Express & Star

Exhibition takes people back to their youth

More than 1,000 images from the past century will be displayed at an exhibition celebrating people's memories of growing up in the Black Country.

A school play at Blowers Green Primary School

Punks, mods, choirboys and would-be rock stars and models all feature in the celebration of youth culture which will be held in Dudley.

The Dudley People's Archive event opens on November 4, and runs until the end of the month.

The first part of the exhibition, which runs until November 17, will see photographs and memories displayed at CoLab in Dudley High Street.

The second part of the exhibition, running from November 18 to December 4, features a range of pictures by award-winning photographer Marta Kochanek.

The pictures and stories were collected as part of a lockdown project launched last year, and show a vibrant glimpse of how people in the town lived, worked, shopped and played.

The group also took on a market stall during the summer of this year, and invited people to drop by to share their memories.

One of the pictures, showing a young man with a motorcycle, brought back memories for Trevor Preece, who recognised himself as the man on the bike.

“Seeing Easy Rider changed my life at 17 years old,” he said.

Trevor spotted himself in the photograph, and recalled the bike as being a Triumph 650 Chopper which he built himself in 1973.

“Look at the flares, purple corduroy inserts and RAF badges courtesy of my mum,” he said.

Would-be rock star Gary O'Dea spotted himself in a picture outside Jack Wall's barbershop in Tipton when it was featured in the Express & Star.

The picture, taken circa 1988, was for the cover of a tape by rock band the Love Hounds. The bright yellow sign, promoting 'Durex and Old Spice' was a familiar landmark at Five Ways in Tipton, and the band thought it would be a witty way to promote their new tape.

“The picture was taken, I would say about 1988, the barber shop had just had a new owner, after Jack Wall had retired. We all thought ‘that sign is going, they will be taking it down soon’, and thought we had better take the picture while it was still there," he said.

Gary, who lives in Peartree Avenue, Tipton, said the picture was taken by Adrian Hill from Stourbridge, who went on to enjoy some fame as the drummer with Dr & The Medics. He recalls to very happy times with the band. which he said was one of the best he played in.

Project curator David O'Coy said the group had also been making use of social media to gather people's reminisces.

Mr O'Coy said more than 1,000 images had been submitted to the project, which can also be viewed on the website as well as its Facebook group.

They include a range of images from the 1920s to the present day.

Mr O'Coy added: “We’ve had some great images and stories submitted.

"I really like some pictures of a group of punks in Dudley town centre that Darren Radburn sent in, taken around 1980.

"Darren's brother is in the picture and when we shared it on our Facebook group the person that actually took the photo saw it and got in touch to tell us the story of how it was captured.”

Photographer Arthur Harris, who took the picture outside the Martin's newsagent, said it was pure chance that the lads were in town that day.

"They looked fantastic and I also realised this was approaching the end of an era,” he said.

“I approached the lads and they posed for me. Unfortunately I was on the end of my roll of film so only got a couple in colour.”

Pictures at Dudley Zoo make a regular appearance but so do more unusual photos.

Paul Darby shared a picture of him as a child celebrating the Queen's Coronation in 1953 while Levene Brown sent in a picture of her time posing as ‘Girl Friday’, the weekly glamour-girl feature in the now defunct Dudley Herald.

Paul Lichfield shared an image from the Express & Star of him and his brother examining the knocked-down wall from outside house which was taken down by a dustbin truck from Brierley Hill. “This is a photo of a council dustbin lorry that crashed into our house at 72 Adelaide Street, Brierley Hill," he said.

"Would be about 1961. That’s me in the middle showing my pants, with my elder brother Martin on the right and another local lad Alan Tonks who happened to be passing at the time and was asked to be in the picture.”

Jean Vincent sent in a picture of her school play at Blowers Green Primary School.

“Blowers Green was big on performing arts, way ahead of its time," she said.

"Our friends came from all over the world to grow up in Dudley.”

The second part of the exhibition will also feature a quilt produced over four months by a group led by textile artist Jan Norton, and further artworks and images.

An artist going by the name of Newtasty has produced a series of posters depicting some of Dudley’s iconic buildings.

The Art Deco former Co-op department store, now known as Provision House, the Hippodrome theatre, the old JB's nightclub, the famous fountain in the market place, Teddy Gray's sweet factory and the castle will all be featured on the posters, which will be on sale during the exhibition.

“We’ve become really fond of our home town again and once you take time to look around the buildings you realise just how beautiful some of them are, or were, and their significant history,” said Mr O'Coy.

The photographic exhibition will be launched from 5pm to 7.30pm on November 4, and then will be open 11am-3pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays until November 17.

The portraits and artworks display will be launched on November 18 5pm-7.30pm, and will then be open 11am-3pm Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Anybody wishing to submit their own stories can do so via