Since the 1940s, popular artists across the globe have tried their hand at calypso music and calypso’s influence has been heard in many genres over the decades, none more so than during the ‘Calypso Craze’ of the 1950s. From straight covers of calypso classics to calypso-influenced originals, calypso has turn up on comedy records, jazz albums and pop singles. Some even charted! With the ever growing need for more and more calypso, artists turned to other Caribbean islands for hit material. Jamaican folk songs and mento, rebranded as calypso, were popular and went on to have an influence on ska and reggae. Also popular was the Bahamian folk song ‘Sloop John B’ which was recorded several times before being picked up by The Beach Boys in 1966. The below playlist gives 40 examples of how calypso and other Caribbean music shaped the pop world, up to the arrival of cod ska and cod reggae in the mid-1960s, which is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Chocolate Whiskey And Vanilla Gin – Edmundo Ros And His Orchestra (1949)
Jamaica Rum – Ruth Wallis (1949)
Deesapointment – Edmundo Ros And His Orchestra (1951)
Jump In The Line – Woody Herman And His Third Herd (1952)
Dipso – Calypso – Peter Sellers (1954)
London Is The Place For Me – Edmundo Ros And His Orchestra (1955)
Donkey City -Maya Angelou (1956)
Trinidad E-O – Luis Amando (1956)
Jamaica D.J – Bill Haley & His Comets (1956)
Kitch – Tedd Browne (1957)
De Gay Young Lad – Ruth Wallis (1957)
Rum Jamaica Rum – Aaron Collins And The Cadets (1957)
Sloop John B – Stan Wilson (1957)
Boiled Bananas And Carrots – Peter Seller (1957)
Calypsociety – Herb Jeffries (1957)
Two Ladies In De Shade of De Banana Tree – Josephine Premice (1957)
Pound Your Plaintain In The Mortar – Stan Wilson (1957)
The Banana Boat Song – Shirley Bassey (1957)
Hollywood Calypso – Josephine Premice (1957)
Don’t Stop The Carnival – Stan Wilson (1957)
Two Ladies In De Shade Of De Banana Tree – The Hi Lo’s (1957)
A large majority of the people involved in the founding and development of the Leeds West Indian Carnival were migrants from the Caribbean islands of St. Kitts and Nevis. Others were from Trinidad and Tabago, Jamaica, and Barbados. Traditional West Indian Carnival has its origins in Trinidad and Tobago. From there, the idea of Carnival spread North across the Caribbean islands. Each island has its own traditions that predate the arrival of Trinidadian Carnival. This includes the Crop Over in Barbados, Junkanoo in Jamaica and Christmas Sports in St. Kitts and Nevis.
In St. Kitts and Nevis the tradition of Christmas Sports dates back to the days of slavery. People celebrated Christmas and New Year’s Day by taking to the streets dancing, singing, playing music, and performing. The Christmas Sports have their roots in the British tradition of the Mummers’ plays. Mummers’ plays are folk plays performed outside by amateurs, often at Christmas and other religious holidays. Mummers’ plays in England date back to the 13th Century and are still performed in some parts of the country today. The tradition came to St. Kitts and Nevis with the arrival of the English in the 17th Century. In St. Kitts and Nevis, enslaved Africans added African traditions to the Mummers’ plays and they became known as Christmas Sports.
During the Christmas period, troupes of performers would don costumes and travel from village to village, performing. The Christmas Sports include Bible stories such as David and Goliath as well performances based on religious literature such as the Giant Despair from The Pilgrim’s Progress. Shakespeare Lesson used speeches from Shakespeare plays including Richard III and Julius Caesar. Other performances were based on the Mummers’ plays known as Mummies. The Mummies have a cast of 13 characters including saints, knights, kings, dragons and giants. There were also performances based on local stories and histories such as the Bull and The Mongoose Play. Others took their inspiration from American culture such as the cakewalking Millionaires and Cowboys and Indians. Neaga Business mocked the white elite. Some Christmas Sports such as the stilt walking Moko Jumbies have their roots in Africa while others like the Clowns and Masquerade are a mix of African and European traditions. Other types of Christmas Sports included Sagwa, Actors, and Soldiers. These performances would be accompanied by music. Several types of music were popular at the Christmas Sports. They included String Bands, Big Drum and Fife Bands, Quadrille music, and Iron Bands. Alan Lomax’s field recordings made in June 1962 (and available on CD) gives the listener an idea of what the Christmas Sports sounded like during the period when Leeds West Indian Carnival pioneers were migrating from the islands to England. Iron Bands first began forming in St. Kitts and Nevis in the 1940s. These bands were similar to the early steel pan bands formed in Trinidad around the same time. They used makeshift percussion instruments such as car rims, oil drums, and spoon and grater. String bands also included makeshift instruments including the Baha, a long metal pipe that is blown, and the Shack-Shack, a milk tin containing beads.Each neighborhood had its own big drum and fife band, each one with it’s own name. There was revivary between the bands, the same way there was revivary between the steel pan bands in Trinidad. The revivary between the bands could become violet and clashes would occur.
The Alan Lomax recordings also include examples of Calypso music which had originated in Trinidad and had become popular across the Caribbean in the 1950s. Calypso music could be heard on imported records but was more commonly heard on radio or jukeboxes. While Trinidadian calypsonians like Lord Kitchener and The Mighty Sparrow were popular on the islands there was local calypsonians too. The 1950s saw the rise of stars such as Mighty Kush, Lord Mike, Lord Harmony, and Mighty Saint. The popularity of calypso on the islands was down to, in part, the similarities it shared with the pre-existing folk music written and performed by musicians knowns as troubadours. As their name suggests their origins lay in the troubadours of Europe, a type of musician whose influence can be seen across the Caribbean. (In Haiti they called Twoubadou in Haitian Creole). The troubadours of St. Kitts and Nevis were solo performers who, for a price, could be hired to perform their latest tunes in your home. They performed self-penned topical songs, sometimes with serious lyrics and other times with comical but always clever and entertaining.
Steel pan bands were introduced to St. Kitts and Nevis in the 1950s by Education Officer Lloyd Matheson. The island’s first steel pan band was the Wilberforce Steel Pan Band led by Roy Martin. Other pioneers of steel pan music in St. Kitts and Nevis include Cecil ‘Moonlight’ Roberts who brought steel pans from Antigua in 1952, which increased interest in the instrument. Steel pan bands in St. Kitts and Nevis during this period included The Invaders, The Boston Tigers, The Eagle Squadron, and Casablanca.
Trinidadian-style carnival was introduced to St. Kitts and Nevis by Basil Henderson in 1957. He formed the first carnival committee whose members included Agnes Skerritt and Doris Wall. Cromwell Bowry, Cyril Frederick, and Chief of Police Major Leonard Alphonso also made significant contributions to the carnival during its early beginnings. St. Kitts and Nevis also adopted The Calypso King contest from Trinidad Carnival. The first Calypso King of St. Kitts was Mighty Kush. The 1960s saw the introduction of Brass Bands to the carnival, however, string bands, steel pan bands, and calypso music remained a popular part of the proceedings.
Memories of the Christmas Sports and carnival in St. Kitts and Nevis acted as the foundation on which the Leeds West Indian Carnival was built. Many people who were later involved in the Leeds West Indian Carnival were involved in or witness to the Christmas Sports and carnival in St. Kitts and Nevis. For some, involvement in the Christmas Sports went back generations. Reginald Challenger’s father was a member of a troupe of Masqueraders in St. Kitts. St. Clair Morris’ grandfather had been a drummer with a troupe of Masqueraders in St. Kitts. In Nevis, Mitch Wallace’s father had played the Big Drum and his grandfather had played fife. Mitch Wallace was a member of a troupe in Nevis from as early as the age of eight. He recalls performing in David and Goliath and reciting lines from the Bible in-between dance performances. Mitch’s cousin, Felina Hughes would help with costume preparation but was too shy to take part herself. She enjoyed watching Mitch perform but admits being afraid of the Mocko Jumbies. Hughbon Condor, on the other hand, was fascinated by the Mocko Jumbies and attempted, unsuccessfully, to build his own stilts. Arthur France also recalls being wary of the Christmas Sports as a child but later enjoyed watching David and Goliath. His parents allowed him to watch the Christmas Sports but refused to allow him to take part. He developed a lifelong passion for steel pan music. Artie Davies was too young to take part in the Christmas Sports but grew up enjoying the music of St. Kitts and particularly enjoyed calypso. Under the name Lord Kingston, he performed calypso music on street corners with a cuatro. Rex Watley played with a steel band in St. Kitts and Henry Freeman and Albert Henry learnt to play Big drum and Kettle drum (respectively) in Nevis. Reginald Challenger has memories of homemade instruments. Calvin Beach was a member of the Eagle Squadron Clown Troupe. He remembers the troubadours in Nevis and the revivary between the big drum and fife bands. He also recalls a Christmas Sport called Sagwa. In 1957 he took part in the first carnival held in St. Kitts as part of the Arabian Nights troupe.
Leeds carnival pioneers came from other parts of the Caribbean too. Their memories and experiences were vital to the founding of the West Indian Carnival in Leeds. In Trinidad, Ian Charles had been a member of a Sailor Band since the age of 16, although his dream was to be a Midnight Robber. He recalls witnessing the violent rivalry between steel bands that was common in Trinidad at the time.
Mass migration, first to other Caribbean islands and later to England, was one of the main factors behind the disappearance of some of the Christmas Sports during the 1950s and 1960s. Among those lost was David and Goliath and Millionaires. The introduction of Trinidadian Carnival, large steel bands and recorded Soca music also contributed to the Christmas Sports’ downfall. Despite this Christmas Sports have survived in St.Kitts and Nevis and their influence can still be seen at Leeds West Indian Carnival, especially in the performance of the Masquerade which are a common sight at Leeds Carnival. (Often performed by a group from Montserrat). Over the years The Bull, Moko Jumbies, Neaga Business and even David and Goliath have been performed during the carnival celebrations in Leeds.
