Jack Hulme was born in the small pit village of Fryston, West Yorkshire in 1906. Like most of the town’s residents, Hulme’s first job was working in the coal mines. After sustaining an injury which left him unable to work in the pits, Hulme became the town’s barber.
His passion, however, was photography. As early as 1926 he was making photographs of everyday life in the village, first with a small box camera and then with a Leica camera bought for him by his wife, Rose. Hulme’s photos chronicled events such as the General Strike and the changes wrought by World War II as well as more ordinary scenes of weddings, funerals, festivals and daily chores.
Over the course of sixty years, Hulme took over ten thousand photographs of Fryston, storing many of the negatives in his attic at home. Despite the volume of images he produced, Hulme did not travel extensively, and he was largely unknown until the late 1980s. Since that time, Hulme’s photos have been exhibited around the world. They provid a rare insight into the life and decline of a colliery town from its days as a bustling industrial village to the demolition of the pits in the 1980s, and the subsequent closure of schools, churches and community centres.
In particular, Hulme is recognised for his many photos of domestic interiors, as private homes are often off-limits to photojournalists or outsiders. Known as “Mr. Fryston” to local people, Hulme was able to capture his friends and neighbours in natural, intimate settings in a way which is rare for art photography. In a 1987 interview with the BBC, Hulme said, “I took photographs of life in Fryston as I saw it. I loved taking photos. That was my hobby. I didn’t gamble, smoke or drink, or any of these habits you spend your money on but the camera was my best friend…I’ll be taking photos to the day I die. It’s been my great love.”
Jack Hulme died in 1990 at the age of eighty-four. A book of his photographs, World Famous Round Here: The Photographs of Jack Hulme, was published the same year. Hulme’s photographs are now in the collection of Wakefield Council.