© Photos and Text: John Bulmer

When I started as a freelance photographer in 1960, my first assignments were on the North of England.  This was a time of change in Britain, we were entering “The Swinging sixties” as it was called, but this was mostly the South, but the North of England was massive change - The cotton Mills and coal mines that had beed at the heart of the Industrial Revolution were closing and the area was impoverished, and massively different from the South.

My first trip was to Nelson, in Lancashire. I had never been to Northern Towns before, and it was a great shock. I found it wonderful, with pictures to take round every corner. I remember thinking it was exotic- it the way darkest Africa was exotic, and I loved it.  Over the next few years I did a number of stories on different parts of the North for British magazines, leading to a whole issue of the Sunday Times Magazine, the first time anyone had done a serious picture story in colour on the North- It had been regarded as a black and white subject.

I thought my assignments on the north were finished, but ten years later, when I had mostly become a film maker, I was asked by the German Magazine GEO to do a story on Manchester.

I arrived up there and was amazed. The old North, that I thought was gone was still alive- at least parts of of it.  I stayed much longer than I expected, because I loved it.

When GEO ran the story, they used quite a few other peoples pictures.  They were obviously not impressed.

  I put the pictures in a box and carried on my filming.  Only thirty years later, when I came to archive my pictures for a book, did I realise.  Geo were looking for a story on the “Swinging New Manchester”,  and I’d gone on a nostalgia trip about the past.

It gave me massively more colour pictures that I’d had on the North, and was a great help to the book I published, “The North"