Morley photographer’s stunning views of Yorkshire

AUTHOR: John Nowell, the author and photographer. (NS)
AUTHOR: John Nowell, the author and photographer. (NS)

YORKSHIRE in all its beauty is laid out in a new book just published by a former Morley Grammar School pupil.

A Day Above Yorkshire is John Nowell’s 18th photographic book and a long awaited return to old stamping grounds for a Morley boy who left school at 18 to join the RAF and see the world.

COVER: The latest book in a long series. (NS)

COVER: The latest book in a long series. (NS)

The 71-year-old enjoyed a 19-year career, flying in 206, 205 and 230 squadrons.

It was while stationed in Singapore that he met the woman who would become his wife and discovered a love of photography.

He explained: “I first met my wife Christine in Singapore in 1965 and she introduced me to photography. She was a photographer’s model and came to me one night and said that there was this guy selling off his equipment and upgrading.

“I bought the camera for the dizzying amount of £50 and got stuck into photography. Now Chris regrets it because it has become all-consuming!”

POWERFUL: a Yorkshire powerstation at sunrise. (NS)

POWERFUL: a Yorkshire powerstation at sunrise. (NS)

He followed up his RAF career with one as a civilian aviator, flying helicopters for Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman for 10 years.

“Some of my photographs ended up decorating the walls of the Sultan’s mother’s new palace,” he said.

“A couple of months later he was flying with us and said, ‘Ah Captain John, my mother thinks your pictures are wonderful’.”

It was 1987 and up until then the Sultanate had been closed to most outsiders but the Sultan had plans to build hotels and introduce tourist visas and wanted John to produce a book that would show foreigners what a beautiful country it was.

Never having produced a book before, the project took him 18 months.

He said he struggled at first to work out how to lay it out but in the end he called it A Day Above Oman, taking readers through a day in the life of a helicopter pilot and the sights one might see as the day went on.

John added: “It has been reprinted 14 times so it is still going strong.”

It also set the template for many books to come.

“We have done altogether 40 books now and about 18 in the series A Day Above. We have done Bahrain, Yemen, Malta, Sri Lanka and then when we moved back to the UK we started on the counties, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire...

“Always I have been thinking and my family have been asking when are you going to do Yorkshire?

“It is a huge project but I have been working on it and eventually got it done, there is a real spread from the border with Durham to the border with Nottinghamshire and from the coast to the Dales.”

The book combines pictures of different aircraft with pictures taken from them as well as from the ground.

It is also meant to be more than a collection of pretty photographs as each one tells a story of the county’s history, of its people and the lives they are living, all seen through the eyes of a real enthusiast.

John added: “Can you imagine what fun it is? I still get to fly, I get to take photographs and I get to go to the most fantastic places and meet the most wonderful people. It is just amazing and I hope it goes on forever!”

A Day Above Yorkshire can be bought from Beadelicious on Queen Street and from Waterstones in Leeds.