Peter Donnelly (left) with friend and colleague "Big" Mike Mc Coy
Peter Donnelly (left) with friend circa 1963
Norman Fletcher photographed by Peter Donnelly circa 1963
by Professor Carl Chinn MBE Ph.D. F.Birm.Soc.
Peter Donnelly was born in Birmingham educated at Corpus Christi Junior School, Stechford,
and later at the Holy Rosary School, Saltley. While at the Holy Rosary he took and passed a
drawing examination for Moseley School of Art at which he spent several years tuning his
artistic talent. On leaving the Art School he joined Birmingham Printers Sam Currier and Son in
Brook Street, St Paul's Square as an apprentice commercial artist, learning the skills of business
stationery and greeting card design.
After completing his apprenticeship he left Sam Currier and worked at various printers and
advertising agencies gaining valuable experience before starting with his working associate
Bob Burns (Typographer) Donnelly Burns Graphic Design Studio, at premises in Chapel Street,
Lye (The Black Country).
Before starting the business Peter entered and won the Sunday Telegraph Photographic
Competition. He submitted an essay of photographs illustrating the demise of the Birmingham and Black Country canals. He was at this time a member of the Small Heath Photographic Society based at Hobmoor Road, South Yardley. The idea of photographing the old canals was developed by Peter and his friend, fellow photographer Norman Fletcher.
To Peter and Norman, Midlands photographers and photographic societies seemingly had
ignored the once great industrial arena that surrounded their everyday working lives.
What an arena! What powerful exciting subjects for the camera; neglected canals, weed and
web woven tow-paths, old worn out narrow boats - redundant and half submerged in silted murky brown waters: steam trains rattling, hissing and bumping their wagons into line and the
railmen who worked the line at that time. Old foundries, run down factories and scrapyards - the
industrial flotsam of a once great manufacturing region.
Many six o'clock early morning starts were walked and many miles covered by Peter and his
camera. Now, over 50 years later, photographs taken during those early morning excursions
are being published - looking back at that time, long before the surge of change and
reconstruction 1962 - 66