Seacoalers

Mik Critchlow

Documentation of the seacoaling community at Lynemouth Beach in Northumberland, developed in the early 1980s.

I took these photographs between 1981 and 1983. My cousin Trevor was working as a seacoaler and he told me that the rights to the beach had been sold to a private contractor, who was blocking the route they had traditionally taken. I went down there with Trevor to photograph the concrete blocks as evidence against the private contractor. It became a relationship from then on: I was taking photographs around the camp as the relationship developed. In a way, I was in quite a privileged position because anybody w with cameras down there would be chased, because the seacoalers would have thought they were working for the Social Security. I was allowed to photograph as and when I required. I went down two or three times a year.

The bollards remained. The seacoalers had to find their own way round. The contractor got excavation rights for the sand, as well. Shortly after this work, Amber/Side got involved. Murray Martin forged a relationship with Trevor and Amber began working on the film Seacoal, while Chris Killip developed his photographic project Seacoal for Side.

Mik Critchlow

All images © Mik Critchlow

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