Photographs of Liverpool during the turbulent Thatcher years | David Sinclair

British Culture Archive

As an official photographer for The Militant David Sinclair captured many key social and political events through the 1980s and 1990s. His stunning captures of Liverpool during a time when the city rallied together in the face of Thatcherism and adversity.

As a working press photographer David captured everything from citywide protests across Britain to intimate portraits of the people growing up in communities affected by political and social change.

The Braddocks Liverpool 1980s
The Braddocks, Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.

David: “I left Alsop comprehensive school for boys in 1976, half way through my A levels. Disenchanted, I went to stack shelves with a couple of mates at Kwiksave on County Rd”.”After three years working I returned to education and was enrolled in college studying interior design, then moving on to Liverpool College of Art, learning to draw under the brilliant Nicholas Horsefield”.

Tate & Lyle

 

“Whilst studying I’d moved out of my family house into a ‘hard to let’ council flat in the rundown dock area of Liverpool 5. I was surrounded by derelict industrial buildings including Tate & Lyle sugar refiners, British American Tobacco, Bibby food processing and miles of abandoned dock buildings. I wanted to paint my environment so started taking photos as a sort of note taking and did make some colour landscape collages”.

Demolition of Tate and Lyle, Liverpool, 1980s
Demolition of Tate & Lyle. Liverpool, early 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.

Post-Industrial

 

“When I was introduced to black and white photography by a friend, I built my own darkroom. I started making prints with far more drama and humanity that I could get into a painting. I would spend many hours walking around Liverpool, exploring empty places like Council estates and going into derelict dock buildings, wandering the streets taking photos, mostly housing and post-industrial landscape – but it was in a time when kids would pester you to take their photo”.

Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.

Attitude

“A fundamental difference between the time I took these photos and today is the general attitude towards photographing children. Back then there was little, or no paranoia compared to now. Kids on the street would run up to me asking if I was from the Echo. I’d say no, but they’d insist I’d have to take a group shot, and I did so they’d leave me alone. Some of these shots are now my favourite photos and I take little credit for them because the kids’ insistence is what made me take the pictures. These turned out to be some of my favourite photos from that time”.

Gallery

Leeds Liverpool Canal 1980s
Throwing Bricks into the Leeds-Liverpool canal. Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool in the 1980s
Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Inner City Liverpool 1980s
Claudia Street, Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Mobile Shop Liverpool 1980s
Mobile Shop, Kirkdale, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool during the Thatcher Years
Girl with buggy. Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Toxteth Liverpool 1980s
Benny is a ponse. Toxteth, Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Toxteth in the 1980s
Toxteth 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool 1980s David Sinclair
Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Raleigh Grifter Bikes 1980s
Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool Lads 1980s
Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool 1980s David Sinclair
Liverpool, 1980s. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool Strike 1980s
Demonstration in support of the Labour Council, 1986. Photo © David Sinclair.
Liverpool Dockers Strike 1990s
Demonstration in support of the Liverpool Dockers strike, 1995. Photo © David Sinclair.

All images © Dave Sinclair, all rights reserved. Follow David Sinclair on Instagram here.

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British Culture Archive is a non profit independent resource set up to document 20th century culture and social change in the UK. In 2022 we plan to open our permanent gallery and exhibition space where we can showcase our People’s Archive alongside exhibitions from our featured photographers. 

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