Interview with Mike Strange, Historypinner

Name:  Mike Strange

Location:  Biggleswade, Bedfordshire

Historypin Channels:

Biggleswade History Society
Your Total Event

How have you been involved with Historypin?
By making available for all a number of the images of Biggleswade in the custodianship of the Biggleswade History Society.  In order to make them interesting and relevant I have always included the date and, where time permits, a story to go with them.  I have also added a few of my own images of a few places and events that interest me and hopefully others.

How did you hear about the project?
Approached by Ella Wiggans from Historypin asking if I would like to take part way before it went live.

What do you do when you are not pinning?
Genealogical and local history research, web site development, digital photography and computer processing, playing blues guitar (for me only!), DIY (plenty of that to do so no offers of help I am afraid!), seeing the occasional film, hardly any TV, model-making, design and development of electronic projects …. you see I am retired!!!

Why did you decide to share Biggleswade History Society’s collection on Historypin?
It is inappropriate for 6,500 images to all be locked away in an archive where few people ever get to see them; Historypin has proved to be an ideal way of sharing and hopefully to get something back from people who view them.

What excites you the most about Historypin?
It is dynamic, you can put in just as much as you want, it is an opportunity for people to share their stories associated with the images and it is boundless – anyone in the world can share their images from any country and in their context of their map.

What is your favourite piece of content that you have pinned?

From the History Society it is this collection of Berkeley Cars:









From my personal pins, this Coronation street party on my road in 1953:

What is your favourite piece of content that you have found on Historypin?

An image of my wife’s uncle aged between 4 and 7 (so the date on the image is wrong!) looking out of the window of the George Hotel, East Dereham, that her grandparents William Charles and Laura Rogers kept.

The surprise was seeing the image we know well that had been pinned by someone else!

Why do you think other people should add their photos, videos & audio clips and stories to Historypin?
Because we all have something that is relevant to other people and they may never have the opportunity of seeing it any other way.

If you could have any person or organization start pinning, who would it be?
ALL local history societies who have not yet joined in!

If you could go back to any place and time, where and when would you go?
Hopefully this is not a question of a one-way ticket!!  Roman Britain because they forgot to leave very little information about their stay here – I want to know their stories!

What would you like to see on Historypin in the future?

  • Dynamic feedback of comments from viewers.
  • Be able to contact Pinners who do not leave a web site or email address.
  • More concentration on getting folk to use their photos to tell the stories (the Essex school project was brilliant).

History Society:


a family, a factory and fast track back in time

Fave Piece of Content

Top of Stone Mountain, 1970, Shared by librarynerd82

When I saw this photo this week, I knew it had to be included in my weekly blog as I could be a part of this family, dark hair and glasses – ha. However, I am not as cool as these folks. This snazzy family are on a break to visit Stone Mountain Park and this shot captures the moment when they have reached the top of the mountain. They walked the full journey up the mountain and walked the journey back down, even though there was an option for a cable car – manic. I love how 70s the outfits are in this photo, those mustards and browns. As well as that classic tank top the young lady at the back is wearing. Also I would totally wear the outfit the little girl is wearing (by the right) – totally love shorts. This photo was shared by librarynerd82 who has featured in one of my previous blog post the week of 

Fave Story of the Week

Dr. Pepper Factory,22 February 2008, Shared by introspectivenarwhal

This totally caught my eye this week – I’ m partial to a soda pop, me.  This is the remains of a Dr. Pepper Plant that was situated at the intersection of Greenville & Mockinbird in Dallas. It is now a very large grocery store and gas station. However they have chosen to keep the Dr Pepper clock, though I’m not sure how it tells the time without hands? introspectivenarwhal who pinned this little gem goes on to share about there fond memories of passing this clock. It reminded them of passing it on the way home from church, which meant it was nearly lunchtime – lunchtime a big thing here at Historypin – ha.

Pinner of the Week

Millstätter See, 1942, Shared by ErAnger

#PINNEROFTHEWEEK is awarded to ErAnger for his collection of content from Austria. One of my faves is the photo titled Millstätter See, 1942 (see photo above). The photo reminds me of a painting by Georges Seurat –Bathers at Asnières. The photo captures so many little moments on the bankside: a little boat sailing off, children playing and a lady lounging in a deck chair. My other fave from his collection is Weißensee, a beautiful 1920s postcard of two women on a bridge. The photo has a perfect symmetry and has a similar style to the image above. ErAnger’s collection of postcards is defiantly worth a look, so view his full Channel here.

Queen Elizabeth II: 60 years in 60 seconds

Want to see the Queen whizz around the world, showing off all the spots she’s covered in the staggering 261 official State and Commonwealth visits during her 60 year reign?

Just click here. (Warning you might need a sit down and a cup of tea afterwards, she’s been awfully busy…)

Our special Whizzing Queen animation shows where she went each year and links to the photos pinned so far for each visit.

