The Case of the Missing Shopping Centre

Knowing my penchant for archive images of Nottingham, a friend forwarded me an photograph from the 1970s the other day and asked if I could place it. I was fleetingly stumped. Certain bits were incredibly familiar, but I couldn’t understand where the photographer could have stood to have captured them all in one shot. Was that Broadmarsh? And surely that was Lister Gate, wasn’t it? I’ll put the image below. My friend had grabbed it off Facebook and hadn’t noted any credit details. If it’s your image, or if you can reference whose image it is, let me know and I’ll credit it properly.20151208_214626000_iOS

After a while, I realised the flaw in my attempts to discern the scene. I hadn’t allowed for the possibility that one building at the heart of the scene was only partially built, and so now – about four decades after the initial image was captured – that same view was significantly different.

I went to test my theory, and found it correct. The shot is a view from the multi-storey car park above Broadmarsh bus station, looking towards a pedestrian crossing on Colin Street. I couldn’t copy the original image exactly, since the photographer’s viewpoint seems to have been on the ‘wrong’ side of the car parks wall – possibly on scaffolding.

Broadmarsh itself was largely missing from the original picture, which is what had initially confounded me. I took a few images of my own that illustrate the difference between the scene now and then. I’ve posted the most demonstrative below alongside the original, with little markers highlighting the same spot on each. I’ve also posted a rough composite image I cobbled together showing the old foreground with the modern background limiting the view.

All photographs are special since they capture a unique moment. Any features in the scene, such as clouds, traffic, or people, will never again fall into the exact same poses or configuration, and so each image is a reflection of a moment that has already passed. Photographs featuring a half-built or half-demolished structure accentuate the ennui, since the physical environment itself is undergoing change.

Colin St sidebyside

Colin St composite

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