Film ID: YFA 4257 Video of YFA_4257 Leeds AM 1975 LEEDS A.M. 1975 Visitor TabsDescription Made by members of the Mercury Movie Makers, this film captures the beginning of a typical day in the city of Leeds. It begins at daybreak and the start of the BBC Radio Leeds Breakfast Show with John Henry and continues on capture the hustle and bustle of the city centre just before 9 o'clock. Title - a GROUP 16 film The film opens with a shot of an exterior of a house. A light is turned on in the top, front room of the house, illuminating the window in the early morning darkness. This is followed by a view of the skyline. John Henry, the DJ for BBC Radio Leeds begins his breakfast show. Title - Leeds A.M. The song Morning Has Broken is playing and is accompanied by a shot of the sun rising in the back of a power station. Henry is in the studio surrounded by various radio equipment and tape players. In the city centre, the rising sun is reflected of the windows of a tower block. Following this are shots of a few traffic lights and nearly deserted streets. At the market, vendors arrive and begin to set up, specifically those selling produce. 6:30 a.m. and men are collecting garbage on the streets. Only a very few have started to walk along the vacant streets of the city centre and the sun rises higher in the sky. One person walks near King Charles Street and Lands Lane. The majority of the rest of the film is accompanied by a Bob Dylan song. There are more shots of the market and man with a cup of coffee. The window cleaners are out, and there are workmen loading up a fan. Busses begin to pull out of the depot, and there is a man on the street holding a newspaper. Street cleaners are near Dixons, and a man on a bike passes the Littlewoods shop. Some travellers push a trolley at the train station, and there is a shot of the Arrivals/Departures board. A train makes its way on an overpass, and the canal as well as some of the factory buildings along it can be seen. As it becomes later in the morning, traffic on the streets slowly grows. A milkman makes his deliveries, and the sun behind the power station is much higher in the sky. A woman crosses the street, and eventually, the streets are full of many more commuters. The last sequence of the film is a series of three types of images intercut. These include commuters filling the sidewalks of the city centre, traffic congestion on the streets, and footage of the traffic lights with the red or green man appearing to signal safe crossing. Title - Director Keith Overend Camera Ken Leckenby The film ends with audio of the pips announcing, "It's 9 o'clock here on Radio Leeds." Context This film was made by Mercury Movie Makers, an amateur cine club formed in 1959, in West Yorkshire. The group started life as a small further education class on film-making which was held at Menston, near Leeds. The class was enjoyed so much that the group agreed to continue meeting, to form a society devoted to filmmaking and to promote the hobby in the area. The name Mercury Movie Makers was chosen for the group; Mercury is the Roman God of commerce and innovation, and was also messenger to the gods, so this fitted perfectly with the group’s ethos of promoting and sharing filmmaking as a hobby. The members of the group where able to develop their skills and keep up with the technological advances of film, eventually forming a sub-group for users of 16mm film, who produced “Leeds A.M”. The standardisation of such film by Kodak Eastman allowed for many amateur film makers to have a go at filmmaking. Now, anyone could watch or make film in the comfort of their own home. Edited non-fiction films like this one are invaluable to study from a historical point of view, as they offer a unique look at society and culture in a way that a written or oral recollection may not manage. Leeds, the largest city in Yorkshire, seems like an obvious choice for a film trying to capture the hustle and bustle of a busy northern town. The 1971 census tells us that Leeds County Borough had a population of almost 500,000. Regional commercial offices and increasing numbers of governmental offices helped the city’s growth and were considered to be the commercial and administrative capital of West Yorkshire. The connection to the newly built motorway helped develop Leeds even further by improving communication and travel. This film shows us a typical morning in Leeds between the hours of 6.30 am and 9am. The average work experience of a Leeds man in 1975 wouldn’t be that different to today. The working week had been gradually getting shorter since the nineteenth century and technological advances allowed for the creation of time-saving domestic appliances, opening up British people to much more leisure time than ever before. This societal change had such an impact that a new sociological discipline, Leisure Studies, was created to keep track of these changes. The 1970s are remembered as a difficult time for people living in Britain. It was a decade that saw a lot of societal change and upheaval. Decimal currency was introduced in 1971, which some economists believe contributed to the extreme inflation experienced in Britain during the ‘70s. Later in the decade, there was the so-called “Winter of Discontent” of 1978/79, when lorry and petrol tanker drivers as well as hospital staff, paramedics and bin-men went on strike as a reaction against the sharp decline in living standards, purportedly leaving the country in chaos, for which the unions were blamed. It was claimed that the dead went unburied, even though gravediggers' only went on strike in two places for just two weeks. The former Fleet Street editor Derek Jameson later stated of the press coverage of the "crisis", "we pulled every dirty trick in the book; we made it look like it was general, universal and eternal, when it was in reality scattered, here and there, and no great problem". This included exaggerated stories about rats as a result of the dustmen’s strike. This film was also made shortly after Prime Minister Heath brought in the “Three Day Week” – restricting industrial and commercial energy users to only three days of consecutive energy consumption a week – coinciding with a miner’s strike, although not completely attributable to it. The country had already become more ethnically and religiously diverse, with wide-scale immigration from the West Indies and South Asia in the 1950s and ‘60s, increasing the country’s Hindu, Muslim and Sikh population massively. There was a significant anti-immigration sentiment, famously fuelled by Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968, and by the arrival in 1972 of 80,000 African Asians from Uganda, having been expelled by Idi Amin. A sentiment that led to a sharp rise in the activities of fascist organisations, and that persists to this day. Yet campaigning by gay and women’s liberation groups, as well as the general ethos of the counter-culture, began a process of producing more liberal attitudes: exemplified by the partial legalisation of homosexuality and abortion in 1967. Then punk – rooted in working class youth – exploded onto British mainstream culture in 1976. The band The Sex Pistols took Britain by storm with controversial records like “Anarchy in the U.K” and “God Save the Queen” which was the perfect soundtrack to the societal upheaval going on in Britain at the time. However, their music would not have been heard on the radio like the show we hear in the film, as the BBC had a policy of not putting “God Save the Queen” on their playlists. However, this has only added to the band’s controversy and infamy, which helped sell more records – although it mysteriously only made number 2 in the charts, despite apparently selling most records on the week of the Queen’s Jubilee. References: Kirk, Neville (editor), Northern Identities: Historical Interpretations of “The North” and “Northerness”, Ashgate, 2000. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/timeline/present_timeline_noflash.shtml Beckett, Andy, When the Lights Went Out: Britain in the Seventies, Faber & Faber, 2010. Haworth, John Trevor and Veal, Anthony James, Work and Leisure, Lepus Books, 1975. Fraser, Derrick (editor), A History of Modern Leeds, Manchester Univ Press, 1980. Jones, Derek (editor), Censorship: A World Encyclopaedia, Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.