Monday, 14 October 2019

X-rated swearing graffiti, late 1980s

Photographers have been taking pictures of graffiti for many decades now. I've a small collection of books dedicated to the subject, many of which are themselves considered important explorations of the act of writing on walls.

The late 80s was a phase in my life when I rarely left home without my Olympus 35mm camera. My favourite subjects were old shop signs and buildings, especially in London's East End where I was living at the time. Over the years I've posted on 'After You've Gone' various other things that I have captured on film. However I've never shown these pictures before. 

They are examples of some extremely rude, crude and downright nasty swearing graffiti that I'd spotted on my travels. I took the pictures because I thought it was pretty shocking to see such bad language banded about in this way. Also, I wanted to capture this kind of graffiti as it tends to get scrubbed off or daubed over much more quickly than all the other traditional kinds of scribbles. 

To confirm, the following pictures contain offensive language. As an archivist of all sorts of transient ephemera, I see it as my role to observe and document. These images are a record of some voices of the streets from around 30 years ago...

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Lyntone Recordings

At the tail end of the 1950s, the Lyntone company obtained the license to manufacture German-style postcard records and the US Evatone Soundsheets.

Lyntone was originally based at 46 Penton Street in Islington, and in 1970 expanded their operations to much larger premises in Wedmore Street, Holloway N19.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the fully independent, family business, amassed an ever-increasing work load as the nation’s manufacturers eagerly promoted their brands with its very own audio recording on disc. There were slim profits in flexis, so it was a matter of turning around as many units as possible. 

By the late 1970s after the punk and independent record explosion, Lyntone began pressing more of the traditional 7" & 12" vinyl, as bands would venture directly to the Wedmore Street plant to get their DIY records pressed. 

After three decades of producing millions of slimdiscs for thousands of clients, Lyntone eventually called it a day in 1986. The CD revolution had arrived - and inevitably this was the writing on the wall for the flexible record.

No-one back then could have predicted the record revival of the 21st century! 

Do check out the book 'Wobbly Sounds' by Jonny Trunk, which presents the wonderful cover art for Lyntone's flexidiscs. I wrote a short introduction tracing the story of the Lynton family who ran the operation. The following images are taken from a Lyntone catalogue kindly loaned to me by a family member. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Bury Football Club, 1959

Very sad to hear the news about Bury FC's expulsion from the English Football League today. My pal's partner is a life long fan, and I'm thinking of her, and all Bury fans at this difficult time. 

With Bury's grim fate in mind, I've just had a quick rummage through my collection of old football programmes - and came across this fascinating gem. A slim 8 page edition for the FA Cup 3rd Round tie between Bury and Arsenal on 10th January 1959. There were 29,800 spectators packed into Gigg Lane that day, watching Arsenal's David Herd scoring the only goal of the match. 

This fixture was the last time that Bury FC and Arsenal met in a competitive match, and when Bury were playing in the old Third Division of the Football League.


A vivid picture of local business and social life leaps from the pages - adverts for cafes, clothing shops and breweries - all accompanying the team line-ups for both clubs. Playing for the Gunners that day were the Welsh national team goalkeeper Jack Kelsey, Tommy Docherty who would go on to manage numerous clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United, Aston Villa, as well as Scotland - and David Herd who later on twice won the old First Division with Manchester United.

As one of the adverts proclaims, there are "Fair times or Foul'. On this day, it feels like the ultimate foul has just been committed on a club that was founded way back in 1885 - and who were FA Cup winners in 1900 & 1903. 

"We shall shake 'em, we are the Shakers" a club official famously declared before a big cup match. A quote that offered up Bury's nickname which stuck for well over a century. Can the shaken fans now find a way to rebuild their club?

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Fazeley Street, Birmingham


Five Units on Fazeley Street
Lives in a Landscape
BBC Radio 4, Summer 2009

Ten years ago I recorded a radio feature with BBC producer Laurence Grissell where I met a diverse group of people who were working in the units of Birmingham's Fazeley Street industrial estate. Back then it was in the throes of moving away from traditional firms based around the building and engineering trades, to a new era where 'creative' businesses and communities were beginning to move in...

While we were interviewing on location, I took some snaps with my phone capturing the street at this point in time. The photos were taken primarily as a reminder of the architecture and the details of Fazeley Street which may have been useful to incorporate into my script. 

I've not been back since - I wonder what lives are part of this landscape today?

This was the online description of the programme when it was first broadcast back in August 2009:

As the sun rises over this ramshackle grouping of canalside workshops, warehouses and offices, an unexpected array of characters set about their diverse businesses. Whatever their line, industry is very firmly the name of the game here. At 7.30am sharp, workaholic Roger opens up Clifton Steel and starts his daily rounds checking stock. Surveying his vast stockyard and reflecting on life in the steel business, he proudly proclaims, 'I'm an industrialist'.
Next door, young Adam is starting his first car window tinting job of the day, a blue VW. Heatgun in hand, he talks of the skill required to do it properly, declaring, 'I'm an artist'. Upstairs, solitary Derek - a real Mr Fixit - is slowly but assiduously drilling 300 precision steel components, alone in his workshop save for the accompaniment of classical music.
Their businesses are different but their hopes and fears strikingly similar. They talk of the influence of their fathers - for good or ill - their fears for the future and their pride in a job well done.
But as night settles and the industry ceases, Fazeley Street shifts gear. Adam finishes his last tint of the day, Derek drills his final hole and next door a group of 20 African evangelists don white gowns and prepare to praise God, while slick young rockers Copter rehearse at full volume for their next gig

Saturday, 22 June 2019

A Public Telephone in Ladybird Books

The classic Ladybird book measured 11.5 cm by 18 cm. The pocket-sized mini-hardbacks were economically produced, enabling the books to be retailed at a low price. The first title in the line dates from 1940. The series included children's stories, nature books, non-fiction books (including hobbies and interests), history and travel.
I just wanted to share two pages of illustrations of public telephone boxes courtesy of vintage Ladybird books from my collection: The Fireman from the 'People at Work' series which was first published in 1962, and Cub Scouts 'who they are and what they do' which dates from 1970. 
Both editions were published by Wills & Hepworth Ltd, Loughborough, and printed in England.

illustration by John Berry

illustration by John Berry