1980s Birmingham – Portraits of A City

Davis shows us a time when your class was never more apparent as change was inflicted on British life

“The City Centre is unrecognisable from the 1980s. Everything is glass. Birmingham doesn’t feel like home anymore.”

– Richard Davis

1980s Birmingham


We’re back looking at 1980s Britain’s through Richard Davis’s photographs. This time we join him in Birmingham, the country’s ‘shabby not chic‘ second city so brilliantly captured by David Rostance in his street photography.

“The Birmingham Years from 1985 to 1988 covered the start of my photographic journey and thankfully set me up for everything that was to follow,” says Richard, whose work is celebrated in Craig Atkinson’s Cafe Royal Books. “What started off as a bit of fun photographing mates gradually became more serious, I quickly realised I liked looking at the world through a camera lens. It kind of gave my life a real sense of purpose as well as a help in understanding my surroundings, whether on a personal or political level.”


1980s birmingham


“Around this time I was very taken with many photos which came out of the 1984-85 Miners Strike and any images that portrayed the general Anti Thatcher/Tory feeling that ran through many of our inner-city communities. Sparkhill in Birmingham was one such district and I really enjoyed walking around just observing life and catching anything that caught my eye. The best bit of Sparkhill though was the Birmingham Trades Council run “Centre For The Unemployed” building with it’s excellent darkroom facility stocked with plentiful chemicals, film and paper. It’s staff too offered nothing but encouragement and support and they would often send me out onto the streets of Birmingham armed with a camera and tell me not to come back until I had a decent set of Photos. I would then spend the next few days developing and printing my films in their darkroom.

“This was the education I’d craved but never found at school from a few years before.

“There was no turning back…”



1980s birmingham
1980s birmingham


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