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Hitchhiking in England 1966

Hitchhiking in England 1966
Photo Information
Copyright: Gert Holmertz (holmertz) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9717 W: 512 N: 18842] (83366)
Genre: Places
Medium: Black & White
Date Taken: 1966-07-23
Categories: Daily Life, Architecture
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Date Submitted: 2019-09-15 1:25
Viewed: 539
Points: 74
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This is the famous leaning tower of Chesterfield: the spire of the Church of Saint Mary and All Saints, badly constructed in the 14th century. Never heard of it? No wonder, there is only one earlier photo on TE.

Starting today I intend to show a number of ugly, grainy and badly composed B&W postcards from England in the summer of 1966. It was my first journey abroad on my own, I had a lot of fun and luckily my parents never knew just how much fun I had.

If you don't like the photos, please remember that they were taken by a teenager with a very simple camera and little experience of photography. He must have been one of the youngest members of TE ever. Rest assured that there will be very few persons seen in these photos. The teenager had not yet learned how to point his camera at unknown people.

I stayed a few nights each at three farmhouses offering bed and breakfast in different parts of the country. I spent the days seeing the surrounding countryside and towns, whenever possible hitching free rides, something I had never done before. After about ten days I went to London for a fortnight. That's when the fun really started and I had little time to take photos.

Today's three photos were all taken during my first full day in the country. I had arrived the evening before at a village called Baslow in Derbyshire in the northern Midlands.

According to my diary the day started perfectly. I had hardly even reached the outskirts of the village before I was offered a ride in an Alfa Romeo convertible. It was a short ride to the nearest town called Bakewell, but it put me in a good mood.

From Bakewell I walked about 3 km to Haddon Hall, a traditional English country house, which I described in my diary as a "castle" and where I spent "quite some time". Half hour, two hours? I have no idea.

Leaving Haddon Hall I headed towards Chesterfield, but now my luck had run out. I walked and I walked and I walked. There was very little traffic and the few cars didn't stop for me. I walked through villages called Rowsley and Darley Dale after which the empty road went steadily uphill through a desolate scenery with hardly a single house seen anywhere. It was a cloudy day but luckily it didn't rain.

I estimated I had walked for about 8 or 9 km before the driver of an old three-wheeler truck picked me up. He probably couldn't believe his eyes to find a hitch-hiker on that road.

That ride brought me to Chesterfield, which I described in my diary as a "nice little town". That's where I took today's main photo of this unusual church, shown on TE in a closer and much better photo by ktanska (Kari Tanskanen). I used my time in Chesterfield to visit my first English pub. But "The Duck Inn" disappointed me as a rather dull place, and the beer was no good.

I didn't take a closer look at the church and its twisted and leaning tower (probably caused by the 14th century architect and construction workers who miscalculated the effect of approximately 33 tonnes of lead on unseasoned (not dried) wood). The tower is twisting 45 degrees and leaning 2,9 meters from its center.

No, instead of exploring the church or climbing the twisted tower (if that was even possible) I went to the bus station and got on a bus back to Baslow.

Today's photos were all scanned from Kodak Plus-X negatives.

Here is a larger version.

papagolf21, pajaran, Hansaphotos, ktanska, ikeharel, tyro, alvaraalto, pierrefonds, jean113, PaulVDV, macjake, jhm, COSTANTINO, worldcitizen, adramad, gervaso, paura, cornejo has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To emka: effortholmertz 3 2019-09-15 06:06
To Fis2: leaningholmertz 1 2019-09-15 06:18
To saxo042: baslowholmertz 1 2019-09-27 05:44
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Critiques [Translate]

Bonjour, cher Gert,
Le journaliste sommeillait déjà en vous, car, disposer un don de mémoire de la sorte (hypermnésie), il fallait rédiger un journal pour conserver les différentes anecdotes liées à la découverte du pays.
Cet édifice religieux attire évidemment mon attention, et particulièrement la flèche fort penchée du clocher et qui ne semble pas plus inquiétée que cela depuis sa construction.
Une sorte de force de la nature architecturale.
Très bonne journée.

Interesantan i dobar tekst ...
Lepa ulica i fasade, lepa arhitektura i deo grada.
Dobar rad sa fotografijama u radionci, lepo pokazano crno belim fotografijama.
Zelim vam lep dan za odmor, sve najbolje.

Interesting and good text ...
Beautiful street and facades, beautiful architecture and part of town.
Good work with photos in the workshop, beautifully shown in black and white photos.
Have a nice day for you, all the best.

