From horses to horsepower, old buildings to new and the occasional time when things stay exactly the same, I think we can all agree there is something quite warming and unifying about revisiting the past.
Keith Jones’ hobby of cleverly comparing old pictures of Liverpool ‘then to now’ has recently taken social media by storm. With recent appearances in the Huffington Post and a Canadian TV show, Keith’s project started randomly in 2011 and has resulted in an ever increasing audience who eagerly anticipate the next update. Gaining a deeper sense of our local evolution is so important and being able to see how far we have come makes us all feel a part of the bigger picture. Excuse the pun. What started as a time machine treasure hunt has developed into something far bigger than Keith could have ever anticipated and it is stories like this which made us start this blog in the first place. This is Liverpool Then and Now.
It was 2011 and what felt like just another day, Keith was trawling his favourite independents for nothing in particular which turned out to be the beginning of something epic. His dad, previously a ship worker and a published author in local history, not only brought up his son to carry on the family trade but he also instilled a sense of intrigue in Keith into all things old and historical. For some of us History was a subject in school we ironically can’t remember a lot of apart from the elaborate acronyms to remember Henry VIII’s deceased wives. He was flicking through old tatty postcards in 69A and Quiggins when he came across pre and post-war photos of his beloved hometown and got the idea of going back to the original spot and replicating the photo in order to distinguish the difference. A few photos later his father-in-law caught wind of his idea and blew the dust off his box of old polaroids that were buried under clutter in the attic. Amongst the array of family portraits, one photo stopped him in his search when he found a picture of himself and his old biking gang on Smithdown Road covered in leather, smoking (because it looked cool) and with a comb in his hair. He still rides motorcycles to this day and Keith went down to the exact same spot and replicated the photo. Although the location was Smithdown Road he took his father-in-law down memory lane and although he contends that although he was happier with his appearance in the original, it was amazing to reproduce a moment that he would take to the grave. A few people heard about Keith’s idea and before he knew it, he was inundated with hundreds of photos of Liverpool from the 1900’s onwards and he picked up his DSLR in search of the perfect snap.
Liverpool has never been short of history. Look into it and you’ll see most of the innovation in the world started here and we have been responsible for shifts in pop culture, transport and lots more. Let’s not forget the buildings, from the listed buildings to the Victorian renaissances, we are an architectural tour de force. Keith spent a brief time in Felixstowe as they also have a huge port there and all shippers know, they go where the work is. He was relieved to be able to move back as a young adult and although he has travelled the world, it is the travelling closer to home that means the most. Nearly three thousand pictures on and he still gets the same buzz from seeing the comparison. You could see the honest joy that this project has brought to Keith, he confesses that the pictures have taken him down roads and made him visit places that he never would have if it hadn’t have been for this. Keith is on a bit of a Christopher Columbus journey, each day he travels and stumbles upon places he hasn’t nor arguably never would have discovered if it weren’t for his project propelling him to do so.
Keith hasn’t exactly worked out what his next step is, and that lack of knowledge makes it all the more exciting. After all, they do say the worst thing you could ever hope for is a life full of security. He is toying with the idea of publishing his own book so he can pay homage to his father and have something eternal and inspiring for his own children as well as selling his postcards online. Just before we met, he’d used his lunch hour to snap some photos for that night’s Facebook post rather than tucking into his tinfoil wrapped sarnies. Just before we parted ways we joked about the idea of one day someone finding his Facebook page in decades to come and doing their own version with his 2014 pictures. Only by then we’ll be able to travel via hover boards, take immaculate pictures with something the size of a thumbnail and hopefully be able to buy a pack pistachio nuts pre-cracked. Until then, Keith will be spending his lunch hours and a few hours before bed glued to Photoshop so he can show the world how far our city has come. Keith has been able to capture this visually but you know how the old saying goes, a picture says a thousand words so everything he publishes means and is much more than “just” a picture.
Show your support and follow Keith’s incredible journey by visiting his Facebook page here.