Our series of photographic portraits by Neill Menneer shows Bath people at work.
I grew up in Istanbul where most of my family were involved in the textile business. My cousins, uncles and aunts all worked in cutting, sewing or tailoring in one way or the other. Strangely, though, my father did not, but it was still natural for me to follow my relatives and older brother into the trade. This meant that after school, and from a very early age, I was keen to learn any new skills that helped us economically and progressed my career.
My uncle had set up a factory in Seven Sisters, London and he called on me and my elder brother Ben to come over to England and help train the 150 employees. My brother went over first and so I was sure to follow. I was only 17 so it was quite a culture shock, but what I remember most about how I felt when I arrived was that the public transport was so good and that the shops and bars closed so early. Things have really changed since then…
Many textile factories closed at the start of the millennium, especially in London, and a good proportion of them were closed down due to health and safety issues. My uncle’s business shrank and so Ben and I had to look elsewhere for work. I have travelled all over the UK since then and my first jobs after London were in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, both fine cities in the summer.
Like a migratory bird I then flew south and ended up in Swindon where in 2004 Ben had set up shop, taking over an old tailor’s business. Swindon was not the cosiest of nests, though, so I commuted from Bath – which is much prettier. Bath, however, is not a nice place to buy a house – they are all so expensive. I bought a flat off-plan at Riverside but I’ve since sold that as it didn’t suit me. It took us three years to find the right premises for our new business City Tailors in Bath, but now we have a great location in Milsom Street, which is surrounded by clothes shops.
We get a lot of business from people who need to make alterations to clothes, something that people no longer have the skills or inclination to do themselves. Retail, though, is really tough at the moment and there are many empty shops in Bath and established businesses such as House of Fraser and Debenhams are going through some tough times. Sadly for these stores and other retailers such as Maplins, the internet will not be going away.
I think I have found life here lonelier than in Turkey, but Bath is a lovely, quiet place. I love my job, which is probably just as well as I work seven days a week.
When I have a holiday I love to travel to different countries. I have been to so many. Last year I travelled back to Turkey by car so I saw much of Europe on the way. I do love the sea or any water, really. Istanbul, of course, is surrounded by water on all sides, so whenever I can I drive down to Bournemouth or Weymouth and just watch the water. It calms me down from the stresses of life. Needless to say Pulteney Weir and the beautiful River Avon are my favourite spots.
PORTRAIT: Neill Menneer at Spirit Photographic. Visit: capturethespirit.co.uk, tel: 01225 483151