Leslie Overend and his father set up
a freelance photographic agency in the 1920s.
Leslie became the roving photographer, travelling up
and down the country taking pictures of anything he
thought might sell. His father dealt with the business
end of things – setting up the work, receiving
orders and chasing the money.
Leslie took photographs at thousands of football matches
- he travelled for years with Huddersfield Town, who
were very successful at the time. He would also cover
fur and feather shows, dog shows, even mouse shows,
all over the country.
During this time he developed a passion for steam railways.
In later years he often talked fondly of his times travelling
in luxury aboard some of the country’s famous
trains, while sampling the finest food and drink.
Leslie's sister Evelyn’s husband,
Percy Fraas, was a conductor on the Devonian (Bradford-Paignton)
service and his memories of the food and service on
board that train would keep him talking for hours. He
had a fascination and deep appreciation of how such
high quality food could be cooked and served in such
difficult conditions – from a tiny galley in a
high-speed, swaying train.
He would also talk about the efficiency of the trains
in days gone by. One example he related on various occasions
was when he once left Bradford on a Saturday morning,
took pictures at a football match on the south coast
in the afternoon and was back in Bradford to play, and
win, a billiards match that evening.
His billiards opponent poured scorn on his story of
such long distance travel in a day – until Leslie
produced a copy of that day’s south coast newspaper
from his jacket pocket.
As the years rolled by, newspapers began to use more
and more photographs and the national scene became more
competitive – meaning there was less call for
a roving photographer. Leslie began to concentrate on
more local matters.
He often talked about his introduction to Morley in
1926, when he was a raw journalist representing the
Yorkshire Evening Argus. His job was to record the mayor-making
ceremony of one Alderman Thomas Albert Buttery.
That event was to be the first of 46 such mayor-making
ceremonies he was to cover in Morley and the first job
in the town which he was to become so closely associated
for such a long time.
After a short time, Leslie established himself as the
unofficial Morley Observer photographer, but always
retained his freelance status.
His Morley links were strengthened in 1955 when he married
the former Miss Doris Morse, proprietor of the Rendezvous
Café in Town Hall Buildings, and moved to lived
with her in a flat above the café.
Working for a number of proprietors and various editors,
he served the Morley Observer, Batley News and Dewsbury
Reporter - and various others in the West Riding - for
almost 60 years.
Such was his activity at such an assortment of events
he became one of the best-known and most recognisable
people in the district.
Despite his pride at being a Bradfordian, Leslie had
enormous respect for Morley and its people and would
wax lyrical about the great characters from the town
– the businessmen, the politicians, the drinkers,
the gamblers, the womanisers – he was proud to
have known and worked alongside.
He also recognised that his work put him in a privileged
position; here was a man from a quite ordinary background
who was often allowed to mix in extraordinary circles.
All in all, he lived quite an extraordinary life.