Community Carnival – Leeds West Indian Carnival 1985

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.

Professor Black 1985
Alrton Browne, 1985.

In Leicester, Elvy Morton along with a small committee of Caribbean people organised and self-founded the first West Indian Carnival in Leicester. Elvy Morton was born in Nevis in 1935 and arrived in England in 1958. 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.

Leicester carnival, 1985.

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”.

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 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. 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.

Reggie Challenger, Sydney Symmonds and Susan Pitter.

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.

Murilla Smithen as ‘Fan Queen’.

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”.

Carnival Queen Murilla Smithen on Roundhay Road.

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. “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.

Police officers enjoying Leeds West Indian Carnival 1985.

The Last Lap Dance took place in the marquee erected outside the West Indian Centre 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.

Leon Brown.

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.

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.

Sheff 1985
Sheffield Caribbean Culture Fortnight, 31 August 1985.

Olympic Carnival – Leeds West Indian Carnival 1984

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. A group of people involved with the Leeds West Indian Carnival including Arthur France and ex-committee member Felina Hughes attended meetings in Huddersfield to help organise the first Huddersfield Carnival. Founded by Natalie Pinnock-Hamilton, the carnival parade included troupes organised by the Huddersfield West Indian Association, Aztecs of Mexico Club and the African Descendants Brotherhood. The parade travelled through the town centre and ended at Greenhead Park.

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 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.

St Clair Morris and  The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Douglas Gabb.

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.

Children from Mayflower Playscheme try their hand at steel drums used by The New World Steel Orchestra, 11 August 1984.

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.

Angela Carr as ‘Spark of Life’.

The Queen Show for 1984 took place at Primrose Hill High School on Friday 24 August. The comperes for the evening were Susan Pitter and Reggie Challenger. Guests were entertained by the Maraya Pili Dancers, a semi-professional group based at the Roseville Arts Centre and organised by Paul and Jan Hambley, and reggae duo Judy and Linda from Brandford. Their ten minute performance included a cover of Deniece Williams’ 1977 hit ‘That’s What Friends Are For’. 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

Tessa Sanderson, 1984.

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. 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.

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, this year’s show ended at 11pm, the bar closed at 12.30am, and parking was only allowed on Dolly Lane.

Carol Stapleton at the Queen Show.

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.

Parade Route Map, 1984.

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 Ferrara and Brenda Hall. 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 Bradford 12 case in 1981.

Benjy’s Masqueraders 1984.

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, Super Stars and Contrasts. 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.

Leeds Carnival ’84 T-shirts with and without the added ‘Committee’ text.

The parade returned to the park around 5pm were a stage and performers arena had been set up. 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. 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”.

Carnival Queens on the stage in Potternewton Park. Left to right: Carol Stapleton, Lorna Forest, Shirley Duffield, Angela Carr, and Sharon Hall.

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. The Last Lap Dance ended at 1am the next day. Alternative carnival night entertainment was provided by Mavrick Internash sound system who played at the Chapeltown Community Centre.

Carnival Queen Shirley Duffield in Potternewton Park (Photo: Max Farrar)

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”.

17-month-old Wendy Anne-Marie Walker during the carnival parade.

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.

Reggae Carnival – Leeds West Indian Carnival 1983

Prior to 1983 the only West Indian Carnivals held in Europe had been held in England. The oldest of these, Leeds West Indian Carnival, was founded in 1967 and other cities soon followed suit:

Bristol (1968)
Birmingham (1969)
Nottingham (1970)
Manchester (1972)
London (1973)
Preston (1974)
Derby (1975)
Luton (1976)
Reading (1977)
Liverpool (1978)
Sheffield (1979)

However, it wasn’t until 1983 that mainland Europe had its own West Indian Carnival. In Utrecht in Holland, students of Curacao and Aruban origin organised the very first ‘Antillean Summer Carnival’ which took place in August 1983. The carnival’s very first Queen was Joyce Blijd.

Dutch Carnival Queen Joyce Blijd.

In Leeds the Carnival Queen Show was held at Primrose Hill High School with a total of six Queens entering the competition. They were:

  • Cavelle Browne in a costume designed and made by Hughbon Condor sponsored by the Commission for Racial Equality.
  • Patricia Smith from Sheffield in a costume designed and made by ‘MAS’ sponsored by ‘The Hub’ youth club.
  • Brenda Monique in a costume designed and made by Sharon Hall sponsored by Roseville Arts Centre and Leeds City Council.
  • Patsy Richards in a costume designed and made by Kooler Ruler Sounds sponsored by Leeds City Council.
  • Pat Burt in a costume designed and made by Arthur France sponsored by Yorkshire Arts Association.
  • Yasmin Hack in a costume designed and made by Hebrew Rawlins and Michael Paul sponsored by National Westminster Bank.
Cavelle Browne as ‘Eastern Delight’ (Photo: Max Farrar)

Around 25 seconds of colour footage from the Queen Show shows Cavelle Browne and Pat Burt dancing on the stage. Entertainment at the Queen Show was provided by Kooler Ruler Disco, Friction Dance Group, La Rumba Limbo Dancers and The Paradise Steel Band and the comperes were Susan Pitter and Reggie Challenger. The winning Queen for 1983 was 18-year-old Cavelle Browne in the costume ‘Eastern Delight’ designed and made by Hughbon Condor with help from his family and friends. Her photo was taken by Max Farrar from the front of the stage.

Pat Burt on the road.

The Carnival parade took place on Monday 29 August beginning at Potternewton Park where it was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Leeds Martin Dodgson and the Lady Mayoress Mrs. Dodgson. The Yorkshire Evening Post reported that 6,000 people gathered in the park before the parade began. The parade, which left Potternewton Park around 2pm, was led by Cavelle Browne as ‘Eastern Delight’. Among the other Queens on the road was Yasmin Hack as ‘Arctic Crystal’. Both Queens were photographed by Bill Hirst for the Yorkshire Evening Post. Pat Burt in her Queen costume was photographed by Leeds Other Paper and appeared in their 2 September issue. Around 30 seconds of coloured footage of the parade filmed by ITV shows Cavelle Browne leading the Eastern Delight troupe who wore white and carried parasols. The footage also shows one of the steel bands on the road that day and Arthur France can be spotted in the background. The parade included a total of five steel bands. Metro Steel Band, Paradise Steel Band and Boscoe Steel Band from Leeds were joined by Star Quality Steel Band and Caribbean Serenaders from Manchester.  A troupe of roller skaters, first seen in 1982, were again present and whistles, also first seen in 1982, were now an established part of the carnival parade. Both the Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Other Paper printed photos of troupe members blowing whistles and the Yorkshire Evening Post reported on “youngsters on roller skates”.

Troupe of whistlers in front of  Paradise Steel Band.

The 1983 parade took a new route designed to avoid the recently completed Sheepscar junction. This route replaced the shortened route introduced in 1979, making it the fourth route used by the carnival parade since 1967. The 1967 route was a completely unique route, ending at the Leeds Town Hall, from 1968 to 1978 the route went into the city centre and returned to Potternewton Park. From 1979 the route cut out the city centre. The new parade route began at Potternewton Park, travelled down Harehills Avenue before travelling down Roundhay Road via Harehills Lane. From Roundhay Road the parade made its way towards Barrack Road and from Barrack Road it travelled up Chapeltown Road before turning back onto Harehills Avenue and returning to Potternewton Park. According to the Yorkshire Evening Post’s report the following day the new route attracted larger crowds of spectators. On page 6 of the newspaper they wrote “more people than ever seemed to join the singing and dancing procession as it headed through the area”. Leeds Other Paper also reported that “All through Chapeltown and Harehills people lined the route to watch, many joined in the dancing”. Leeds Other Paper also reported on the day’s weather describing it as “hot and sunny”.