Hei Gert

Du kan inkludere meg blant dem som aldri har hørt om denne kirken og dens skjeve tårn. Dette var jo året da England vant VW-finalen i fotball på hjemmebane, så jeg antar at du ikke kan ha unngått å få med deg noe av livet rundt dette? Finalen ble vel spilt bare en uke etter at dette bildet ble tatt. Til deg å være, ser vi, som du selv beskriver, en ganske folketom gate. Dine verdifulle dagbok-notater fra den gang, sammen med bildene i WS og lenkene til Kari og Jean, er imidlertid med å fargelegge og komplettere bildet. Supert:)

Ha en fin søndag.

Hilsen Erling

Hej Gert,
Interesting to read about beginnings of your journeys, that have taken you to so many places after this. Quite nice street view. I checked Google street view and see that this hasn't really chanced much ever since.
We had a lunch break in Chesterfield on a trip between London and York. We ate at the pub right next to the church.

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13512 W: 125 N: 24156] (121047)
  • [2019-09-15 1:56]

Hi Gert. Your experience reminds me of my trip to the nation in 1991, even in those days I was very young and we traveled from Brighton to Thurso by train with the Inter-rail, things that would now be almost impossible to repeat due to the age advanced .. ahaha .. I really like the photos, old postcards in black and white, the two of the WS are delicious. While I did not know the leaning bell tower, it is not as famous as the tower of Pisa, so your post is even more useful. Have a nice Sunday and thanks,Luciano

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  • Tue Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11127 W: 57 N: 19211] (71944)
  • [2019-09-15 2:39]

Hej Gert,
Et udmærket indtryk af en engelsk provinsby med nogle charmerende bindingsværkshuse og gaden der fører hen til kirken og dens høje og forvrængede tårn, der ser ud som om det blev bygget af nogen som havde drukket lidt for meget aftenen før.

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  • emka Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11641 W: 123 N: 29576] (139254)
  • [2019-09-15 2:47]
  • [+]

Hello Gert, Nice picture and as always a fascinating note. Chesterfield sounds very familiar but I didn't know that it is also the town in England. Looks like a typical English small town with beautiful half-timbered houses. My discovery was Chester.
Interesting that even on your first trip you had a diary. I was always too lazy for it. Were you the university student?
I have checked in Google all the places you write about. You walked and walked and walked - 8 or 9 km was not such a big effort (even with the earlier walk to Haddon Hall). In 1966, I was hiking in the mountains in Poland with my friends, we made around 25-30 km a day with rather heavy backpacks. Hitch-hiking was very popular in Poland at that time. I tried once or two times but with no luck.
Now I am very curious what fun you had that your parents never knew and you had no time for photos :).

Kind regrads MAlgo

Hello Gert,
With great pleasure I have read your story of your first visit abroad. It brought back memories of the past. (of course we do have the age for that).
My first visit to London was in 1969 with two friends. I don't know why I don't have any pictures of that event.
Others have taken better quality photos of the places you visited but cannot match your authentic black and white photos in this report.
Excellent presentation
Have a good Sunday, groet Rob

  • Great 
  • tyro Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1927 W: 427 N: 7230] (29026)
  • [2019-09-15 4:01]

Hello Gert,

What a wonderfully interesting note you have written! And, as soon as I started reading it, like Malgo I was intrigued as to quite what sort of fun you got up to in London that gave you so little time to take photos. ;)

Even at such a young age you were clearly sufficiently disciplined to keep a diary and the information you give us from it is fascinating, particularly about your various means of travel.

And your three photographs are by no means bad: I reckon that they are every bit as good as (and probably a lot better) than any amateur photographer would have produced at the time 53 years ago. Your main photograph is my favourite - but how curious I see so very few people around - there are two or three cars moving but I think I can only definitely see a single person on the street.

I am very much looking forward to seeing more of your photographs from this trip.


Kind Regards,


P.S. Yes, the theory about that "squint" steeple is definitely that the amount of lead cladding was far too much for the wooden skeleton of the spire. The wood too was unseasoned but, apparently, in those days it was not uncommon for unseasoned wood to be used for such constructions (because seasoned wood was too hard to work) but the craftsmen would have made adjustments as the wood seasoned and dried in place.

However, in folklore one legend states that a long time ago a virgin arrived to be married in the church and the church was so surprised that the spire twisted itself around to take a good look at the bride - and the story goes on to state that if another virgin should marry in the church, the spire will return straight. :)

Hi Gert,

The length of the street is giving depth to the composition. The point of view is showing the details of the buildings and of the church with the leaning tower. The black and white is giving a good contrast to the picture. Have a nice day.


