Gallery: Andy Abbott looks back at the days of black and white photography

Spade work: Tree planting at Station Road Primary School in Hadleigh

Spade work: Tree planting at Station Road Primary School in Hadleigh - Credit: Archant

For the next two weeks I am travelling back in time fondly remembering the early days of my career with the East Anglian Daily Times when I was based in Sudbury, writes photographer Andy Abbott.

I was one of two west Suffolk district photographers back in the late Seventies and the wonderful days of black and white film and sloshing around in chemicals, developing films and hand printing pictures.

We had darkrooms in Bury St Edmunds, Stowmarket and Sudbury and would radiate from those centres on assignments returning to the warm orange glow of the safelights, locked away head under enlarger and racing against time to catch the courier with our captioned prints.

It is an educating experience to be responsible for a particular “patch”. From Sudbury I would encompass a large area including Hadleigh, Clare and almost into Halstead. We got to know the local people and they got to recognise us, an ambassador for the newspaper and always welcomed and respected.

I think these images reflect the enjoyment I had out and about in my trusty Ford Escort around the Stour Valley, just me, my camera and a freedom to express situations and scenarios with my own interpretation. Great stories and opportunities to be creative and expansive like on the day I was sent to photograph a rock and roll revivalist in Hadleigh, teddy boy outfit and all.

Always on the lookout to make the image more interesting I approached one of the antiques shops and with cheeky powers of persuasion got them to lend me a grandfather clock.

Also in Hadleigh I had to take a pre-picture at the high school to illustrate their forthcoming production of Oh! What a Lovely War, no costumes yet but let’s improvise.

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The young pupil I used for the photograph was actually wearing my coat for the effect; yes I really went to work wearing that!

So from Cess Stapel Valk and his oversized feet to the vicar supposedly supporting this church tower, the Sudbury darkroom produced some great imagery. Those really were the days!