I live where it’s grey

I hope readers will forgive me this week for featuring foreign parts in the ‘Pictures from the past’ feature. Whilst mooching around Flickr a couple of weeks ago, I came upon an absolutely stunning set of early eighties photo scans by photographer mervyn_w, that evoke a particularly formative time in my life. I, like many readers, will remember darkly the recession of the early eighties, the shadow of Thatcherism and the destruction of industry and social society that went with it. These remarkable images depict that period with a clarity and sharpness that one doesn’t often find. I walked up Goodall Street in those years as a lad, past the Art School. I remember the marches, the protests. I remember the desolation, despair and lack of prosperity. For those who advocate cuts, these images are a timely reminder of how bad things became last time we suffered such a rampantly capitalist creed.

I haven’t captioned any of these pictures deliberately; if you wish to find out about them, click on them and their Flickr page will open, where you can read Mervyn’s great captions and the comments of other Walsall photographers. Thanks to him, something grim, but beautiful has been preserved; it’s also the work of a fabulous photographer, so while you’re there, do have a look around.

Walsall Town View

2-Tone and UB40’s ‘Signing Off‘ were the soundtrack to these depressed years.


Rush Hour Traffic Walsall 1982
Peoples March for Jobs2
Old Police Station and Guildhall
Top of Market2 1981
Walsall Power Station1 1981
Walsall Labour Exchange 1981
Peoples March for Jobs1
Guildhall 1982
George Street before development

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11 Responses to I live where it’s grey

  1. kevinjones21 says:

    I was born in the shadows of the cooling towers and can remember the constant mist that was produced from them. Parts of the grass in Reedswood park was so lush from the constant watering they received. My Father watched the towers being built and I spent a cold and misty Sunday morning watching them being toppled via explosive charges. It was a strange day. There was no cheering or joy when the towers toppled. It was like we were all there to say goodbye to old friends. They were a major landmark and always fascinated me. It is great to see them once again, thanks.

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  3. The Edditer says:

    Bob, thanks for highlighting these fascinating photos – I shall certainly be contacting the photographer with my Walsall Local History Centre hat on!

    • I’m glad to hear that. They’re so remarkable, they deserve a place in Walsall’s historical record.

      There must be many such pictures, lurking on slides, photo albums and boxes, that are lying undiscovered.

      Thanks to guys like you and WLHC the stuff we do find is preserved for the future.

      All the best


  4. ianrobo says:

    great photo’s applicable to any town or city in the country

    and we will be going the same way

  5. 2uluru says:

    Who is that twerp? The gormless looking one there. Oh, it’s me!

    In the photo third from the end ( “march for jobs 1” ) I was surprised to see myself walking off George Street onto the site of the current ASDA supermarket. It was 15th May 1981 – I have the commemorative mug in front of my as I type. I had a well paid, safe job at the time but felt that I should show my support for the People’s March for Jobs. For me it was just a nice day out.

    Would I do the same if I was living in North Africa / Middle East in February 2011? I can’t see myself being that brave. But in England in February 2011 have we any excuse for not showing our support for causes that we believe in?

  6. stymaster says:

    What a wonderful set of photos- they capture the time so very well.

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  8. Mervyn says:

    Thank you for your comments on my photographs. I do have others but they are in a place inaccessible at the moment! But I will certainly find them in the future. And unfortunately a number of films were spoilt when I moved house and bleach got spilt on the negs. And if anyone does want to use the pictures, let me know, I would very rarely deny permission. And you can always just put the link in as Bob has done for which you would not need to ask permission.

  9. Paul Bennett says:

    I was one of the three accredited marchers from Walsal , along with , Frank Bacitta Singh and Dick Wigley. I have spent the rest of my life trying to bring about change. I was very young at the.time and marched from Was all to Nuneaton. It was.quite remarkable for me. I just remember the love, affection and comrardre of thee moment.

    Lovely to look at the pictures


    Paul Bennett


  10. I was at Wood Green High School, at a PE lesson or lunchtime break when the march for jobs passed nearby the Junction 9 island… all I remember is a blur of banners and people walking past, I think it’s a false memory that there were police horses too (in my defence I was just 11 at the time). Good to have that memory – however cloudy, triggered.

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