Ciao Gert, great perspective on fantastic cathedral, excellent clarity, splendid light and finr details very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

Hello Gert,

Now here is a coincidence! Chesterfield was the first place to which a thumbed a lift, when I was in my teens.
I was stationed at Matlock Teacher Training College and, as a penniless student, found that thumbing was the only possible way to discover the countryside. Chesterfield was the biggest place near to Matlock.
Incidentally, I did my final teaching practice in Chesterfield and used the church as one of the history topics.
There are some excellent funerary brasses inside.
The local legend is, that the devil sneezed on the tower and caused it to twist!

You really have awakened some happy memories with this photograph!
You may have been an absolute beginner but you have instinctively created a fine composition; lovely details of the old building in the f/g and a natural guide to the backstop of the twisted church tower!

My warm regards,
Bev :-)

  • Great 
  • Fis2 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11603 W: 163 N: 19507] (142723)
  • [2019-09-15 6:03]
  • [+]

Witaj Gert! Wow 1966!
A very nice b&w photo from your archive.
Nice scene from street.
I like houses and tower.
Is the tower really leaning?
Good framing and composition.
Well done.
Nice afternoon.

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  • ChrisJ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 15673 W: 1055 N: 32789] (152452)
  • [2019-09-15 7:16]

Hej Gert

The crooked tower looks like it sustained some storm damage many years ago. The Tudor style half timbered houses are attractive and sharpness and tonal range are more than adequate. Tfs!

  • Great 
  • CLODO Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2858 W: 1387 N: 3445] (42423)
  • [2019-09-15 8:36]

Hi Gert

It"s amazing that you recorded all yours days adventures in a diary. I didn't remark at once the leaning tower of the church but the lack of cars in the street. Thankfully, the steeple is at 1/3 and you have a nice perspective leading the view on the church.
In 1969, I should have hitchiked through UK with 3 friends but a car accident in France prevents me to do so. I discovered England in July 1970 during a stay of 6 weeks as a worker in Coventry and then Birmingham.

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  • Nicou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 15529 W: 0 N: 16878] (188510)
  • [2019-09-15 10:38]


quelle vue NB de cette rue superbe avec ce clocher noir en fond quei ressort la perspective ces anciennes voitures sur la toute ce magasins quelle image des archives superbe
Bravo et amitié

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  • PiotrF Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 4871 W: 2 N: 8908] (42736)
  • [2019-09-15 11:27]

Hello Gert
Good series of photos from this place. Informative and interesting note!
Fine presentation

Dear Gert,

Finally, we got the long-waited ugly BW photos. :) Joking apart, you underestimate these photos (and your skills at that age), they are not that bad at all. Plus as you mentioned you had a very simple camera, which didn't allow much.

Best Wishes,

Hello Gert, the country and the society have changed a lot since 1966. The pubs still stay a rallying point in all English towns. The leaning tower represents an architectural curiosity, it reminds a witch hat. The photo note is touching and captivating as well. A value archive.

Hello Gert, a fabulous note. Why did you select Derbyshire as a destination for your first trip to England?
I know all the places that you have mentioned, and thank you for mentioning my shot of Haddon Hall.
The quality is outstanding considering the type of camera that you would have had.
As a student I, with a friend, would hitch hike places, but wouldn't encourage anyone to do it these days!
And the twisted spire remains the same, I always look for it when we drive close by!
Thanks for sharing, I am looking forward to more from England.
Regards Jean.

Hello Gert,
I admit I've never heard of the leaning tower of Chesterfield. I was curious about the other photo of it and found that it's one of Kari.
How is it possible that such a strange tower isn't world famous?
In Chesterfield they really don't play their trump cards.
I guess in that time the UK wasn't expensive for you. I'm not sure about 1966. The first time I went to the UK was in 1977 and everything was very cheap then. In that time in the weekend Belgians took the boat to Dover to buy clothes or music records. Meanwhile, the country has become a very expensive destination for us. Times change.
Nice traveller memories!
Best regards, Paul

Hello Gert,
You are so fortunate to have access to all your childhood photos and their film. What I would give to have mine! Unfortunately changing countries is not amenable to keeping all your memories.
Frankly, I like your your version of haddon Hall better than the photo to which you provided a link. You already had the photographic eye back then. 👍🏻👍🏻

  • Great 
  • ifege Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1575 W: 79 N: 4525] (20969)
  • [2019-09-15 18:35]

Hi Gert
Your time machine if operating again.
A great oldie from an excellent scan - I love the "drunken" tower.

