Wheatley Hill

Mary Gillens

The County Durham mining village of Wheatley Hill from the 1920s documented by a member of the community.

Born in the 1890s, Gillen moved to Wheatley Hill when she married. She began photographing with a box brownie camera when her children were young, documenting her family and friends, the subjects rarely posed. If something caught her eye she would run in the house and return to the scene, camera in hand. Her daughter Florrie remembers an incident when the children had put together a makeshift tent in the back lane. Her mother came out to photograph the fun and took the picture at the exact moment when Fritz the dog had completely demolished the tent. Florrie’s son Robert attended a photography course at Peterlee and, asked to take in any old negatives, he took along his grandmother’s. This exhibition resulted.

All images © estate of Mary Gillens

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