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From the Brixton riots to the rise of mods and skinheads…fascinating pics reveal the story of London in the 1970s and 80s

A FRENCH photojournalist has given a fascinating snapshot of life in the capital shortly after Margaret Thatcher came to power.

Yan Morvan, who has travelled to more than 20 war zones as a photographer, arrived in the UK six months after Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979.

 French photojournalist Yan Morvan has provided a snapshot of London in the late 70s and early 80s

Yan Morvan

French photojournalist Yan Morvan has provided a snapshot of London in the late 70s and early 80s

“I was working for a photo agency in France and I said ‘if something happens in the UK because Thatcher is there I want to go and record it'”, he recalled.

“So I went in November 1979 and I spent a month in London.”

Yan pictured Britain’s mod revival spurred on the bands such as The Jam, as well as skinheads he described as being “rebels against the system”.

He told the Sun Online: “With the mods and skinheads…it was a kind of fashion by then in London. The people who I met were very friendly and there were no problems, even though I was French.”

 Yan arrived in the UK shortly after Margaret Thatcher came to power

Yan Morvan

Yan arrived in the UK shortly after Margaret Thatcher came to power
 Yan said he noticed how people 'talked to each other more in London back then'

Yan Morvan

Yan said he noticed how people ‘talked to each other more in London back then’
 Yan arrived in the Uk during the mod revival and the second skinhead movement

Yan Morvan

Yan arrived in the Uk during the mod revival and the second skinhead movement
 Yan said the youths he photographed were friendly and forthcoming

Yan Morvan

Yan said the youths he photographed were friendly and forthcoming

Yan later returned to Britain in 1981 during the Brixton riots in April 1981 and stayed three months for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.

Describing the Brixton riots he said: “Compared to events like that now, for instance with the ‘yellow vests’ in France, there weren’t many photographers. It was so different.

“Now you see 100 people taking photos and TV crews but then there were only two or three photographers.

“It didn’t seem too aggressive…I never felt like I was in danger.

“It was people screaming, shouting and throwing stones. Police arrested people but many of them seemed to be drunk.

“If they were in France the police would have killed them!”

 Yan wanted to get a sense of life in Britain under the new Prime Minister

Yan Morvan

Yan wanted to get a sense of life in Britain under the new Prime Minister
 Yan said he liked photographing British women as they are 'very strong'

Yan Morvan

Yan said he liked photographing British women as they are ‘very strong’

Describing the changes he’d noticed when he returned to Britain 40 years later, he said: “People were talking to each other back then.

“Now people don’t talk anymore.”

Yan has put his London pictures together for an exhibition in April.

 Yan returned to London in 1981 during the Brixton riots in April

Yan Morvan

Yan returned to London in 1981 during the Brixton riots in April
 Yan took many photos of skinheads and mods in the late 70s and 80s

Yan Morvan

Yan took many photos of skinheads and mods in the late 70s and 80s
 Yan wanted to document young Londoners living under the new Tory PM

Yan Morvan

Yan wanted to document young Londoners living under the new Tory PM

Yan has taken pictures of gangs in France for more than 40 years with his subjects ranging from the Hell’s Angels to Skinheads.

He created a massive body of work showing an insight into gang culture, the violence behind it and how many gangsters live in squats.

 Two teenagers next to a room packed with badges and other mod memorabilia

Yan Morvan

Two teenagers next to a room packed with badges and other mod memorabilia
 A group of youths ride around on scooters during the early 1980s

Yan Morvan

A group of youths ride around on scooters during the early 1980s

His work proved dangerous as in 1995, he was held hostage and tortured for three weeks by French serial killer Guy Georges, while he was in the midst of his killing spree.

But Yan returned to his job shooting pictures in some of the French capital’s poorest areas.

In 2000, he released a book full of his gritty pictures called “Gangs Story” and it gained worldwide interest.


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