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‘Images of the past’

New photography book on Sheffield in the 1980s
Mark Metcalf, Monday, December 16th, 2019

Photographer Martin Jenkinson, a former steelworker, was commissioned by many unions including the TGWU/Unite and National Union of Mineworkers and was responsible for some of the most striking images to have emerged from political and industrial struggle in Britain from the early 80s until his death from cancer at aged 64 in June 2012.


Now a second book of Martin’s work has been released, this time featuring Sheffield in the 1980s. It has been assembled by Martin’s daughter Justine, who manages her dad’s extensive image library, and author Mark Metcalf.


Jenkinson, who constantly sought ways to improve his skills, photographed people in their everyday lives and there are many such images in the book.


However, where he excelled was his work with the trade union and labour movement in workplaces, on protests, demonstrations and pickets. His photographs in such situations create an awareness that fills the page and forces the observer to seek to find out more.


The highlights of the book are how it shows that during the 1980s Sheffield, once the steel centre of the world, endured startling industrial changes that destroyed many of its famous firms and traditional industries. The unique photographs, some published for the first time, reveal the impact of this economic destruction on local people and how they fought bravely for their jobs, families and communities.


Also featured in the book is many campaigns which include anti-racism, peace, health, jobs and training, industrial disputes.


Of course, what was happening in Sheffield in the 1980s was something that many northern England and Scottish cities experienced during this period, while at the same time, parts of south east England, especially the City of London, boomed. The gap between north and south became a chasm.


As such the book is a case study of Northern Britain during a decade when making things was replaced by services industries, leisure complexes and low paid jobs.


You can buy the book direct from Pen and Sword here or from Martin Jenkinson Image Library here.




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