PHOTOGRAPHS of the Black Country taken by award-winning former News Group press photographer Phil Loach are to be displayed at a prestigious Birmingham gallery.

An exhibition of 60 photographs capturing the free-spirited days of the 1970s and 80s will be held at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists Gallery in St Paul's Square, in the Jewellery Quarter.

The exhibition, running later this month, follows the publication of a collection of Phil’s best images from the period which has just been released by Café Royal Books.

Stourbridge News: Phil Loach — The Black Country 1970s–1980sPhil Loach — The Black Country 1970s–1980s (Image: Phil Loach / Cafe Royal Books)

The publisher specialises in showcasing the works of eminent documentary photographers.

Sadly, Phil passed away on April 12 last year before he could see the book’s publication – although he had learned that his images were to be featured prior to his sudden death at the age of 73.

Stourbridge News: Phil LoachPhil Loach (Image: Phil Loach)

His wife Dot Byrne said: “Phil was overjoyed to have his photographs accepted for publication by Cafe Royal Books, it really did mean a lot to him. I think that he would be amazed at the level of interest in the book and the upcoming exhibition.

“Every 100th title, Cafe Royal produces an archive box, these are collected by galleries, museums and libraries in the UK and abroad. To know that Phil's work will form part of a much wider archive is incredible.

“Phil planned to have an exhibition to coincide with the publication and it's been really important to me to make sure that his wishes were carried out.”

A number of black and white images featured in the book, titled The Black Country 1970s-1980s, will form part of the exhibition, which will run from February 13 to 24.

Stourbridge News: Bikes at Fens Pool, Pensnett, in 1976Bikes at Fens Pool, Pensnett, in 1976 (Image: Phil Loach)

The shots, part of a large private collection of documentary photographs taken by Phil, demonstrate how he had the ability to see the “unusual and sometimes bizarre aspects of everyday life within urban and industrial landscapes” – Dot said.

She added: “Phil's personal pictures, represented in this exhibition, reflect an incisive view of places, situations, and events, particularly in his home region of the Black Country.

“His photographs are his reaction and response to his surroundings, people and events, to fashion and social trends and to the everyday life of everyday people.”

Stourbridge News: Kate's Hill, Dudley, 1975Kate's Hill, Dudley, 1975 (Image: Phil Loach)

She said the images were taken at a time “before issues of privacy and personal space became a consideration” and she added: “The Black Country pictures were just a part of Phil's output and he turned his eye to a wide range of subjects which he observed in Britain and abroad.”

Dudley-born Phil was educated at Sir Gilbert Claughton Grammar School, Dudley, and studied art at Stourbridge College of Art and photography at Leicester Polytechnic before becoming a professional newspaper photographer.

Stourbridge News: Bread queue during bakery workers strike in Wordsley in 1977Bread queue during bakery workers strike in Wordsley in 1977 (Image: Phil Loach)

He started his press career at the Dudley Herald in 1969 and went on to work for three newspaper groups - holding the post of chief photographer at two of them.

During his career, spanning nearly 50 years, he photographed events and people across the Black Country, north Worcestershire and south Staffordshire – capturing sporting and civic events, celebrities, Royalty and politicians as well as ordinary people enjoying joyful celebrations and those hit by terrible tragedies.

Stourbridge News: Morris dancers outside the Bull & Bladder, Brierley Hill, 1976Morris dancers outside the Bull & Bladder, Brierley Hill, 1976 (Image: Phil Loach)

In retirement, he staged a number of exhibitions locally showcasing images from his extensive personal collection at venues including Himley Hall, the Black Country Living Museum and Dudley Canal Trust.

More of Phil’s work can be seen in the archive left on his website

The book is available to buy from, priced £6.70.