For years it personified the dark underbelly of Huddersfield.
Now Great Northern Street, part of the red light district once stalked by the Yorkshire Ripper, has provided unlikely inspiration to singer/songwriter Arro Jones whose latest track is a poignant tale of love, loss, corruption and broken dreams.
‘Great Northern Street’ is part of the electro-pop artist’s debut EP ‘Middle of the Night’, released on December 7.
Arro, from Lindley, is an emerging talent whose debut single Fever was released in October and whose sound is beginning to have an impact on audiences across the UK.
Of ‘Great Northern Street’ he says: “It is based on the Huddersfield street of the same name where the prostitutes hang out. I have used it as a reference to tell a story of a girl’s fall into prostitution.”
On January 31, 1978 18-year-old Helen Rytka was murdered by Peter Sutcliffe in a timber yard in Great Northern Street. For years after the site was synonymous with the crimes of one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers.
The song’s lyrics are equally dark and bleak, with Arro describing the female protagonist as “a diamond beneath all the filthy surface” with “the weight of the world on her shoulders.”
And he evokes the mood and atmosphere of industrial back streets cruised by men looking for sex. Another lyric reads: “To cars passing by she’s just a ghost/Just a silouhette in the cigarette smoke.”
Arro locked himself away at the beginning of 2016 to focus on and expand his own sound. He played guitar, bass, synths, drums and percussion himself and mixed the end result with engineer Jack Beech. He says the background to ‘Great Northern Street’ is “part imagination and part reality.”
“It’s definitely based in truth but I have embellished it with my own imagination. I wanted to create a vibe of seedy streets with the visuals in the words. I know the image people have of a prostitute; they don’t see her as a person. I wanted to humanise the image and show how any of us could end up in that situation.
“I’m just trying to tell stories, really.”
Arro was previously lead singer and guitarist with the Holmfirth-based four-piece indie band Northern Beats, later known as Blacklight, which played support to bands such as Ocean Colour Scene and Fun Lovin’ Criminals.