Punks, video games and kids just hanging out: How the Paparazzo of Peterborough documented life in town during the 70s and 80sAmateur photographer Chris Porsz, 59, took snaps to help ease stress of his jobPunk haircuts, flared jeans and early computers included in fascinating collection
02:30 GMT, 12 December 2012
A group of 'psychobillies' – ex-punks, teds and skinheads – stare at a camera in a shopping arcade… the flat-top hairdo of one dyed a similar colour to the logo of a C&A store in the background.
Elsewhere, young boys gaze longingly at chunky video games, such as Firefox and Scramble, in a computer shop.
This was the face of Peterborough in the late 1970s/early 80s, caught on camera by paramedic Chris Porsz, who spent hours walking the streets taking up to 300 photos a day.
Now, the 59-year-old's remarkable record of life in the Cambridgeshire new town has been published in a book, called New England.
Mr Porsz, nicknamed the 'paramedic paparazzo', spent four decades shooting scenes that captured the spirit of the town.
Changing faces: Paramedic and amateur photographer Chris Porsz took these remarkable pictures of Peterborough in the 1970s and 80s
Nostalgia: The son of Polish immigrants, Chris Porsz, would take up to 300 photos a day of his everyday surroundings in Peterborough
Relaxation: Chris Porsz said taking photos helped him unwind from his stressful day job as a paramedic
Style: A group of young punks congregate on a step complete with ripped denim and Dr. Martens
Remarkable record: As an amateur photographer in the 1970s and 80s, Chris Porsz tried to improve his skills by taking snaps of people in the streets
Many of the images are heartwarming:
children playing carefree in parks; smiling as they are served school
dinners; and queuing to go to the cinema.
Others are more downbeat, depicting a place of poverty where youngsters run riot in derelict buildings.
Peterborough was one of many towns which
was expanded after the Second World War and attracted young people
tempted by the promise of a better life.
In the decades that followed, it also saw an influx of residents from Europe, who arrived with the same hopes and dreams.
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New town: Peterborough saw an influx in population after being designated a New Town following the Second World War
Memory Lane: The photos recall the fashion of the times with some wearing colourful punk outfits and others wearing flared jeans
Cultural mix: An influx of immigrants from Italy, Bangladesh and Eastern Europe changed the social dynamic of Peterborough
Laughter: A group of girls sporting 1970s school outfits and haircuts
Hidden: Chris Porsz had left the photos collecting dust in a cupboard for forty years before he decided to dig them out for a new collection
The photos recall the fashion of the time with colourful punk rockers and children wearing flares and tracksuits.
It also shows the changing face of technology with pictures showing an old computer show, chunky TV's piled in the streets and children playing video games in a store.
In others they are seen hanging out with their friends at a time when playing on their own outside was considered much safer than today.
They are captured blowing bubblegum, on their bikes and eating fast food.
But the pictures also show a tough side to life in Peterborough, with rundown play equipment, paint peeling off gates, broken windows and rubbish dumped in the streets.
Peterborough has a strong tradition
of immigration beginning with large groups of Italian men who were
recruited to work in the city's brick making industry in the 1950s.
Later large numbers of Pakistani and Indian migrants came following the decolonisation of the Commonwealth.
And the East of England Regional Assembly estimated at least 16,000 Eastern Europeans were living in the city by 2006 following the accession of countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic into the EU.
Chris, who is married to Lesley and has three children, Simon, 34, Adam, 32 and Emma, 30, was born in Peterborough in 1953.
He added: 'I am proud of my photographs of Peterborough although I never imagined I was creating a record of social history.
'I still walk the streets,
documenting change, and I have extended my portfolio well beyond my home
town, photographing Paris and New York as well as other British cities.
think I somehow capture the spirit of a town in the faces of its people
and I'm pleased to see that most of the time, most of the faces look
The new hardback book has 170 images and can be purchased at www.chrisporsz.com for 17.99.
Well-known figure: Chris Porsz picked up the nickname 'Paramedic Paparazzo' because he was always out taking pictures in Peterborough
Insight: The photos paint a fascinating picture of Peterborough from the 1970s and 80s
Giveaway: A teacher has chalked up Inspector Clueso on the board – the series of Peter Sellers films were hugely popular in the 60s and 70s
All smiles: A group of children pose for the camera at the school gates
Happy: Four boys grin for the camera wearing knitted tank tops and flared trousers
Observed: Two young boys wearing parkas and in the background old style TVs are piled
Anxious: A woman looks worried as she boards a train in Peterborough. The rail guard in the back ground wears uniform of the time
Fashions: Children who have been taken out shopping sit and wait in their duffel coats
Obedient: Children are being easily distracted by the camera at a primary school in Peterborough
Ambition: Married dad-of-three Chris Porsz said he never set out to create a piece of social history but just enjoyed taking pictures to ease the stress of his job
Popular: Scores of young people queue up for the cinema. A poster reveals it is showing the 1981 film Montenegro
Lucky: A boy shows off what looks to be a 'Chopper'-style bike from the 1970s
Cultural mix: Peterborough saw an influx of immigrant families from Eastern Europe, Italy and Bangladesh
The man himself: Chris Porsz poses with some his photos when he still had a moustache
Passion: Chris Porsz has gone on to take pictures of people in cities around the world including Paris and New York
Daily life: Like many other new towns Peterborough struggled to juggle the influx of new people with high unemployment
Stark: A mother with four young children poses in her living room where the family are using a huge aerial to get reception for the television
Fun times: A group of boys playing out in what appears to be an abandoned property
Changes: Peterborough first drew a migrant population when Italian men were recruited to the brick industry in the 1950s
Nap time: This endearing snap captures a teacher leading her children in a game
Bored: An adorable little girl doesn't look too impressed by her carton of milk
Behind the curtain: Three young girls peep out from a colourful set of living room curtains
Alternative dress: A punk couple wear matching denim and pink haircuts, left, while three girls don yellow, print uniforms that might horrify schoolchildren today
Different era: Much as many are today, families in 1970s Britain were forced to tighten their belts during a recession
Cool as cats: A group of teenagers sporting velvet coats, corduroy trousers and silver chains, left, while a young girls shows off spectacular make up, right
Peekaboo: A young boy peeps through a front gate outside his house
Teaching: A group of primary school children gather round their teacher to take part in a cutting and sticking exercise
Blast from the past: A pair of elderly ladies enjoy a gossip, left,
while two young girls blow bubbles with their chewing gum on the high
Mischief: A girl wearing high-waisted bell bottom trousers and her friends look to have been causing trouble