Michelle Bent (aged 6) with PC Lloyd Peatfield during the carnival. (Photo: Bill Hirst)

Back at Potternewton Park revellers were entertained by the Tropical Heatwave Steel Band from Manchester who played on the stage. Max Farrar was present at the park with his camera and took a coloured photo of the Kooler Ruler crew dressed in checkered carnival costumes and sombreros. The members of the crew photographed were Dave McKoy, David Francis, Christopher Brown, Calvin Johnson, Stuart Bailey, Peter ‘Brickie’ Brown and David Bailey along with two extra ‘members’ Pat and Icilma Richards. The presence of reggae music in the park was noted by both the Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Other Paper.  Leeds Other Paper reported  that “the park reverberated to the sounds of several reggae sound systems” while the Yorkshire Evening Post’s subheadline read “Revels, reggae and roller skates…”  The Carnival had its own t-shirts this year for the first time. Committee member Ian Charles was photographed in the park wearing one of the blue t-shirts that had red text and a red image. The carnival was deemed another success. The Yorkshire Evening Post spoke to Ian Charles and it was reported the following day that “they believed the crowds were much higher than last year and the event had been a big success”. It was also reported that no arrests were made and the West Yorkshire Police had said the day had “gone very smoothly”.  The Last Lap Dance was again held at Primrose Hill High School.

Ian Charles in an official Leeds West Indian Carnival t-shirt. (Photo: Max Farrar)


St. Christopher Steel Band, 1964 – 1977

John Rawlins, circa 1959.

Formed in Birmingham in 1964, the St. Christopher Steel Band was made up of seven members who were all originally from St. Kitts. The group’s Guitar pan player and vocalist John Rawlins was born in St.Kitts in 1940. He began singing with a steel band in St. Kitts at the age of 14 but hadn’t yet learnt to play the instrument. He soon learnt to play the pans and took up Guitar pan. John, known as Tim, came to England at the age of 19 in August 1959.  He saw the move as an opportunity to work and help his family in St. Kitts financially. He first lived in Wednesbury in Sandwell where his cousin had secured him a job at Patent Shaft Steel Works. He arrived on Sunday and began working as a labourer on Monday. As well as working as a labourer he trained as a Spare Man. He later worked at GKN Steel Works and Sertec Steel Works in Birmingham. John joined the St. Christopher Steel Band in 1964. The other members were:

  • Leroy Matthew (Tenor pan, bandleader, arranger)
  • Franklyn Norford (Guitar pan)
  • Wendell ‘Pat’ Boone (Double second pan)
  • Melvyn Edwards (Cello pan, vocals)
  • Rudolph ‘Midge’ Davies (Drums, vocals)
  • Peter Edwards (Bass, vocals)

The band performed locally and built up a fan base. Their repertoire included ‘Elizabethan Serenade’, ‘In The Mood’, ‘Island In The Sun’ and ‘Yellow Bird’. The band also composed their own music but were best known for their covers. They took part in the first Leeds West Indian Carnival in 1967 and entered the steel pan competition, the first of its kind, and took first place with their version of ‘Elizabethan Serenade’. St. Christopher Steel Band performed at other carnivals across the country in the 1970s including Nottingham Carnival in 1970 and 1971. The band became well-known in their home city of Birmingham and played throughout the city including an appearance at the 1970 May Ball held at the University of Aston where they shared the stage with Chris Barber and The Fourmost.

Flyer for the May Ball, 1970.

St. Christopher Steel Band’s big break came in 1974 when they made an appearance on the TV talent show ‘New Faces’. They were the first steel band to appear on the show, predating 20th Century Steel Band’s winning appearance in 1975. St. Christopher Steel Band came fourth on the show but were spotted by a Mr. Franklin, a travel agent.  Mr. Franklin offered them a two week gig at a hotel in Spain. The band went on to play in clubs, pubs and hotels around the world. They played concerts in England, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Germany, India and the UAE. During a residency in Dubai the band were not allowed to drink alcohol in the city but could buy alcohol outside of Dubai. The band members would travel outside of Dubai and smuggle alcohol back to their hotel room, risking a prison sentence. Once the hotel manager found out, the band were certain they would be arrested. To their delight the manager understood that musicians enjoyed a drink and told them that they could purchase alcohol from him as long as they only drank it in their hotel room.

Back in England, St. Christopher Steel Band made an appearance on the BBC Radio programme ‘Caribbean Corner’ and in 1977 they recorded the album ‘Island In The Sun’. The album was recorded at Grosvenor Recording Studios in Birmingham and was released on the local label Hollik & Taylor. The album contained twelve tracks that were “their fans’ requested favourites”. St. Christopher Steel Band disbanded around 1977/1978. John Rawlins went on to join the Tropical Islanders Steel Band who made an appearance on the TV show ‘Alright Now’ in December 1980 and later appeared on ‘Tiswas’. He then joined the Sunjest Steel Band who recorded a number of CDs and was later a member of the Caribbean Harmonics Steel Band who made a DVD of their performances.

Island In The Sun album, 1977

Carnival of Peace – Leeds West Indian Carnival 2018 – Part 2

Prince And Princess Show, 19 August
Three Princes and five Princesses took part in the 2018 Prince And Princess Show. The show was held at the outdoor marquee at the West Indian Center on Sunday 19 August. Guests were entertained by poetry readings, a dance routine by young dancer Ruby Rose and live music by ‘Leeds Lives Not Knives’ and The New World Steel Orchestra. Soca DJ Godfather provided tunes for the contestants to dance to. The first place Prince prize was taken by Makai Jeremiah, The Prince of Goodwill. His costume was designed by 11-year-old Lina Mir, one of Arthur France’s granddaughters who has been designing costumes since 2015. Aria Nisbett as Aquariah Princess of The Undersea Fairies won the prize for the 2018 Carnival Princess. Her costume was designed by Malachi Blair.

Winning Prince Makai Jeremiah (Photo: Danny Friar)

Leeds West Indian Carnival Graffiti Mural, August
American graffiti artist George ‘SEN-One’ Morillo teamed up with two Leeds street artists, ‘Hyro’ and ‘King Monk’, to create a graffiti mural in Potternewton Park for the 2018 Leeds West Indian Carnival. The project took two days to complete. SEN-One spoke to the Yorkshire Evening Post on 21 August saying “We all did stuff that was outside of our safe zones – it’s not just straight graffiti, but contemporary art”. SEN-One also reported that local youths helped with the mural saying “There was a real buzz down in the park, the kids would come down and want to have a go with the cans”. SEN-One gave a talk at the Outlaws Yacht Club as part of a fundraiser for the youth music charity MAP on 22 August.

King And Queen Show, 24 August
Due to refurbishments taking place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2018’s King And Queen Show was held at the New Dock Hall, opposite the Royal Armories in Leeds. The event was held on Friday 24 August from 7:30pm and was due to finish at 10:30pm but ran over until 11pm. Guests, who paid £15 for a ticket, were entertained by an almost all-female version of The New World Steel Orchestra who played two numbers before the main show began. After a special dance performance by RJC Dance’s adult group, the 2018 Carnival Prince and Princess entered the stage to perform in their costumes. Arthur France was next invited on to the stage to give a speech which was followed by the King contestants. The five judges judged the costumes on quality, creativity, craftsmanship, theme and portrayal of the theme, and impact.
Six Kings competed in this year’s contest including the RJC Dance Carnival King Qumar Frederick who was wearing the costume ‘Rhythm Warrior’ which was designed and made by Rhian Kempadoo Millar, Tracey Pinder, Shamce Hussan, Marina Poppa & Creative Seed. RJC Dance were celebrating their 25th anniversary and Qumar Frederick was their first ever Carnival King. Omari Swanson Jeffers wore a costume titled ‘Legacy’ which was designed and made by Tashi Brown of Team Creative. Part of the costume had been left behind resulting in some last-minute body painting onto Omari’s torso to replace the missing piece. Sephbon Condor took the first prize in the costume ‘King Beast’ designed by the High Esteem team.
After all six Kings had been on stage, guests were treated to a special preview of the dance piece Dancival created by De-Napoli Clarke.

