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Article and photos by Paul Wright, 2023
Peter Draper
Halcyon days - the shop in 2009

A prominent port of call along our once comprehensive gem of a High Street has now sadly closed.

Peter Draper was born in London, and had worked in Rushden at Townsends Garages Ltd as a part of the energetic valeting team. Peter then spent some thirteen years working at John Whittington's in the High Street, (this is now Cherry Pharmacy).

Peter Draper
Peter Draper.

Then a move along the High Street to number 65, to open Peter Draper Photographic; that chosen date was April 1st, 2000. The next twenty three years were spent serving Rushden and the surrounding area.

We had been well catered for in the photographic world in our town, but with the passing of time, and the camera now being a small part of the mobile device, that is called a smart phone.

Which leads us to this moment in time, that users are taking still shots and video of just about anything and everywhere under the sun on a mobile phone.

Our mechanical cameras used to take a roll of film, that may have given us just a few shots, and many of the photo’s we took would be subject to a few flaws. The film came on a roll, and the major brands, were Kodak, Ilford and Agfa.

And it was not unusual to get them back from the chemist, after they had been sent away for developing, which took a few days, with several sticky labels attached, advising you of your mistakes!

How many of us tried to take a family portrait at a wedding, or at Christmas, only to see that we had decapitated one of our nearest and dearest? (For the faint hearted, auntie Mabel was not physically harmed during this procedure!)

For those of us who never quite rubbed shoulders with the likes of David Bailey, or Lord Lichfield, we could always call upon the expert local knowledge of Arthur George, Willmott, or maybe Stanley Cutmore.

These three businesses were located in Washbrook Road, Griffith Street, and Crabb Street respectively.

Many years ago I was lucky enough to travel to Switzerland in the mid 1960s, and had my passport photo taken by Arthur George in the studio at his house at number 81 Washbrook Road.

To focus on how the pound sterling has fared these days, the exchange rate for that trip in 1964 was 12 Swiss Francs to the Pound (GBP). In 2023, you can get 1.113 Swiss Francs to our Pound.

Back to the process of getting a passport photo, and Arthur seemed to be using a hefty camera from a different era to get the job done.

Peter at home
Peter at home.
Then off you popped to the Post Office to get your paperwork done, all this was done in the building in College Street, and depending on which member of the counter staff you were attended by, could be a smooth process, or not? (That building is now a public bar.)

The upside of those days, was that you did not have to jump through hoops, and try to do everything on line. Or ring the nearest Passport Office, to be told that your call is “important” to them, and you are informed that you are number 66 in the call queue.

Back to matters in hand, and the shop that was at number 65 High Street, used to be the place to go and have a photo taken for such purposes as a passport or identity badge.

In fact my own time-etched face is on my driving licence, courtesy of a photo that was taken for me by Peter.

Currently Asda are doing passport photos for £6.00, but not quite the same as with the service formerly provided by Peter, who told me that “he is missing his regular customers who have supported him, and have been friends,” but has decided to take a well earned retirement, aged 76.

The shop closed on Saturday, 30th September 2023.

The gentleman from the Premier Phone shop a couple of doors down, is going to be running his business from here soon.

Shop now empty.
Not quite the same now - 2023

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