Today the UK's Notting Hill Carnival will be winding its way through the streets of west London for day two of the annual celebrations, five decades on from the very first event in 1964. A celebration of Afro-Caribbean culture in the UK capital, at its heart is music—steel pan bands, Carnival parties and dozens of sound systems set up in the cordoned-off streets. The UK's love of sound systems has its roots in the late '40s when hundreds of people from Jamaica and across the West Indies were invited to move to Britain and help reinvigorate the country following World War II. It was thanks to that first generation of Caribbean settlers that some truly unlikely places went on to become thriving centers of sound system culture—like Huddersfield, a small town in the north of England. In the slideshow above, Al Newman of One Love Books shares a series of fascinating photos from his new title Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield's Sound Systems and explains below how the book came to be.
Al Newman: "The Sound System Culture book was conceived by Huddersfield-based historian Mandy Samra as part of a larger heritage project that also included a film and touring exhibition, documenting the rich history of reggae sound systems in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire.
I was first contacted by Mandy a little under a year ago, just before the exhibition began touring, when she approached me to design the book after seeing one of my previous books, Clarks in Jamaica. I loved the subject and the little-known history of the Huddersfield sounds and ended up getting much more involved in the research and editing, working with Yorkshire soundman Paul Axis' text, and eventually publishing the book through my company, One Love Books.
In this excerpt from the book, Mandy explains how the project came about: "While never an insider of the sound system scene, I've always had an interest in sound systems and around five years ago I first had the idea for this project, but did not know where to begin. One day I was talking with my boiler man, Michael Royal, who revealed that he had been a sound operator for Duke Warrior, a Huddersfield-based sound system that had been active during the 1970s. Two people, who on the surface shared little in common, found a connecting thread in their interest in sound systems."
We are now looking to expand the project into other UK cities, eventually building up a history of sound systems throughout the whole of the UK."
Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield's Sound Systems is available now from One Love Books.