The wearing of masks dates back to the Stone Age with the earliest known example of a mask dating to 7,000 BC. Traditions of wearing masks and costumes while dancing to music during a procession can be found in many Ancient cultures. The earlies European carnivals were celebrated by the Ancient Greeks who borrowed the idea from Ancient Egyptian traditions. The Ancient Egyptians also practised traditional stick-fighting which was performed to music, similar to the Calinda tradition found in the Caribbean. The Ancient Romans continued the carnival tradition which became a Christian festival in Medieval Europe and spread across the Christian world where it became associated with the Christian month of Lent. One theory says the word ‘Carnival’ comes from the Late Latin expression ‘carne levare’ which means ‘remove meat’. Another says it comes from ‘carne vale’ which means ‘farewell to meat’. In either case, the word signifies the approaching fast of Lent.
When Europeans arrived in the Caribbean they brought their traditions with them. This included masquerade balls, Christmas carolling and carnival parades. Originally, these traditions in the Caribbean were strictly for the white elite and African slaves were forbidden to take part, except as a form of entertainment for the white plantation owners. During these celebrations, the white elite would dress up as black men and women and portrait them in a negative light. The enslaved Africans developed their own celebrations and traditions. In Trinidad, a harvest festival called Canboulay included drumming, singing, dancing and chanting. The tradition of J’ouvert, an early morning street party, also originates from this period. After the emancipation of slaves in 1834 the free Africans took to the streets to celebrate in what is considered to be the first Caribbean Carnival.
Caribbean carnivals have their roots in the West African traditions brought to the Caribbean islands by enslaved people between the 16th and 19th centuries. Similarities to Caribbean carnivals can still be found in West African today. These include the Egungun masquerade, Owi masquerade and the Yoruba Gelede of Nigeria, the Dogon stilt walkers of Mali and the Bwa masquerade of Burkina Faso. Ritual and ceremonial masks are an essential feature of many African cultures and traditional masks are used in many West African countries including Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana and Benin.
In the Caribbean, these African traditions were mixed with the traditions brought over by the European plantation owners. In Trinidad the Lent carnival parades and masquerade balls were given an African twist by the Afro-Caribbean population. In St. Kitts and Nevis the tradition of Christmas carolling and Mummers’ plays were adapted in an African style and in Montserrat St. Patrick’s Day celebrations were given an African makeover while in Barbados the harvest festival celebrations were Africanised. Elements of May Day celebrations, Morris Dancers and Hobby Horses can also be found, with African makeovers, in Caribbean traditions.
The roots of some traditional carnival characters such as the Moko Jumbie, the Shaggy Bear, Pitchy Patchy, the Gombey and the Cow Band, can be traced back to Africa. Others such as Burrokeet and Clowns are more European in origin. The Pierrot Grenade displays a mix of African and European influences. While similar to masquerade costumes wore by the Dogon and the Bwa of West Africa, the Pierrot Grenade also has similarities to the Border Morris dancers found in West England. The Jab Jab (not to be confused with the Jab Molassie) is another example of this mix. While it shares some elements of the European Jester (a popular character in European carnivals), the Jab Jab also appears to a close relative of the Egungun masquerade of the Yoruba people.
The mocking of white Europeans was a common element during Caribbean celebrations and over time new traditions and folklore characters, unique to the Caribbean, were introduced. These include the Baby Dolls, Dame Lorraine, and the Whitefaced Minstrels which all acted as a caricatured reflection of European society. The Jab Molassie dates back to slavery and uses the European’s fear of ‘the black devil’ against them. Other characters are more recent in comparison and take their inspiration from America (Fancy Indians and Sailor Mas) and Mexico (Midnight Robber).
The music of these Caribbean celebrations is also diverse in its origins. Calypso was developed in Trinidad from traditional Nigerian call and response songs. Calypso was originally called ‘Kaiso’, a name that either comes from the phrase ‘Ka isu’ in the Efik language which means ‘go on!’ or ‘Kaa iso’ which translates from the Ibibio language as ‘continue, go on’. The Big Drum and Fife music found in St. Kitts and Nevis and other parts of the Caribbean has its origins in the European military bands popular during the slavery period. Quadrille dancing and the music that accompanies it originated in France in the mid-18th Century and was popular across Europe and its colonies by the 19th century. Tamboo Bamboo evolved after the banning of African-style drums. The banning of the Tamboo Bamboo led to the development of the steel pan drums in the 1940s. Limbo dancing originated in Trinidad in the late 1800s. Claims of its connection to the slave trade and the slave ships are dubious and first appeared in the 1950s after the dance became popular in America. The Conga line of Cuba is also believed to have African origins.
Other Caribbean carnival traditions come from Asia and arrived in the Caribbean along with the indentured servants of India and China, who arrived in the 19th century. They brought their own folk music traditions as well as cultural and religious traditions to the Caribbean. They also developed new traditions such as Hosay. Indian music would play a crucial role in the development of soca music in the late 1960s. Five unique cultures; African, European, Caribbean, American and Asian, are all fundamental in the development of the West Indian Carnival of Trinidad and Tobago, the Christmas Sports of St.Kitts and Nevis, the Crop Over of Barbados and the Junkanoo of Jamaica. Through the migration of Caribbean people to England, during the 1950s and 1960s, those traditions, in turn, became fundamental in the creation of the Leeds West Indian Carnival.
The 1987 general elections held in June saw the election of the first Afro-Caribbean members of Parliament. They were Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Bernie Grant. The New World Steel Orchestra travelled from Leeds to London to perform at their inauguration. It was around the same time that the steel band were filmed by Yorkshire Television for inclusion in their documentary film ‘Chapeltown: One Year On’. The documentary looked at how the area of Leeds had improved since the government Task Force had been set up 18 months earlier. The New World Steel Orchestra were shown as one of the positive examples of how the area had changed. They were shown performing the Freddie McGregor song ‘Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely’ at the West Indian Centre. Arthur France was interviewed for the documentary, which followed on from the 1986 documentary ‘Task Force Chapeltown’. Filmed outside the West Indian Centre Arthur spoke about the band saying “A lot of the kids look at the New World with a lot of pride because of the skill of the players and the places they go to has brought a lot of pride to the children and to Chapeltown. If you believe in yourself and you develop that pride it gives you a drive and you will rise above most hurdles.”
The second annual Seacroft Park Middle School Carnival took place on Saturday 20 June 1987 in the Seacroft area of Leeds. The carnival, organised by teachers and parents of the school, had begun in 1986 as an attempt to foster community spirit. 1987’s parade included students in fancy dress costumes, Tetley shire horses, decorated school minibuses, drummers from South Seacroft Youths and the Foxwood High School Steel Band. Foxwood Steel Band had been formed in 1981 after headmaster Bob Spooner bought a set of steel pans with funds provided by a government initiative designed to promote multiculturalism. The head of Music and Expressive Arts, Victoria Jaquiss became the band’s leader and the students were taught by St Clair Morris. They made their performance debut in 1982.
Preparations for the 20th Leeds West Indian Carnival were well underway by June with well-established costume designers like Hughbon Condor and Arthur France already at work on their Carnival Queen creations. Hughbon Condor had been working on his costume since Christmas. In August he told the Yorkshire Evening Post “Every night for the past three months six friends and I have been working hard to finish it”. For 1987 Hughbon had a secret weapon. He had discovered fiberglass, which allowed him to build larger but lighter costumes. His 1987 Queen costume, ‘The Peacock’, with its large tail feathers took advantage of this new discovery and would be considered by Hughbon as a turning point in his career as a costume designer.
Meanwhile, riots broke out in the Chapeltown area of Leeds. Conditions for black residents of Chapeltown had improved very little since the 1981 riots or indeed the 1975 riot. Institutional racism had led to an increase in unemployment among black youths by the mid-1980s which in turn led to an increase in local crime, particularly involving drugs and prostitution. Racism was still present within the police force and police harassment and brutality towards black youths was still common. Riots around the Chapeltown Road area began on the night of Sunday 21 June after the arrest and rumoured assault of a 17-year-old boy. Vehicles were attacked with bottles and stones by a gang of around 70 teenagers on Chapeltown Road beginning around 8pm. The disturbance ended but started up again around 11.30pm. Around 60 police officers, protected by shields, were sent to the scene and were attacked by bottles and stones. Three local shops were reported to have suffered minimal damaged and around 2.30am a taxi driver dropping off a passenger was threatened and fled the scene. His car was later found burnt out on Cowper Street. Stone throwing on Chapeltown Road continued with around 100 youths on Monday night beginning around 10.30pm. Monday night saw an increase in violence with the inclusion of petrol bombs. During the early hours of Tuesday morning shops were looted, a local sex shop was set ablaze and at least one car was set on fire. Tuesday’s Yorkshire Evening Post reported that community leaders and black elders were working with police to try and bring peace to the neighbourhood. A number of unnamed black elders and community leaders were reported to have been on Chapeltown Road on Monday night attempting to bring an end to the chaos. Meetings held at the West Indian Centre between local residents, local business owners, council members, and the police brought an end to the riots by Wednesday 24 June.
Despite the disturbances, the Leeds West Indian Carnival went ahead as planned. A blue carnival t-shirt featuring the new carnival logo was made for 1987. A special ‘Leeds Westindian CARNIVAL ‘87’ magazine was published by the committee. Its cover featured last year’s winning Carnival Queen Lisa Condor in all her glory. The 24-page magazine was sponsored and produced by Caribbean Times and was priced at 50p. It included a ‘Chairman’s Message’ in which Arthur France wrote “It is our greatest pleasure to welcome one and all, no matter what colour, creed or race to celebrate with us as we look back with pride and joy at our achievements”. Arthur went on to write “We can have a good laugh at our successes and how many people we’ve made happy and brought together”. He then went on to share some of the “many happy memories” from past carnivals. The magazine printed messages of good will (dated to June) which came from the Carnival Arts Committee, West Yorkshire Police, Commonwealth Institute, Technorth, City of Leeds College of Music, and Leeds Polytechnic among others. Colin Sampson, the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police wrote:
Over the years the event has developed into a first class, multi-cultural, fun day for thousands of the citizens of Leeds and this reflects great credit on the Carnival Committee and indeed on the public of Chapeltown.
The magazine gave readers an account of how the Leeds West Indian Carnival started – the first written account of the 1967 carnival. The magazine also profiled the Leeds Carnival Committee members, gave a parade route map, a programme of events and a list of prizes to be won at the various contests. Also included was a profile on Melvin Zakers, The Paradise Steel Orchestra, The New World Steel Orchestra and Dudley Nesbit. Fourteen black and white photos of past carnival were also included in the magazine.
