Blackpool in its summer heyday

Only In England showcases the works of'influential photographer Tony Ray-Jones
Only In England showcases the works of'influential photographer Tony Ray-Jones
Share this article
Have your say

Many consider scenes like these the heyday of Blackpool’s famous summer seasons.

Now a string of amusing, unusual and interesting images from the resort’s past – taken during the late 1960s – are to feature in a major new exhibition in Liverpool.

Only In England showcases the works of influential photographer Tony Ray-Jones, whose working motto was ‘Don’t take boring pictures’.

One shot from the days of Blackpool past even takes pride of place as the exhibition’s main promotional image, depicting a bespectacled man, sunbathing with his eyes shaded by a hanky, wearing a suit, shirt and tie.

Ray-Jones’s images, which mainly documented every-day English life, were a departure from anything else in the field at the time and attracted attention from the Institute of Contemporary Arts, where they were shown in 1969.

Tragically, just three years later, he died from leukaemia, aged 30.

Sandra Penketh, director of art galleries for National Museums Liverpool, said: “These photographs are an evocative record of a time before ‘selfies’ and mass media.

“English beaches, markets, streets and tea rooms all come under Ray-Jones’ watchful eye. The subjects are delightfully unpretentious and natural, as though they aren’t even aware of the photographer’s presence.”

The collection has been put together by esteemed photographer Martin Parr, to create a body of work which reflects English customs and identity, running alongside his own works which show how Ray-Jones’ has influenced his own work.

Sandra added: “He was largely self-funded, spending his time visiting different places, photographing everything from people sitting on the beach and sunbathing, to May Day parades or sitting outside cafes.

“Visitors to the gallery will recognise these scenes. Many of these images are slightly melancholic, others make you smile as he gets across so much of people’s emotions.

“He caught people at just the right moment; you look at the picture the first time and think you have got it, then look again to see a new surprising detail you missed the first time.”

So what do you see in these images of Blackpool, taken in the resort between 1967 and 1969?

n Only In England, at the Walker Art Gallery, William Brown Street, Liverpool, until Sunday, June 7.