Ray French

Friday 21st April 1978, quite a busy day for me, shortly after taking the class pictures in the quad at Cowley boys school I photographed Ray French demonstrating rugby techniques. This was for a book he was writing on the subject.

Mr French was my English teacher (not to be confused with my French teacher who was Irish ). Before being a teacher Ray French was a top level rugby player (both codes) as well as subsequent work as a BBC radio commentator for the sport. He has a wikipedia page here.

Other pictures from this session were to be my first published work in book form, my only previous published work being a news item in the local paper.

Unofficial 5th form class photo 5W Friday 21st April 1978 12:10am

Unofficial class photo made the day after we were given our O level exam timetable. One last bit of fun before we had to get serious. This is not my class, you can see that one which was taken first here: Form 5L You will notice that a few lads from form 5L have infiltrated the form 5W photo, this is the kind of thing that happens when you let a school boy take class pictures.

 

Unofficial 5th form class photo 5L Friday 21st April 1978 12.00am

For some reason Cowley Boys school did not arrange class photos during the time I was there. This however was the period of punk and we did not need no official photographer to get the job done.

Form 5L, In one of the frames I’m holding my arm out to steady myself after running from setting the self timer on the Zenith E camera mounted on a tripod.

Read moreUnofficial 5th form class photo 5L Friday 21st April 1978 12.00am

Having a laugh

Cowley Boys School, 1978-9. Sitting with some friends on the field on sportsday. In an ideal world we would be watching the events and joining in but this was not that.

3 static negatives

Animated gif file made from 3 consecutive black and white negatives shot in the 1970s as part of my duties to photograph the school teams and provide prints.

 

Team photos taken at Cowley Boys School in the mid to late 1970s.
It was sleeting as I took the pictures. As always I shot a few frames of each team so as to minimise the chance of anyone spoiling the shot by blinking or gesticulating.

Some forty years after taking these images I can recover a time element by animating between the three negatives, a highish definition black and white video of a time gone.

A separate image from another day and using the side of the quad rather than the steps.

Fountains

Victoria Park St.Helens, 1979.

 

Fellow Cowley pupil Robert Williams takes a photo as I record him and Victoria Park during a 6th form Photo Society outing in 1979.
Pilkingtons Glass was a major manufacturer based in the town and employed a whole lot of townsfolk in the factories dotted around.

1980 filming at Cowley.

The early Summer of 1980 being the end of 6th form education for me it was a treat when a film company used the school as a location in the final week of term. Being a little less than honest in saying “I was from the school magazine” I was fortunate that the director Hugh Hudson allowed me to photograph the scene he was filming in the changing room. This was destined to be the Paris Olympics changing room towards the end of the film “Chariots of fire”.

Being pretty much still the 1970’s Health and Safety was not a consideration, the images do provide a window into the period, pupils sitting on the low wall on the roof of the school, boys standing on the power cables to the big lights, chain smoking crew that knew how to swear in a very full and knowledgeable way….

It looks like a private school but it wasn’t, it was a very good school, needed a bit of updating but then we would not have had changing rooms that have not been altered since the 1930’s and the crew would not have come

 

Large powerful lights act as the sun shining through to the subterranean changing rooms. Top left shows boys dressed for sports emerging from a similar changing room at the other end of the school.
The Headmaster Mr McDonald emerges from the side entrance and monitors the situation.
The talent bus parked near the scene of the filming.
Being the 1970s things were a little more relaxed than these days.
Standing on the high current power lines going to the lights passes the time as the boys keep an eye on the onsite catering.
Lots of cigarettes.

Hugh Hudson (director) with his cameraman David Watkin. (David Watkin was also the cameraman on the film “Return to Oz” a far darker follow on from “The Wizard of Oz” would have been nice to have a chat with him if he were not so busy..)

 

Notes: this article has been updated to the correct year of 1980, originally I thought this was the Summer of 1979 but I was wrong! As new information arrives I will be updating details of other images also, if you have additional information then please contact me at stephen@sheringham.org.
Many thanks

Team photos

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!
St.Helens.

Petrol at the YMCA

Fellow Cowley Boys 5th form pupils play for one night only at the YMCA in St.Helens town centre in 1978. I was asked along to record the evening by Les Glover one of the singers.

Petrol were opening for another band and the hall started to fill up as they played. I had to use flash as it was so dark, manual cameras and slow film were the tools at hand and compromise had to come somewhere.

It would have been good to photograph the audience as well, perhaps a modern dSLR or mirrorless camera and a time machine would finish the job.