Allow me to introduce Mr Hans Otto Baum, aka ‘Jimmy’: ex-POW, resident of Northamptonshire, motor racing enthusiast and explorer of Europe.
After a long and full life Jimmy recently died. Friends of ours, helping with the house clearance, asked if we would be interested in some of his old cameras as otherwise they would be going in the skip, along with all the old slides. Unsurprisingly we said yes and, horrified at the loss, asked for the slides as well. Little did we realise quite how many slides we’d be giving a home to. The many small boxes, plus three large wooden containers, hold thousands of slides, dating from the early sixties through to the mid/late seventies with most appearing to be late sixties/early seventies. Some of this is speculation as many slides are not dated. Similarly the locations are mostly not annotated although some of the boxed collections are.
Guessing the locations and dating the clothes and hairstyles is one of the joys of looking through the collection.
Next step was to acquire a secondhand Hanimex Rondette 1800 RC projector (‘RC’ for remote control by wire) for viewing on a white wall and, whilst the intention is to record them fully, to start by simply photographing the projected images.
During the Second World War Hans Otto Baum, known to all as ‘Jimmy’, was a German POW incarcerated in Northamptonshire. We don’t know which camp he was in, but there were a number in the county – mapped here – the closest located at Byfield. On release after the war Jimmy decided to stay. And whilst, as we shall see, he returned for holidays in Germany and other parts of Europe, it was in Northamptonshire that he remained.
It is clear from the slides examined so far that Jimmy was a very keen photographer always having a camera with him and not simply documenting his adventures but taking well-composed pictures. They show that he and his family spent much time camping around the UK in his trusty Austin Allegro and had many trips to the Continent, primarily Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands, taking his red Mini on the cross channel ferry. His interests slowly become apparent and include motor racing, unsurprising given that he lived close to the Silverstone Circuit, Gothic and modern buildings, cheese festivals, flowers, panoramas and weddings, plus rather a number of pictures of penguins.
What does surprise me is that Jimmy and his family knew how to travel in style. Given that this was the late sixties/early seventies it pleases me to note that many of the camping and travel pictures include food, a radio, bottles of beer and glasses of wine (just like we camp now).
And finally, for the moment, three pictures that I find, for no apparent reason, particularly fascinating.
We have many, many more slides to go through and will be collecting them in this Flickr group.
— words by Paul
— pictures by Paul & Elizabeth