Walking the streets of 1970s Yorkshire

Do these pictures take you back in time?

Do these pictures take you back in time?

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FASCINATING images of Leeds form part of a new exhibition showing the harsh reality of life on the back streets of the North at the turn of the 1970s.

Previously-unseen pictures taken by acclaimed photographer Nick Hedges between 1968 and 1972 have gone on display at London’s Science Museum.

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They were commissioned by the Shelter charity in an attempt to draw attention to the plight of people living in poor housing conditions.

However their use has been restricted until now to protect the privacy of Nick’s subjects.

Inspiration for the title of the exhibition, Make Life Worth Living, came from an end-of-terrace painted advert for Beecham’s Pills that features in one of the Leeds pictures.

The photo dates from the summer of 1970 and although its exact location is unknown, it is believed to be of a street in either Armley or Holbeck.

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Another Leeds image, thought to have been taken in the same area, shows a man trudging across a patch of barren waste ground ahead of a woman with a buggy who is also walking a dog.

Other photos in the exhibition were taken in cities such as Bradford, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

One of the Sheffield pictures shows a family of five living in a decaying terraced house with no gas, no electricity, no hot water and no bathroom.

Nick believes his work for Shelter carries an important message for 21st century Britain, despite being more than 40 years old.

He said: “Although these photographs have become historical documents, they serve to remind us that secure and adequate housing is the basis of a civilised urban society.

“The failure of successive governments to provide for it is a sad mark of society’s inaction.

“The photographs should allow us to celebrate progress, yet all they can do is haunt us with a sense of failure.”

The exhibition runs at the Science Museum until January 18 next year.

It is taking place in the attraction’s Media Space, a joint venture between the London museum and Bradford’s National Media Museum.

Nick donated around 1,000 prints from his work with Shelter to the National Media Museum back in 1983.

For further information on the exhibition, visit: www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/makelifeworthliving

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