Never-before-seen photos taken by renowned photographer Peter Lavery of Leeds's homeless in 1968 go on display

Long-forgotten photographs taken of homeless people in Leeds over 50 years ago by the internationally-renowned photographer Peter Lavery will go on public display later this month.

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 4:45 am
St George's Crypt. Picture: James Hardisty
St George's Crypt. Picture: James Hardisty

The black and white images were taken by the Wakefield-born photographer during his time as a student at the Leeds College of Ar in 1968.

Over the course of just two weeks that summer, he went out with his camera on nightly excursions to record the homeless people who relied upon the city’s St George’s Crypt for food and shelter.

Having been placed in storage not long after, they lay forgotten until finally being unearthed by Peter last year during the Covid-19 lockdown – and will now be exhibited at Blank_ Space Gallery, in Playhouse Square, from October9-22, to mark the 91st birthday of St George’s Crypt.

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One of the images taken by photographer Peter Lavery in 1968.

Peter recalled: “When I began working on this subject I could not help but become drawn in emotionally. I remember being moved by the scene in front of me. Almost always, the stories were similar. Some, as the Vicar put it, ‘like this man, just down on his luck’. I began travelling out late at night back to Leeds city centre and to the Crypt where they slept.”

When he discovered the photos, he contacted the Crypt and spoke to head of marketing Andrew Omond and together they decided to laucn the exhibition to coincide with its anniversary.

Andrew said: “We went into Covid planning our 90th birthday celebrations.

“We had several different events, conferences and functions planned to highlight the changes in our care provision over 90 years, to share our expertise and look forward to our next developments. Covid stopped all this.

One of the images taken by photographer Peter Lavery in 1968.

"It is amazing that this archive has been unearthed, and that it will be shown first in Leeds, the city where Peter studied, for our 91st birthday.”

St George’s Crypt has been supporting homeless and vulnerable adults in Leeds since 1930 and has developed a service which supports people from the street back to independence.

It also works with people suffering from alcohol dependence and addiction as well as mental and physical health needs.

Peter Lavery has had work published in The Times, The Telegraph and Observer as well as in magazines including Vogue and Tatler.

In the same year he took the photos of Leeds’s homeless, he also began his ‘Circus Work’ project, which spanned 50 years and involved an exhibition at The Royal Photographical Society as well as a book called Peter Lavery: Circus Work.

*The exhibition 'Summer of 68' runs from October 9 to October 22 at The Blank_ Space Gallery in Leeds.

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