Colour Snapshots of Leeds to London in the 1970s

'There are all these little tiny things that you notice when you’re a truck driver and they are just as interesting as all this other stuff in the world' - Peter Mitchell

Londoner Peter Mitchell (born 1943) began taking photographs of Leeds in the early 1970s. After studying art at Hornsey College of Art in north London, he travelled to Leeds to visit friends. “I set up a silk-screen studio in the basement of where I was living,” he says. In 1973, he took a job as a lorry driver with Sun Electrical. “I delivered electrical items such as fridges and heaters to factories and homes all over the city,” he says. “For a couple of years, every day I went all round Leeds.” And as he travelled for work he took these colour photographs:

 

Hudson's newsagents, Seacroft Green, Leeds, in 1978

Mr and Mrs Hudson outside Hudson’s newsagents, Seacroft Green, Leeds, in 1978. “Mr and Mrs Hudson in Seacroft Green, Leeds. I took this photograph on the 14 August 1974 at about 11am. I like the way the ladder is propping up the shop. They had just moved into a new shop on the same spot, with the church getting a facelift to match” -Peter Mitchell

 

“I was surprised at how quickly it was changing,” Mitchell says. “I was amazed by the great deserts springing up in south Leeds. It was so easy to demolish the back-to-back terraces. They just wrapped a chain around them and pulled.”

 

Leeds 1970s

Leeds 1970s

Eric Massheder, a dripping-refinery worker, poses outside his home next to the factory he’d worked at for 12 years, on Vulcan Street in 1975

London 1970s

Mr Costas on Stroud Green Road, London in May 1979

 

Mr Gower of Cabin Cafe on Upper Wortley Road, Leeds, 1975

Mr Gower of Cabin Cafe on Upper Wortley Road, Leeds, 1975

 

“I’ve always thought Leeds was a very philistine place. I’ve been taking that back over the last two or three years, I have to say. But I came to Leeds in 1970, and I remember all those gable ends that you saw from the train coming into Leeds, whole lines of them to the railway edge. This is what amazed me about Leeds, coming from the metropolis where you could only see little bits of north London or south London, but Leeds you could see in a whole day. And I got the impression that Leeds’ time was up, that it was being demolished all over the place — which it was.” – Peter Mitchell

 

Leeds 1970s Leeds 1970s

Leeds 1970s

Two Anonymous Ladies outside Tivoli Cinema, in Sissons Lane, summer 1976

leeds 1970s

Leeds 1970s

Flag Factory, Friday 22 July 1977, 11:30 am

Francis Craven on Woodhouse Moor, Leeds in April 1979

Francis Craven on Woodhouse Moor, Leeds in April 1979

Quarry Hill Flats in Leeds, seen here in the summer of 1977

Quarry Hill Flats in Leeds, seen here in the summer of 1977

Leeds 1970s

Sir Yank's Records (& Harvey Disco), Gathorne Street, Leeds (1976)

Sir Yank’s Records (& Harvey Disco), Gathorne Street, Leeds (1976)

Leeds 1970s Leesd 1970s

Mrs McArthy and her daughter outside the London herbalist in Stanley Road, June 1975.

Mrs McArthy and her daughter outside the London herbalist in Stanley Road, June 1975.

Leeds 1970s

Mrs Collins and Mrs Clayton, outside Robinsons’ Famous Fisheries on Beck Road, Leeds in the summer of 1974.

Leeds Kingston Racing Motors in Olinda Terrace, spring 1975

Kingston Racing Motors in Olinda Terrace, Leeds, 1975

Leeds 1970s

Leeds 1970s

Kays Mail Order Warehouse on Leeds’ Marshall Street, October 1979.

Quarry Hill Flats in Eastgate, Leeds in May 1978

Quarry Hill Flats in Eastgate, Leeds in May 1978

leeds 1970s

Hay Dealers, Leeds in 1974

Sheffield 1970s

Keith and Sandra run a cosy pub on Portland Street, Sheffield. It’s closing time on a Sunday in June 1978

London 1975

London 1975

Leeds cinema 1970s Leeds 1970s

 

‘Strangely Familiar’, a monograph of Mitchell’s work, is available from Nazraeli Press (nazraeli.com, email orders.uk@nazraeli.com), at £40