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Bob May's Collection

Picturing the Past: NarrowBoat, Autumn 2014

A look at some of the last local narrowboat traffics from the collection of a well-known West Midlands newspaper photographer and canal enthusiast

At the end of World War Two, Bob May’s father secured a place for him on a 3-year building course at Handsworth Technical College where he gained a Diploma of Building. But, fortunately for us, young Robert had other ideas – he was not going to rebuild Birmingham like his Dad had hoped! Instead, he joined the Birmingham Evening Despatch to become a “teaboy and copy runner” working in the paper’s editorial newsrooms – until National Service beckoned. He spent the next two years in Egypt, finally making sergeant in the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers attached to a security intelligence unit in GHQ Fayed, right next door to a camera shop! Returning to the Despatch, his knowledge of photography was soon noticed and he was offered the vacantjob of staff photographer on the Sunday Mercury, where he enjoyed some happy years while nurturing a yearning to join the opposition weekly – the Birmingham Weekly Post – to work with his frie…

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