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July 19, 2013

Fascinating Portraits of Factories and Small Shop Owners in Leeds in the 1970s

Born in 1943, Peter Mitchell joined the Ministry of Transport as a trainee straight from school, but thought better of it and went to study art at Hornsey College of Art in north London instead, specializing in silk-screen printing. Then, in 1973, he traveled to Leeds to visit friends living in a squat in the city's northern suburb of Headingley, and chose to stay. "I set up a silk-screen studio in the basement of where I was living," he says.

He has lived in Leeds ever since, and for most of that time has been earning his living as a graphic designer. But to pay the rent in 1973, he got a job as a lorry driver with a company called Sun Electrical. For the compulsive I-Spyer, it was a dream position. "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."

Eric Massheder, dripping-refinery worker, Vulcan Street, spring 1975.

Ready Mixed Concrete Ltd, Elland Road, summer 1977.

Mr Pearson, steam-grab driver, Victoria Bridge, spring 1974.

Mrs Collins and Mrs Clayton, Robinsons' Famous Fisheries, Beck Road, summer 1974.

Mr Reuben, Rugby Cabinet Co Ltd, Lucas Court, summer 1974.

Mr Gower, Cabin Cafe, Upper Wortley Road, winter 1975.

Tivoli Cinema, Sissons Lane, summer 1976.

Raine Bros Ltd, plumbers' merchants, Crown Street, spring 1974.

View to the West, Quarry Hill Flats, summer 1977. 'The Kitson House telephone was the only one on the estate,' says Mitchell.

Francis Gavan, ghost-train ride, Woodhouse Moor, spring 1986. 'Francis built this apparition himself and was stuck in Leeds for the next three days with a broken generator.'

Elaine Whitehead & Linda, Red Brick Cafe, Dewsbury Road, summer 1992. 'Sandwiched between the tarmac and the sky, and with those red bricks, Elaine's cafe is so Leeds.'

Noel and his lads, demolition men, Quarry Hill Flats, summer 1978. 'The last arch of Quarry Hill. Noel, with a real sense of occasion, got his men to pose for posterity.'

(via The Independent)



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