Six different Queens took part in the 2018 show. Among them was first-time Queen Elaine York in a costume titled ‘Lines of Communication’ designed and made by Jason King of Derby West Indian Carnival Association. Elaine, who was in her 50s, had won the Derby Carnival Queen contest in July. Maya Rey performed in the costume ‘Lozen Warrior Queen’ designed by Lorina Gumbs and The AnonyMas Team. The costume included a cloud that lit up and changed colour. Pareesha Valentina’s costume was titled ‘Unity In Diversity’ and was designed and made by Valentina’s Collective. Singer Lara Rose represented the AAA Team in her costume ‘Winnie Mandela, Mother of the Nation’ designed and made by Arthur France. Arthur France also designed the King costume ‘Nelson Mandela, Father of the Nation’. Holly Southwell from Leicester took the first prize in a costume titled Brazilian Fantasy de Sao Paulo. Her costume was designed and made by Lincoln and Athan Da Silva. Holly Southwell celebrated her third win of the 2018 Carnival season. She had won the Queen contest in Leicester and Nottingham before competing at Leeds.

After an interval, the second half of the show began with a performance by H.U.M Gospel Choir. The choir was followed by stand-up comedian Cain Green and Calypso music from last year’s Soca Monarch Lady Sonia. Before the results were announced, guests were entertained by Calypsonian Sylvester ‘Socrates’ Hodge.

Winning Queen Holly Southwell and winning King Sephbon Condor. (Photo: Danny Friar)

2018 Kings And Queens
· Sephbon Condor in a costume titled ‘King Beast’ designed and made by Sephbon Condor and The High Esteem Team (1st Place)
· Solomon Hunter in a costume titled ‘God of Fire’ designed and made by Solomon Hunter and Inspire Yourself (2nd Place)
· Michael Herbert is a costume titled ‘Nelson Mandela, Father of the Nation’ designed and made by Arthur France
· Omari Swanson Jeffers in a costume titled ‘Legacy’ designed and made by Tashi Brown
· Stanley Carey in a costume titled ‘Ancestral King’
· Qumar Frederick in a costume titled ‘Rhythm Warrior’ designed and made by Rhian Kempadoo-Millar and the RJC Dance team
· Holly Southwell in a costume titled ‘Brazilian Fantasy de Sao Paulo’ designed and made by Lincoln and Athan Da Silva (1st Place)
· Pareesha Valentina in a costume titled ‘Unity In Diversity’ designed and made by Valentina Carnival Arts (2nd Place)
· Lara Rose in a costume titled ‘Winnie Mandela, Mother of The Nation’ designed and made by Arthur France
· Maya Olivia Rey in a costume titled ‘Lozen Warrior Queen’ designed and made by Lorina Gumbs and the AnonyMas Team
· Chancelynne Mabowala in a costume titled ‘Reigne De La Tablas’ designed and made by Charis Betts
· Elaine York in a costume titled ‘Lines of Communication’ designed and made by Jason King of Derby West Indian Carnival Association

Soca Monarch Show, 26 August
The 2018 Soca Monarch Show was held at the West Indian Centre on Sunday 26 August. The Soca Monarch Show took place after the Black Music Festival that had taken place in near-by Potternewton Park during the day. The free concert, headlined by Anthony B, saw poor attendance due to heavy rain throughout the day. The Soca Monarch Show included performances by Soca B and Lord Silkie among others.

J’ouvert Morning, 27 August
Leeds West Indian Carnival began at 6am on Monday 27 August with the traditional J’ouvert Morning parade and pyjama jammin’. Early morning revellers began gathering outside the West Indian Centre in time for the 6am start with more people joining in along the way. Led by Soca DJ Godfather’s truck, the parade which was made up of people in homemade costumes and nightwear, took a short route that included Chapeltown Road, Harehills Avenue and Spencer Place before returning to the West Indian Centre in time for breakfast.

Masqueraders on the road (Photo: Duncan Friar)

Leeds West Indian Carnival, 27 August
The rain held off for the 51st Leeds West Indian Carnival parade which took place on Monday 27 August. Local people and businesses began preparing for the big day as early as Friday. Streets and gardens were cleaned, grass was cut and bushes and hedges were trimmed, and stalls and stages were erected along Chapeltown Road and Harehills Avenue and barriers were placed along the carnival route. Dance steps were rehearsed and finishing touches were added to costumes as late as Monday morning. A stage was erected at The Carnival Village on Chapeltown Road and among the entertainment on the day was Foxwood Steel Band.

The carnival began at Potternewton Park at 2pm when the event was officially opened by Deputy Lieutenant Stanley Mcllheron, who was representing the Queen by Royal appointment. The Deputy Lieutenant had also been present at the King and Queen show on 24 August.
The parade, which was made up of 18 troupes, left the park late at around 2.45pm. The Yorkshire Evening Post later reported that the parade had been delayed due to a car parked on Harehills Avenue. The car had to be towed away before the parade could take place. The parade was led by the New World Steel Orchestra which used the same line-up they had used at the Queen Show. Among their members was Brenda ‘Soca B’ Farara. Following them was the High Esteem troupe from Leeds who were led by 2018’s winning King Sephbon Condor. Among the other troupes on the road in 2018 were the Culture Roots Carnival troupe from Derby, the Pure Elegance Carnival troupe from Huddersfield and the Rampage Mas CIC troupe from Luton who were celebrating 31 years on the road. RJC from Leeds were celebrating 25 years on the road with their troupe ‘Dance Warrior’. The Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe, also from Leeds, was celebrating 20 years on the road. Their 2018 troupe was titled ‘Windrush Bacchanal’. Other Leeds troupes on the road in 2018 included the AAA Team, Team Creative and AnonyMas whose members included Khadijah Ibraham. Another Leeds troupe was Valentina’s Collective. Their troupe, which was made up of 36 members, was titled ‘Unity in Diversity’ and was led by Pareesha Valentina in a Queen costume of the same name.

The carnival parade took the usual route, returning to Potternewton Park around 5pm. After the parade, the winners of the Biggest Troupe, Best Adult Troupe, Best Youth Troupe and Best Visiting Troupe were announced on the stage. It was the first time a Best Youth Troupe had been chosen.

People who wanted a more relaxed vibe at 2018’s carnival could find it at Soca Village’s ‘World Music Stage’ event. Soca Village was open from 12pm to provided “an afternoon to sit, relax and sip on a rum-punch or two”. Soca Village provided carnival vibes without all the hustle and bustle of Potternewton Park and the carnival route. Caribbean lunch with rum punch or beer was served at 1pm and live acts performed on the stage. The theme for the afternoon was world music which included African Salsa, Soca, Reggae and Kizomba.

Despite violence and arrests at other UK Carnivals held in 2018, including a record-breaking 450 arrests made at Notting Hill Carnival, Leeds West Indian Carnival was again a carnival of peace with no violence and zero arrests made.

Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe on the road (Photo: Duncan Friar).

Club Events, 24 – 27 August
A number of carnival themed club nights were held around Leeds during the August Bank Holiday weekend. The first of these took place on Friday night (24 August). Soca Village in Chapeltown held a ‘Island Vibes’ night which featured international Soca act Exodus HD from Anguilla. Among the supporting acts were local DJs Godfather, Daddy Rico and resident Soca Village DJ, DJ Sensation. On the same night, Kudeta VIP Lounge in Leeds held a ‘King of Carnival’ night which was billed as a pre-carnival event. On 25 August Soca Village held a ‘Back to Basics’ night which featured national and international acts. The headlining act was Street Vybez from St. Kitts. The ‘Leeds Carnival Official After-Party’ was held on 26 August, the night before the carnival parade. Held at the West Indian Centre, the night included music by DJ Trini, DJ Laundry, DJ Vybez, DJ Toro, Street Vybez and Hypa Crew. The event lasted until 6am the following morning so that revellers could take part in J’ouvert Morning which began outside the West Indian Centre. A ‘Leeds Carnival After Party’ was held at Rum & Reason in the city centre on the night of 27 August. Music was provided by six DJs on rotation from 10.30pm until 4am.

Leeds West Indian Carnival 50 Highlights Video, 7 September
A two-minute and 45 second video showing highlights from 2017’s Leeds West Indian Carnival made by Opal Video was uploaded onto the carnival Youtube channel, Facebook page and website on 7 September 2018. The video showed clips of the carnival launch, Pop Up Carnival, the ‘I’m Carnival Happy’ photo shoots, the Reveal show, the exhibition at the Tetley, the Carnival Chronicles play, the King and Queen show, troupes in Potternewton park and the carnival parade and Leeds Light Night as well as clips from the 2018 Pop Up Carnival in Masham.

