John Blakemore

Hillfields, Coventry, in 1964
The topshops on Vernon Street, Hillfields
Topshops on Vernon Street, Hillfields © John Blakemore

John Blakemore is one of Britain's master printers. His long career began in Coventry, as photographer at Tayler Brothers studios, for Black Star Agency, and for Courtaulds industrial fabrics. These images are of Hillfields in Coventry, taken in 1963 and 1964.

John Blakemore – Hillfields, 1964

John Blakemore lived in Vernon Street, Hillfields, during the beginning of the 1960s. These photographs reflect short-lived ambitions to become a documentary photographer. Leaving Coventry in 1965, John focused on landscapes (trees in Wales in particular) and flowers (especially tulips). If you google Blakemore Tulips you'll see the most beautiful prints that look like watercolours. How a photographer can do this is beyond me, but that does demonstrate his mastery of his art.

Hillfields at the time was both changing and in an enforced time warp. Changing because it was prosperous Coventry, with the new Basil Spence cathedral a quarter of a mile away, and in an enforced time warp because redevelopment hadn't reached Hillfields fully - demolition of the Victorian streets to make way for tower blocks and a school were only just being finalised. Bomb damage and rubbish tips still dotted the place for twenty years after the blitz.

Click here for a compelling interview with John