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24 September 2014

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Ian Tilton
Ian Tilton

The Hacienda in pictures

Ian Tilton has many triumphs to his name, not least snapping the Stone Roses for their defining debut album. He was also the only photographer to officially snap the Hacienda. As the photos go on sale for the first time, he spoke to us about them.

How did you come to be taking the pictures?

Ian Tilton

Amongst Tilton's most famous images are:

  • Kurt Cobain's tearful release of energy backstage in 1990
  • Iggy Pop well near booting the camera out of Tilton's hands
  • A youthful Stone Roses as featured on their debut album cover
  • Morrissey's shirt being torn to shreds, chosen by Moz to be the gatefold image on The Smiths album Rank
  • a thin but pretty Richey Manic
  • a brooding Robert Smith

The Haçienda (and other) images are available on his website.

The Hacienda (photo: Ian Tilton)
The Hacienda (photo: Ian Tilton)

I wanted to take some pictures of the interior in 1987 and I asked Paul Cons and Paul Mason, who were happy to let me wander around. It was such an original design and I wanted to capture that, as no one else had done it, and strangely enough, no one did it after me either. Ben Kelly (the Haçienda interior architect) took one photo that was hung in the Factory offices, but it was rather flat, and I saw that and wanted to capture it better.

Were you a Haçienda regular yourself?

I went to nights at the Haçienda from the early days, when it was often half empty and had surprisingly little of the atmosphere it became renowned for. I liked the originality of the space and I used to watch the great video loops they projected onto screens over the dance floor with a pint in my hand. The videos had a psychedelic trippyness about them. I wasn’t much of as dancer then, but I did in dance in later years. I guess I was too shy.

What did the club mean to you?

FAC 51 The Hacienda (photo: Ian Tilton)
FAC 51 The Hacienda (photo: Ian Tilton)

The Hacienda, in the early years, was a good venue to see bands (Big Audio Dynamite, New Order, Stone Roses, Oasis) but the sound was poor; echoy and boomy, which bands often complained about. I admired the fact that it lost so much money initially, but New Order kept it going for the love of it… they really believed that it could work and that inspired me. The Haçienda had some great DJs playing fantastic music, the likes of Mike Pickering, Sasha and Dave Haslam.

You usually photograph people, how did you find doing a building?

Photographing buildings is a very different experience to photographing people. When photographing a building, you are not capturing a moment or an expression, and of course, buildings can’t talk back! It’s a more relaxed experience, and you can take your time. When photographing a building, one has to consider what the designer’s and architect’s main ideas are, what they are putting across, and then compose images with those themes and ideas in mind.

What do you think of them when you look at them now?

I love the colour photos, which I found only six months ago in a box. The black and white photos have tons of atmosphere, particularly the crowd shots, while the colour photos have that atmosphere, while showing off Ben Kelly’s brilliant use of colour and design.

What did you think when the Haçienda was turned into flats?

The Hacienda crowd (photo: Ian Tilton)
The Hacienda crowd (photo: Ian Tilton)

When the gangsters moved in, I stopped going to the Haçienda. I didn’t feel regret when flats were built on the old site, after all, the Hacienda has long gone, and the flats are nothing to do with Haçienda, they just occupy the same plot of land.

Why are you selling the pictures now?

Because people just simply love the pictures! They are interested in the nostalgia of it all, even people who are too young to ever have gone, but have heard so much about it and are fascinated by it. People say that I’ve captured it as people remember it; an exciting, vibrant place, and the colour pictures certainly capture that. The photo of the plaque is very Factory, and they way I have printed it stirs emotions in people as it is so iconic and ambient. It has the feel of Joy Division record sleeves, as well as being a symbol of a club that was so much a part of so many people’s lives.

last updated: 16/05/07
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