Arbroath January 1972 . I was living in the house at 9 East Grimsby. My Dad had died the previous year and I was still struggling with it. But I had a few things going for me: music, a camera and my books. It wasn’t a lot but it helped.
Russ Black, the art teacher at school encouraged me to use its darkroom. I had lost my own a couple of years before when we moved house. This is one of the earliest rolls I still have from then.
The camera was a Leica Model III fitted with a Ross Xtralux 50mm f2, an excellent lens. I used the name ‘Xtralux’ for a band some years later, in Exeter. Film was Ilford FP3.
I don’t think I was as sad as the pictures seem to make out but it is true, everything seemed pretty trashy. Living in the middle of what felt like a war zone didn’t help, but it had the advantage that there was nobody nearby. That meant we could play music as loud as we liked.
Arbroath January 1972 — a strange place.
Arbroath in 1972 was a strange place. The middle of the town had basically been knocked flat to make way for an ‘Internal Relief Road’ which was really just a scheme to make a group of influential property owners rich by the compulsory purchase of houses and semi-derelict industrial spaces.
Even today people say ‘Arbroath? Is that the town they cut in half?’
It wrecked Dad’s business and probably killed him, that I do know.
The bright side was that there were plenty of jobs in Arbroath and everybody had money. Not a lot, but enough. There was a thriving fishing industry and the towns engineering sector was vibrant.
Within ten years that had changed. Ted Heath sold off the Scottish fishing industry to buy the UK membership in the EEC and Thatcher pulled the plug on engineering nationally. The oil industry boom did help, but Arbroath seemed to miss the big money.