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24 photos of lost Leeds and the music scene of the '80s and '90s

Photographer Andrew Bayles shares images from his archive of a lost Leeds

Written by
Rob Martin
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ALL at the Duchess of York

Andrew's squat
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Anti Poll Tax march

Anti Poll Tax march
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Anti Poll tax march

Anti Poll Tax march
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Audience at Duchess of York

Audience at Duchess of York
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At Woodhouse

Woodhouse squat
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Untitled

D & K - Woodhouse
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Generic playing in Bradford

Woodhouse swings
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Goth Girls - Astoria

K and N at Headingley
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K at Chapeltown

Leeds City Centre
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Outside the Duchess of York

Punk's picnic, Woodhouse Moor
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Punk's picnic - Woodhouse Moor

R at Woodhouse Moor
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Sned - Woodhouse

Unbricking a squat at Meanwood

Lost Leeds and the politics of music

'I've been taking pictures since the early '80s, sparked by my love of music. Moving to the big, shiny metropolis of Leeds from a small North East town opened up a whole world of music and a very different lifestyle to the one I had. This prompted me to try and document what was happening at the time, the bands and audiences, various demonstrations and events, and snapshots of everyday life around me. Although some of the pictures seemed almost mundane at the time, looking at them now it seems like a world that's long since disappeared.

All the shots of West Yorkshire and Leeds from the '80s & '90s were taken with a Pentax ME Super using either Ilford HP5 or FP4 film.

Leeds City centre in the '80s and early '90s was a very different place to the glossy, consumer paradise it is today. A grimy layer of post-industrial black soot stained the buildings and parts of the city centre were no-go areas to any but the most hardened drinker or punter on the look out for trade in the red light areas around Boar Lane and the Corn Exchange. The suburbs of Headingley, Meanwood, Burley and Woodhouse, offering cheap and sometimes free housing, were populated by students, squatters, musicians and artists, existing alongside more permanent residents. This served to create a vibrant community living in the cramped back to backs, grubby bedsits and crumbling terraces and produced a perfect breeding ground for musical and artistic talent and political radicalism. These shots serve to portray the times and aspects of the alternative culture that existed then.

The majority of the band and audience shots were taken at the Duchess Of York pub at 71 Vicar Lane, Leeds. At its peak, legendary, long-time music promoter John F. Keenan had bands playing seven nights a week, and The Duchess saw many globally known acts cut their teeth there: Nirvana, Oasis, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Coldplay, Green Day and Muse to name a few. Like many small music venues it struggled through the club-dominated times of the late '90s finally closing its doors on March 26, 2000 with a riotous gig by Chumbawamba. Sadly, it's now a Hugo Boss store, although a campaign was launched to recognise its contribution to the North's music scene with an English Heritage blue plaque.'

See more of Andrew's work on his website

More photos of Leeds

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