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Inside Sheffield's Park Hill community: 1969-1970


About one hundred children play in a large concrete area. There is a brutalist building in the background. Black and white photograph.

Photographer Mick Jones shares his photos and memories of Park Hill in Sheffield, the estate at the heart of Standing at the Sky’s Edge, playing in the Olivier theatre until 25 March 2023.

For over 50 years, Jones left many of the negatives from his time at Park Hill undeveloped. To celebrate the award-winning musical, a display of Jones’ photographs is available in the Olivier foyer.

‘All my photographs were taken in 1969 and 1970 whilst I was a student at Sheffield College of Art. I was aged 17–18.’

‘Sheffield College of Art gave us the use of two cameras: a 2 ¼ inch film Rolleicord twin lens reflex camera, and a Pentax SLR 35mm film camera. I then started taking photographs as and when I liked. I used to like to go out and have a drink, so I took a camera with me to experiment with some new fast film.’

‘I was a resident [of Park Hill] from 1961 to 1974. This meant that most of my subjects were friends, neighbours or relatives. The results are a snapshot of a city and a community at a time of great change – of places and ordinary people going about their lives. It was a council estate then so it could get a bit rough, but there was a great sense of community.’

‘A number of photographers took photographs of Park Hill mainly in the 60s to 80s, but they were outsiders looking in.’

‘Sadly, from the late 80s things went downhill and the estate became a dumping ground. Now, of course, it’s risen like a phoenix and is enjoying more great times. So, there were three distinct time scales and Standing at the Sky’s Edge catches them perfectly.’

 Extracts from View by the Hill by Mick Jones