Posts Tagged ‘1970s’

Bill Jay and Album

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Although I’d had a strong interest in photography since my early years, probably first inspired by magazines such as Picture Post in my childhood, followed by the gift from a middle-class relative of a large stack of pre-war National Geographic magazines. In my early teens I saved for well over a year from my minimal pocket money and Christmas and birthday gifts to buy a Halina 35mm camera – and then spent more years becoming familiar with it before I could afford to buy a film and pay for it to be processed; it was only a dozen or so years later that I had both cash and the opportunity to seriously take up photography.

That was around 1970, and it was at an interesting period in the history of photography in the UK. One of the key things for me at the time was coming across a magazine on the top shelf at a newsagents called ‘Creative Camera‘ which changed my ideas about our medium.

I can’t now remember which was the first issue I bought, and though I’ve kept my copies from back then I also in the following years bought some of the earlier issues to add to my collection, along with some early issues of another and far more short-lived publication, Album. This lasted only for a dozen monthly issues, and I think I came across it at its end and was one of those who responded to a plea to subscribe at the time of what turned out to be its final issue. This was a great disappointment, and it didn’t help not to get my money back despite the promises. You can now read all 12 issues online.

Much later I heard stories from some of the many photographers who had sent in portfolios to Album and had not had them returned (I never heard anyone tell me their work was returned) about their photographs having been sold without their knowledge or consent. At the time I didn’t myself have any work worth sending.

I didn’t at the time know personally any of the people who were behind these two publications and I’ve found it interesting to watch recently the film ‘Do Not Bend‘ about Bill Jay and more recently to listen to the series of podcasts by Grant Scott ‘In Search of Bill Jay‘, still being added to.

During the years concerned I lived in Manchester, Leicester and Bracknell, all well away from where things were happening in London, though I did briefly become a member and go to some photographic events at the ICA, possibly still when Jay was around. But I never go to know any of the small clique at the centre of things then, though I came across some of them later through Creative Camera, the Photographers Gallery, which I belonged to for well over 30 years before giving up my membership in disgust, and elsewhere.

Grant Scott has certainly been thorough with his research and has pointed out in the podcasts a number of errors particularly in the accounts of the early years of both magazines by Gerry Badger. But there is a problem common to all such research in that it largely relies on recordings and publications along with some very fallible memories of those key players still living. There is a very large body of writing and recording of Bill Jay himself, and though Scott has already pointed out some of its inconsistencies, I think he has perhaps not taken full account of a deal of self-aggrandisement within Jay’s talks and writing.

And although London with Album and Creative Camera was certainly the epi-centre of a new life for photography in the UK, things were happening around the country in many ways in the 1970s and though Jay certainly was at its centre at the start he left the country having helped light the fuse.

I came to spend quite a lot of time (and money) at the Creative Camera bookroom in London and did later send my work to that magazine, with several rejections before a small group of pictures appeared in the last of their albums.

Jim Hughes wrote about Bill Jay in a post on ‘The Online Photographer’, Bill Jay’s Vision, in 2012, and he quotes from two speeches by Jay that make interesting reading. I’ll end with two short excerpts from these quotes – but do click and read the rest, including Hughes own comments and those by others at the end of the article:

“I have no desire to be considered a photographer. I got into photography because I loved the medium and I admired the people who became photographers.”

“And my big fear is that the histories of photography in the future will be based on the photographers who were saleable through galleries, not through the best photographers in the medium.

“We need people who understand the history of the medium and have standards, who are saying ‘photography has something extraordinarily important to say about our culture, our society, our political system’—these are the things we should be looking at and caring about.”

Bill Jay – ICP Infinity Award acceptance speech, 2008


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Hull Colour – 3

Sunday, July 12th, 2020
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PS Lincoln Castle – Humber Ferry, 1972

Before the Humber Bridge was opened in 1981, ferries transported passengers and cars across the Humber from the pier in Hull to New Holland in Lincolnshire, where a train service took passengers on to Grimsby and other stations. For drivers it avoided the journey to Boothferry Bridge near Goole, 28 miles away up river – and a similar journey back on the opposite bank. By the mid-70s an alternative route for many journeys had been provided by the M62 viaduct a mile or so east of the Boothferry Bridge – which largely removed the necessity for the Humber Bridge.

