A new Gravelly Hill Interchange book

A new book by Birmingham-born photographer, Richard Davis, dedicated to years of photographing the underbelly of Spaghetti Junction, will go on sale on the Modernist website tomorrow, (April 19).

The beautiful / hideous interchange (delete as appropriate) divides the city by, ironically, connecting it and you only truly know you're a Brummie when you can traverse it without a moment's hesitation. We should set it as a test.

Below is the book's introduction penned by another splendid West Mids snapper, Tom Hicks, of Black Country Type.

"What first struck me about the images in Spaghetti Junction is the absence of vehicles. These photographs have a wonderful sense of stillness – like images of a cathedral without worshippers.

"Birmingham made cars and for a time, cars made Birmingham. Marques such as Austin, Morris, British Leyland, Rover and Jaguar became household names. To the people of Birmingham and the Black Country, they are not just brands – they are words woven into the history of families and the social fabric of the place. Generations of families worked ‘on the track’ – the term used for the production lines at Longbridge.

"Like many of their own generation, my grandparents moved from rural Ireland to Birmingham, finding employment at the gargantuan Fort Dunlop factory in Erdington. They would have seen the construction of the Gravelly Hill Interchange (to give Spaghetti Junction its official title) and many of their peers in the Birmingham Irish community worked on its construction.

"One of my earliest memories is of seeing Spaghetti Junction through the window of my parents’ Mini Clubman. Travelling over one of its elevated sections was both terrifying and exhilarating; I still get the same mixture of emotions when navigating it today.

"Its position is both functional and symbolic. Over five levels, Spaghetti Junction provides unbroken views of the city beyond. Much of post-war Birmingham was shaped by Herbert Manzoni, the City Surveyor and Engineer who was in thrall to American ideals of modernisation and the expansion of car ownership.

"Richard Davis’s photographs take us to the unseen levels beneath the interchange. In doing so, he reveals the ambition and unexpected beauty of its architecture. With the place-poetry of Helen Angell as our guide, Spaghetti Junction takes us on a freeform exploration of this remarkable structure."

Follow Richard on Instagram here and buy his book (from tomorrow) here