Christopher Thomas, Gleaner Writer
A rich chunk of Montego Bay's history is now in the possession of a taxi operator who found a crocus bag laden with old photographs in an abandoned building two years ago and decided to keep them in the hope that they might turn out to be valuable.
Franklin Hughes, who is of an upper King Street address in Montego Bay, stumbled upon the bags with well over 200 photographs during a clean-up exercise at a condemned building in the western city.
"Two years ago, I saw the crocus bag in the unoccupied building which was being torn down on King Street," said Hughes. "I started looking through the bag, and I discovered that it contained the old photographs, which I immediately realised were historical."
The photographs, some dating back as far as 50 years ago, had the stamp and seal of legendary Montego Bay photographer, the late Arthur McGill. It is unclear how the photographs ended up in the abandoned building.
The pictures are of several renowned landmarks of the Second City, historical events, and renowned officials, including former politicians and other city officials.
Among the persons captured in some of the photographs are former Montego Bay mayor, the late Charles Sinclair Sr, and former governor general, Sir Howard Cooke.
VARIOUS SCENES, PEOPLE
"I have more than 200 pictures," said Hughes. "There are weddings pictures and pictures from the social scene, including at least one picture of a member of the British royal family, who visited the western city in the 1970s.
"As you can see, some of these (photographs) have dates on the corner," said Hughes. "Look at these. They are dated 1968, 1969, 1974 and 1977."
Interestingly, Hughes was able to identify several of the landmarks depicted in the pictures as buildings that have undergone changes over the years.
"There is the old Calvary Baptist Church, which was then located on Market Street. It is now the site of the Victoria Mutual Bank," said Hughes, pointing to a photograph. "This is the old Mutual Life Building on Market Street (the current Advantage General site) when it was being constructed from the ground up.
"I showed them to a person at the St James Parish Council, and he was able to identify some of the persons in the photos," said Hughes, looking over the stack of photographs. "This is Charles Sinclair Sr when he was a young man. This one is of Sir Howard Cooke when he was a member of parliament."
While he has no need to keep the photos, Hughes does not believe that they should be destroyed based on their historical value.
"I know they're valuable, but I have no use for them, so I wouldn't mind getting an offer for them, or if they could be placed in a museum or even reprinted in the newspaper," said Hughes.