A message from the Carnival Committee informed the reader that they were looking “forward to seeing you once again, at the 1987 Carnival when we hope to stage our most spectacular and enjoyable event.” The magazine gives the names of 14 committee members with the Chairman Arthur France being the only member not mentioned in the three-page feature on the committee.
1987 Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee Members:
Arthur France (Chairman)
Jeannie Stoute (Secretary)
St. Clair Morris
New for the 1987 Carnival was the Prince and Princess Show held at the West Indian Centre on Sunday 23 August. Leeds Other Paper informed their readers that “boys and girls between 8 & 14 can take part”. Gail Claxton, who had been a member of Arthur France’s troupe since 1978, tried her hand at costume making for the first time. She designed and made the costume for Princess contestant Samantha Gatewood who came second. This year’s show included the ‘Baby in a Pushchair’ competition for the first and last time. First prize was given to 11 month old Helen Victoria Jeffers who was in a costume titled ‘Queen Bee’ which turned her pushchair into a giant flower. It had been designed and made by her mother Joan Jeffers. Another baby’s pushchair was turned into a giant bumblebee. Helen, or perhaps her parents, won a prize of £10. Prizes of £20 each were given to the best Princess and best Prince. Sherry Pemberton (11) won the Carnival Princess and Wayne Bailey (8) took the first Carnival Prince title. According to Leeds Other Paper an ‘Open Dance’ competition was also held. The “full support show” included a steel band, dancers, disco and “other acts”. In their 21 August issue, Leeds Other Paper mentions Roscoe Methodist Church Steel Band and The Leopold Street Dancers being among the entertainment. Admission was free and the show ran from 3pm until 7pm.
The Roscoe Methodist Church Steel Band that performed at the Prince and Princess Show was the second incarnation of the band first formed in 1984. The band had been reformed earlier in the year and now included both adult and child members including Elbert Moving, Myrna Tyrell and Sheila Forbes. The band’s tutor was carnival committee member and leader of Paradise Steel Band, St. Clair Morris.
A four-page printed programme was put together for the 1987 Queen Show. Inside it listed the six Queens competing in the competition. They were:
Amaire Claxton in a costume titled ‘The Peacock’ designed and made by Hughbon Condor, sponsored by Yorkshire Arts Association.
Heather Thompson in a costume designed and sponsored by Apex Trust.
Sharon Lewis in a costume designed and made by Tyrone Ambrose, sponsored by Mecca Leisure.
Venetta Bussue and Julia Lewis in a costume designed and sponsored by St. Martin’s Church Group.
Icylma Richards in a costume designed and sponsored by the Palace Youth Project.
Gaye Gooding in a costume designed and made by Arthur France, sponsored by New World Steel Orchestra.
The Queen Show was held inside the marquee erected outside the West Indian Centre on Friday 28 August. Tickets were priced at £2.50 and the show began at 9pm and lasted until 2am the following morning. On the front page of that evening’s Yorkshire Evening Post a small article under the headline ‘A Caribbean dream on offer’ gave details of what was on offer for the winner of the contest. “Tonight one of six girls will be casting aside the thoughts of drizzly Britain for the sun-drenched beaches of the Caribbean” they began before going on to explain “For that is the prize awaiting the lucky girl chosen to be this year’s Leeds West Indian Carnival Queen”. The newspaper reported that the trip wasn’t the only prize, explaining that the winning Queen “will lead the Carnival Parade of steel bands, dancing troupes and floats from Potternewton Park” during Monday’s parade.
The compere for the evening was again Susan Pitter who officially opened the show at 10pm after an hour of music provided by Beresford Sound. After a performance by ‘Contemporary Dancers’ that included Flora Wilkes, the winning Prince and Princess danced on the stage for fifteen minutes. 1987’s “Ole Mas” sketch involved Arthur France dressed as Diane Abbott, the country’s first female black MP. Dressed in a black wig, makeup, and a red dress complete with white handbag, Arthur was photographed by Max Farrar. The photo shows Arthur holding a placard that reads “MP DIANE ABBOTT ON THE POLL TAX!!!”Comedian The Mighty Zipper returned for 1987 and was photographed by Max Farrar mid-show, wearing large novelty ears, his trousers around his ankles and his decency covered by a colourful apron. The joke, long forgotten, was enjoyed by members of the New World Steel Orchestra, seen cheering and laughing in the background. At 11.10pm guests were entertained by Dudley Nesbit who performed a solo on the steel pans. Dudley Nesbit had arrived from Trinidad earlier in the year to take up a teaching post with Leeds City Council, teaching steel pan music and pan tuning. He also became the tutor for the New World Steel Orchestra, improving and expanding their repertoire. Entertainment later in the night included the La Caramba Limbo dancers which featured Janet Halliday and the New World Steel Orchestra. The full programme was as follows:
9:00 – Beresford Sounds
10:00 – Opening of Show with Susan Pitter
10:05 – Contemporary Dancers
10:15 – Prince and Princess
10:30 – “Ole Mas”
10:45 – The Mighty Zipper
10:55 – Contemporary Dance Group
11:10 – Dudley Nesbit Steel Pan Solo
11:25 – Carnival Queen Contest
12:15 – Limbo Dancers
12:30 – Results
12:45 – Beresford Sounds
1:30 – New World Steel Orchestra
The West Yorkshire Archives holds around three minutes of colour footage that shows all six Queens dancing for the judges while accompanied by the New World Steel Orchestra. First out was Sharon Lewis in a costume designed by new-comer Tyrone Ambrose. She was followed by Heather Thompson and then Susie Abbott who had replaced Gaye Gooding as the Queen chosen to wear Arthur France’s costume. Her costume shows that, 20 years on, Christmas tinsel was still being used in some designs. Icylma Richards followed in a spider and web costume designed and made by the team at the Palace Youth Project. Fabulous as these Queens were, they could not compete with the next Queen, the likes of which had never been seen at the Leeds West Indian Carnival before or since. St. Martin’s Church Group’s costume entered the performance area closed up and slowly opened up, receiving a huge cheer from the crowd. The performer on the programme was listed as Venetta Bussue but once the costume had fully opened up, after being helped along by Arthur France, it revealed not one but two performers. The second of which was Julia Lewis. The crowd, taken aback, erupted with cheers. Last out was Hughbon Condor’s fiberglass wonder ‘The Peacock’ worn by his sister-in-law Amaire Claxton, which also received a great deal of appreciation from the crowd, especially when the tail feathers rose into the air. The tail was operated by by pulleys and cantilevers. The judges for 1987 were Brian Braimah, Dr. Loss, Brenda Muskett, Leroy Wenham and Sheila Howarth.
The Carnival Queen contest was followed by La Caramba Limbo dancers who were given a helping hand by Susan Pitter who held the limbo pole steady as the two women limboed under it. Around 15 seconds of colour footage of the performance is kept in the West Yorkshire Archives. After the fifteen minute limbo show, the results for the Queen contest were given. 17-year-old Amaire Claxton won the first prize. Her prize was a ticket to the West Indies donated by BWIA. “but” reported the Yorkshire Evening Post “first she must choose which island she would like to visit”.
Hughbon Condor was awarded £150 plus a trophy. The second placed Queen won £80 plus a trophy with the designer winning the same. The third place prize for both the Queen and designer was £60 each plus a trophy. The remaining three Queens and designers were awarded a consolation prize of £30 and a trophy. Amaire Claxton’s photograph was taken by the Yorkshire Evening Post who featured her on the front page the following day alongside a short report on the Queen Show. The newspaper estimated that the show was attended by “more than 600” people.
Reggae and Ska legends Toots And The Maytals performed live at The Phoenix Club on Francis Street on the night of Saturday 29 August. Tickets could be bought from Jumbo Records at £4 each. The second annual Reggae Concert was held in Potternewton Park on Sunday 30 August. Headlining the free concert was British reggae group Aswad, whose latest single was ‘Hooked On You’. They attracted a large crowd and performed songs including ‘Roots Rocking’ and ‘African Children’. Both songs had been recorded live when Aswad performed at the Notting Hill Carnival in 1983. They were later released on the album ‘Live And Direct’. Also on the bill was Macka B and Sister Sonie. Local acts performing included Creation Roots, Exile Intact, P.L.U Band and Rydim Squad. Leeds Other Paper reported on the concert in their 4 September issue. “The weather could not have been any better for this massive reggae show” they reported. Under the headline ‘Potternewton Park Festival’ they reported that “Exile Intact were the most impressive of the local acts, playing a cool blend of roots reggae and lovers rock, sweet melodies and finely balanced instrumentations shimmering like reflected sunlight over the crucial rhythms.” The October issue of ‘Chapeltown and Harehills What’s On’ included five black and white photos of the concert that included two photographs of Aswad and one each of Carly Dan of Exile Intact, Sister Sonie, and Creation Roots.
Monday’s carnival parade began at Potternewton Park at 2pm and was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Doreen Wood. Yorkshire Evening Post photographer Steve Riding took her photo alongside Amaire Claxton and Hughbon Condor prior to the parade. Captain Wenham’s Big Drum and Fife band were joined by The Leeds West Indian Masquerade Dancers, a troupe made up of children and adults in traditional costumes. The Leeds West Indian Masquerade Dancers led the parade which “whooped, whistled, danced, sang and cavorted” its way from Potternewton Park to Roundhay Road. PC Billy Gilmore was photographed by Bruce Greer of the Yorkshire Post as he danced along with The Leeds West Indian Masquerade Dancers. In their 21 August issue, Leeds Other Paper reported that troupes from Leeds, Manchester, Huddersfield and Bradford took part in the parade. Among them was the peacock inspired ‘Birds of a Feather’ troupe organised by Hughbon Condor. Among its members were the young Stephbon Condor, Rose Farrar and Michelle Condor. Children from the Harehills Lane Baptist Church Sunday School formed a troupe with the theme of Noah’s Ark. Among its members were Louise Hibbit (8) and Charlotte Bandawe (9) who were both dressed as zebras. Their photos appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post the next day. Another troupe of children were dressed as sailors. Also on the road for 1987 was former Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Christine Thomas dressed in a star costume. In her role as the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Christine Thomas had officially opened the carnival in 1979. The Yorkshire Post described the parade as “a kaleidoscopic conga” that “whirled, jived and jigged its way through the streets of Leeds”.