From Tonga to Tobago, Canada to the Cook Islands, she has been to 116 different countries (out of the total 192), travelling by steamship, yacht, train, plane and car.

If you have any photos of visits by the Queen, at home or abroad, or pics of celebrations for her coronation or 1977 and 2002 Jubilees, add them to Pinning the Queen’s History to make them part of this special Jubilee collection.

John Gay, Rupert Potter, English Heritage’s own

The end of March saw us launch Historypin Channels, where profiles changed in to a completely different beast. Users now have a personalised Historypin map on their Channel page which displays only their content. Historypin Repeats are viewable as well as stories that people have added to your photos. The work that I have been doing with English Heritage Archives has been gearing towards this launch, so seeing the photos I have chosen up on the site and in this new format has been very rewarding.

Kenilworth castle, Eric De Mare. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

That is not to say that now we have launched Channels that my time with English Heritage is up. I will be spending the next 3 months working with their cataloguing team, finding more great images to put up on the site.

I am currently working my way through the extensive collection of images from photographer John Gay. Gay was born in Germany in 1909, but moved to London in 1933 as Hitler rose to power, beginning his career as a photographer. He primarily made pictures of people, but covered a wide range of subjects from animals for pet food adverts to architecture and country fairs. Gay is perhaps most famous for his series on Blackpool holiday makers, which typifies the traditional British seaside holiday. Look out for images from the John Gay Collection, we’ll be uploading them soon.

A horned cow, Royal Agricultural Show, John Gay. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

In the meantime there are already hundreds of images on the English Heritage Channel, from a number of different photographers such as Eric De Mare, one of the foremost architectural photographers of the 20th century. There is also the smaller Maltby collection of Odeon cinemas, which I mentioned in my last blog, as well as a set by Rupert Potter, father of children’s author Beatrix Potter. His images are all of Edwardian London, depicting London Zoo and various street scenes within the square mile. As well as all this work from some amazing photographers there are Tours and Collections to be viewed. My favourite being the cataloguing team’s own selection of images from the Early Photographic Print Collection, a body of work containing some of Britain’s earliest known photographic works, going back as far as 1840, you can view that Tour here.

Gloucester Cathedral, Sydney pitcher. Copyrighted © All Rights Reserved English Heritage Archives

Look out for more images from John Gay on the English Heritage Channel on Historypin, also find all these images and more on English Heritage Viewfinder. If you’d like to find out more about what I do you can see my first Historypinner in Residence blog here.

Depp, a day race and darn good Street Views

Fave Piece of Content

When I met Johnny Depp, 23 May 1987, Shared by Galexa07AHHHH! Oh my God, I’m super jel of this lady right now. The photo was taken in 1987, I wasn’t even born then, still very jealous – sigh. Anyway my jealousy out of the way, I’m very happy that Galexa07 has shared this on Historypin. Mr Johnny Depp looking ridiculously cool along side the very smiley lady. And from my previous blogs, you may have gathered I do enjoy a hat. Galexa had the pleasure of sharing a 5 hour plane ride with Depp, from LA to Miami. She also adds what a lovely sweet guy he was. If anyone else has any amazing photos of them with Mr Depp, or any other mega stars do share on Historypin – don’t forget to include a story.

Fave Story of the Week

Cyclist at Six Day Race, Copenhagen, 1939, Shared by Copenhagenize

From one talented gentlemen to another, this gentlemen is competing in a six day cycling race. This race entails six full days and nights of cycling, so in the late evenings one member of the team would have to keep peddling. So grabbing a quick coffee break wouldn’t be as simple as one may think. However this contestant is showing how easy it is to combine cycling, coffee and reading in one (as well as wearing a snazzy jumper). This photo was taken from the 1939 Copenhagen six day race. This photo was shared by Copenhagenize.

Pinner of the Week

Cock & trumpet Inn, Prestwich England, 1896, Shared by S100py

#PINNEROFTHEWEEK is awarded to S100py for their darn good Street Views this week. As well as their running theme of pubs throughout their photos – I do enjoy a good old pub. One of my favourites from their collection is Cock & Trumpet Inn, 1896 (see photo above). Could the couple outside this old school drinking hole be the landlords? And it includes another man with a hat – hehe. The Cock & Trumpet Inn is still a pub which I thinks great, but doesn’t unfortunately have the same decor. My next fave from their collection is Staff of Life (New) This photo is definitely worth a play with the fade bar to show how once the building was a pub, and now it is a run down building – sad times. S100py are the History of Prestwich, Manchester UK. Check out their full Channel here.

A rejoinder: Hello Historypin

Yes, it’s true, Historypin is becoming a much-loved entity in Australia. With many organisations already so active in using their channels –  Museum Victoria having recently pinned over 9000 pieces of content through the new bulk uploader, the Benevolent Society showcasing its amazing archives in the lead up to a 200 year anniversary, The State Library of Queensland working on ‘pinathons’ with local volunteers and others, The Powerhouse Museum in exhibition planning mode and many other organisations working on special events and exhibition ideas – there’s certainly no shortage of excitement about the potential applications of Historypin.

I’ll be posting regularly here over the coming months to keep you updated on the progress of Australian activities, but to start with I thought it worth briefly running through my own journeys mapping archives, here in Sydney, over the past few years.

Ever since hearing about this emerging space of the geo-web I’ve been wondering what this means for the way we might engage with historical environments. The great appeal of interactive maps, location-aware mobile phones, and other digital publishing tools to me lies in their potential to help us experience recordings of past events and situations in-situ. People talk about ‘augmented reality’ a bit these days – I’ve been thinking more along the lines of ‘augmented histories’.

I first started down this path back in 2003, when I was working on R&D projects for the New Media Division of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. This was around the time when we used to scratch our heads trying to work out how people might use something called ‘broadband’, and futuristic devices called 3G mobile phones.  I recall various techno-futurist pundits getting very excited about the idea of snack TV on mobiles – the idea that phones could extend the TV-watching experience from lounge to train and beyond.  The concept held rather limited appeal, not only because I don’t watch TV, but also because this approach seemed to under-appreciate the potential new uses of wireless broadband.

One feature of smartphones in particular caught my attention: ‘location-awareness’. Imagine being able to use your phone to find out about the environment you’re in? Crazy. Armed with a history degree and a fascination with the possible futures of digital media, I became rather enchanted with a fanciful notion, that perhaps one day these futuristic mobile phones might act as homing devices to the history of a place.

The idea set me off on a series of investigations and projects – in between day jobs – which have experimented with different ideas about how we might interact with a site’s history using new digital tools.  Imagine if you could listen to what this place sounded like in the 1940s, I wondered, wandering home through Kings Cross, Sydney.  With new ipods hitting the stores, and white earbud headphones popping out of everyone’s ears like a contagious disease, I got to thinking a lot about historical sound recordings, and about a kind of interaction experience that wasn’t simply about the small screen, but also used ambient historical recordings recorded right here, thus taking a listener into another time just as they remained in the present. Could I find a recording made at one of the old nightclubs in the ‘Cross during WW2 , when American GIs filled the streets on R&R leave? What did cars sound like back in the 1950s? What events took place here – the protests of the 1960s and 1970s to save historic parts of Sydney – and could they be experienced on location to tell a story about the role of urban activism in shaping the city of today?

Riffing further on this idea of the phone as homing device, I started to wonder about what collections might exist, and started exploring a number of existing historical collections in much the same way one might wander the streets – looking out for familiar landscapes and events, and organising my findings by place. I started to wonder whether the millions of moments of recorded action held in our cultural collections could be enlisted as archaeologies of recorded action. Rather than relying surviving artefacts to give us insights into past environs, I wondered if we might also engage historical recordings in some way. Our cities have witnessed so much change during the twentieth century – oftentimes, in Australia, and in Australian cities in particular, the past is invisible. Could we explore this ‘lost history’, our invisible cities, using archival recordings?

Living in Sydney, Australia, and putting these fanciful ideas into action, I took up a residency with the National Film and Sound Archive in 2007 for a project called Jaywalking Sydney. I returned to the ABC in 2008 to explore their incredible collection of television and radio collections, and created a new platform for interacting with Sydney’s history using the collection materials of the ABC, the Powerhouse Museum, the State Library of NSW, the Dictionary of Sydney and the National Film and Sound Archive. The website, called Sydney Sidetracks, presented collections of curated film, sound, television and photographic materials organised by over 50 ‘points of interest’ around the central city, which could be accessed via Google Maps and smartphones (pre iPhone!).

ABC Sydney Sidetracks, 2008

I composed sound walks, and ‘sound marks’, capturing resonant moments in time, drawing from contemporary and historical recordings.  I started thinking about how these recordings might find their way out of the ether and onto the physical surfaces of buildings, and ended up working with large-scale projections relating to one of Australia’s oldest wharves (Unguarded Moments).

Still from Unguarded Moments, Art & About Sydney 2011, Produced by Sarah Barns & killanoodle

Many of these projects have been documented on my Sites & Sounds blog. I did so much wondering (and wandering), digging and delving, curating and composing, I ended up with a PhD.

Oh, and a new job!

What’s the Australian role all about?

