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Sound System Culture: Celebrating Huddersfield’s Sound Systems

Image courtesy of One Love Books

Following their success with Clarks in Jamaica, One Love Books release their latest book, Sound System Culture, which celebrates the rich musical history of the small market town, Huddersfield. Nestled within the Pennine Hills of West Yorkshire, Huddersfield seems the most unlikely location for Reggae culture, however has been a stronghold of the British Jamaican scene since its arrival in the 1960s. For the first time in print and featuring a wealth of previously unseen archive material, this book documents the subculture’s history from the initial immigration of Jamaicans to the UK after World War II, to the pioneers and early adopters that solidified the sound’s presence in Europe.

Image courtesy of One Love Books

Sound system culture first became popular in the 1950s, in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. It began simply as a way of playing amplified music to outside gatherings. The first sound systems initially consisted of a small gramophone and speakers on a street corner or private land to entertain friends or attract business to commercial establishments.

Image courtesy of One Love Books

The mass immigration of Jamaicans in the 1960s and ‘70s brought the culture of the sound system to the UK. At the time reggae was increasingly popular with the UK's black working-class youth, its message of Rastafari and overcoming injustice struck a chord with those on the receiving end of racism, prejudice and poverty. It was also very popular with white working class youth, as the two groups often lived, went to school or worked together.

Image courtesy of One Love Books

Speaking about the project, developer and historian Mandy Samra says: “If you came to Huddersfield now you would never think it was once home to a thriving sound system scene. I felt it was important to document the stories of the people involved and to capture some of the magic of the past before it was lost forever. Watching elders look through the book now, I see that magic coming back to them and feel happy that those stories have finally been recorded, and that Huddersfield is back on the sound system map.”

Sound System Culture is available from

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