Five steel bands took part in the parade. They were the New World Steel Orchestra, the Metro Steel Band and the Caribbeans from Leeds, Star Quality from Manchester and Silver Stars from Birmingham. The Caribbeans Steel Band were sponsored by the Caribbean Times and all the members sported ‘CT Caribbean Times’ t-shirts. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that 30,000 “revellers jived and jigged their way through the streets of Chapeltown”. The Yorkshire Post added that they “added their own accompaniment with whistles and hooters.”
David Marsh for the Yorkshire Evening Post wrote that “the weather added to the carnival atmosphere as early grey clouds gave way to warm sunshine”. It was reported in the Yorkshire Post that the heat “took its toll” on Amarie Claxton who had to temporarily remove her costume and take a breather.
Back at Potternewton Park, entertainment on the stage was provided by Eastern Vibrations soca band and the Esso Steel Band. Among the sound systems playing in the park were Maverick International Sound and Colin & Kids Sound. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that “stalls, sideshows, games and displays were being held” in the park.
Once the parade returned to the park “more than three hours” later, prizes were given on the stage, which now had a waterproof roof. Prizes were given for best carnival troupe (£100 plus trophy), largest troupe (trophy), best troupe display (trophy), best individual costume (£50 plus trophy), best steel band on the road (£100 plus trophy), and best steel band presentation (trophy).
The following day, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that TV personality Jimmy Savile had been present at Potternewton Park “on a training run”. He was quoted in the paper saying “It’s a marvellous event. I like the colour, the music and the beaming, smiling faces. With a bit of sunshine you have the recipe for a perfect day.”
The Yorkshire Evening Post ran a short report on the carnival on the front page of that evening’s paper. Under the headline ‘All roads lead to carnival’ the newspaper reported that “Floats, dance troupes and steel bands from all over the North gathered in Leeds today for the West Indian Carnival – the city’s largest street festival.” The Yorkshire Evening Post gave a more detailed account of the carnival the next day. A black and white photo of Amaire Claxton was featured on the front page with eight more black and white photos appearing on page ten. ‘Triumph of Chapeltown’ read the headline on the front page of the Tuesday 1 September issue and on page ten “Caribbean joy as crowds whoop it up”.
Leeds Other Paper included two black and white photos of the carnival on the front page of their 4 September issue with a third photo appearing on page 5 alongside a photo of Notting Hill Carnival. Amaire Claxton and Hughbon Condor were featured on the front page of the October issue of ‘Chapeltown and Harehills What’s On’.
The carnival was again crime free, marking two decades without a single arrest made at the Leeds West Indian Carnival. The Yorkshire Post reported that the police “had little to do but redirect traffic”. Chief Superintendent Alan Stoneley spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post, telling them “It was trouble-free and everyone had a good time. I would like to congratulate everyone involved with the carnival”. The story was much different at the Notting Hill Carnival however. Twenty-three-year-old Michael Galvin was murdered during the first day of the Notting Hill Carnival. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported on the story on Monday 31 August under the headline ‘Carnival death: Plea for calm’. Michael Galvin, a stall owner on Ledbury Road, was selling food and drinks during the carnival when he was stabbed to death after an argument broke out over the theft of a can of Coca-Cola. Alban Turner was sentenced with the murder in December 1988. The death of Michael Galvin wasn’t the only incidence of violence at the Notting Hill Carnival in 1987. A riot broke out on the streets of Notting Hill just hours after the carnival came to an end, during which at least one police officer was stabbed. Hundreds of arrests were made throughout the day and night. On Tuesday’s front page, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported “A tale of two carnivals – one of peace and joy in Leeds, the other of violence and hatred in London – was told today”. They went on to say “The Leeds community has had its problems, but it is true to say that it is now rewarding the city with a new dimension and character on the summer holiday weekend”.
The future of the Leeds Gala, held in Roundhay Park on the same day as the carnival, was in question after a massive decrease in attendance. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that the 1987 Gala only attracted 17,000 people. Poor attendance at 1986’s Gala was put down to the poor weather conditions but now the Gala Committee blamed “other conflicting things”. Jack Pickles of the Gala Committee spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post saying “With Leeds United at home and the West Indian Carnival and an event at Harewood, it’s obviously something we have to consider”. Jack Pickles went on to say “We do have to charge to put on the acts we do, while the West Indian Carnival is free”.
The Last Lap Dance was held at the West Indian Centre on Monday night from 8pm until 6am Tuesday morning. Tickets were priced at £3 for which quests would be entertained by the Trinidad Calypso King 1987 Black Stalin. He had won the title with two calypso numbers; ‘Mr Pan Maker’, a tribute to steel bands and ‘Bun ‘Em’ a song that called for St. Peter to cast the likes of Christopher Columbus, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher into Hell. He was joined at the West Indian Centre by Denyse Plummer backed by Roy Cape and the Calypso All Stars. Music was provided by Colin & Kids Sounds plus the carnival procession steel bands.
On 1 April 1986 The Times newspaper published an article written by Alan Franks on the Chapeltown area of Leeds entitled ‘Where trouble waits on the corner’. The article unfairly portrayed Chapeltown as a ‘no go area’ with a high crime rate. Local residents responded with a petition that requested that the Press Council investigated the article. The petition, which received hundreds of signatures in the first week, read “it is our belief that such biased material, overtly racist in content, has done damage to our community”. Leeds Other Paper rebuffed the article in their 18 April issue by pointing out that Chapeltown had less reported crime than other areas of Leeds. The Chapeltown community itself rebuffed the article by having one of the most cultured, family-friendly and trouble-free summers in the area’s recent history.
As well as the report in The Times in April, Chapeltown was the subject of a documentary made by Yorkshire Television titled ‘Task Force Chapeltown”. The 25-minute film focused on the unemployment, poor housing and crime of the area and how the government Task Force planned to combat those issues. The Task Force, with a one million budget, had moved into 158-60 Chapeltown Road in April after being announced in Parliament in February. The project’s aim was to help create jobs not just in Chapeltown but in seven other areas in the UK. As well as including many shots of Chapeltown and interviews with local residents, the YTV documentary also includes footage of the inside of a Blues club, John Noel’s studio, DJ Mikey Dreadlocks in the Radio Aire studio on Burley Road and a dance taking place in the West Indian Centre.
By 1986 Leeds had its very own soca band. Formed around August 1984, The Macassars were fronted by Bajan Lou Prinze who had been singing since the late 60s. Lou Prinze had been the lead singer with the rocksteady group The Bedrocks and, using the stage name ‘Lord Prinze’, had entered the Leeds Calypso King contest before it ended in 1972. Since then he had performed soul, reggae, funk, jazz and pop. By 1985 The Macassars had grown to be an eight piece band. Apart from their lead singer, Lou Prinze (who now went by the name Lionel), the rest of the group were white and hailed from various parts of Britain. The band members were brothers Rich (trumpet) and Geoff (percussion) from Croydon, brothers Davy (drums) and Stevie (bass) from Northern Ireland, Chas (trumpet) a Welshman from Worcester, Tony (guitar) from the south of England and Pete (trombone) from Leeds. The Macassars performed self-composed up-tempo soca, highlife and reggae music alongside covers of Bob Marley songs. The band’s self-penned numbers included ‘Run From Me’, ‘Lace Up’, ‘Soweto Ballad’, ‘The Loud Cry’ and ‘Fighting All The Time’. The band turned professional in 1985 after taking on Tony Burton from Leeds as their manager. They made several public appearances during 1985 and 1986 including Leeds Aid for Ethiopia, People’s Festival, the International Peace Festival and World of Music, Arts And Dance Festival. In 1986 The Macassars released a 12” EP on their own Bullfrog label which was produced by Mad Professor. The EP was followed by a European tour that included stops in Holland and Denmark.
Residents of Chapeltown enjoyed the sounds and sights of carnival early in 1986 when young students of Leopold Street Primary School took to the streets with their very own carnival parade. The carnival parade took place on Saturday 12 July and included hundreds of children aged 4 to 9 in self-made colourful costumes blowing whistles. They were joined by their own steel band which sported the slogan ‘Black and white unit’. The parade began at Leopold Street Primary School and made its way around the local neighbourhood before returning to the school. Once the parade returned to the school the children enjoyed stalls, games and refreshments.
A three day ‘People’s Festival’ took place in Chapeltown from Friday 18 until Sunday 20 July. The festival, which was free during the day, was held across three venues in Chapeltown: Leeds Trade Club (Savile Mount), Mandela Centre (Chapeltown Road) and The West Indian Centre (Laycock Place). Mavrick and Jungle Warrior Sound Systems joined the Ariwa Posse at the Mandela Centre for a reggae all-nighter on the night of Friday 18 July. Tickets were priced at £3.75 or £3 for UB40 holders and the concert began at 10pm and ended at 6am Saturday morning.
The Ariwa Posse was made up of artists signed to the London-based Ariwa label and its members were:
Sister Au Rey
The festival was officially opened on Saturday with the release of hundreds of red balloons and music by the Chapeltown Youth Steel Band. Among the many acts performing at the festival was soca band Macassars and Bradford reggae and ska group Spectre. Jamaican poet Jean Breeze also performed at the festival. To close the festival Ras Sparta and Jungle Warrior sound systems played at the West Indian Centre on Sunday 20 July from 8pm until midnight. Tickets were priced at £1.
In July local youths in Chapeltown organised an event that they called ‘the greatest ever dance hall session’ to be held at the Phoenix Club. With no big-money backers, the organisers needed to sell the £5 tickets in advance to help cover the costs. Local solicitor Ruth Bundey was brought on board and in July she spoke to Leeds Other Paper saying “I’ve drawn up a contract so that if anything should go wrong, people will definitely get their money back”. The event took place on Monday 21 July and Jamaican singer Sugar Minott had been booked as the star attraction but didn’t turn up on the night. Other performers included Major Stich, Blacka T, Yammy Boler and Colour Man. Music was also provided by Freedom Sound System who claimed to be the loudest in the UK. Despite the absence of Sugar Minott, the event ran smoothly and a review was given in Leeds Other Paper in their 1 August issue.
