All copyright Russell Boyce

 

In 1984, I was commissioned by the Impressions Gallery, Bradford; to undertake a project that reflected on the themes described by George Orwell in his book, ‘Road to Wigan Pier’. This exhibition was re-shown in October 2012, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Impressions Gallery.

Today the fishing docks lie empty and quiet except for the occasional foreign trawler that is unloaded. Most of the Hull fleet of trawlers have been sold for scrap, or are rusting on the quayside.

 

 

I was told, ‘Most fisherwomen kicked their husbands out when they lost their jobs. They were a load of drunken wasters and just another mouth to feed. We are better off without them’. The women and children wait to be re-housed, away from the half empty and boarded up streets in which they now live.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tina is bored because her children are away on holiday at her boyfriend’s mother’s in Withernsea. They are there for two weeks. Tina and her boyfriend have been accused by the DHSS of living as husband and wife while collecting separate Social Security. Their case is under investigation. Somebody in their terrace must have reported their suspicions to the DHSS. If Tina is found guilty she will be fined and receive a cut of £12 to her joint income.

 

Most commodities are brought second hand and then used until they are ‘beyond repair’. As Tina says ‘There’s no point worrying about appearance around here, we’ve all got the same’. The second hand shops provide income for some people, and cheap clothing or household goods for others.

Her house is a two-up, two-down. It has no bathroom. Baths are taken around a friend’s house twice a week. The toilet is outside the house in the backyard. Tina hates going there at night or in the winter. She was given a second hand cooker ready for her new house. She has discovered that it is no good and has left it in the yard for the rag and bone man.

‘My only trip out is to the Post Office to collect my Social. I get really bored sitting here watching the TV. There’s so much rubbish on it all day that I’m glad when my friends come round’. Most of Tina’s friends are women who are in the same position as Tina. Some are as old as forty and others as young as sixteen. The main topic of discussion is who is taking who home.

‘I hate the kitchen. If you come down at night and switch on a light you see all the cockroaches scuttle away. It’s revolting! I’ll be glad to get into a new house’. Tina would not let me photograph her preparing meals, or meal times. She said that she was too ashamed. She has a sausage roll for lunch every day.

In some places only shadows of houses remain where terraces used to back onto factories that once provided employment for hundreds. The land lies undeveloped and probably will remain so for a long time yet.

 

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