Robert Williams being tolerant of my need to photograph things that don’t necessarily need photographing.
The headmaster leaves the stage after morning assembly at Cowley Boys School in St.Helens in the late 1970s.
The headmaster was very strict so this image was taken quickly and undercover hence the poor focus and camera shake.
Taken from the balcony the band played on though for this assembly Mr Dobbs the music master was at the piano to play along to the morning hymns.
I would have liked to have better focus but accept that the rarity of the subject matter makes this an important image for me. I find it helps me remember the period and better understand the dynamics that were present then.
The tireless Mr Dobbs music master conducts the school brass band on the balcony of the main hall at Cowley School.
He deserved a much better tenor horn player than I was that’s for sure.
Morning assembly saw all the pupils in the main hall for hymns, prayers and announcements. When the band didnt play the hymns were accompanied by piano from the front of the hall.
Some favourite Hymns:
There Is a Green Hill Far Away.
In the bleak mid Winter
The long hot Summer of 1976 was certainly felt in the South facing classrooms of Cowley boys school. Windows went unopened as we baked in our polyester uniforms and tried to stay awake as the lessons progressed slowly. The Helios 58mm lens combined with the poor blacking in the Zenith E body meant shooting into light always exhibited light flares, this light flare helps convey the atmosphere so not too bad.
Cowley Boys School. St.Helens.
My first income from photography came from taking over the team photos at Cowley Boys School. I didnt charge very much, 50p bought a whole plate (8.5″x6.5″) print in black and white. Cheap even at the time this enabled me to buy short lengths of outdated film or chemicals for the darkroom.
Sleet added to the atmosphere in this shot. Of course I should really have followed a Masters advice and photographed the teams directly after a match – much less smiling!
French lesson. Always exciting to see if you could capture a lesson in progress, Sitting at the front of the class gave me this opportunity to get a different angle. Can not recall if the teacher responded to the sound of the shutter going off and the mirror bouncing up, I certainly would have appreciated a silent shutter in the 1970s.
Zenith E FP4 film.
Cowley Boys School. St.Helens.
Image circa 1978/79 we were all 6th form pupils at Cowley when this image was taken (The girls and boys school combined for the first time).
I only started to stage manage my photography when I did commercial work but this picture was setup as a bit of fun. The photo Society at Cowley consisted of people who prefered to do photography rather than games in the games period. In retrospect I should have joined in the games but at the time it seemed much safer and more comfortable to photograph. The girls were not part of the society but followed us on our jaunt to see what we got up to.
Lubitel II 6×6 tlr camera from Russia (£11.75 brand new).
My photography started in the third year of secondary school, fellow 13 year old pupil Ian Griffiths showed me his Russian Zenith B camera and I just knew I had to get a proper camera and start taking photographs.
I photographed the world around me, didnt matter that it was the town centre, the home or in this case the classroom. Three frames taken one after the other and joined together 43 years later with Photoshop. The Zenith E camera was very noisy and taking images without the teacher noticing was never easy…
Zenith E slr camera 58mm lens FP4 film. approx 1976-1978.
Cowley boys school, St.Helens.