Team Creative at Samba For Charity, 23 September
Members of the Team Creative troupe took part in the Samba For Charity event on 23 September. The charity event took place at Freedom Mills on Washington Street in Leeds between 3 – 9pm. Tickets were priced at £8 and as well as performances by Team Creative, the entertainment included music by DJ Fabio Bahia, Tempo Feliz Band and Leeds Samba Drummers and Dancers.

Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival, 18 – 25 September
The annual Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival took place in Port of Spain in Trinidad between 18 – 25 September. At the festival, the film and documentary Carnival Messiah won the People’s Choice Award for a narrative feature film.

Leeds West Indian Carnival YouTube Channel, 28 September
Another group of videos were uploaded onto the Leeds West Indian Carnival YouTube Channel on 28 September. These were seven clips of the 2017 play Carnival Chronicles. The clips, filmed by Opal Video at the Mandela Centre in October 2017, ranged from 54 seconds to over four minutes. The clips were included on the ‘Carnival Chronicles’ page of the Leeds Carnival’s website which also gave a detailed description of the play.

Carnival Messiah, film and documentary at Seven Arts, 30 September
The film version of Carnival Messiah along with the short documentary on Carnival Messiah was shown at Seven Arts on Harrogate Road in Leeds on Sunday 30 September. The performance of Carnival Messiah shown in the film was filmed at Harewood House in 2007 and the documentary was made in 2017. The screening began at 2pm and ended at 4.30pm. The screening was part of the World On Our Doorstep Festival and tickets were priced at £6.

Award Presentations, 7 & 20 October
Leeds West Indian Carnival held two award presentations in October. The first, the children’s presentation was held at the West Indian Centre on Sunday 7 October between 3 – 7pm. A trophy presentation was followed by a party with food, music, crafts and games. Each Prince and Princess contestant was awarded with a trophy after which the children were surprised with a foam party.

The adult’s award presentation was held at the West Indian Centre on Friday 20 October from 7pm. Guests enjoyed food provided by Maureen’s and music including a live performance of Amazing Grace. After everyone had eaten, awards were presented on the stage. Sephbon Condor gave a short speech during which he spoke about the difficulties of the year and his love for the carnival community. “For a lot of people this year, it’s been personally challenging for us. People have had loses of family and friends. People have gone through illnesses. And to see the amount of love in the Queen show makes me feel proud to be a part of this room and everyone in it” Sephbon said. After the presentation, historian Joe Williams gave a talk about carnival traditions and carnival’s African and European roots. Joe Williams’ talk was followed by a performance of the traditional Christmas sport David and Goliath. The evening ended with music and dancing.


Arthur France performing in David and Goliath (Photo: Danny Friar)

2018 Winners
· Carnival Queen – Holly Southwell
· Carnival King – Sephbon Condor
· Carnival Princess – Aria Nisbett
· Carnival Prince – Makai Jeremiah
· Biggest Troupe – AnonyMas
· Best Adult Troupe – Team Creative
· Best Youth Troupe – RJC Dance
· Best Visiting Troupe – Cultural Roots Carnival Troupe from Derby
· Best Individual – Khadija Ibrahiim


Moving Here Exhibition, 12 October – 31 December
The Moving Here Exhibition was held at the Leeds Museum from 12 October. The exhibition celebrated the Windrush Generation in Leeds. The exhibition was made up of photographs collated by Khadijah Ibrahiim and included photographs of Leeds West Indian Carnival courtesy of the Annette Liburd archive. The exhibition also included photographs of Leeds sound systems and the Paradise Steel Band. The free exhibition ran until the end of the year.
The museum also displayed two art pieces by Lara Rose. ‘Windrush Treasure Chest (2018)’ used found materials and mixed media assemblage that included carnival costumes and a Soca Village string bag. ‘Eyo Carnival Messiah (2018)’ used mixed media assemblage that included a carnival costume made by Arthur France.

Carnival Costumes Exhibition, 13 – 27 October
During the second half of October, St. Martin’s Church in Potternewton, Leeds held a special carnival costume exhibition within the church. Nine different costumes by Hughbon Condor and the High Esteem team were displayed at the exhibition along with photographs and press cuttings covering Hughbon Condor’s entire career. Among the costumes were 2003’s Pink Butterfly, 2012’s Salute, 2016’s Tiger At Play, and 2018’s King Beast. The free exhibition was opened by Councillor Sharon Hamilton on Saturday 13 October. During the special event, Hughbon, Sephbon and Andre Condor gave a talk about costume making and the history of High Esteem. Guests were entertained by steel pan music played by musician and ex-Wilberforce Steel Band member Cedric.
The exhibition was open for a limited time and the opening times were as follows:
Wednesday 9 – 11am and then 7-9pm
Saturday 4 – 6pm
Sunday 12-2pm
The church invited local residents who had been involved in Leeds West Indian Carnival in the past to attend a special Carnival Reminiscence Workshop held on Saturday 27 October. A costume from the 2017 “Age Is No Barrier” troupe was displayed at the church for the workshop. The workshop was an opportunity for people to share their carnival stories and reunite with old friends. Some of the memories were later shared on the church’s website.
The church also held a Caribbean Songs of Praise on Sunday 14 October led by Revd Jane from 2.30pm.

Carnival Costumes Exhibition (Photo:Danny Friar)

Team Creative After Party at Rum & Reason, 19 October
Leeds troupe Team Creative held their carnival after party at Rum & Reason on New Briggate, Leeds on 19 October. The party was held from 10pm and tickets were priced at £5. Guests received a complimentary welcome drink and were offered a chance to join the 2019 troupe with a discounted ‘early bird’ price . Music was provided by DJ Krome late into the night

The Melanin Family Fun Day, 27 October
A family fun day was held at the Leeds Industrial Museum in Armley on 27 October. Among the many events taking place during the day was workshops and dance routines organised by the Anoymas troupe from Leeds. Carnival costumes by Anoymas were also on display at the museum. The free event took place between 10am and 4pm and was part of the Melanin Fest.

Roots, Respect And Still Rising Exhibition, 2 November
2018 marked the 25th anniversary of RJC Dance. Founded in 1993, RJC’s first carnival troupe, Fire Warriors, took to the road in 1998. To celebrate the landmark year, a special one-day-only exhibition was held at the RJC Dance Studio in the Mandela Centre on Chapeltown Road. The exhibition had originally been planned to take place in October. Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post in August, dance director Kathy Williams said “It’s amazing how time has just flown by and what’s more amazing is we’ve got generations of families coming through the youth development programme”.
The exhibition, Roots, Respect And Still Rising, took place on the night of Friday 2 November between 6.30pm – 8.30pm. Guests enjoyed refreshments before the exhibition was opened by Councillor Jane Dowson. The exhibition focused on RJC’s contribution to Leeds West Indian Carnival. On display at the exhibition were photographs, artwork of costume designs, books and several carnival costumes including several headdresses from 2018. Displays around the exhibition gave a detailed history of RJC’s Carnival troupes since 1998. A large screen showed video footage of the RJC troupe. Past trophies and photographs from 2018’s carnival parade were on display in a separate room. Guests to the exhibition were invited to leave comments and give feedback on the exhibition.

Roots, Respect And Still Rising Exhibition (Photo: Danny Friar)

We Ah All Migrants Private Screenings, 19 November + 14 December
The short documentary film ‘We Ah All Migrants’ about David Oluwale and the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe was given a private screening at the Leeds Beckett University building in Millennium Square in Leeds on Monday 19 November. The invited-only screening began at 2pm and the 20 minute long film was followed by a discussion on the film. During the discussion, the idea of a second larger private screening was put forward. A second screening of the film took place at the Inkwell on Potternewton Lane during the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread Christmas party. Guests enjoyed drinks and food before the film was shown at 5.30pm. The film was shown again at 6.15pm.

Compassionate City Awards, 22 November
RJC Dance were awarded the Cultural Project of the Year award at the second Compassionate City Awards. The award was collected by Kathy Williams and RJC Dance Youth Ambassador Kori Morton at the Leeds Civic Hall on Thursday 22 November. The award, which was sponsored by Leeds 2023, was presented by the Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Graham Latty and Cllr Pat Latty.