As part of the Caribbean Focus 86 Initiative, a special steel orchestra concert was held in Leeds on Friday 25 July. The concert, which took place at St Aidan’s Church on Roundhay Road from 7.30pm starred the Catelli Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra. The 41 piece steel orchestra was founded in Trinidad in the 1940s and were touring the UK at the time. Their repertoire included classical pieces by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Sullivan and Verdi along with calypso and pop classics. Leeds sound system Mavrick Internash were the support act for reggae artist Macka B when he performed at the Gaiety Pub in Chapeltown on Monday 11 August. Macka B was one of the Ariwa label artists who had not performed at the People’s Festival in July. Tickets were priced at £3 and the show began at 9pm and lasted until 2am the next morning.
A ‘Reggae Expo Carnival’ was due to take place in Roundhay Park on Sunday 22 June. According to an advertisement placed in the Guardian newspaper in early June the acts due to play included Aswad, Bad Manners, Mighty Diamonds, Black Uhuru, and Sly Dunbar. The concert was to be one of three national concerts organised by ‘Caribbean Focus 86’ however the concert was cancelled just weeks before it was due to take place. After the cancellation of the concert in the first week of June, the City Council’s Leisure Service Department set about organising a similar event to take place in August. In August it was announced that a free reggae concert would be held in Potternewton Park on Sunday 24 August – one day before the Leeds West Indian Carnival parade. Although not a part of the carnival, the reggae concert held in 1986 was to become the first annual concert held in Potternewton Park the day before the carnival parade that would become strongly associated with the carnival. The concert began at 1pm and was due to finish at 7.30pm. Artists appearing included Nitty Gritty, Anthony Johnson, The Instigator Band, Leeds bands Exiles Intact, P.L.U Band and Matamba, Chapeltown’s own Clifton Irie, Papa Levi, Mikey General, Troublesome, Sugar Merchant, Bonito Star, and Cruiser plus MCs KD Rankor, Pabio D and Mikey Dread. A red, gold and green programme was produced and was sold at a minimum price of 20p with proceeds going to African famine relief. Local band P.L.U Band opened the show to “a scattering of people”. The October issue of ‘Chapeltown And Harehills What’s On’ noted that P.L.U had been together since February and played a set of self-penned songs. They were followed by another local band Matamba. Next up were Exiles Intact, another local band who now had a large following, had made a TV appearance and had released a successful single ‘Who Is There’ in late 1985. They were the only local act on the bill that had recorded and their single was still selling at the time. The audience had now grown to “a thousand people” with “more streaming down the hill”. The Instigators played in white suits and later backed Anthony Johnson. Papa Levi performed his 1984 single ‘Mi God Mi King’. Jamaican star Nitty Gritty closed the show. The Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post didn’t report on the concert but Leeds Other Paper did and included a photo of Anthony Johnson on the front cover of their 29 August issue with two more photos on page 5. The paper’s review of the concert appeared on page 13 under the headline ‘Reggae on the rates’. The newspaper gave a positive review overall but suggested the concert could have been improved by “putting an African band on or one like Zinica from Nicaragua”. Later that night, beginning at 11pm ‘A Dance Session’ was held at the Phoenix Club which featured Kenny Knott, Jean Adebambo, Ranking Miss P and The Ras Sparta Showcase until 5am the next morning. A dance was also held at the West Indian Centre.
Build-up to the nineteenth Leeds West Indian Carnival began in May when it was announced that St. Paul’s Gallery at Stowe House on Bishopgate Street would be putting on a special exhibition in celebration of the carnival and in recognition of the carnival’s importance to Leeds. It was also announced that St. Paul’s Gallery would be funding an ‘artist-in-residence’ to capture the spirit and excitement of the carnival through paintings, photographs or sculpture. Artists living in West Yorkshire, who were interesting in the position, were invited to apply at the gallery. Of the huge number of artists that applied for the position, Leeds artist Jennifer Comrie was selected at the end of July to paint the Leeds West Indian Carnival. Her brief was to respond to and interpret the preparation, sights, sounds and scenes of the carnival. A representative from St. Paul’s Gallery spoke to Leeds Other Paper in August and said “We feel confident that her results will be as exciting and colourful as the day itself”. Born in Leeds, Jennifer had attended a one year foundation course at Jacob Kramer College and had just finished the final year of her degree course in London. Jennifer began work on her painting on 28 July. The exhibition was opened on Saturday 16 August and ran until 13 September. The art on display was changed during the course of the exhibition with Jennifer’s pre-carnival painting being replaced with new work. A special open day was held on 29 August with the winning Carnival Queen costume being displayed at the gallery and New World Steel Orchestra performing at Leeds City Station Concourse, opposite the gallery, from 3pm until 5pm.
In 1986 Lennie Jeffers joined the Carnival Committee. Born in Nevis, Lennie had lived in Cleckheaton in West Yorkshire since the age of six. He moved to London in 1978 to pursuit higher education but came to Leeds the following year and became involved with the Leeds West Indian Carnival. He began volunteering with the Probation Service in Leeds in 1982 and began working as a qualified Probation Officer in 1986. With an interest in art, one of his first tasks as a Carnival Committee member was to design a new logo for the Leeds West Indian Carnival. In 1986 the carnival managed to gain sponsorship from the weekly newspaper Caribbean Times, edited by Arif Ali.
Five Queen costumes were made for the 1986 Leeds West Indian Carnival. They included a costume titled ‘Sea Anemone’ designed and made by Hughbon Condor. Hughbon had been inspired to design the costume after a visit to Tropical World at Roundhay Park, Leeds. Open in 1983, Tropical World is a series of temperature-controlled glasshouses that hold a large collection of tropical pants and small animals and insects including butterflies, birds and reptiles. Tropical World also has an aquarium which is home to a variety of fish and sea anemones. On entering the aquarium, Hughbon had not noticed the sea anemone which was closed up. He noticed it on the way out after the sea anemone had opened up. In the August 2017 Community Highlights magazine Hughbon explained “When I was walking in I didn’t notice it but as I was walking out I saw its beautiful tentacles so I came home and made one like it.” Hughbon’s design allowed the costume to open up on the stage the way the real sea anemone had when he had seen it at Tropical World. With its 3D design that measured eight foot in diameter , Sea Anemone was Hughbon’s largest costume to date and was worn by his 18-year-old sister Lisa Condor. Ex-committee member Violet Hendrickson had teamed up with members of St. Martin’s Church in Potternewton to create a costume titled ‘The Caribbean Seas’.
The 1986 Carnival Queen Show took place in the marquee erected outside the West Indian Centre on Laycock Place and was compered by Susan Pitter. As well as being on the Carnival Committee Susan was now serving on the Caribbean Focus ’86 Committee as the secretary.
The five Queens taking part were:
Julia Lewis in a costume titled ‘The Caribbean Seas’ designed and made by Violet Hendrickson and St. Martin’s Church.
Lisa Condor in a costume titled ‘Sea Anemone’ designed and made by Hughbon Condor.
Sarah Beckles in a costume designed and made by Leroy Norford.
Sheila Howarth in a costume designed and made by Sheila and Kevin Howarth.
Sonia Mitchum in a costume designed and made by Alec McLeish.
Entertainment at the Queen Show was provided by local comedian The Mighty Zipper and music was provided by Beresford Sound. The winning Queen was Lisa Condor as ‘Sea Anemone’, giving Hughbon Condor his first win since 1983 and his fourth win at Leeds overall. A Carnival Princess was also chosen for the first time in 1986. At least three contestants took part, all in costumes designed by Alan Julien. The crown was taken by Rhonda Ward.
The Leeds West Indian Carnival parade took place on Monday 25 August. A total of 16 troupes took part in the parade which included groups from Leeds, Bradford, Manchester, Huddersfield and Leicester. Thousands of people gathered along the parade route and the following day the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that “thousands turned out to join the carnival parade through Chapeltown, or watch it pass from every available vantage point”.Max Farrar was again present with his camera and took a number of colour photos, some of which would later appear in the 1987 Leeds West Indian Carnival magazine, in black and white. Confusingly the magazine also included at least one photo from 1984. One of Max’s photos shows Julia Lewis as ‘The Caribbean Seas’ leading the St. Martin’s Church troupe whose members included Rose Farrar, Michelle Condor and Claudia Hobson.
Also on the road were Lord Silkie and his crew who, perhaps for the first time, were going by their new name – ‘Cockspur Crew’. They had previously been known as ‘The Tetley Crew’ and had been sponsored by Tetley’s Bitter. They had now found new sponsorship in Cockspur Rum. Among the torupe’s members was Lord Silkie (Artie Davis), African Man, Godfather (Mitch Wallace), Reggie Challenger, and William Ward. The troupe all wore red ‘Cockspur Fine Rum’ t-shirts, supplied by the rum company along with bottles of rum. Max Farrar photographed Reggie Challenger, in full carnival spirit, with his arms around two police officers. Another of Max Farrar’s photographs shows William Ward enjoying a bottle of rum in the rain. The Cockspur Crew were joined on the road by a troupe of Red Indians and a troupe of traditional masqueraders. Benjy’s Masqueraders were again on the road in 1986 and this year they were dressed as Pierrot Clowns. Their members again included Ruth Bundey.
9-year-old Debra Phillips was photographed by the Yorkshire Evening Post in her costume and Milli Harewood from Birmingham was photographed dancing with P.C Billy Gilmore. Milli, who had attended the carnival every year, spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post telling them “We have a carnival in Handsworth and then there’s the one at Notting Hill but I think Leeds is the best”. “The atmosphere is better and everyone is friendlier – even the police” she went on to explain. A total of five steel bands took part in the parade. Among them was the the popular North Stars Steel Band from Huddersfield whose members included Crunch, Doc, Kevin, Skinhead, Warren and Marks. The New World Steel Orchestra, now sporting their new blue and white uniforms, attracted a large crowd, some of whom may have been undead. In the 1987 Leeds West Indian Carnival magazine, Arthur France wrote about the presence of two ghosts at the parade. “Check this, hear a man tell his friend that he see 2 jumby (ghost) jumping up in front of New World Steel Orchestra” he wrote. The remaining steel bands were Paradise Steel Bad and The Caribbeans Steel Band from Leeds and The Groovers Steel Band from London. The Yorkshire Post reported “Hundreds of whistles and drums accompanied the dancers and steel bands as they jived and calypsoed their way along a three-mile route”. The newspaper went on to report “A secondary rhythm was created by the opening of cans of Jamaican Red Stripe lager”. The parade lasted around three hours and travelled along Harehills Avenue, Harehills Lane, Roundhay Road, Barrack Road and Chapeltown Road.
