A very ‘Abbey’ man

Bryan Eccleshall
Bryan Eccleshall
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ASK Bryan Eccleshall what his favourite Beatles album is and he answers without hesitation.

“Revolver,” he says. “Which is ironic.”

It is - because this 46-year-old music lover has spent the last eight years visiting and photographing every Abbey Road in England.

He has travelled to more than 130 places - from Brighton to Bishop Auckland, Eastwood to West Ham, Old Buckenham to Newstead - in a bid to snap all the streets which share a name with the 1969 record.

“Why have I done it?” ponders the Sheffield Hallam University PhD art student. “I was looking for a photography project. This appealed to my sense of collecting things.”

It wasn’t easy.

He’s travelled hundreds of miles, got lost on dozens of occasions and once dragged wife Megan on a camping holiday in the South East so he could be within striking distance of several Abbey Roads he needed to snap.

He’s been to big cities (Oxford and Leicester), small towns (Mansfield and Knaresborough) and places you’ve never heard of - where exactly is Virginia Water?

In Surrey apparently.

He’s been to Barking (“which some people say I am”) and Whalley (no comment), and, of course, he’s been to the one, in St John’s Wood, after which the album was named. There is only one, incidentally, in South Yorkshire - in Dunscroft, Doncaster - although there’s a pair in Darlington.

“That’s the only town with two Abbey Roads,” he notes. “Apparently the post gets mixed up a lot.”

And when he’d done it all?

“It was quite emotional,” he says. “It was West Moors in Dorset. I was driving home listening to the album thinking ‘I must be the only person in the world who’s done that’. It’s a stupid achievement - but it’s an achievement.”

If that was the end, the start was equally blase.

“We were living in Abbey Wood in London at the time,” says Bryan a former Tapton Secondary School pupil whose studio is based in Trafalgar Street, city centre, but who currently lives in Worksop. “There was an Abbey Road near there. I was walking past it one day and wondered how many there were in the country.”

He stuck it into his computer, discovered 131 and decided he’d visit them all.

“I think it’s ended up as a strange sort of portrait of Britain,” he says. “The pictures are only street signs but they’re all so different. “The only thing is I’m sure there may be more Abbey Roads out there but there’s no way of getting a definitive list. If I did hear about another, I’d be frustrated but delighted too. I’d hop in the car and go and photo it.”

For now, the project has so impressed people he’s told about it, he’s put all the pictures on an A3 print to sell as a limited edition poster.

“A couple have been bought already,” he says. “I think people like putting them with their Beatles collections.”

View all pictures and buy a print at www.bryaneccleshall.co.uk

A road well travelled: All the Abbey Roads

Abbey Wood, Alton, Alvingham, Anfield, Arleston, Aylesbury, Banbury, Barking, Barnstaple, Barrow-in-Furness, Basingstoke, Bedford, Beeston, Bexleyheath, Billericay, Bilton, Bingham, Bishop Auckland, Blackpool, Blidworth, Bourne, Bourne End, Bovey Tracey, Bradwell, Bridlington, Brighton, Cambridge, Cheadle, Chertsey, Chilcompton, Coalville, Cornworthy, Croydon, Darlington (e), Darlington (w), Delph, Dover, Droylsden, Dudley, Dunsford, Eastbourne, Eastwood, Edwinstowe, Enfield, Evesham, Exeter, Failsworth, Fareham, Fartown, Faversham, Flitcham, Flixton, Framwellgate Moor, Gillingham, Glascote, Gloucester, Gornalwood, Gravesend, Great Massingham, Grimsby, Halesowen, Harborne, Hatfield, Haydock, Healey Batley, Horsham St Faith, Hullbridge, Ilford, Kearnsey, Kidderminster, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Kirkstall, Knaresborough, Lancing, Leicester, Leiston, Louth, Mansfield, Mattersey, Merton, Middleton, Newstead, North Acton, Northampton, Old Buckenham, Oxford, Pentney, Pershore, Peterborough, Ramsey, Redditch, Roade, Sale, Sandbach, Scunthorpe, Selsdon, Shelley, Sherborne, Sheringham, Simpson, Smethwick, St Bee’s, St Helen’s, St John’s Wood, Steyning, Stockland Green, Stoke-on-Trent, Strood, Sudbury, Syresham, Thetford, Torquay, Tyldesley, Ulceby, Virginia Water, Waltham Cross, Warrington, Washford Watchet, Washington, Wellingborough, West Bridgford, West Ham, West Kirkby, West Moors, Westbury-on-Trym, Whalley, Whitley Village, Widnes, Witney, Woking, Worcester, Worthing, Yeovil.