Celebration of Cultures Evening, 29 November
A Celebration of Cultures Evening was held at Ralph Thoresby School in Holt Park in Leeds on 29 November. During the evening, carnival headdresses and a carnival prince costume were displayed at the school. Other items, including a carnival 50th tote bag and programme were also displayed. Among the guests at the evening was Theresa Spellman who had attended the first Leeds West Indian Carnival in 1967 and had attended almost every one since then. She shared some of her memories with representatives from the carnival who were also present at the event.

Business of Carnival, 6-8 December + A Winter Warmer Artist Showcase, 12-15 December
A development programme for carnival artists titled ‘The Business of Carnival’ was held at the Tetley in Leeds between 6-12 December. Run by  Represent North founders Susan Pitter and  Dawn Cameron, the programme was aimed at Yorkshire based Caribbean Carnival artists and artists from related disciplines e.g. dance, music, producing and writing. The programme fee was £50 and included two sessions at the Tetley. The first, the Funder Panel session, was held on Thursday 6 December from 6pm and the second session, Making the Most of Social Media, was held on Saturday 8 December from 10am to 3pm. A Winter Warmer Artist Showcase and Networking Event was held at Union 105 on Chapeltown Road on Wednesday 12 December from 6 – 8pm. Carnival costumes, headdresses, jewellery and photographs were displayed at the Artist Showcase event. The event ran at Union 105 until 15 December. A new website,, showcasing carnival artists was launched on 11 December. Artists and groups featured on the website are:
· Anonymas Carnival Band
· Christella Litras (Musician)
· Ella Mesma (Dancer & Choreographer)
· Esta Suma (Broadcast journalist and presenter)
· Ferm & Ready Mas Costume troupe
· Glennis Fleming – Gem aFrique (Costume accessory and jewellery designer)
· Hughbon Condor (Costume designer)
· Melachi Blair (Costumes & bespoke accessories)
· Miriam Wilkes (Arts & events project manager)
· Pareesha (Valentina) Webster (Choreographer & Costume designer)
· Renata Gordon (Costume consultant)
· Sheila Howarth (Costume designer)
· Tashi Brown (Make up and costume artist)
· Zodwa Nyoni (Playwright and poet)

Founders of Represent North, Susan Pitter and  Dawn Cameron.

The Christmas Carnival, 16 December
On Sunday 16 December, St. Martin’s Church in Leeds held a performance of ‘The Christmas Carnival’ as part of the parish Eucharist. Using music drama and bright and colourful carnival costumes, the children and adults of the Sunday Club brought to life the Nativity story.

Carnival of Peace – Leeds West Indian Carnival 2018 – Part 1

Tim Smith speaking at the Celebrate! book launch (Photo: Danny Friar).

Celebrate! – 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival Book Launch, 7 February
The photo book ‘Celebrate – 50 Years of Leeds West Indian Carnival’ had its official launch on 7 February. The book, which was published in September 2017, was launched at Broadcasting Place at Leeds Beckett University. A special launch event was held between 5.30pm – 7.30pm and guests included author Colin Grant. At the event guests enjoyed nibbles and wine.  After a welcome by Dr Emily Zobel Marshall, Dr Arthur France spoke about the early history of Leeds West Indian Carnival. Guy Farrar then spoke about the book and how it was put together. Next, photographer Tim Smith spoke about photographs of carnival and the Caribbean. Tim’s talk was followed by Max Farrar speaking about carnival as a topic for teaching.  Dr Emily Zobel Marshall then thanked people for coming and guests were invited to enjoy refreshments and take part in a discussion.

Early Preparations, March
Carnival artists and troupe reps began preparing for Leeds West Indian Carnival as early as March. A new generation of carnival costume designers were invited to a Heritage Character Writing and Costume Making Workshop held at The Tetley on 10 March. Children who attended the event were read stories by Trish Cooke, who read her book Mr. Pam Pam and the Hullabazoo. Trish Cooke then helped the children to create their own characters and with the help of Rhian Kempadoo-Millar, the children made their own carnival masks and costume accessories. All the children were gifted a copy of Trish Cooke’s book ‘Look Back’.

Several carnival artists and troupe reps took part in a workshop run by makeup artist Sasha Cross.  After a tutorial from Sasha Cross, the ladies created their own looks with Sasha’s expert guidance and top tips. Nick Singleton took ‘before and after’ photos which were posted on the Carnival Facebook page on 21 March. On 25 March, carnival artists travelled to London to attend a performance of The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. The group were treated to a behind the scenes tour.

A Taste of Carnival, April
A Taste of Carnival Family Workshop was held at Leeds West Indian Centre on Easter Monday between 10.30am – 4.30pm. The event held on 2 April had a registration fee of £5 and was open to children aged 6 to 15. Children that attended learnt soca dance moves with Pareesha Valentina, learnt stilt walking basics with Urban Angels and practiced ‘blinging skills’ with Renata Gordon. Attendees also enjoyed singing calypso songs with Caution Collective and were able to have their faces painted by Team Creative.

Members of the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread Masqueraders troupe including Simon Namsoo, Rose Farrar and Grace Hickson performed at the Accountability Assembly held at Leeds City Varieties. The free event was organised by Leeds Citizens and was held on 19 April between 6.30pm – 9pm.

Leeds Steel Pan pioneers at Mandela Centre (Photo: Danny Friar).

A Brief History of Pan, 2 May
Organised by Susan Pitter and founded by the Arts Council England, Leeds West Indian Carnival held the event ‘A Brief History of Pan’ on 2 May. The free event was held at the RJC Dance Studio in the Mandela Centre on Chapeltown Road. Beginning at 7pm, guests were welcomed by Susan Pitter and were treated to Caribbean Canapés. At around 8pm guests were taken into the RJC Dance Studio and were entrained by a brief performance by New World Steel Orchestra. Susan Pitter then introduced the host for the evening, historian Joe Williams. Joe Williams interviewed special guests, the first of which was Pepe Francis MBE, the chairman of the British Association of Steel Bands and Ebony Steel Band Trust Director. He spoke about his early life in Trinidad, coming to England, and the early history of the steel pan in the UK. The next guest was solo panist Dudley Nesbitt who gave a performance on the pan. He then spoke about pan in education and the founding of New World Steel Orchestra. A video clip was shown of the The Caribbeans performing on Opportunity Knocks in 1965 and Joe Williams interviewed original members Wilfred Alexander and Irvin Stephens. They spoke about how the band formed and how Sonny Marks became their singer. One of Sonny’s daughters, Natalie, was in the audience.

Joe Williams then interviewed more Leeds pan pioneers Rex Watley, Alvin Romney (of Wilberforce Steelband) and Arthur France. The men reminisced about the Gay Carnival Steel Band and the role pan played in the early days of Leeds West Indian Carnival. Arthur France also shared memories of the founding of New World Steel Orchestra and buying second-hand pans from Pepe Francis. Joe was then joined by steel pan tutor and Self-proclaimed ‘Panjumbi’ Melvin Zackers. Melvin shared with the audience the story of how he became involved with pan and the New World Steel Orchestra. Pepe Francis then returned to the stage to discuss the future of pan and a video clip of BP Renegades performing at the 2018 Panorama was shown. The evening came to a close with a speech by Susan Pitter who spoke about the importance of keeping culture alive and remembering our history which was followed by a special performance by Dudley Nesbitt. Official photos were taken by David Lindsay and appeared on the Leeds West Indian Carnival page the next day.

Pop Up Carnival, 6 May
The only Pop Up Carnival of 2018 took place in the market town of Masham in North Yorkshire. Masham was the fourth and final stage of the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire. 30 performers from  the AAA Team and Ferm & Ready carnival troupe took part in two mini carnival parades at Masham Market Place on Sunday 6 May. Both parades began at Masham Town Hall. The first parade began at 1.30pm with a second parade beginning at 4.30pm. The parade included a troupe as well as Glennis Fleming in her individual costume ‘High Priestess’, one King costume and eight Carnival Queens from previous years dancing to Soca music. Prior to the event, the Harrogate Informer spoke to Arthur France who said “We are delighted that Pop Up Carnival will showcase the spectacle and artistry that Leeds West Indian Carnival is known for, to Masham and the Tour de Yorkshire.” Present at the Pop Up Carnival was Design & Deliver who filmed and photographed the parades.