Grey clouds marked the beginning of the carnival but the rain mainly held off until the parade returned to the park. With Hurricane Charley hitting the UK during the Bank Holiday weekend, the 1986 carnival was perhaps the wettest carnival day since 1974. Despite the heavy rain, thousands of people (The Yorkshire Post estimated 30,000) gathered in Potternewton Park to be entertained by Tropical Heatwave, a soca band from Manchester and Ras Sparta and Jungle Warrior sound systems from Leeds. Beresford Sound were also present at the carnival in 1986 and had had white sweatshirts with ‘Beresford Sound’ in red letters on them made up.
Trophies were presented on the stage with the Checkpoint Chameleons troupe from the Checkpoint Centre in Bradford winning biggest troupe and the Fantasy Bees by Arthur France and Alan Herbert of Leeds taking the prize for best troupe. Once again, the carnival was reported to be trouble free and no arrests were made. In the 1987 Leeds West Indian Carnival magazine, the carnival committee thanked “both participants and members of the public, who braved the adverse weather conditions to help make the 1986 Carnival a great success.”
Tuesday’s Yorkshire Evening Post included five black and white photos of the carnival which showed troupes in costume and Carnival Queen Lisa Condor. Lisa Condor also appeared on the front page of the Yorkshire Post above a story on Bank Holiday Weekend events that had suffered from the poor weather conditions caused by Hurricane Charley. The article, which continued on page 3, gave four paragraphs to the Leeds West Indian Carnival which was just one of the events to take place over the Bank Holiday weekend. The Leeds Gala, which took place at Roundhay Park the same day received greater coverage, which was the norm for both the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post. The latter had included a special ‘Guide To The Leeds Gala’ pull-out the previous week. Leeds Other Paper reported on the carnival in their 29 August issue that included a black and white photo of Lisa Condor on the front page. Four more black and white photos appeared on pages 4 and 5 alongside photos from Sunday’s reggae concert in Potternewton Park. The October issue of ‘Chapeltown And Harehills What’s On’ featured a black and white photo of Lisa Condor on their front page but didn’t include any report of the carnival inside. They did, however, report on the the reggae concert and Caribbean In Focus.
In May 1985 a carnival was held in the Hyde Park area of Leeds to celebrate the official opening of the improved and extended Brudenell Centre on Welton Road. The carnival took place on Saturday 25 May at the community education centre. A procession took place around the local area and a variety of stalls were set up at the centre. Entertainment was provided by local musicians including Paradise Steel Band led by St. Clair Morris. Leeds Other Paper reported on the carnival the following week in their 31 May issue that included a photo of Paradise Steel Band on page 4. While the Paradise Steel Band continued to achieve success locally and nationally, the Roscoe Methodist Church Youth Steel Band were struggling despite archiving local success in their first year. Due to the inappropriate behaviour of some young members and the fact that the band’s tutor Raymond Joseph had difficulty travelling to and from Huddersfield, band rehearsals became less frequent in the first half of 1985. These factors, along with a shortage of financial support meant the band folded by the summer of 1985.
In Birmingham the second Handsworth Carnival was held in Handsworth Park. A short procession included a troupe in costumes designed and made by Arlton Browne. Also known as Professor Black, Alrton Browne had attended last year’s carnival but hadn’t made costumes for the parade until 1985. Born in St. Kitts, Alrton had trained to become a tailor before coming to England in 1961. He formed a steel band and began performing self-taught magic. His party trick was to pick up a table with his teeth. He made several appearances on TV during the 1970s and 1980s including episodes of Opportunity Knocks and New Faces. Entertainment in Handsworth Park for the 1985 carnival included Wassifa Showcase and Observer sound systems.
In Huddersfield, the Huddersfield Carnival Committee was founded to develop the Caribbean Parade, which had been part of the Festival of Racial Friendship, into a separate event. A group of people involved with the Leeds West Indian Carnival including Arthur France and ex-committee member Felina Hughes attended meetings to help organise the carnival. The town was already home to the well-known North Star Steel Band and award-winning costume designer Allan Julien and the roots of the Huddersfield Carnival can be traced back to 1968. 1985 marked the first official Huddersfield Carnival, held in July. The influence of the Leeds West Indian Carnival can been seen in the programme of events. Celebrations began on 22 June with a Carnival Queen Show held at the Silver Stands nightclub on Venn Street. Among the four judges was Arthur France and Reginald Challenger from the Leeds West Indian Carnival. Dianne Francis was chosen as the winning Queen and her photograph appeared in the Daily Examiner. The carnival parade took place on 6 July and travelled from Beck Road, through the town center and ended at Greenhead Park. A Carnival Dance was held that night at the Hudawi Centre on Great Northern Street.
In Leicester, Elvy Morton along with a small committee of Caribbean people organised and self-founded the first West Indian Carnival in Leicester. Among the committee was Joe ‘Boyd’ Caines and Wellington ‘Duke’ Thomas from St. Kitts. Joe Caines founded the Leicester Clowns, one of Leicester first carnival troupes. Another member of the committee was Walton ‘Funnyman’ George who, in the 1994 Leicester Caribbean Carnival magazine, was credited with ‘initiated’ the idea of Leicester Carnival. Elvy Morton was born in Nevis in 1935 and arrived in England in 1959. She worked as a nurse in Birmingham before moving to Leicester when she got married in 1961. August 1984 marked the 150th anniversary of emancipation of slaves in the West Indies. Disappointed that no events were held in Leicester to commemorate the anniversary, Elvy set about organising an annual West Indian Carnival to celebrate the anniversary of emancipation in the West Indies. The first carnival was held on Saturday 3 August 1985 in Victoria Park and included troupes in costumes and steel pan bands on flatbed lorries. The first carnival queen was Felicity McCarthy. Looking back in 1994 she said “Being the very first Carnival Queen was a great thrill”. A Calypso King contest was also held and first prize was taken by Walton ‘Funnyman’ George. A Leicester Caribbean Carnival magazine was published in 1985 and every other year since.
In Leeds the carnival committee added another new member, 40-year-old Brainard Braimah who originated from Ghana. Costume designing and making, as usual, began months in advance and 1985 saw two new designers trying their hand at carnival queen costumes for the first time. Unemployed 17-year-old Alec McLeish used his spare time to practice his skills of art and crafts and made his first Carnival Queen costume for the 1985 carnival. 18-year-old Melvin Zakers ,with help from his fellow New World Steel Orchestra band members, also made a carnival queen costume in 1985. According to the Yorkshire Evening Post the costume only took “a few days to make”.
The front page of the August issue of Chapeltown And Harehills What’s On read “Don’t Miss The Fabulous Chapeltown Carnival” and gave details of the year’s events including the “street jump up” on August bank holiday Monday. Due to complaints over late night noise this year’s Carnival Queen Show was moved to the newly opened West Indian Centre on Laycock Place. (The August issue of Chapeltown And Harehills What’s On mistakenly gives Primrose Hill High School as the venue for the Queen Show, which had been the venue for previous years.) The leader of the Leeds City Council George Mudie had arranged for the car park outside the centre to be tarmacked so that a marque could be erected. This move brought the carnival closer to the community. The Carnival Queen Show took place on Friday 23 August and Reggie Challenger and Susan Pitter were the comperes again. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councilor Sydney Symmonds was the guest of honor. His photograph alongside Reggie Challenger and Susan Pitter appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post the following day. Tickets for the show were sold at £2.50 each. Music at the Queen Show was provided by North Stars Steel Band from Huddersfield who performed as the Queens danced on the stage. A 15-second colour clip kept in the West Yorkshire Archive shows Debra Jeffers dancing in her Queen costume designed and made by Arthur France. The winning Queen was 26-year-old Murilla Smithen in a costume titled ‘Fan Queen’ designed and made by Melvin Zakers.
In their Tuesday 27 August issue, the Yorkshire Evening Post gave some details on the winning queen. They reported that she had left school without an O-level but had gone on to do O and A-level law in Wolverhampton and was looking forward to beginning work with a firm of Leeds solicitors as an articled clerk. “I have been having the summer off” Murilla told the newspaper. “I have usually done voluntary work at the law centre in Roundhay Road or on a playscheme for schoolchildren at the West Indian Centre” she added.
New for 1985 was the ‘Children’s Day’ event held in the West Indian Centre marque on Sunday afternoon from 3pm. Tickets were priced at 50p for adults, children and pensioners were free. This event would evolve into the Carnival Princess Show the following year, with a Carnival Prince being added later. The Sunday night before the carnival parade saw ‘Melvin and the Silver Stars Steel Band’ performing at the newly renamed Mandela Centre. This was no doubt a steel band led by Melvin Zakers. They were joined by three sound systems: The Vikings, Studio City and Mavrick Internash. Tickets were priced at £3 or £3.50 on the door.
The Leeds West Indian Carnival parade took place on Monday 26 August. The Lord Mayor Sydney Symmonds was again present to officially open the carnival which began at Potternewton Park at 1.30pm. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that troupes “struggled to get their floats out of the narrow gate at Potternewton Park”. The parade was led by the ‘Fan Queen’ Murilla Smithen whose photo appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post, Yorkshire Post and Leeds Other Paper. The parade took the route introduced in 1983 and two days prior the Yorkshire Evening Post warned “traffic will be diverted along Roundhay Road, Grant Avenue, Roseville Road, Bayswater Road and Harehills Road to avoid the parade”. Returning again was Benjy’s Masqueraders whose members again included Ruth Bundey. This year they were dressed as Pallbearers in black suits and top hats with Ruth Bundey playing the part of the corpse. One unidentified member of the troupe wore a gorilla mask. Their photo was taken in Potternewton Park by Max Farrar. The next day the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on “the usual colourful collection of costumes” that included “angels, aliens and animals”. Among them was The Invaders Troupe which included many members of the Condor family including Hughbon Condor and his 8-year-old son Sephbon. Other members of the troupe included Elroy Condor, Joan Jeffers, Jermaine Jones, Anne Singer and Thea Ward. A total of six steel bands took part in the parade. They were Caribbeans Steel Band, New World Steel Orchestra and Paradise Steel Band from Leeds, North Stars Steel Band from Huddersfield, Star Quality Steel Band from Manchester and Silver Stars Steel Band from Birmingham. The following day the Yorkshire Post described the atmosphere: “Chapeltown throbbed to the exuberant rhythm of steel bands, syncopated by the persistent shrill of 1,000 whistles”. The newspaper went on to report “There was the usual rich variety in the revellers’ outfits, many of which combined the most outrageous hairstyles with the campest of garbs.” While it was reported that the weather wasn’t as warm as it had been the previous year, carnival revelers still danced in “bright sunshine”.
