My next job was to take all the pictures in the Witney Gazette each week and generally freelance. Richard Early asked me to take some pictures of his blanket factory from the air. I took advantage of the flight to photograph several other sites nearby, including one of Eynsham in 1965 (first picture in the gallery).
Fortunately for me the Witney Gazette was soon swallowed up by Westminster Press, which resulted in me getting my coveted position as an NUJ staff photographer on the Oxford Mail and Times. The 1960s were a golden era for press photography. Lord Snowdon and others had given it some street cred. As a member of the editorial team I earned a good wage. I was one of nine photographers. Now I’m afraid there are none. Papers rely on freelances and readers sending in their digital photos, which are often not paid for. People just like to see their handiwork in print.
I started off in a little house in West End, Witney, I remember various friends and family huddling round my little black and white TV to watch in awe the first moon landing. I had a handsome pussycat, Caesar, who used to frequent the pubs if I was out in the evening. Dear Don joined me after we got married, while he was busy making Millstone Cottage in Eynsham habitable before the arrival of Katie in the summer of 1970. I had a darkroom at the bottom of my garden. The chief photographer gave me my diary jobs at breakfast time and I walked my overnight pictures to the Witney Office to be taken up early next morning. I was obviously on call, so if anything happened in West Oxfordshire I was there to cover it.
The gallery shows our own primary school in 1968. It was a show school, only two years old. The year before I had taken pictures of a delegation studying its revolutionary teaching methods. I was called out to the fire in the middle of the night and returned in the morning to show the devastation as children went to school without warning of what they would be facing - no mobile phones then.