Leeds Carnival in Masham (Photo: David Gwillam)

Leeds West Indian Carnival YouTube Channel, May – June
The official Leeds West Indian Carnival YouTube channel received somewhat of a revival in 2018 when two new videos where uploaded in May and June. They were the first videos uploaded to the YouTube channel since May 2015. The first video, ‘Design and Deliver Final’, was a short film looking at the Leeds West Indian Carnival’s Arts Council England supported programme Design And Deliver. The video was produced and edited by Esta Suma who also wrote an article about Design And Deliver for the Leeds Carnival website. The video was used in the article and was uploaded onto YouTube on 19 May. The second video, unloaded on 6 June, was audio of Lord Silkie performing ‘St. Kitts Is My Borning Land’ in 2017. It was used in the multi-media article ‘Carnival Music & Leeds’, written by Danny Friar and Susan Pitter and uploaded onto the Leeds Carnival website on 6 June.  Various other updates were made to the Leeds Carnival website including updates to the Carnival Timeline and Carnival Heroes, which had first been uploaded in 2017.

Carnival Preparations, May – August
Costume making for 2018’s carnival parade began as early as May. The Harrison Bundy Mama Dread troupe received funding from Arts Council England and Leeds Inspired. Work on the Mama Dread troupe costumes began in May and a Mas Camp was set up at 150 Chapeltown Road in June. Valentina’s Collective also received funding from Arts Council England and Leeds Inspired and began making their costumes in June.

Some of Team Creative’s costumes were designed and made by July. Team Creative are the only self-funded Leeds troupe to take part in the Leeds West Indian Carnival. Their costumes were made in the living rooms of members of the troupe. Team Creative’s training sessions and dance rehearsals took place at the Norma Hutchings Park every Wednesday beginning in June. Mama Dread dance rehearsals took place at the Mama Dread Mas Camp every Wednesday evening. Weekly carnival dance classes took place at Koby Studios on Mabgate over a 10 week period. Run by Pareesha Valentina, the ‘Soca Sweat’ sessions were offered at a discounted price for Leeds troupe members. Dances were still be rehearsed and costumes were still being made until the morning of the carnival parade.

Max Farrar last-minute costume making two days before the parade (Photo: Danny Friar)

Leeds Carnival On The Road, June – August

Between June and August, carnival troupes from Leeds took part in carnivals across the UK. Valentina’s Collective, High Esteem, RJC Dance, The AAA Team and Harrison Bundey Mama Dread were among the Leeds talent that took part in UK Carnivals during 2018. These were the following:

10 June – Preston Caribbean Carnival
30 June – Tyneside Festival Summer Parade, South Shields
7 July – St. Pauls Carnival, Bristol
15 July – Derby Caribbean Carnival,
15 July – Mirfield Carnival Parade
4 August – Leicester Caribbean Carnival
11 August – Caribbean Carnival of Manchester

Members of the Valentina’s Collective and High Esteem carnival troupes took part in the Preston Caribbean Carnival parade held on Sunday 10 June. The Preston Caribbean Carnival had been expanded to two days this year with the addition of a Sound System Festival held at Moor Park on Saturday 9 June. The festival included headlining act King Tubby.  The carnival parade took place the following day and left Moor Park at 12pm, it then headed down Deepdale Road and onto Meadow Street before heading to North Road via St. Paul’s Road and Sedgwick Street. From North Road the parade went up Garstang Road before returning to Moor Park via Moor Park Avenue. The theme for 2018’s carnival parade was ‘Under Water’. Parersha Valentina of Valentina’s Collective had worked closesly with Preston Caribbean Carnival earlier in the year, running a headdress workshop.

High Esteem in Preston.

The RJC Dance Youth Provision took their ‘Light It Up’ Carnival troupe to South Shields to take part in the Tyneside Festival Summer Parade on Saturday 30 June. The parade, which was part of the Tyneside Festival –a three-month programme of free events, began at South Shields town hall at 1pm and made its way to South Shields Seafront via Fowler Street and Ocean Road before ending at Bents Park. The parade, which was made up of 2,000 people, was based around the theme of Monsters, Myths & Magic.

St. Pauls Carnival returned to the streets of Bristol on 7 July after a three-year absence. Members of The AAA Team troupe from Leeds took part in the carnival parade which was celebrating its 50th anniversary. The Rise Youth Dance troupe from Bristol also took part in the parade in headdresses made by Valentina’s Collective. The troupe was made up of 12 members all wearing headdresses from the 2017 troupe ‘Egyptian Uprise’. The parade began at midday on Wilson Street outside St. Paul’s Park before heading towards Portland Square. From Portland Square, the parade went down Surrey Street and up Upper York Street. From Upper York Street, the parade traveled along City Road, Ashley Road and Lower Ashley Road before turning into Tudor Road. From Tudor Road, the parade made its way down Newfoundland Road via Fern Street. The parade ended outside St. Paul’s Sport Centre on Newfoundland Road. The day ended violently when a 40-year-old man, Carlton Foster, was stabbed outside his home on Campbell Street, nearby the parade route. Mr Foster was selling drinks in his front garden when the incident took place around 9.30pm. It was one of a number of violent incidents to take place at British Carnivals in 2018.

Huddersfield Carnival came to a violent end on Saturday 14 July when shots were fired from a car on Great Northern Street.  Armed officers were immediately dispatched and the car was later traced, a gun was recovered and three men were arrested. Despite the incident, the Official After Party at the Hudawi Centre still took place as planned. A statement from Huddersfield Carnival read: “Well what can we say! We had fantastic weather, hard working groups of young people enjoying the Carnival splendour and having fun. Then the worst situation ever at Carnival by a small minority which is a police matter. We are still going ahead with our Official After Party”. The Last Lap dance took place at the Hudawi Centre from 11pm and among the night’s entertainment was Sensation Sounds from Leeds.  Special coaches had been put on by Huddersfield Coaches, bringing carnival revellers from Manchester and Leeds for the event.  Sensation Sounds also played at the ‘Twins Of Twins’ Carnival after party in Manchester on Saturday 11 August.

Carnival troupes from Leeds were busy on Sunday 15 July. The AAA Team and Valentina’s Collective took part in the Derby Caribbean Carnival. They were two of the eleven troupes to take part in the carnival parade that also included troupes from Bradford, Nottingham and Leicester.  2018’s carnival route was in reverse, beginning at the Market Place at 1pm and ending at Osmaston Park at 3.15pm. Members of the Harrison Bundey Mama Dread troupe played Mas in Mirfield at the annual Mirfield Carnival Parade. Organised by Callaloo Carnival Arts UK, the parade was part of the Mirfield Arts Festival.  Music for the parade was provided by DJ Soca Haze. As well as including the Harrison Bundey troupe, the parade also included a group of Moko Jumbies from Tyneside.

Members of the AAA Team troupe from Leeds took part in the Leicester Caribbean Carnival on Saturday 4 August. The troupe was one of eleven troupes representing different Central and South American and Caribbean countries. The theme for the carnival was ‘Latino Fiesta’. The AAA Team troupe took the prize for Best Visiting Troupe. The parade began and ended at Victoria Park. Live entrainment was shown on a number of stages in the ‘Carnival Village’ in Victoria Park. Soca B and The Godfather from Leeds were the MCs on the main stage. Acts on the main stage included dancers, rappers and drummers. The headlining act for 2018 was the 1 Plus Band from London.

AAA Team in Leicester.

Due to financial reasons, the Caribbean Carnival of Manchester had a much shorter route in 2018. Among the troupes on the road was Valentina’s Collective  from Leeds displaying their 2017 troupe costumes. The shortened parade left Alexandra Park around 1.30pm and travelled up Alexandra Road,  then turned down Raby Street before returning to the park via Quinney Crescent. The parade stopped at Quinney Crescent for twenty minutes to allow the troupes to perform their routines. A street party, held on Claremont Road after the carnival, ended in violence when ten people, including two children, were hurt in a shooting that happened around 2.30am on Sunday morning. It is believed the gunman used a shotgun with pellets in its rounds. The Carnival chairman Mike Bisson gave a statement saying the attack would not ruin the two day ‘Windrush Bacchanal’. “Whatever happened outside has no connection to the carnival and it will be safe today (Sunday 12 August) and the crowds are coming in” he said.

