Born in 1913, in Barry, South Wales, Jimmy Forsyth went to sea after leaving school at 14. He arrived in Newcastle in 1943 to work as a fitter, losing the sight in one eye, in an industrial accident, shortly afterwards. Apart from an unsuccessful general dealers business on Scotswood Road, which he bought with his compensation and which lasted three months, he did not work again. ‘Nobody wants a one-eyed fitter, he explained.
He began documenting Scotswood Road in 1954, its community and its demolition in the 50s and 60s. He took his albums to Elswick Library in the 1970s, where local studies specialist Des Walton immediately recognised its significance and undertook the task of cataloguing the thousands of pictures. Derek Smith, working with Side Gallery, developed the first major exhibition of the work in the early 80s, since when it has been the subject of numerous television and magazine features.
Scotswood Road was published by Bloodaxe Books and Amber/Side in 1986; Out of One Eye was published by Newcastle Libraries in 2002.
The working class terraced community in Newcastle upon Tyne's West End, captured in 1950s and 1960s by a member of the community, as redevelopment began to destroy it.