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Acid House, The Haçienda and Manchester, 1980s-90s | Peter J Walsh

During his stint at Manchester’s City Life Magazine in the late eighties – photographer Peter Walsh was a familiar face in The Haçienda. Immersed in Manchester’s club and music scene, Peter captured the early years of the UK’s Acid House explosion in the city and documented the many faces, and colourful fashions that graced the city as it became a cultural mecca and global export of music and fashion. 

Temperance Club night at The Haçienda, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
Documentary Photography

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.”

Temperance Club night at The Haçienda, 1990. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
The Haçienda

“Around the same time I began shooting for City Life, Manchester’s equivalent of Time out in London, photographing the burgeoning club scene at The Haçienda and other clubs on the city. 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.”

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

“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.”

Cultural Movement

As a photographer Peter would ago out into the city and document what was happening around Manchester. Nights at The Haçienda 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 Haçienda 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 DJs that helped shape and define the cities music scene.

The Haçienda, Manchester, 1989. Photo © Peter J Walsh.
The queue at The Haçienda, 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 and 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 the moment. 

Peter Walsh Gallery

All images © Peter J Walsh, all rights reserved. 

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