Island To Island, 27 June – 27 July
The photography exhibition ‘Island To Island’ was held in Room 700 at Leeds Central Library between 27 June and 27 July. The exhibition displayed photographs of the Caribbean taken by Tim Smith and his father Derek Smith. Some of the photos showed images of carnivals in the Caribbean. The official exhibition launch was held on Wednesday 4 July between 5pm and 7pm. As well as photographs,  the exhibition also included a short film about Caribbean carnivals, archive material handpicked by Joe Williams of Heritage Corner, and recordings of poetry by Khadijah Ibrahiim as well as recordings and texts of local people’s memories of the Caribbean and their journey to the UK.  During the exhibition launch guests were provided with refreshments and were invited to enjoy the exhibition.  Tim Smith spoke about the photographs and putting the exhibition together. Khadijah Ibrahiim spoke about her recent trip to Jamaica and read her poem ‘My Mother’s Dutch Pot Of Stories’.  Joe Williams gave a short performance as Olaudah Equiano speaking about his life as a slave travelling from ‘island to island’. The following week on 11 July, the exhibition hosted an evening of Ghanaian dance, displaying the West African connections to carnival. The dance performance by Miishe African Music and Dancers was choreographed by Nii Kwartey Owoo and was followed by a Q&A discussion with the choreographer and Tim Smith. Both the exhibition launch event and ‘West African Connection To Carnival’ were free events supported by the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

Island to Island exhibition (Photo: Danny Friar)

Team Creative Reveal Show, 15 July
Team Creative held a ‘Reveal Show’ at Revolucion de Cuba in Leeds City Centre on 15 July. DJ Krome provided music at the guest- list-only event that began at 6pm. Revolucion de Cuba offered two-for-one cocktails which were enjoyed by most guests. The host for the night was 9-year-old Tyrone who began the night by inviting guests to ‘loosen up’ on the dance floor. The costume catwalk began at 7.15pm and the children’s costumes were revealed first. After a short break, the adult costumes were revealed.  Photographs at the event were strictly forbidden apart from those taken by the official Team Creative photographer. The costume catwalk lasted until 8pm after which a raffle was drawn.

Leeds Summer Service Exchange, 19 July
Students from Nazareth College in New York spent two and half weeks in England between 15 – 31 July. The majority of their time in England was spent in Leeds which included some time spent at the West Indian Centre in Chapeltown. At the West Indian Centre the students learnt about West Indian culture and history. They learnt about Leeds West Indian Carnival and were given a demonstration of Steel Pan music by Halima France-Mir on Thursday 19 July.

Arthur France in Nevis, 25 – 26 July
Arthur France and members of his family including his wife and three grandchildren took a trip to Charlestown in Nevis at the invite of Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis. Arthur was welcomed by the Premier of Nevis at his Pinney’s Estate Office on 25 July. The story was covered by the local press including the St.Kitts & Nevis Observer and Times Caribbean.  Mr Brantley said “I just want to extend very warm greetings to Mr Arthur France MBE who is quite famous not only in England but here as well”.  Arthur France said “For me it’s a pleasure and an honour to be here because Nevis is the island that shaped my destiny”.

The following day, Arthur France officially opened the 44th Culturama festivities at the Cultural Village. The theme of 2018’s festivities was ‘Fete, Food & Folklore’. Culturama began on 26 July and concluded on 7 August.

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Arthur France in Nevis, 25 July 2018.

Other Leeds West Indian Carnival News, July
On 10 July, Susan Pitter announced that she would no longer be working with Leeds West Indian Carnival. Susan had been a freelance consultant advisor, producer, PR and partnership specialist for the carnival since 2003. Prior to 2003 she had been a member of the carnival committee since 1982. In a statement posted on her Facebook page Susan said: “I am now off to re-focus on my business as a consultant locally, nationally and who knows, maybe even internationally!”

Arthur France was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Leeds Beckett University on 16 July. Arthur gave a speech at the ceremony saying “It gives me a great honour to be here this afternoon to receive such a prodigious award”. He added “we cannot be responsible for the past but we will certainly be responsible for the future”. Speaking after receiving the award Arthur France said: “First and foremost I must pay homage to my forefathers because it’s under their guidance and blessings I am here today.” The Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, Sir Bob Murray CBE said: “Arthur’s desire to bring people together and celebrate his country’s culture is admirable. He has been a champion of the West Indian people of Leeds for many years.” A video of Arthur France speaking about the honour was uploaded on to the Leeds Beckett University YouTube channel the following day. In the video Arthur said “It’s not just for me. My community, my family, the nation, and the people who have supported me over the years. This honour is not for me, it’s for all of us.”

Leeds City Council uploaded a video onto their YouTube channel on 24 July. The one-and-half-minute long video, ‘Together We Are Stronger: Halima’, featured Halima France-Mir, the granddaughter of Arthur France. In the video Halima spoke about carnival and community. Halima spoke about her involvement in Leeds West Indian Carnival, making costumes and playing steel pans. The video included footage of Halima France-Mir and Arthur France making carnival costumes at the Carnival Centre as well as footage of the New World Steel Orchestra playing on the road. The video was part of the ‘Together We Are Strong’ project by Leeds City Council and Building a Stronger Britain Together.  The video, one of six, was also included on the website.

Whistles And Roller Skates – Leeds West Indian Carnival 1982

The Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee underwent some changes in 1982. Vi Hendrickson, who had served with the committee since 1980, left after feeling disillusioned at the way the carnival was organised. In 1990 she spoke to Leeds Other Paper, giving her reasons for leaving. Speaking to Farrah Hussein, Vi Hendrickson expressed a number of issues she had with the carnival committee and the way things were organised. Vi felt that the committee didn’t do enough to promote involvement in the carnival. “Even now, no-one is sure of how to get involved in the preparations, it seems to be a closed shop” she said.  “The only way to get in is if you happen to know who’s on the committee”. Vi also felt that the committee was very male controlled. “The carnival organisers need to recognise the power and contribution of women within the carnival movement” she told Leeds Other Paper in 1990. Vi added “without their enormous skills there would be no carnival”. Vi felt that the committee didn’t do enough to communicate with the public. “They are spending public money and we have a right to know where it goes and how it’s spent” she told Leeds Other Paper. Vi also felt that the police and Leeds City Council had too much control over the event saying “now the police and the council decide how black people should express themselves”. Vi added “We should also be told of the negotiations that take place between the carnival committee and the council, and the committee and the police”. Vi Hendrickson’s last compliant was that the committee didn’t involve the younger generation. “Their contribution is absent from the carnival” she said in 1990.

The younger generation’s involvement in the Leeds West Indian Carnival was clear in 1982; Susan Pitter (19) and Melvin Zakers (16) both joined the committee that year and Stuart Bailey (18) was involved in the Queen Show.  Born in Leeds in 1966, Melvin Zakers was already a well-established steel pan player. He had joined the Chapeltown Dance Theatre Steel Band in 1978 and later joined the Metro Steel Band before joining Paradise Steel Band in 1982.  He had met Arthur France around the same time while completing a course on electronics at the newly opened Harehills Technology Centre. Arthur encouraged Melvin to become involved with the carnival and spoke to him about his idea of founding an all steel orchestra and Melvin agreed to join the orchestra once it was up and running.

Other members of the committee included Arthur France, Ian Charles, Hughbon Condor, St.Clair Morris, Edris Browne and Gloria Pemberton. Prior to the carnival, the BBC filmed part of a Carnival Committee meeting for inclusion in their news programme Look North. The Leeds West Indian Carnival, now in its fifteenth year, had managed to gain support from several public sector bodies including Leeds City Council, Leeds Education Department, The Commission for Racial Equality, Yorkshire Arts Association and Leeds Community Relations Council.

