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Paul Graham: A1: The Great North Road 
 
  
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Parts of the Great North Road follow Roman roads such as Ermine Street and so the North / South route in the UK has an ancient past. It evolved into a coaching road from London to Edinburgh that was paved over and enhanced long before before the construction of motorways.[1] With the construction of the M1 from London to Leeds between 1959 and the early 1970s an alternate, and faster, motorway took a lot of traffic from the A1 which became a less glamorous route of truck drivers fed by smoke filled diners of brightly coloured formica tables serving bacon sandwiches, chips and mugs of tea - a land of tacky neon and cheap signage.
 
In the UK documentary photography was flourishing as the Art Council was providing grants to assist in promoting photography. Paul Graham[2] in his book A1: The Great North Road (1983)[3] was capturing in colour a part of working class culture that was being passed, literally and metaphorically, by the modern world of the M1. This was a world of tired lorry drivers, borded waitresses, big trucks and Vauxhall Vivas pausing only for amenities of a bathroom and calories. The physical size of the UK meant that his studies are not those of the distances or cultural diversity photographed by Robert Frank or written about by Jack Kerouac, who wrote the introduction to The Americans,[4] but even so Graham captured the sadness of a neglected strip of English tarmac. 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Norman Webster, 1974, The Great North Road, (Bath: Adams and Dart) 
      
  2. Λ Paul Graham Archive
    (Accessed: 21 March 2016)
    www.paulgrahamarchive.com 
      
  3. Λ Paul Graham, 1983, A1: The Great North Road, (Bristol: Grey Editions) 
      
  4. Λ The first editions of "The Americans" was published in French - Robert Frank, 1958, Les Américains, (Paris: Delpire) with an American edition in 1959. It slowly became an iconic project that influenced many documentary photographers. 
      
 
  
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