The Lincoln Castle was a great improvement on the other paddle steamers when she came into service in 1941, and was much loved by the time she was replaced by a more economical diesel-powered ferry in 1978. For a short time she was grounded on the beach at Hessle as a restaurant – where I went for afternoon tea – and later in the same role in Grimsby. By 2009 her condition had deteriorated and after attempts to preserve the ship failed was scrapped in 2010.

I travelled across on the ferry a couple of times, took a few pictures in New Holland and took the ferry back. It was a good family outing, particularly for our two young boys as the ship had been constructed to give passengers a good view of the engine room and steam engine.

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Old Harbour, Hull 1977

You can still walk beside the River Hull in the Old Town, and it remains an interesting walk, but back in the 1970s there was still some commercial activity, and at the right times of the tide vessels would pass up or down past these largely redundant barges, moored here three deep.

This was the original harbour of Hull, before the docks were built, though there were many wharves upstream both in Hull and further north to Beverley and beyond, and the river remains navigable. Although traffic had dropped markedly there were still a number of industrial sites still using the river in the 1970s and into the present century.

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Old Town, Hull 1977

Wooden crates were being burnt in a bin down an alley and producing an almost comic book head of flame, a beacon in the shadow of the alley. Flames are always something of a challenge for photography, generally resulting in burned out highlights that have nothing to do with their temperature but simply their intensity. I was surprised that transparency film with its very limited exposure range handled this so well, more I think a matter of luck than expertise.

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Terrace, Hull 1981

Widely publicised as a “fairytale wedding” and the “wedding of the century”, the marriage Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer on Wednesday 29 July 1981 clearly caught the imagination of many in Hull, and I photographed some of the decorations painted on derelict buildings and here on a typical Hull “terrace’, though I cannot remember its location.

Many of Hull’s roads have these short pedestrian terraces at right angles to the main street to pack more houses into a small area. Not all have such neatly maintained fences and gardens, but almost all are too narrow for them to have been converted to take cars.

The black cat halfway down the street didn’t bring the unhappy couple much luck.

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Wincolmlee, Hull 1980

Wincolmlee runs roughly parallel to the River Hull, on the road side of the wharves along its west bank, from the north of the Old Town up to Air St, a little over a mile. Lime St, runs in the same way on the east side of the river a little less than half the distance.

Much of Hull’s industry involved agricultural oils and there were storage tanks on both sides of the river. I think these colour-coded pipes probably linked some of them, but what attracted me as well as their colours were the clouds of steam.

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Scott warehouse, Hull 1980

Hull’s unlisted riverside properties have largely been demolished with some notable losses. But John A Scott’s warehouse in Alfred Gelder St was converted to flats around 1980, the work going on while I took this picture involving making windows in what had been a largely or entirely blank wall.

It isn’t in itself a very exciting building, but it’s river frontage now fits better with the listed building immediately downstream than a new build.

Quite a few buildings in the industrial area around Wincolmlee which in areas of higher property values – such as London – would have been converted to luxury flats have simply been demolished or are still largely derelict. But the area has perhaps been given a boost by the ‘Bankside Gallery’ of graffiti which sprang up following the intervention by Banksy.

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Mud, Hull 1980

I’m unsure as the the actual location or date of this picture – one of the great majority of my slides which lack any captioning. But it is certainly one of Hull’s docks, almost certainly Humber Dock, Railway Dock or Humber Dock Basin. The reflections in the wet mud give some clues, but not enough for me to be sure.

These docks close to the centre of the city had been unused for some years and were all heavily silted with Humber mud. Considerable dredging was required to make Humber Dock usable as Hull Marina, which opened in 1983.

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S Not W, Hull 1980

I deliberately cropped the message which I think was written on the wooden side of a dockside shed to give the rather enigmatic message ‘S NOT W’. Unfortunately I can no longer remember the entire text, though the letter after W is clearly E, and not as I hoped A for an anti-war slogan.

The saturated red which attracted me, at least in part because it matched the colour of the painted letters, was the roof of a car.

