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23 fascinating photos of old Hulme from Al Baker

Free parties, crumbling crescents and urban damage are all on display in this photographic diary of Hulme in the '90s

Hulme in the '90s was a different world to the Hulme we know today - it was a ramshackle urban landscape that was home to a thriving free party scene and attracted artists, students and all kinds of creative souls to its crumbling crescents. Photographer Al Baker lived side by side with its inhabitants and documented it in all of its grimy glory. Check out his work below.

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Behind the lens: Al Baker

The photographer: 'Hulme was a mad place to live. The once notorious estate was a bad example of 1960’s city planning, slum clearance and community displacement. Social mistakes made only to be repeated a generation (mine) later. We lived in flats connected by concrete walkways and abject poverty. There were few through-roads, not many ways in or out. The police never walked a beat but would encircle the estate instead. Unemployment was high, heroin cheap, so robbery and burglary were common; but there was also a great sense of freedom, creativity, community. There are stories weaving their way through each photograph. I could write a book, maybe one day I will.'

The equipment: 'All these images are from the archive so they’re all shot on film, originally with a second-hand Pentax K1000 and then a series of Pentax ME-Supers, on cheap second-hand lenses, a 28-70mm zoom, and using only natural light.'

The method: 'Back then I shot mainly on Kodak Tri-X B&W film (developed myself in Agfa Rodinal and printed in my own darkroom), or on Fuji colour transparency. I guess you could say my method was “embedded”. I lived on the estate, drank in those pubs and walked those walkways daily. It’s all gone now, the architecture, the people, that vibe. Photographs capture the ghosts of the past though and, like a time machine, can transport us back there in a moment.' 

www.albakerphotography.com/

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Comments

16 comments
Vdulac tastemaker

I came up from London and was a very camp gay man when I moved into Lingbeck Crescent in Moss Side/Hulme, and I really was the only gay in the village at the time!   This was April '83 and now in 2016 I still live in Hulme literally on the spot of the old Lingbeck Crescent in the new housing association flats.    Even though the old scene is gone, the new one is just as vibrant and interesting, just with a little more cash apparent within the community.  

Shaun U

so here i would generally head to a lift shaft get to 5 th floor then using outer walls from lift get on the roof great views ,it helped being known as you could then drop onto someones back balcony on the 5th and leave their gaff at a different part of the crescent .(The Planet Hulme ) almost earthlike lol

Philip B

WONDERFUL Al, hope you're well mate x


Jez H

top one Al, deffo takes me rght back, would be great to see some more or was that all you managed to take?

Jane C

We lived in Magdalen Walk and were part of the regeneration project. The final days of Hulme were amazing with Dogs of Heaven putting on a spectacular show in one of the crescents (Royce?). Bumped into one of the "dogs" recently.....

Catherine R

Anyone else remember a walk around performance of Macbeth just as the Crescents were starting to come down? Most realistic thing I've ever seen. The first scene on the "blasted heath" really was like that, with piles of rubble and burning rubbish all around. Local kids and dogs wandered around, joined in and watched. For the final scene when Lady Macbeth kills herself she stood on the top floor of a Crescent. I thought she was actually going to throw herself off.

Tim A Staff Writer

It's hard to believe this was only as far back as the 90s! Urban wildlife at its best and most beautiful. What an incredible record of a specific time and place. I wonder what became of all the people in the pictures. 

Catherine L

I ran away to Hulme 1979 ! Found more freedom in the 48 hours spent , beautiful ( bleak does speak ) photograghs !


Morganna B

<3 A slice of My Childhood right there.... 

Jonny W

Brilliant. Such clear photos of such distant memories. 

Joe C

Great photographs, I love the subtlety. There is a gentle humor and  a love about this work. I am so bored of the post modern and  ironic  work  around these days, in contrast these photographs stand as a more honest document of that place and time, in a all its brilliance, creativity and squalor.