Australians are well known as early up-takers of new technology, so it’s perhaps no surprise that many Australian institutions and individuals have been actively contributing materials to Historypin. Partly in recognition of this support, Historypin have set out with an ambitious goal to create a unique Australian presence on Historypin, to be realised as a series of events and activities taking place throughout 2013, creating what is hoped will be the opportunity for millions of Australians to contribute to and explore a new map of Australian historical moments, memories and milestones. Ultimately, via a broad, inclusive network of partners that currently includes Historypin and The Powerhouse Museum but with many more soon to be confirmed, the project will aim to establish an experience that will continue to grow over many generations to come, to be accessed, enjoyed and debated as a free, open and collaborative part of Australian life.

Get in touch with me if you’d like to stay up to date with this collaborative project – or have a special project you’d like Historypin to help you with. In the coming months we’ll be setting up a unique space for the project, as a base from which to grow some new ideas. As I said, I’ll also be posting here regularly with updates on local developments, showcasing local collections, projects and so forth. I’m looking forward to the journey ahead.


1906 San Francisco Earthquake

Today is the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The 7.9 quake struck the city at 5.12am on Wednesday 18th April, causing immense destruction and loss of life.

San Francisco Municipal Transport Archives have uploaded some incredible images from their collection, many of which are on Street View enabling you to compare the damaged Edwardian streetscape to today’s modern city. This photo of Washington & Mason Carhouse was taken on 18th April, the day the quake struck:

The fires triggered by the quake were even more devastating than the earthquake itself. Here you can see the Powerhouse on Polk and Sutter after the earthquake, and then after the fire:

 Many people fled to higher ground, like Alamo Square, watching the fires rage below:

 The army was called in to help manage the crisis, and quickly makeshift housing for the displaced sprang up around the city as people tried to rebuild in the aftermath.

You can see more photos on San Francisco MTA’s Channel and in the Collection they have put together. Also have a browse on the Historypin map of San Francisco in 1906 to see photos from other archives, including the US Geological Survey.

"The Little Giant," the famed fire hydrant at 20th and Church Streets, credited with stopping the fires following the 1906 earthquake. Every year it is repainted and commemorated. Seen here the morning of April 18, 2012.

Titanic Founders

100 years ago tonight, over 1,500 people lost their lives as the RMS Titanic perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic.  The following collections and tours on Historypin memorialize the tragic fate of the great ship.

A Tour of the RMS Titanic’s Journey
Follow this Tour to see the construction, journey and fateful end of the Titanic.
Created by Rupert Matthews

Impact of the Titanic sinking on Halifax, Nova Scotia
Flick through this collection to see the impact on the community of Halifax in Nova Scotia, Canada who helped with the rescue.
Created by Nova Scotia Archives

A Collection of Titanic Images
A collection of photos showing the building, voyage and sinking of the Titanic.
Created by the Historypin Team

Style, a Sailor and an ‘S’ Curve

Fave Piece of Content

Norma Smith, the lady present in the photo with the terrific white coat and trouser combo, is outside her home In Australia. I’m debating whether the collar and pockets on her coat are fur – I do enjoy a fur collar. As the photo was taken in ’72 Norma still has the high buffoon hair of the 60s, rather then those huge hair flicks of the 70s. The more I gaze at this photo, the more I’m convinced that I may need to invest in a white coat. However I wouldn’t be able to pull it off with white trousers like Norma has. Photo shared by Gayle. On the subject of stylish ladies in Australia, check out these two style icons featured in the photo ‘Leaving For Australia’ – I’m sure they would have fitted in Oz greatly with those beehive.

Fave Story of the Week

Bill Schellhardt at the Bungelow, 1948, Shared by denise.henderson379

Hello sailor! OK, I may have been swayed by the fact the young man appears to have no vest on – I’m also loving the Elvis-esque trousers. Bill Schellhardt is the fellow’s name he’s captured here at his family bungalow. I can’t believe how effortlessly cool he looks.T he other people featured are not identified. denise.henderson379 who pinned this photo has also shared some dead great stuff to the site, including a few other photos of people at the bungalow such as Anne Schellhardt 1948 and Max Schellhardt with a Hammer 1948.

Pinner of the Week

The "S" Curve at Harveysburg, Ohio, 1935 - 1945, Shared by Let the Journeys Begin

#PINNEROFTHEWEEK is awarded to Let The Journey Begin who are new to Historypin this week – exciting. My first fave (and keeping with the ‘S’ theme) is The ‘S’ Curve at Harveysburg. This curve used to lead up to the Caesar’s Creek Valley before it was destroyed for the creation of Caesar’s Creek Lake in the 70s.The bendy road reminds me of the cartoon Road Runner – ha. My second fave this week titled Interior of Evangelical Tabernacle in Waynesville is an interior photo in the Evangelical Tabernacle 1913. I mainly chose this photo because of all the fab and different hats that are featured in the photo: a baker boy hat and a flat cap in one photo – pretty epic. Let The Journey Begin have pinned a range of different content so be sure to check out their effortlessly cool Channel here.