Carnival Committee meeting, 1982.

Leeds West Indian Carnival Committee Members:
Ian Charles
Arthur France
Hughbon Condor
Brian Phillips
Gloria Pemberton
Susan Pitter
Melvin Zakers
St Clair Morris
Edris Browne
Jeannie Stoute

The Carnival Queen Show that year was held on Friday 27 August. 18-year-old Stuart Bailey provided manual help at the Queen Show which was again held at Primrose Hill High School. This year’s comperes were Susan Pitter and Reggie Challenger for the first time, replacing Abdul Ali who had immigrated to Trinidad. Susan Pitter was working as a presenter on the BBC Radio Leeds magazine programme ‘Calypso’ when she was ‘spotted’ by Ian Charles and Abdul Ali. Other members of the Calypso team during this period included Ken Wenham, Glen English, Paul Eubanks and Dougie Thorpe. Susan Pitter had been a hostess to special guests at the 1981 Queen Show and was invited by Edris Browne to replace Abdul Ali as the compere of the 1982 Queen Show. This year’s Queen Show was a much bigger show than previous years. Guests were entertained by records played by Mackie’s Disco and live music performed by Addison Phillips and his singing group with guitars, the Bosco Steel Band and local calypsonians that included Lord Silkie, Mr and Mrs Sketch, the Bazzard Players and others. Paul ‘Quincy’ Eubanks performed a comedy show and The Sustain Dancers performed a dance routine. Born in Leeds, Paul Eubanks was the son of Jamaican parents Sadie and George Eubanks. During the 1980s he organised comedy shows to help raise money for Roscoe Methodist Church. Paul Eubanks also helped run the Boys Brigade, the Roscoe football team and was part of the WIFCOS (The West Indian Family Counselling Service) team with Mary Saddler. The Sustain Dancers had been founded a year earlier by Gloria Pemberton, who directed the troupe. Gloria invited her friend’s daughters to join the troupe and another committee member provided rehearsal space. “Ian Charles gave us a place to practise” Gloria told Max Farrar in 2007. The night also included a carnival film and slideshow and Old Mas sketches. Six Carnival Queen costumes were made for the 1982 Leeds West Indian Carnival. They were:

  • Valerie Daley,22, in a costume designed and made by Arthur France and Gloria Pemberton sponsored by the Commission for Racial Equality.
  • Leone Gordon in a costume designed and made by members of The Hub Youth Club in Sheffield sponsored by The Hub.
  • Deborah Blackwood,17, in a costume designed and made by Elaine Thomas sponsored by Yorkshire Arts Association.
  • Pat Burt in a costume designed and made by Edris and Cavelle Browne sponsored by Leeds City Council.
  • Joan Fishley,20, in a costume designed and made by Ken and Angela Wenham, sponsored by Roseville Arts Centre
  • Yvette Lake in a costume designed and made by Rita Williams sponsored by Leeds Community Relations Council.
Valerie Daley as ‘An African Bird’

Colour footage of the 1982 Queen Show is kept in the West Yorkshire Archive. One clip shows four of the Queens dancing on the stage at Primrose Hill High School including Valerie Daley and Pat Burt. Another clip shows Valerie Daley dancing on the stage, her large white bird costume with rainbow wings almost touches the ceiling. The winning Queen for 1982 was 22-year-old Valerie Daley in the costume called ‘An African Bird’ designed and made by Arthur France and Gloria Pemberton. Valerie Daley led the parade on Monday 30 August that took the shorter, half-mile route first introduced in 1979. 1982 saw the dampest Leeds West Indian Carnival since 1970. Leeds Other Paper’s headline on 3 September read ‘It always shines at the West Indian Carnival – even when it rains!’ They reported that the weather “passed from grey skies through rain, to sunshine and back to grey skies”. A black and white photo printed on the front page shows Hughbon Condor in stilts towering over people with umbrellas in Potternewton Park. The Yorkshire Evening Post later reported that “A gloomy sky threatened to dampen the spirits of the 15th West Indian Carnival but, as if on cue, the sun shone on the glittering parade as it hit the streets.”

Hughbon Condor in Potternewton Park.

After leaving Potternewton Park at 2pm, the parade travelled down Harehills Avenue and onto Chapeltown Road. From Chapeltown Road the parade went down Regent Street and into Skinner Lane and then North Street before returning to Chapeltown Road and Potternewton Park. Large crowds gathered on Chapeltown Road and some spectators even climbed onto the flat roofs to get the best possible view of the parade. The following day, the Yorkshire Evening Post described the parade with Brian Kay writing: “as it danced, bounced and swayed on its way, its infectious atmosphere drew people from the pavements to swell the throng”.  Leeds Other Paper described the atmosphere. “The smell of rum was heavy in the air as bottles in paper bags were passed around” they wrote in their 3 September issue. Both the Yorkshire Evening Post and Leeds Other Paper mention the use of whistles at the carnival for the first time.  “Music was provided by steel bands and whistlers” Leeds Other Paper wrote and the Yorkshire Evening Post included a photo of “some of the whistle-blowing carnival dancers”.

“Some of the whistle-blowing carnival dancers”

Among the six Carnival Queens on the road that year was 17-year-old Deborah Blackwood from Bradford in a sparkling gold costume and 20-year-old Joan Fishley, who’s costume ‘Floral Goddess’ included four giant vases, brown ones at each side of the costume and two blue ones at the back. Both Queens were photographed by Yorkshire Evening Post photographer Steve Riding and were captured on film by ITV. A twenty-four second colour clip sits in the ITV film archive. It captures the moment when a wheel on Deborah Blackwood’s costume frame jams and Deborah continues on without the frame while a member of the troupe rushes in to fix the problem.  The footage also shows troupes and steel bands on the road and includes a shot of Hughbon Condor. The West Yorkshire Archive holds around 35 seconds of colour overhead footage of the parade that shows Parades Steel Band, a troupe and Hughbon Condor on his stilts. Also on the road that year was Brenda Brown who was photographed on Chapeltown Road in a costume inspired by the American Pilgrims. Edris Browne was also on the road that year, she was photographed by Max Farrar and Hughbon Condor was photographed by Steve Riding from the Yorkshire Evening Post. Hughbon’s photograph was one of seven black and white photos to appear in the newspaper the following day. Among the troupes on the road this year was Benjy’s Masqueraders who were again dressed as ‘Bushmen’ carrying tennis rackets. Among their members was eight-year-old Darren Craig who’s photograph appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post the next day.

Darren Craig on the road.

The six Carnival Queens were joined by six steel bands that played on the road in 1982. Bosco Steel Band and Paradise Steel Band from Leeds were joined by North Stars from Huddersfield, Regal Star and Star Quality from Manchester and Contrast from Leicester. Crowd favourites were again North Stars who, according to the Yorkshire Evening Post, were “pride of place in the carnival”. The newspaper also reported that “dazzling roller skaters” were also a part of the parade in 1982.

Spectators would have recognised Paradise Steel Band led by Sinclair Morris; the band had appeared on television earlier in the year. Paradise Steel Band appeared on the ‘Caribbean’ episode of 3-2-1 aired on ITV on 13 March. The band performed a tune while members of the Los Caribos Limbo Dance Group, one of which was Hebrew Rawlins, showcased their skills. Formed around 1973, Los Caribos had turned professional not long after. They had toured England and Scotland, performed as far afield as Abu Dhabi and had held a residency at Butlin’s Holiday Camp. The group’s other members were Michael Paul, Shirley Hall and Sophia Claxon.  By 1982 the group had performed with some the best steel bands in Leeds including Esso Steel Band, Wilberforce Steel Band and The Caribbeans Steel Band.


Joan Fishley as ‘Floral Goddess’.

An estimated 6,000 people gathered in Potternewton Park at the end of the parade to enjoy music played by Steel Bands and Sound Systems. Awards for best Steel Band, Troupe, Queen and Individual were given on the stage in the park. The following day the Yorkshire Evening Post reported that “the event had been totally peaceful and there were no arrests.”  The Last Lap Dance was again held at Primrose Hill High School on Monday night from 9pm until 2am the following day. Tickets were priced at £1.50.

band road
Steel Band on the road.