Ferry across the Mersey captured by photographer Tom Wood


Mersey Mirror by Tom Wood, 1989Image copyright
Tom Wood

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Tom Wood’s daily presence on the ferry allowed him to capture intimate moments, such as this one in 1989

A photographer’s collection of images taken during his daily commute on Liverpool’s Mersey Ferry has gone on display.

Tom Wood said the project, which he started in 1978 to pass the time, started out “accidentally”.

But he ended up shooting thousands of rolls of film, capturing the characters and fashions of the day.

He amassed almost 25 years’ worth of images, stopping in 2002.

Cafe by Tom WoodImage copyright
Tom Wood

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Wood started taking photos after moving to “a place on the waterfront at New Brighton”, across the famous river from Liverpool. “In those days, buses didn’t run under the Mersey Tunnel, so people had to commute via the ferries. This project was an accident – almost a by-product. I took these photos for something to do while I was commuting.”

Group of girls by Tom WoodImage copyright
Tom Wood

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His constant presence on the ferry meant he built up a rapport with fellow commuters and, as a result, many of his teenage subjects asked for a copy of the photograph. “I took their names and addresses and months later, I would put one in an envelope with their name on it.”

Women at the Pier Head by Tom Wood, 1985Image copyright
Tom Wood

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“There was no charge – I thought if these people were kind enough to let me take their photo, it was the least I could do. “I’ve still got two boxes marked ‘Pier Head’ at home.”

Pier Head by Tom Wood, 1979Image copyright
Tom Wood

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Some shots, such as this 1979 photo, are snatches of candid moments in and around the ferry terminal

Bus Terminus at the Pier HeadImage copyright
Tom Wood

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The bold colours and patterns of 1988, as well as permed hairstyles, are among the fashion trends capture by Woods’ lens

Pier Head Landing Stage by Tom WoodImage copyright
Tom Wood

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For the photographer, it is a chance to take another look at a “different era” and a particular favourite amongst the images. “One of the ones I like is of two young guys – who I think are New Romantics or something. “Behind them are two other older guys and behind them is another guy, who is the oldest. “It looks like three generations. It’s quite a funny photo.”

Beans and Chips by Tom WoodImage copyright
Tom Wood

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Curator Thomas Dukes said the work “spans a time of change for photography” and show a photographer “allowing people to bring their own personality into the frame”

Top Deck, Seacombe Ferry by Tom WoodImage copyright
Tom Wood

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“This is an exhibition about the relationships with the recurring people and places in our daily lives. It’s about familiarities built during a commute – a journey through the correspondences of gazes – and an exploration of a process of waiting, destinations and points of departure.”

Magazines Promenade by Tom WoodImage copyright
Tom Wood

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Three women walking along the promenade in 1985

The Pier Head – Tom Wood is at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery until 25 March.



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