Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Jimmy Captured a Vanishing Working Class; No History of Newcastle West End Would Be Complete without a Look at the Work of Jimmy Forsyth. His Remarkable Photographs from the 1950s and 60s Captured a Time and Place in the City That Has Now Vanished

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Jimmy Captured a Vanishing Working Class; No History of Newcastle West End Would Be Complete without a Look at the Work of Jimmy Forsyth. His Remarkable Photographs from the 1950s and 60s Captured a Time and Place in the City That Has Now Vanished

Article excerpt

Byline: Jimmy Forsyth

PHOTOGRAPHER Jimmy Forsyth will always be associated on Tyneside with the West End of Newcastle, and particularly with Scotswood Road.

He would have turned 100 late last year and to celebrate his centenary a superb book, An Innocent Eye, describing Jimmy's life and reproducing a selection of his finest photographs is now available. Jimmy Forsyth arrived in Newcastle from South Wales, aged 30, in 1943. The consequences of two industrial accidents made it hard for him to find work.

However, he developed a passion for local history and found a mission in recording the old buildings of Newcastle before they vanished under the developers' wrecking ball.

He explained why he began taking photographs: "When they knocked down the Infirmary in 1954, a curious crowd gathered to watch. It was then that I realised someone should make a record of what was left of the community. I had nothing to do, so why not make a record of Scottie Road to pass the time? It would show future generations what we looked like and how we lived."

Author Anthony Flowers comments: "It is important not to underestimate what an undertaking this was to become for an unemployed man with few resources, though he said that by selling prints to his neighbours 'for pennies' he was able to manage to buy more film. This was a constant worry for Jimmy, that he might miss something worth photographing through lack of film." Jimmy was taking pictures of local children when a neighbour told him that Scotswood Road, and the surrounding area was to be demolished, and suggested he make a record of where he lived.

He said: "A wife said to me you should take some pictures of Scotswood Road because they are going to knock it down, and I said to meself 'ain't she stupid because they never do them sort of things',' but luckily I took the pictures just the same because then they started knocking them down around the back where I was living like, and that was the start of it! …

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