Back at Potternewton Park a crowd of 10,000 had gathered around the stage and performers arena. Trophies for best troupe, best steel band, Carnival Queen and biggest troupe were given out on the wooden stage. Although food stalls had been present at previous carnivals since the 1970s, they had become more noticeable by 1985. Leeds Other Paper reported that stalls in the park were selling “sugar cane, salt fish, and other West Indian delicacies” alongside “burgers, ice-creams, and drinks at over-the-top prices”. One food stall was being run by Mrs Casement, Mary Sadler, Myrna Tyrell and Millicent Francis. There was also a stall raising funds for the Jamaica Society. The society had recently purchased a property on Chapeltown Road which desperately needed repairs. “A heavy disco diet” in the park was provided by “some half dozen competing sound systems”. The carnival was again trouble-free and no arrests were made. At the Notting Hill Carnival in London, which had taken place the same day, a police officer had been stabbed in the back while attempting to make an arrest. In Notting Hill a total of 89 arrests were made during the day.
The Last Lap Dance took place in the marquee erected outside the West Indian Centre. Tickets were priced at £2 and the dance began at 9pm and lasted until 4am Tuesday morning. Founded by Ian Charles, the Leeds West Indian Centre had opened on 13 April 1982 and was long overdue. There was still issues with the Community Center on Reginald Terrace which had no proper toilets or washing facilities and was now open on a part time basis. A purposely built community hall for the West Indian community had first been proposed in 1970 and was raised again in 1974. In March 1980 Come-Unity News reported that “Leeds is about the only major city in England without a centre catering for the needs of its West Indian community”. The West Indian Centre was established the previous year and plans for the building of the centre were already underway by March 1980 when Come-Unity News reported “building is to commence next month”. However, £15,000 needed to be raised by the fund raising committee by July if the building was to be completed by October. The centre received full backing from 16 West Indian organisations in Leeds including the Leeds West Indian Carnival, Chapeltown Dance Theatre, Los Caribos Limbo Dance Group and Paradise Steel Band. Many community members paid £40 for life-time membership.
Tuesday’s Yorkshire Evening Post included five black and white photos of the carnival by photographer Tim Clayton. For the second year in a row, the newspaper showed a photo of a baby with ice cream around their mouth. This year’s photo was of 19-months-old Leon Brown. Three-year-old Nathan James’s photograph was also published. The Yorkshire Post published a photo of Murila Smithen on their front page with a report on the carnival underneath and a report on Notting Hill Carnival on page 5. Leeds Other Paper included two black and white photos of the parade in their 30 August issue.
One of the best ‘sounds’ in Leeds, Mavrick International’ played at the Chapeltown Community Centre on the night on 30 August. The dance, which also included The Mighty Amagideon sound system from Huddersfield, began at 9pm and lasted until dawn and tickets were priced at £2.50. Leeds Big Drum and Fife players Prince Elliot and Henry Freeman were present at the annual Sheffield Caribbean Culture Fortnight on Friday 31 August. They were joined by a steel band and a group of Masqueraders.
Funded by Leeds City Council through its Further Education Provision, the Northern School of Contemporary Dance was founded in 1985 by dance teacher Nadine Senior. Nadine had taught dance at Harehills Middle School since 1972 and had founded the Harehills Youth Dance Theatre in 1979. Three of her students had founded Phoenix Dance Theatre in 1981. While not linked directly with the Leeds West Indian Carnival, the importance of local dance schools and dance companies in the Chapeltown and Harehills areas should not be downplayed. The Chapeltown and Harehills areas have a strong tradition of contemporary dance groups dating back to the early 1970s. These groups provided the local communities with an education and understanding of contemporary dance which plays a key role in the carnival and in future decades would help develop the carnival further.
A total of thirteen decorated floats took part in the Caribbean Carnival in Huddersfield which was still a part of the Festival of Racial Friendship, held at Greenhead Park in June. The parade’s increase in popularity and size would soon see it break away as its own separate event. A West Indian Carnival had been held in Birmingham in 1969. Organised by Iola Merchant, the carnival parade and dance was a one-off event. It wasn’t until 1984 that an annual carnival was founded in the Handsworth area of Birmingham. A short street procession from Holyhead Road to Handsworth Park included troupes in costumes. The majority of the event was held in Handsworth Park where entertainment was provided by local reggae sound systems. In August 1984 the Antillean Summer Carnival in Holland was moved to Rotterdam. The carnival was first held in Utrecht the previous year. The winning Carnival Queen was Deolinda Gomes.
Management of the Chapeltown Boys Club on Chapeltown Road was taken over by the Leeds City Council in June 1984 and the centre was renamed the Mandela Centre in honour of Nelson Mandela. It was also reported that, despite the centre being open to both sexes, that the name was sexist. Darcus Howe officially opened the Mandela Centre on Saturday 9 June. Darcus, who had had a relationship with Chapeltown and the Leeds West Indian Carnival since the 1970s, was then the editor of Race Today magazine and until recently had been the chair of the Notting Hill Carnival Committee. The Mandela Centre was run by an elected committee, chaired by Grantley Bovell. Among other things, it offered a youth club with badminton, table-tennis, volleyball, basketball, and karate. The centre was also used for fashion shows and discos featuring local sound systems.
Leeds residents got an early preview of the Leeds West Indian Carnival when a group of Masquareders took part in the first South Leeds Festival during the last weekend of July. The Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee underwent some changes in 1984. Arthur France became the new chairman and three new members were added to the committee. They were Yola Frederick, Sheila Howarth and 20-year-old Stuart Bailey. Stuart, who had already been involved with the carnival for a couple of years, joined the committee after volunteering to incorporate “younger voices” into the carnival. He was joined on the committee by 21-year-old Susan Pitter, 18-year-old Melvin Zakers and 27-year-old Sheila Howarth (nee Wilkes, Sheila had married Kevin Howarth in July 1984). Over the next decade, these new faces and young voices would help to modernise the carnival while staying true to its traditional roots. The Carnival Committee wasn’t all young faces however, and among it’s older members was St Clair Morris (46), Arthur France (48) and Ian Charles (52). By 1984 reggae sound systems were already an established part of the carnival but steel bands still played an important role. 1984 saw steel bands from Leeds reaching new heights. Inspired by the large steel bands and orchestras of Trinidad, St. Clair Morris added more players to his band, Paradise Steel Band, and renamed them The Paradise Steel Orchestra. They made their debut at the National Steel Band Festival in Warwickshire in June 1984.
Two new steel bands had formed in Leeds since 1983’s West Indian Carnival. Members of Roscoe Methodist Church on Chapeltown Road, in alliance with the Leeds Brotherhood of Steel, launched the Roscoe Methodist Church Youth Steel Band in January 1984. The equipment needed for the band was estimated at a cost of £5,600 and the church requested financial support from various organisations including Leeds Leisure Services. Various fundraisers were arranged and members of the church who were involved in raising funds for the band included coordinator Arthur France, Hughbon and Gloria Condor, Girls’ Brigade Captain Myrna Tyrell and Boys’ Brigade Captain Allan Herbert. Organised under the guidance of the Steel Band Association, Roscoe Steel Band consisted of youths from Roscoe Church and the local community. Rehearsals with their tutor Raymond Joseph from Huddersfield took place three times a week. The band is reported to have made a brilliant start, achieving a “fair measure of success in a short time”. They played regularly at Roscoe Church, during the morning communion service and other occasions as well as performing at other services in Leeds, playing at the Leeds Town Hall and at a special display by the Girls’ Brigade. Despite their success, the Roscoe Methodist Church Youth Steel Band never performed at the Leeds West Indian Carnival. Their tutor, Raymond Joseph was involved with another new steel band during this period, the New World Steel Orchestra.
The New World Steel Orchestra was founded in February 1984 by Arthur France and Melvin Zakers. Arthur France contacted Raymond Joseph and after meeting him at his home in Huddersfield, he persuaded him to help with the New World Steel Orchestra. Raymond became the band’s tutor and arranger. He arranged pop and rock songs in a calypso tempo. With little founding, Arthur and Raymond travelled to London to buy a set of second hand pans from Pepe Francis, the leader of the Ebony Steel Band. Rehearsals began in the huge cellar of Gloria Frederick’s house at 45 Francis Street in Chapeltown. The band consisted of local youths aged 14-22 who had all studied under St. Clair Morris. The New World Steel Orchestra made a couple of public appearances in 1984 including a visit to the Mayflower Playscheme at Lawisha Self-Help Centre on Roundhay Road on 11 August.
The Carnival Committee were low on funds this year. In September the Weekly Citizen reported that “this year’s carnival cost £11,000 to stage – made up of grants and donations from a variety of sources”.Arthur France explained to the newspaper that the founding was less than expected and stressed that with an increase of funding that the carnival could become a major festival to rival Notting Hill. “We got no cooperation from Leeds City Council and the CRC is even worse” Arthur said before adding “Television and the business world don’t want to get involved either”. The lack of funding is evident in the Queen Show programme. 1984’s programme was printed onto paper and then photocopied. In the past, the Queen Show programmes had been printed on card or glossy paper.
