While browsing Paul Graham’s Archives which he so generously makes available to all and sundry, I came across his series A1: The Great North Road, from 1981-2.
The A1 is the longest road in Britain, running from St Paul’s Cathedral, London, to the centre of Edinburgh, via Leeds and Newcastle. A journey on the A1, therefore, captures a complete cross-section of British life in a way that no other road can.
Throughout his journey, Graham captures this cross-section so brilliantly, combining as he always does social commentary and photojournalism with artistically stunning images. A woman captured walking in the heart of London is surrounded by bankers, in stark contrast to another woman waiting at a bus stop in London’s impoverished northern suburbs, literally ‘up the road’.
It would be an interesting exercise to make the journey in current times and see what changes have been wrought. One would imagine there would be new freeways, big box retail and neon-lit ‘service centres’, yet still the same air of suburban angst and hopelessness faintly lingering.