Hi dear Gert

Wow so precious and stunning archive again. Your time-machine leads to not only developing countrys but also UK. It is the first time for me to see such unique architectures in UK. Rough B&W touch enhances the nostalgy more and more, waiting for another shots.

All the best and have a good day! Takero

Hi Gert
back into your Time Machine - Oh..Bev and I are going to borrow it to visit her Castle she posted, back in the 1500's - I hope you don't mind :) I like how you describe these photos as ugly, grainy and badly composed, now you really have my attention. I want to hear about these fun times you had, but maybe its not suitable for TE haha. that tower looks like the hat worn by a witch. interesting read, I wonder if you'd still hitch hike today - I mean a young teenager you in today's 2019 world. the story is more important than the photo, but they go well together indeed. cheers

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  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 26241 W: 523 N: 44924] (191415)
  • [2019-09-16 6:41]

Hello Gert,

Thank you very much for your support and lovely words, this is real friendship.
According to the Doctor shall maybe against 2020 beginning, are again recovered.
But I remain hope to recovery.
No I know not the leaning tower of Chesterfield, but what a nice picture.
More than 50 year ago, this do my think to the War pictures out of the forties.
Technical wonderful done.
Again a wonderful picture with the decorative street.
An excellent composition, nice panorama too.
Very well done, TFS.

Best regards,

Hello dear Gert,
Another topclass "oldie" from your rich archive.
A perfect document of good old times. And of course a perfect TE entry, enriched with many good and usefull notes.
TFS and best regards

Hello dear friend and have a nice time
i always like your photos dear friend
and the most important detail here
is that these photos were taken
by a teenager with a very simple
camera and little experience
of photo!!!
welldone for that time

Hello Gert,
What a cool shot. I had never seen a photo of this crooked church tower before, and it's very interesting! The architecture of this town is also very quaint. It seems like the day you visited not much was going on. :-)

Hi Gert.
Photos from another era that bring to my memory, when I started shooting photos in B&W with my Werlisa, my first camera.
The city looks so quiet almost without cars and pedestrians, maybe too lonely.
Good perspective of the image, very nice to look at.
Have a good weekend.
Warm greetings.

Ciao Gert
o come potremmo intitolare questa serie "le avventure del giovane Gert".
Nessun problema per la qualità delle foto, anzi, sembra di assaporare il passato.
Le immagini ci mostrano un mondo molto lontano, poche auto, poche persone, poca pubblicità, un modo di vivere che non esiste più e che tu hai congelato per sempre con le tue foto da giovane esploratore.

Hello, Gert!

Now this is a really old photo you show us here, and an interesting story you tell us in your note! The first of many travels around the globe! And that church in the background looks really curious with this twisted tower, of which details we can see better in Kari's photo of the same place (not exactly an earlier photo, but an earlier post!). Very nice post and great contribution to TE! Well done!

Intressant bildserie

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  • paura Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 7909 W: 56 N: 3830] (25796)
  • [2019-09-28 8:42]

Excelente enquadramento na sua interessante fotografia. Gosto da apresentação em tons de cinza para ajustar os efeitos do tempo na imagem. Linda fotografia.



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  • jmdias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11415 W: 174 N: 20888] (92011)
  • [2019-10-01 6:50]


this is probably the same church I saw while crossing UK by train. I took many images and got some far view of this amazing tower, so twisted and that impressed me more than pisa tower. nice details of the city. I liked more this view than those in WS. my first photos I took when I was 12 Y.o.

take care


Hi Gert
Wow... so maybe you had not yet started to include people in your photos but you already had a travel diary. That's impressive and, as we see, a brilliant tool to dig out all those memories, even half a century later!
The second "wow" - I've not heard about this tower! I've been to places close to Chesterfield but not to that town itself. It's nice to know it was still there in 2014, according to Kari's post so it's most probably still there now.
Best wishes
Ps. I've been to Poland then Iceland and again Poland, very little time at home. But... I may be preparing for a trip to some place on the other side of the planet in less than two weeks...

Hi Gert, very good retro view of this interesting city, very well composed and captured in this beautiful black and white photograph. An interesting image with good sharpness, depth, light and quality. Very good and beautiful work perfectly done, my congratulations my friend. Thank you for sharing this interesting work.

Good night and happy Sunday.
All the best from southern Spain.

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