Calderdale, then and now: Fireman-photographer shooting the same views his wife’s uncle took 40 years ago

Fireman Mark Bolton has had a love for photography since he was a boy. And now, after 30 years fighting fires, he is hanging up his helmet and hoses and getting serious about taking pictures.

Three years ago he embarked on a photography degree at Bradford College and after his career as a firemen ends in June he’s planning to go full time with his photography BA.

Part, at least, of his inspiration, comes from his wife, Sue’s, late uncle, Geoffrey Horsfield, who development an interest in photography as a youngster, concentrating on local views.

Geoffrey worked for Yorkshire Water and part of his collection consists of the water infrastructure such as dams and works. Altogether he amassed a huge collection of around 4,000 photos, taken in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s and produced as slides, all carefully catalogued. He died in 1999.

A generation on Mark had a great idea: to replicate some of Geoffrey’s views – to produce a series of “then and now” pictures of, as far as possible, the same view, separated by time.

The shots chosen by Mark to replicate were taken by Geoffrey in the period, roughly, from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. Mark’s pictures have been taken this year. Together the two sets of photos will form a portfolio as part of Mark’s degree course. And the object is to illustrate the changing urban landscape over time.

Mark Bolton, fireman and photographer

Mark Bolton, fireman and photographer

Both men lived and live in the same part of Halifax, Geoffrey in Boothtown and Claremount Road, Mark also in Claremount Road.

Mark attended the then Highlands School, now North Halifax Grammar, and did various jobs, mostly in the building trade, before, in 1982, becoming a fire fighter at Todmorden and then at Illingworth station, where he has been for 26 years. He has to retire now, having worked in the fire service for 30 years. Mark and Sue were married in 1987 and the couple have three children, Rachel, Thomas and Sarah.

Geoffrey the photographer didn’t have a master plan. “He was just interested in taking photos,” said Mark, “He recorded it – now I’m recording it.” The result is a fascinating acount of the changing face of Halifax over 40 yeacrs.

l Contact Mark Bolton at

Geoffrey Horsfield, photographer

Geoffrey Horsfield, photographer