WESTOE ROSE – making the documentary about South Shields Historian & Photographer Amy Flagg

DSC_1081 copy 3

Amy Flagg is fondly remembered as the lady in a hat and trench coat, who quietly went about photographing buildings and recording history of the town she loved. But who was Amy ?

By the Second World War both her parents had died, plus the town she loved was falling apart from the German air raids. Her life was crumbling around her. When the bombs dropped, she captured the scars with her camera.

This is a story of courage and determination of a very unique woman who captured some of the most devastating images of South Shields in the 20th century.

Just some of the script from my documentary about South Shields photographer and local historian Amy Flagg. I came across her photo’s a few years ago when I was part of a group who volunteered to digitize the photographic collection held in South Tyneside Library.

They were excellent photographs especially her record of the Second World War bomb damage in South Shields. A brave woman.

In my research I found that Amy had a darkroom so was able to print her own photograph’s. I know the magic that can happen there as I had my own set up during the early ’90s. My darkroom was in a cupboard under the stairs where I’d print the black and white images.

Before I had the home set up, I went on a short course in photography and darkroom techniques at a local community centre. If I was investing time and money, I wanted to know my way around a darkroom first.

I’d go out with a roll of film and shoot some photo’s, develop them into a roll of negatives then put them into the enlarger and exposed the photographic paper to the light shining through the negative. Then put the paper through the tray of chemicals.

The image started to come through – it was like magic. I knew I had to do more of this, and I did.

In June 2016 the time was right to make a short documentary about the life of Amy Flagg. Using archive information, Amys local history diary entries (pic above) and photographs from South Shields Library I put a script together.

North East playwrite Tom Kelly provided the narration, local journalist and writer, Janis Blower, added the voice of Amy. We  recorded the voice overs at The Customs Space studio in South Shields.

As with many documentaries I’ve made, North East musician John Clavering captured the mood with some great music.

On March 8th, 2017 ‘Westoe Rose’ was screened at The Word in South Shields on International Woman’s Day.

Watch the documentary ‘Westoe Rose’ and to check out some of my other films go to You Tube and subscribe to my channel.

Gary Alikivi    June 2018.