Brian’s legacy to our town and its people
THE widow of Brian Ollier has led tributes after the popular photographer’s sudden death.
Brian turned his boyhood passion for photography into a successful career lasting half a century.
He retired last year and planned to travel the world with his devoted wife Margaret.
However, in July Brian discovered he had stomach cancer. He died on Friday after complications during surgery. He was 69 years old.
News of Brian’s death has shocked the town, prompting more than 100 tributes on the Express Facebook page, as well as dozens of emails and calls.
Paying tribute, his wife Margaret said: “Photography was all Brian ever wanted to do. He could take any type of photo but it was portraits that were his real love.
“During one of the annual baby competitions he took 1,200 portraits in just 10 days which is an amazing figure. Brian loved every minute of his work and was committed to spending as long as it took to get the right shot. He took the photos of generations of the same family. I like to think that most homes in Macclesfield will have an where.”
Born in Macclesfield in 1945, Brian grew up on Chapel Street with his mum and dad Florence and Colin.
As a boy, Brian developed his love of photography practising his art around the town and on school trips, developing his images in the cupboard under the stairs at home.
Brian’s ability even earned him his first paid job at the tender age of 13, when he was booked for his first wedding.
After leaving Central School he got a job at the Macclesfield Express as a junior photographer.
In an age before camera film was used, Brian’s job required him to used glass plates to capture images for the big news stories that week.
Margaret said: “He was sent out on his bike on six jobs with six plates. It left no room for error, so Brian had to make sure he got it
‘Ollier’ some- right first time. It taught him about trying to get the perfect picture first time, something he carried with him for his whole career.”
In 1964, although just a teenager, Brian set up his own studio on Sunderland Street in a shop rented from his godmother Lena Whittaker.
He spent the next 50 years taking thousands of portraits, weddings and completing corporate jobs. The studio moved to Mill Street in 1980 and early last year to Queen Victoria Street.
During those five decades Brian retained a strong connection with the Express and became a mainstay of the paper with his popular Looking Back column. Outside of his work his other passion in life was his family.
He met Margaret at Krumbles disco in 1970 and the pair became inseparable.
They moved to a house on Brook Street and Margaret left her job as a cook to help run the studio.
Over the following decade Brian found fame and success in his original pastel portrait style and the couple travelled the world attending lectures and seminars.
In 1983 they decided to settle down and were married, and by 1992 were busy with three children James, Joe and Sarah.
Brian retired in July 2013 and planned to travel the world with Margaret in their motorhome before falling ill.
Margaret said: “Brian saw great changes in photography throughout his career, finally embracing digital photography. He never lost his enthusiasm for his art and leaves a legacy of thousands of images spanning almost 50 years.”
Brian’s son James also paid tribute.
He said: “I am such a proud son. He will be sorely missed by us all.
“Luckily we are surrounded by wonderful family and friends, and that thought also helped ease his passing, knowing that people are there for us when he couldn’t be.”
The studio is planning to celebrate 50 years in business in December this year. If you would like to pay tribute or read more comments by those who remember Brian, go to our Facebook page at facebook.com/ macclesfieldexpress.
●» Brian Ollier and, inset left, with Lord Snowden earlier in his career
●» Brian, right, takes a snap