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British Extracting Co Ltd, Hull 1980

This former British Extracting Company silo on the side of the River Hull was built in 1919 and one of a number of similar buildings in Hull and elsewhere designed by Gelder & Kitchen of Hull. It has regularly been visited and photographed in recent years by urban explorers.

Sir Alfred Gelder (1855-1941) was born in North Cave and became a Hull councillor in 1895, serving five terms in a row as Mayor from 1898-1903 and overseeing the extensive redevelopment of the city after which he was knighted. He was Liberal MP for Brigg from 1910-1918. A Methodist, he founded his architectural practice in Hull in 1878 and designed a wide range of buildings including several Methodist chapels in the city and elsewhere as well as many flour and oilseed crushing mills, including the first roller mill for fellow Methodist Joseph Rank and other buildings for Ranks’s son, J Arthur Rank.

Llewellyn Kitchen, (1869-1948) from Manchester joined Gelder as chief assistant in 1892 after having worked for a number of architects elsewhere and soon became the junior partner in the practice, although he appears to have been the more interesting architect of the pair. Kitchen was also a leading freemason in the area.

Gelder and Kitchen LLP is still in business, the second oldest firm of architects in the UK today.


Hull Colour 2

Friday, July 10th, 2020

A look at a few more of my colour pictures from Hull in the 1970s.

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Paint, Hull 1970s

I made a number of exposures of this wall, which I think was possibly at one of the dry docks on Dock Office Row, though my memory may be at fault. I often walked up High St from Clarence St next to Drypool Bridge and then on to Wincolmlee, sometimes continuing on up to Bankside or Air St, where I could walk west and across towards my parents-in-law’s house just off Chanterlands Ave north.

I was attracted by the colour but also by the mix of the accidental and deliberate in the markings on the wall. Like quite of few of the other images, time has added its mark to this picture, with some patches of blue which I haven’t entirely managed to retouch where mould has attacked the dyes.

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Hull 1970s – a distant view of Saltend

I can’t recall at all taking this picture, and another also taken from a similarly rural viewpoint with the chemical works in the distance. From the view I think it is taken from somewhere on the west edge of Hedon, perhaps on a walk from Hull to Paull.

But when or wherever it was made, its an image I like for its contrast, both visually and between the agricultural and industrial.

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Weighton Lock, Broomfleet, 1970s

In contrast I remember our family walk which took us to Weighton Lock well. If you have travelled my rail from Selby or Doncaster to Hull, your train will have sped through Broomfleet, and you may just have seen a station there.

The man in the ticket office at Hull Paragon station seemed surprised when we asked for tickets to Broomfleet, but trains do stop there. Now you have a choice of the 07:19 or the 16:21 – but then there were rather more though I think we did have to tell the guard we wanted to stop there – and to hold our our hands for the returning train.

The lock is where the Market Weighton Canal joins the River Humber. Opened in 1782, the canal was both a navigable waterway and a drainage ditch. The upper section was closed around 1900 and the lower few miles to the lock abandoned in 1971. The Market Weighton Civic Trust managed to save the lock by getting it listed as an ancient monument, and it was repaired and reopened although there is no right to navigation around six of its original nine and a half miles remain navigable.

A few other pictures in the album are also from trips we made from Hull, including to Flamborough.

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Guildhall Rd, Hull, 1970s

Until ‘The Dock’ was opened in 1778, ships coming to Hull moored the the ‘Old Harbour’ in the River Hull, where staithes still run from the High St to the river. The dock was the largest dock in the UK when it was built, and soon became known as the ‘Old Dock’, but was renamed Queen’s Dock in honour of the visit to Hull by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1854.

By the 1920s it was redundant, with docks on the Humber – Victoria Dock, Albert Dock, Alexandra Dock, Riverside Quay and King George Dock – forming the port of Hull, and it finally closed in 1930. The city bought it and filled it in to create Queen’s Gardens. Filling it took four years – one year longer than its construction and provided some employment during a period of recession.

I’m not sure exactly where these former warehouses on the south side of Queens Dock (Queens Gardens) in Guildhall Road were, but from the street sign I think they were just to the west of Quay St and have since been demolished.

