Work made in 2010. The Bridge Inn is the last pub ‘over the border’ in Middlesbrough, a town under major development. most of the houses in the area have now been demolished and pubs closed ready for regeneration. The Bridge closed shortly after this work was made but recently re-opened under new management.
Commissioned by C.A.B.E. 2005/6
The Gresham area of Middlesbrough consists of back-to-back terraced properties which housed 6.5% of the town’s population. When this work was made 1500 homes were being threatened with demolition due to a huge regeneration project in the area. Many residents were owner/occupiers who were facing compulsory purchase orders on their homes.
Figures published at the time showed that nearly a quarter of Middlesbrough’s robberies were taking place within Gresham and nearly a third of ‘dealer-a-day’ activity was happening within these streets.
Gresham houses a multi-cultural, multi lingual and multi-religious community that largely defies these claims, and insists that there is deep-down strength in this diverse community that would thrive with sympathetic regeneration and proper Policing rather than demolition.
The ‘Bow-Street Triangle’ as it became known, is at the centre of the planned demolition with Middlesbrough’s primary Mosque at its centre. This area was to be spared and regenerated. Whole streets have since been clad in scaffolding as fronts of properties are being improved while other whole streets have been boarded up as residents move on. Since 2005 when demolition proposals were announced the estate has been split in two.
Ray Mallon, Mayor of Middlesbrough who spearheaded the demolition proposal in 2005, announced in September ’09 that the Council was short of funding and the amount of demolition was to be cut by up to half. By this stage however the area has deteriorated to a much greater extent due to the expectation of the demolition.
Interviews were conducted along with portraits.
Slate aggregate for roads is made in a relatively small scale at Llechwedd compared to the huge amount of slate waste that could be used for such purposes. With major issues in employment, Blaenau needs jobs. However, both the feasibility of the aggregate scheme and the potential visual changes to Blaenau’s ‘man-made mountains’, which are to many seen as the industrial heritage of North Wales, means this new industry is often viewed with apathy.
Father Deiniol, an Orthodox Priest who has lived in the town for 30 years and our kind guide for a day has been campaigning for decades for this secondary industry to be launched on a large scale and thus create broad employment (although major funding would be needed). Others are promoting tourism as the new and primary industry in the area and a multi-milion pound scheme has been launched for relative regeneration with an obvious focus on tourism.
What is certain is that Blaenau’s in a difficult transitional period and it feels like the town understands industry – it’s what it’s good at. Tourism on the other hand is a difficult and un-walked path for Blaenau.
Here’s some pictures of the few men who are crushing slate waste, the landscape they’re working in, and a few from around Llechwedd quarry.
An afternoon spent with Alan while he collected slate for making wine racks in a now closed quarry. We’re stood here 3/4 of the way up the largest slate tip in the world. The building on the far left in the first image was built by Alan and some of the 60 men working below him. He spent the majority of his working life on this man-made mountain splitting slate.
Re-visit to Blaenau last week on a pretty full on 5-day shoot. The sun was shining all week for once so we made some hay (not literally!). Here’s a taster. Again – 5×4 transparencies re-photographed on a lightbox for now…
Llechwedd is the last remaining quarry in Blaenau with men still splitting slate half way up the mountain. First, some images from the top of the mountain where sheds have now been abandoned. speaks volumes of the fragility of the industry. What an amazing place.
A continuing project which started in 2007 documenting Teesside before, during and after the mothballing of the final blastfurnace on the river Tees. Focused regeneration currently attempts to reinvent the costal towns either side of the mouth of the river.
A piece of work made over several years documenting Parkol Marine Engineering – the last remaining boat yard building fishing vessels on the docks of Whitby – a north-east town famous for its links to the fishing and boat building industries.
Whitby is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country and the town relies heavily on the tourist pound.
Shot on 5×4.