Monday, 11 June 2012

Harry the tramp

Recently I spent the day in Bakewell, on my solo project 'working memories'. Reminiscence came in thick and fast, continuing conversations about financial hardships, and first jobs. A parallel with the arthur+martha project 'the warm and the cold' came with memories of 'Harry the Tramp'.

Harry © Derek Doar (please do not reproduce this image without permission)

Flora: The tramps, some of them had a tin can, others you’d put the tea in a bottle for them. They’d stay one night or two at the Workhouse, then they had to move on. Number 3 Baslow Road, that was the address. My mother would say ‘if you spend all your money you’ll end up at 3 Baslow Road’.

Harry © Derek Doar (please do not reproduce this image without permission) 

Mother used to say I wonder if they’d put a cross on the house. They’d often put a sigh on the gate ‘beware of the dog’ if they didn’t want the tramps coming. One used to live in the caves in the rocks for years, on Baslow Road, going towards Chesterfield, just below the Robin Hood. Harry the tramp, he died in Newholme Hospital.  Harry the tramp at Baslow. A great long beard, he lived there for years, all weathers. He would light a fire. If you were on the bus, you would strain your neck, look to see if Harry was there.

Madge: and one used to sleep in the barn near me, no trouble at all.

The stunning photos of Harry where taken by the photographer Derek Doar, who has kindly given me permission to use them for this blog. He writes about his encounter with Harry:  I came across Harry Greenwood at Baslow in Derbyshire some years ago.

In this image you can see his long hair poking out of the hood of his duffle coat where it has been worn away by putting his head down on the compacted earth in a local farmers small outbuilding where he slept. I have sat and talked to Harry on numerous occasions and found his hard looking exterior to contain a most gentle person.

At one point in his life he lived in Robin Hoods Cave under Stanage Edge only eventually to be driven out by local hooligans. He was given a small outbuilding to live in by a local farmer at Baslow where he spent his final days. He developed a leg infection which turned gangrenous. He was taken into hospital where he was told if his leg wasn't amputated he would die. Harry knew that if he allowed the operation it would mean a long stay in hospital and he knew that meant being away from his outdoor life and his farm animal friends. Harry made his choice and refused the operation.

Pawnbrokers, Mono Print. Lois Blackburn

Flora: Three balls on the pawn shop sign. When you took something to pawn, they would give you quarter value. Think the pawn broker in Chesterfield was called Nicksons. My Grandma pawned jewelry, rings mostly. A diamond one and an emerald ring, 5 little stones in a line, one larger in the middle. I was never allowed to wear the jewelry in case I lost it. Now I can wear it, it won’t fit me, just slips of my finger.


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