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River Hull, Hull from North Bridge

I added the following text to a black and white image on my Hull photos web site taken from just a foot or two to the left of this image:

Peeling paint on a wall advertises the coal and sand wharf belonging to ‘Henry’, which I think may be Henry Mead & Co at 15 Lime Street, which was wound up in 1973. On the west bank of the Hull are a long line of wharves and buildings on Wincolmlee, with the towering silos of R&W Paul (now Maizecor) in the distance. A single vessel is visible moored at one of the Lime St wharves.
 
Floods from the Hull, mainly because of a tides coming up from the Humber, were fairly frequent before the tidal barrier was built, because the corporation failed to get wharf owners to maintain adequate flood defences. A number of derelict properties made their job more difficult. More recent floods have been because of excessive rainfall in the Hull valley.

Apart from the Maizecor silo, none of the buildings visible in this slide are still standing.

Hull colour

Thursday, July 9th, 2020
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Silted up dock. 1970s

I’m aware that its a while – over a year since I’ve written anything here about Hull, so here is the first of a short series of posts about a city where I’ve spent quite a lot of time photographing.

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King Billy, 1970s

I’ve never actually lived in Hull, but for around 35 years I visited the city regularly visiting my wife’s family home, where we stayed for at least a week every year, more in the earlier years. After that house was sold we had a good friend who was always pleased for us to stay with him in his large mansion, but since his death around ten years ago my visits have been less frequent.

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Old Town reflection, 1970s

During those visits to Hull I spent a lot of time on the streets taking photographs, sometimes out with other family members, but often on my own.

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Docks Notice, 1970s

Mostly I was photographing in black and white, working on a project that in the early 1980s became an exhibition (and much later a book) ‘Still Occupied – A View of Hull’. As well over a hundred black and white images, the show at the Ferens Gallery also included around 40 colour pictures, giving a more abstract view and concentrating on the docks and the River Hull and the riverside industries.

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D Marks & Sons. Possibly on Humber St, 1970s

At that time I worked in colour using 35mm transparency film and quite a few of the slides have either been discarded or deteriorated beyond recovery, while others have been lost. But a couple of months ago I found around 250 of the more interesting pictures and re-photographed them using a Nikon D810 fitted with a Nikon PB-6 bellows, Nikon 60mm f2.8 macro lens and PS-6 slide duplicating attachment.

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Dockside Shed, 1970s

The pictures here come from the first fifteen in the album, and the top one, which I think is probably of Railway Dock, shows the silted up state of the disused docks at that time. Those familiar with Hull will recognise ‘King Billy’ below this, reflected in the window of the pub where he is reputed to drink when the clock strikes thirteen. It’s a little harder to recognise the buildings reflected in the window below, particularly because the double image makes it seem more slender – or to read the rather minimal remains of the dockside notice that follows.

I can’t remember exactly where D Marks and Sons had their poulterers business, perhaps has the caption suggests on Humber St, but it could have been somewhere off the Hessle Rd. The distinctive blue shed was one of several around Humber Dock Basin.

Dockside shed, Hull 70shull046

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Philip Cunningham’s East End Portraits

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

I don’t always want to switch on the computer in the morning. I spend far too long sitting at the keyboard these days, very much feeling a slave of the machine. But of course there are many things I want to do – including posting here – which make it necessary.

But of course there are compensations. It’s good to hear news from some of my real friends – people I actually know off-screen – and to see what they have been doing. And occasionally among the mountains of gloom and despondency that make up the news there are some tiny gleams of hope.

One of the small pleasures of each morning is an email from Spitalfields Life, a blog which often presents an interesting view on some aspect of London, usually East London, and particularly at times some interesting art work or a fascinating interview with an aged character.

There are sometimes some fine drawings – such as those by Danish Illustrator Ebbe Sadolin (1900-82)  whose elegant wandering lines show scenes from post-War London including a number of familiar places. And while often the photographs to articles are rather functional rather than inspired, doing their job as illustrations, there are occasional posts of real photographic interest.

One such a few days ago, was Philip Cunningham’s East End Portraits, taken in the 1970s when he lived in the area first as a Youth Worker and then a probationary teacher. These, as the article states, are “tender portraits of his friends and colleagues” and show a real warmth and affection for the subjects. The pictures also tell you a lot about the area and its people.

The subjects include a few people I’ve known (and a couple I’ve photographed in much later years) as well as several others whose names I recognised.