bring the whole family!

Go on, you know you want to….everyone loves dressing up, right?



The HIVE (No. 2)


Aircraft have been flying from Waddington since 1916. Initially the Royal Flying Corps, and later the RAF… The presence of the military base has shaped the identity of the village of Waddington, which otherwise would have remained as a small village. Many RAF personnel live in the village, and have even retired there, and many of the civilian population of the village have connections to the base, either through employment, or family.

So, it seems really important to me to be able to reflect the RAF community, by including them in the series of portraits I’ve been doing around Waddington. I went back to the HIVE, to see if I could persuade some serving personnel to get involved. It was a quite morning there, so not many people to ask, but a good proportion of those I asked got involved. The only thing I wasn’t allowed to photograph was flying suits, but other than that, I got a nice selection of people there, including two gents from the Royal Navy, and a husband and wife;

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Waddington Wives Choir


RAF Waddington has a wives choir. I contacted them and asked if I could go along to do some portraits to add to the collection… (a good addition to the RAF side of the community). They were really happy for me to do that. I did a group shot, of the whole choir, on the steps of the station church, where they practice;


Odd to think I was baptised in that church, whilst my dad was station Chaplain there all those years ago. Sadly I didn’t get to hear much of the ladies at work..they were just finishing when I arrived, but they might be coming to sing at the opening of the exhibition, on July the 10th.

After the group shot I did some portraits of some of the ladies, and one or two of their children who were playing whilst their were rehearsing. Here’s some of the portraits I did;

All Saints Primary Workshop


Spent the day doing Light Graffiti with yr 3 & 4 at All Saints Primary.

The kids had been listening to some famous pieces of classical music, and interpreting their responses to it using paint/pen & paper. And then we tried to turn that into abstract images using coloured torches and photography…’Light Graffiti’;

The kids, teachers, and myself all had loads of fun… Light graffiti is one of those things that always gets lots of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’…! Whats not to like?

A busy Sunday…


So for the last day of May I had a busy day doing portraits in a few different locations ‘uphill’.

I started the day off by going to visit the congregation of St Michaels Church. It was a special service, as there was a rededication of a plaque to George Gambles (great uncle of John Gambles) who was killed in the Great War. The plaque had originally been in the old church, and was one of the only things left after it was destroyed in WW2. The plaque was meant to have been rededicated in the 1950’s after the new church was built, but for one reason or another it spent the intervening years in the combine shed…

After the service I did some portraits of the congregation;

Next; The Gambles family – the last farming family in Uphill Waddington. The farm has a great view from the top of the ridge, and the Angela always seems to have freshly baked cakes and scones on offer whenever I turn up!



My third location of the day; Waddington Cricket Club. The club were playing at home against Ancaster.

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…and during tea some of the team volunteered for some portraits;

And finally… to the Wheatsheef, where an engagement party was in full swing. A very enjoyable afternoon…