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Martin Jenkinson, photographer with a sympathetic eye for Northern working traditions

20 June 2012 - Graham Harrison

Martin Jenkinson, London born photographer, trade unionist and founding member of EPUK with a sympathetic eye for the Northern working traditions has died at the age of 64.

Born in Hammersmith, London on 9 November 1947 Martin Jenkinson moved to Sheffield in 1976 where he worked as a maintenance engineer at Tinsley Wire before redundancy led to a job running a community newspaper. Already a keen amateur photographer Jenkinson used his own images in the paper. He then joined the National Union of Journalists and became self employed.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April, Jenkinson died of pneumonia and complications on 12 June 2012. “His many photographs of the 1984 to 1985 National Union of Minerworkers strike and of pit heads prior to their destruction are regarded by historians as valuable records of the industrial and working class history of this country” reported the Sheffield Star on Monday.

The Guardian’s Martin Argles told EPUK, “Martin Jenkinson was a good photographer in a time when photographs tended to be much more critically assessed than now.”

Brian Harris, whose travels included assignments to the north of England for The Times and The Independent recalls, “When I bumped into him when away from the smoke he was always incredibly helpful with good solid local information. Where to develop your film, name of a good wire man… the sort of information that old fashioned regional photographers had at their finger tips. Some kept it to themselves but not Martin.”

Wine, cheese and hot jam doughnuts at EPUK’s first meeting in 2000. L-R: David Hoffman, Martin Jenkinson, David Gordon, Graham Trott, Andrew Wiard, Brian Harris and Jeremy Nicholl. Photo © Brian Harris.

On the founding of EPUK Harris writes, “I remember Martin sitting in my garden in Thaxted, Essex in the summer of 2000. A small group of us, Martin, David Hoffman, Graham Trott, David Gordon, Andrew Wiard, Jeremy Nicholl and myself formed the nucleus of EPUK. We drank reasonable quantities of chilled white wine, just enough to get the arguments rolling along while eating cheese and scoffing fresh hot jam doughnuts from the local baker, Martin made short work of the later,” said Harris. “Martin was pure old school, and all the better for it.”

Andrew Wiard, who knew Jenkinson better than many in the profession said, “Martin was a trade unionist all his life. A Sheffield steelworker and lay official in the Amalgamated Engineering Union, before being made redundant and transforming himself into a freelance photographer. Whereupon he became a member of the NUJ for over 35 years,” said Wiard. “He worked for trade union publications, and as a lay official again for the NUJ, serving on both its Freelance Industrial Council and National Executive Council. He was a co-founder of the Report Digital agency, and also a moderator of EPUK from the beginning, where his work as membership secretary was essential to its survival in the early days.”

“You probably don’t know of Martin. Few people do. He worked hard to make our world a better place without the slightest interest in personal recognition. He wasn’t trying to get anywhere. He was where he wanted to be, doing his best for photographers. And as a photographer. He leaves behind a legacy, a photographic record of trade union struggle, in particular of the great 1984-5 miners’ strike, a legacy which now forms part of trade union history.”

“It was as a trade union photographer that I knew him,” said Wiard. “We were the friendliest of competitors. Martin would never, ever try to take work from a photographer he knew already had a deal. And every September he, photographer Rod Leon and I would follow our annual ritual – a meal together before the start of the Trades Union Congress. But not this year. Never again.”

Martin leaves a wife Edwina and daughter Justine.

Martin Jenkinson’s photographs of the 1984 Miner’s Strike

The first exhibition of work by Martin Jenkinson will open on Saturday July 28th at The Harland Café, 72 John Street, Sharrow, Sheffield S2 4QU. Chosen by family and friends, the show brings together a unique collection of some of Martin’s most dramatic and iconic pictures; scenes of industrial and community action in Northern England, together with portraits of politicians’ and images of ordinary working people. Prints of Martin’s work will be on sale from the Café throughout August, opening times Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, Sunday – 10am – 4pm. Tel: 0114 273 8553.

The Martin Jenkinson exhibition, Harland Café, Sheffield. Photo © Pete Jenkins.

Martin’s family have few pictures of him and would appreciate anyone who has any images in their archive to please send them on.

See also Peter Lazenby’s obituary of Martin Jenkinson in The Guardian.

© 2012 EPUK, with thanks to Pete Jenkins.

 

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Comments

Nicely done chaps, nicely done. I wish I had known Martin as well as some of you had, but what I do know is that every time I did meet him, and every conversation I had with him, it left me feeling good.
Proper gent.

Comment 1: Pete Jenkins, 20 June 2012, 07:26 PM

Really powerful images of the Miners Strike. I remember seeing it on the news in the 80s but seeing images of the strike in black and white makes them seem older and of a different era.

Comment 2: Grantly Lynch, 25 June 2012, 01:02 PM

I knew Martin during his Cheltenham days and he was well liked – with an enduring schoolboys curiosity. We used to sit in his flat in Montpellier (now an incredibly posh area) and plan how we would take the town over when the revolution came. I’ve just learned of his death.

Comment 3: John Webster, 27 October 2012, 11:13 AM

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