The Queen Show for 1984 took place at Primrose Hill High School on Friday 24 August. Tickets were priced at £2 and the show began at 8pm. The comperes for the evening were Susan Pitter and Reggie Challenger. Guests were entertained by the Mara Ya Pili Dancers, a semi-professional group based at the Roseville Arts Centre and organised by Paul and Jan Hambley, a reggae duo Judy and Linda from Bradford, Their ten minute performance included a cover of Deniece Williams’ 1977 hit ‘That’s What Friends Are For’. The Sustain Dancers returned and appearing at the Queen Show for the first time was the New World Steel Orchestra. Kooler Ruler sound system provided music and an Old Mas comedy sketch was performed by Lord Silkie and Kinkie (African Man). For part of the sketch an immigration office was set up and Kinkie, playing the part of a police officer, asked questions to Lord Silkie, playing the part of a Pakistani immigrant. Lord Silkie’s answer to each question was the same: “Bradford”. Another part of the comedy sketch saw the two men dressed as Olympic Gold Medallists Daley Thompson
and Tessa Sanderson. Both were black athletes who had won medals in the recent Olympic Games held in Los Angeles. The sketch celebrated the fact that the real Tessa Sanderson was a guest of honour at the Queen Show. The 28-year-old Jamaican-born javelin thrower lived in Leeds at the time. Her role that evening was to crown the winning Carnival Queen. The full running order for the night’s entertainment was as follows:
8:00 – Kooler Ruler Disco
9:00 – Carnival Films
9:50 – Mara Ya Pili
10:05 – Judy & Linda
10:15 – Old Mas
10:25 – Sustain Dancers
10:35 – Parade of Queens
11:15 – La Ca Rumba Limbo Dancers and Troupe Costume Display
11:30 – Results
12:00 – Kooler Ruler
12:15 – New World Steel Orchestra
1:00 – End
Five Queens entered the contest and they were:
Carol Stapleton in a costume designed and made by Arthur France sponsored by Harehills Tech Centre.
Angela Carr in a costume designed and made by Hughbon Condor, family and friends sponsored by Leeds City Council.
Lorna Forest in a costume designed and made by Bradford Black People’s Festival sponsored by Yorkshire Arts Association.
Shirley Duffield in a costume designed and made by Gloria Pemberton and friends sponsored by NatWest Bank.
Sharon Hall in a costume designed and made by Sharon Hall and Ken Wenham sponsored by Roseville Arts Centre.
Photographs of the Queen Show show Daphne Robinson on stage in a Carnival Queen costume. She is not listed among the queens in the official programme, making her presence somewhat a mystery. She was either an additional queen, entering the contest after the programme was printed, a substitute queen replacing one of the queens listed or the programme writer made a mistake. Over a minute of colour footage kept in the West Yorkshire Archive shows Shirley Duffield and then Sharon Hall, dressed in a butterfly costume, dancing on the stage in front of judges that include Ian Charles. The winning Carnival Queen for 1984 was 18-year-old Carol Stapleton who, instead of receiving a crown, received a golden medal from Tessa Sanderson. Max Farrar, who was in the audience, captured the moment with his camera. Carol Stapleton later spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post saying “I never thought I would touch an Olympic gold medal. It was a lot heavier than I thought but all I wanted to do was run home with it.” Second place was taken by 16-year-old Angela Carr while the third place was won by Lorna Forrest from Bradford. Susan Pitter also spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post saying “Tessa is the heroine and her appearance made it that little bit special”. Due to complements made by local residents regarding the noise of the late night event, the bar closed at 12.30am, and parking was only allowed on Dolly Lane.
The following day The Yorkshire Evening Post published a story about the Queen Show on page 3 of the newspaper, it included a map showing the parade route – the first time such a map had been published. The newspaper also gave details on how traffic would be affected by Monday’s parade. Traffic diversions were in operation from 1.30pm. “All traffic junctions will be manned by police and with the exception of the Fforde Grene junction, no real delays are anticipated” the newspaper reported.
The Leeds West Indian Carnival parade took place on Monday 27 August. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Douglas Gabb was present to officially open the carnival. He was photographed by Leeds Other Paper talking to the Carnival Queen Carol Stapleton and the Yorkshire Evening Post snapped a photo as he posed alongside St. Clair Morris and the Paradise Steel Band. Lead by Carol Stapleton in her costume titled ‘Into Space’ the parade left Potternewton Park around 2.30pm and took the new route introduced the previous year. Among the five Queens was Angela Carr in her costume titled ‘Spark of Life’. A short colour clip in the ITV archives show both Carol Stapteton and Shirley Duffield on the road. Max Farrar snapped a photo of Carol Stapteton as she made her way down Roundhay Road. A total of 13 troupes from Leeds, Bradford and Manchester took part in the parade. Among them was the ‘African Pearl’ troupe designed by Brenda Monique and Brenda Hall. The troupe was made up of young children. Another troupe donned green archer costumes. Benjy’s Masqueraders made a return in their ‘Bushmen’ costumes first seen in 1981 and again in 1982. The costumes again included masks (1984’s masks were purple) and tennis rackets. This year they were photographed by Leeds Other Paper and among their members was “the famous Leeds Solicitor” Ruth Bundey. Ruth had moved to Leeds in October 1969 to work for the Race Relations Board. She had been attending the carnival and Queen Show since the early 1970s after being introduced to it by Edris Browne. She became a solicitor in 1980 and was perhaps “famous” for working on the Anwar Ditta case and the Bradford 12 case in 1981.
Also on the road was Lord Silkie’s crew who, perhaps for the first time, had a name and sponsorship. Dressed all in red (headbands, t-shirts and kilts) they were now ‘The Tetley Crew’ or ‘The Tetley Bitter Men’ and were sponsored by Tetley’s Brewery who had provided them with red ‘Join Em’ t-shirts. Members of the crew were photographed by Max Farrar as they enjoyed cans of Tetley’s Bitter in Potternewton Park. Members of the Caribbean Steel Band were also photographed sporting the ‘Join Em’ t-shirts but not the full Tetley Crew outfits. A total of six steel bands were on the road in 1984 which, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, included “two from Manchester and one from Leicester”. These were Star Quality and Super Stars from Manchester and Contrasts from Leicester. As well as The Caribbean Steel Band, the bands from Leeds were Paradise Steel Band and The New World Steel Orchestra. The latter band was making its carnival debut. Music on the road was also provided by Captain Wenham’s big drum and fife band who played behind Carol Stapteton. According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the parade was enjoyed by “dancing tiny tots to beaming, swinging grandparents”. The newspaper spoke to one spectator (whose name isn’t given) who said:
It’s just incredible. I have been to several Notting Hill carnivals, but this beats it hands down. It achieves in one day what they do in two. I have never enjoyed myself so much and I will definitely be back next year.
The parade returned to the park around 6pm were a stage and performers arena had been set up. In 1985 the Yorkshire Post reported that an impressive 30,000 people attended the carnival and enjoyed temperatures in the 80s (degrees fahrenheit). If these numbers are correct, there was a massive leap from the 6,000 attendees in 1983 and an almost equally large decrease in attendance the following year when an estimated 10,000 people attended. Somewhere between six and ten thousand seems to be a more realistic estimate. From the stage, Soca music was provided by ‘Mitch Sounds’ sound system run by 30-year-old Mitch Wallace who had been DJing locally since 1970. When Mitch Wallace migrated to England from Nevis in 1967 he arrived with two calypso singles; ‘Archie (Break Them Up)’ – The Merrymen and ‘Fire In Your Wire’ – Calypso Rose. These were both recent calypso hits, given to a teenage Mitch by his grandmother. They acted as a reminder of home and Mitch kept them always. Born into a musical family (his grandfather played fife and his father played big drum), Mitch began DJing at the age of 16, first as a hobby and then as a career. He played at Blues parties, dancehalls and youth clubs.
Reggae music was provided by Mavrick Internash sound system, among others, who had set up on Harehills Avenue. Nine-and-a-half minutes of amateur footage shows very little of the parade and the park but is a great example of the atmosphere surrounding the carnival outside of Potternewton Park. Crowds of people can be seen enjoying the sunshine and music along with ice creams, beers and the occasional joint. The Carnival Committee, and particularly Arthur France, were still not accepting of the Reggae sound systems. He told the Weekly Citizen “Carnival is Soka [sic] and Calypso. The sound systems spoil the rhythm of the festival”.
Among the stalls in the park was a stall raising funds for the Ethiopia Famine Appeal, selling light refreshments and taking donations. Awards were given for the best troupe, costume and steel band. ‘African Pearl’ took the prize for the best troupe. This year’s Leeds Carnival t-shirt was white with red text above the image of a steel drum. A version that added the word ‘Committee’ to the bottom was seen being worn by committee members including St. Clair Morris. Police Superintendent Reginald Firth, who was in charge of the parade, later spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post to report that no arrests had been made and that “things could not have gone better”.
The Last Lap Dance was held a Primrose Hill High School. Tickets were priced at £2 and music was provided by steel bands that had played on the road and a disco. The Last Lap Dance began at 8pm and ended at 1am the next day. Alternative carnival night entertainment was provided by Mavrick Internash sound system who played at the Chapeltown Community Centre.
Both the Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Other Paper published photos of the carnival on their front pages. While Leeds Other Paper printed a photo of a carnival troupe, the Yorkshire Evening Post went with a crying 17-month-old Wendy Anne-Marie Walker with ice cream around her mouth. Both newspapers included more photos inside. Leeds Other Paper printed a two-page photo spread on pages 10 and 11 of their 31 August issue that included seven black and white photos but didn’t include a report on the day’s events other than claiming it was “another success”. The Yorkshire Evening Post also published seven black and white photos, by Mel Hulme, on page 4 of their 28 August issue. Under the headline “and it’s a funshine carnival” Tim Zillessen of the Yorkshire Evening Post wrote “In true Caribbean style the finale of the Leeds West Indian Carnival celebrations produced a rhythmic array of bright sunny smiles, friendship, harmony…..and pure enjoyment”. The newspaper spoke to carnival committee chairman Arthur France who said “Tell me of anything else in Leeds that brings such joyous harmony between the races. It’s fantastic”. The Weekly Citizen reported on the carnival on page 4 of their 1 September issue under the headline ‘Chapeltown Cavalcade’. “A friendly but organised chaos might be the best way to describe the atmosphere” they wrote, adding “and for the thousands who turned out to enjoy the music, colour and spectacle of carnival, the day was a huge success.”
New World Steel Orchestra’s official launch came in November 1984 at the West Indian Centre. Arthur France invited a number of important people including the head of music for Leeds Education Colin Brackley Jones, the deputy head of Leeds College of Music Roy Warmsley and councillors from Leeds City Council.