OVEREND'S MORLEY 1970-1979LESLIE OVEREND 20th ANNIVERSARY     leslie overend
home LESLIE OVEREND (1905-89) a big life in a few words leslie's work the morley connection stephen white place an order

Leslie Overend (1905-1989)

Leslie Overend’s huge collection of photographs, on glass plate and film, offers a unique insight into life in the 20th century, particularly the lives of working-class people from in and around the West Riding (of Yorkshire) towns of Morley, Batley and Dewsbury.

In the early days when few people owned cameras, faces sold newspapers. Leslie used to say, nay preach, that for every person who had his or her picture in the newspaper, you could guarantee selling at least a couple of papers, and quite often a number of prints. He said that if he had a picture of a group of children published, every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc would want a copy for himself or herself.

Taking clever, arty pictures was never Leslie’s aim. His work invariably featured bunches of people, groups of people, even crowds of people. But, despite the technical difficulties of the times – the relatively primitive cameras and lenses, the vagaries (and dangers) of flashpowder, the now archaic methods of image development and printing - the quality of Leslie’s work was always high.

In a professional career that spanned some 65 years, Leslie covered every aspect of newspaper photography. He took pictures from the top of buildings, from open-cockpit aircraft, from the side of football pitches, inside churches, during royal visits, at markets, at hundreds of weddings and even more dinners, teas and jumble sales. But he always had the same goal… get the picture, get the names, then deliver them both in plenty of time to get them in the paper.

He became one of the best-known people in the Morley, Batley and Dewsbury area. There can’t be many people who lived there who never found him or herself in his viewfinder, or who was never touched by his work.

From these basic facts you can gather that Leslie must have taken tens of thousands of photographs in his time.

Up until about 1955 he took all his pictures using glass plate cameras.

In the early days, he would often cover professional football matches. Grounds didn’t have floodlights in those days – and cameras didn’t have the power of flashbulbs to help. In winter, Leslie had to make sure he had taken his picture, or pictures, before half-time. He told me that once you began to notice people lighting their cigarettes in the stands – meaning the flare of their lighters or matches – it was too late for pictures; the day’s light had gone.

Technical problems were one thing; economy was another. Leslie once related a story about a Saturday more than 50 years ago when he was asked to cover a society wedding and a crucial Huddersfield Town First Division match. Jobs duly completed he returned to the office only to be told off for using all six plates.

Glass plates, of course, were - and remain – extremely fragile. Leslie changed his working headquarters a number of times during his career and, sadly, every time he moved a certain number of plates were destroyed.

Many of Leslie’s old glass plates exist today, but such was the erratic nature of his filing, it is not absolutely clear what every plate represents.

In the 1950s he moved to film photography – using 2.5in square negatives. Tens of thousands of his negatives from this time right up to his retirement in 1983, survive to this day. Fortunately, Leslie’s method of filing his film negatives was much improved.

He did a limited amount of colour work - weddings, commercial, legal, etc - but the vast majority of his pictures were taken in black and white. He always took great pride in developing and printing his own work, often working late into the night in his darkroom, and always turning out quality work to deadline.

If you want to know more about Leslie’s work, or maybe inquire about that special time he took your or your loved one’s picture please click here: Place An Order.

Leslie Overend.

Toffee apples at Morley feast.

World fish & chip eating contest at the Fastnet Fish Restaurant, Morley.

Jimmy Savile meets members of East Ardsley Youth Club.

home LESLIE OVEREND (1905-89) a big life in a few words leslie's work the morley connection stephen white place an order

all website content © stephen white 2007-2019