Catwalk Fashion

This month, Newcastle Fashion Week will be presenting all sorts of exciting events in addition to the latest catwalk fashions; the promo cites celebrity guests, makeovers, shows with models’ hair by Y Salon and much much more. It’s a big event, but certainly not the first time Newcastle has been home to news-making events in fashion and otherwise.

Fifty years ago in 1963, an historic event took place at the Old Assembly Rooms on Fenkle Street. It was called Turners Photo Fair, a venue for camera enthusiasts to get together, and to practice their photographic skills on models dressed in the latest fashions of the day.

Northeast Film Archive, an organisation that collects, preserves and provides access to films and TV footage relevant to the history of north eastern England from the earliest days of motion pictures, has footage of the event. It shows models posed against unusual backgrounds including bathrooms and a haystack, but the real impact was just part of the contribution made to the public and the film industry by Turners Cameras and Photography.

Turners started out as a pharmacy but back in 1932 Jack Turner made what was then a daring move, and started selling cameras from his shop. In the first year he sold £30 worth, but the year after that his sales doubled, and continued to increase so that by 1938 the photographic side of the business was booming, with steadily growing public interest in cameras and photography.

A wide range of top quality equipment as well as high standards of customer service made Turners a leading dealer, and by the 1950’s Turners was making a lot of short films for local organisations and businesses. As photographic technology progressed, Turners did too, investing in the newest and fastest processing procedures and outdoing almost all of the considerable competition.

By 1988 Turners had closed all its shops and photo labs and formed a new company concentrating on film and television. By 2001 the company no longer existed, but there were at least 2,000 films made by Turners Film Productions and many, like the Newcastle Photo Fair, can still be obtained through NEFA.

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