John Tindale: A Vision of Whitby

Client: Whitby Museum

Date: 2021

John Tindale was a photojournalist from Whitby, Yorkshire. Before his death in 2001 he donated his entire library of negatives to Whitby Museum. In Sept 2020 his son David began delving into this vast archive of photographs as well as audio interviews with locals that created an intimate portrait of the town’s post-war history. He decided to curate an exhibition of his father’s work and asked me to illustrate John’s life behind the camera.
The exhibition John Tindale: A Vision of Whitby opened in Sep 2021 and ran until the end of May 2022.

Fly in the Eye

Gladys, a young operatic soprano, is on holiday in Whitby when she visits the local chemist Charles Tindale to have the fly removed. Gazing into each other’s eyes, their love begins.

Delivery Boy

Gladys and Charles married and had a son, John, who would spend the summer evenings delivering photographic prints for the family business, sneaking a look at the lives of locals and holidaymakers alike.

News from Home

John moves to post-war London to pursue his dream of being a photojournalist. The same week he gets a job offer from a newspaper his father sends a telegram calling him home to run his own pharmacists. In 1947, when your father called you obeyed.

Tindale Chemist

John returned to Whitby and soon installed a darkroom with state-of-the-art equipment in the attic while his new wife Jill ran the chemist shop below. John also installed an intercom so when an inspector called Jill could alert John who’d throw on his chemist’s coat and rush down.


One night in 1953 John braves a destructive hurricane to capture the enormous waves on film. His photos appear in the Whitby Gazette for the first time.


In 1954 the crew of an Eastern Bloc trawler mutiny and take refuge in the Harbour Office under police guard. John sneaks in during the copper’s cig break and gets the scoop he came for. His photos of the Soviet defectors are printed in the national papers. The crewmen settled in England and John was booked for numerous motoring offences in the following years by disgruntled policemen.


While the town slept one freezing cold night in 1965 John would be there in his pyjamas to capture the lifeboat successfully rescuing 14 crewmen from a shipwreck. John would document the news and people of Whitby for the rest of his life.

Exhibition banner and poster image

I was asked by David Tindale to put John into one of his own photographs for the exhibition banner and poster image. Here I combined a few of John’s photos and drew an image of him that would fit. I also re-used the colour scheme of my illustrations.

Photo Gallery