Trains, trolleybuses, rag and bone men: Ray Pool publishes online book of archive photographs
Write Out Loud regular Ray Pool is known to many here as a professional musician. But what may be less well known is that before he turned to music, he was a photographer. Now he has published a splendid book of his photographs, titled Time Shift, garnered from his 35mm film archive of black and white negatives, which he had stored away for more than 50 years.
In his preamble to the book Ray says: “My destiny to be a professional musician was initially coupled with a strong leaning towards photography … I was forced to make a decision whether to do music gigs or work in a photographic studio on Saturdays. Music won the day. In the meantime after leaving school to work in the West End, I equipped myself with a series of 35mm film cameras and cobbled a darkroom together in my bedroom, falling asleep to the smell of chemicals. During lunch hours I would venture out snapping life on the streets.”
The photographs begin in the mid-1960s, and include the last days of steam locomotives, trolleybuses, a picture of the-then Tory leader Sir Alec Douglas Home adorning a garden gate, advertising hoardings, derelict buildings, pubs, back streets, and above all, people – the occasional ‘dolly bird’ or toff, children cramming on to a bus, policemen on duty, rag and bone men and their horses and carts.
Ray says of his book: “I had a desire to record anything I found interesting without having a particular aim in mind except to be my own archivist … using a love of photography on the move. I was fortunate to be able to witness the demise of the railway steam era which stood as testament to the great inventiveness of the Victorian period, leaving in its wake a forest of factories and warehouses, all since swept away. The last vestiges of forgotten day-to-day activities are here within the book, of little specific interest at the time, but which serve as a curious and poignant reminder of a vanished period.”
Every picture tells a story - and in my view, can prompt a poem, too. I’m sure Ray won’t mind – in fact, I know he’d be pleased - if any of his photographs inspire poems from his readers. With due acknowledgement, of course!
Email Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to purchase a £15 online copy.
PHOTOGRAPH: RAY POOL AGED 21 IN 1965