Rave On | Peter Walsh’s Images of a Youth Revolution.

By Paul Wright

Growing up in Manchester I became aware of Peter Walsh’s images when he was the photographer for the essential ‘What’s On’ bible for Manchester – City Life Magazine. During his stint at City Life Peter became immersed in Manchester’s club scene and documented the birth of the UK’s Rave and Acid House explosion. As well as capturing the spirit of the era, he also documented the many faces, bands and colourful fashions that graced the city as it became a cultural mecca and global export of music and fashion.

Temperence Club night at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.

Peter “I began working as a photographer for a documentary Co-op in Manchester in the mid eighties. I learned how to process films, make contact sheets and black and white printing. The photographers in the Co-op worked individually but would meet once a month to compare and critique each others work and printing skills. The training I received in all aspects of documentary photography during this time would prove invaluable to me as the rave scene hit Manchester just a few years later.”

Temperence Club night at The Hacienda, 1990. Photo © Peter J Walsh.

“Around the same time I began shooting for City Life, Manchester’s equivalent of Time out in London, photographing the burgeoning club scene. After photographing the Happy Mondays gig on Granada TV’s ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ I was asked to work for NME covering the North of England. I also began working regularly for The Face, ID, Mixmag and Muzik magazine.”

“It was a busy time that saw me working constantly through the night to process films from live gigs, selecting the images from contact sheets and printing and sending the photos off to London Euston to meet The NME’s weekly deadline. After a few hours sleep I was usually back in the studio, shooting another band for a feature.”

Happy Mondays on The Other Side of Midnight, Granada Studios, Manchester, 1989.
Photo © Peter J Walsh.

As a photographer Peter would ago out into the city and document what was happening around Manchester. Nights at The Hacienda including ‘Hot’ and ‘The Temperance Club’, a student night on Thursdays with DJ Dave Haslam that fused, indie, disco and house music. As acid house exploded Peter knew that Manchester and The Hacienda were at the epicentre of a cultural movement. Aside from documenting club culture in the city he also took photos of the many bands and DJ’s that helped shape and define the cities music scene.

The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
The queue at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.

The rave generation, Madchester, whatever you want to call it – it was a revolutionary time in musical and British cultural history. On the back of an economically challenging decade and before the onset of mobile phones and the internet, it united a generation. Ecstasy and music brought young people together, lifelong friendships were made, ideas were created. All walks of life, from single mums and students, to council workers and football hooligans. In that time, in that short lived era, they all came together and embraced each other and embraced the music.


Joy Rave. Ashworth Valley, Rochdale,  1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Hot at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
The Hacienda dancefloor bathed in pink light, 1988. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
A Guy Called Gerald and Graham Massey (808 State) on The Other Side Of Midnight, Victoria Baths, 1988. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Dance floor at The Boardwalk Manchester, 1991. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Dance floor at The Boardwalk, Manchester, 1991. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Baggy Fashions. Oldham Street, Manchester, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Tony Wilson at The Hacienda with architect an Hacienda interior designer Ben Kelly, 1988. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Happy Mondays Bez and Paul Davis (PD) with Tony Wilson at The Hacienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
The Hacienda dance floor, 1988. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Bobby Gillespie on stage with Primal Scream at The Hacienda. Photo © Peter J Walsh.

Peter’s images are currently on display at our People’s City Exhibition at The Refuge, Manchester until the end of March 2020. You can purchase exclusive prints from the exhibition here http://www.britishculturearchive.co.uk/shop

Find out more about Peter’s work on his website http://www.peterjwalsh.com

British Culture Archive is a non-profit organisation. In 2020/2021 we want to open a permanent gallery and exhibition space where we can showcase our People’s Archive alongside work from our featured photographers. If you appreciate the work we do PLEASE support our Crowdfunder campaign HERE.


2020 © British Culture Archive


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