From Leeds to London: portraits of English cities in the 1970s
I came across Peter Mitchell whilst researching photo essays and it struck a huge chord with me. I have talked about how I wasn’t photographed as a small child and how in later life this has led me to question my identity so finding Mitchell’s photo essay, from Leeds to London took me on an emotional journey.
Peter Mitchell was a long distance lorry driver travelling from Leeds to London throughout the 70’s. Along the way he photographed the places he stopped at and the people attached to them.
My dad was also a long distance lorry driver travelling from our home town of Walsall to London working through the night. Night time work is a completely different world to day time work, with it’s solitude and darkness so dad often took either me or one of my brothers on his journeys. Imagine doing that now given the nanny state we live, taking a small child on the road in an articulated lorry heading for London! There’s no insurance to cover that these days whereas back then you wouldn’t need any.
These ‘journeys with my dad’ started during the late 70’s when I was 7 years old and I remember feeling so special and privileged to be involved. I wish I had photographs of those times but sadly all that remains are faded memories. When I looked at Mitchell’s From Leeds to London, the memories came flooding back and also the feelings of excitement and pride for my dad having such an adventurous job. In truth I probably slept through most of it but what I do remember most vividly is the places we stopped along the way. The shops with their shopkeepers, the cafes with their cooks and the workers at our final destination, the meat wholesalers.
Its beginning to dawn on me what an influence those times had on shaping my future. What valuable social lessons they taught me. I’ve always had the ability to speak to anyone about anything. I went on to work in a job that saw me travel just as dad did. As for the meat wholesalers, I’ve haven’t eaten meat since those days as dad was transporting slaughtered animals. Maybe those feelings are best left where they are!
From Leeds to London is a photo essay of my time on the road with dad. If only I had the foresight to take a camera with me I would have an identical story in pictures to tell.
Mitchell went on to very successfully produce other works which can be viewed on his website strangely familiar: