Leeds – The Birth of Legal Outdoor Advertising


In 1863 Edward Sheldon installed the first rented poster site in Britain right here in our own lovely city of Leeds. Sheldon, having taken over a bill-posting business from his father-in-law was badly beaten in a fight with his rivals Wood and Holdsworth. They were fighting over the entitlement to a particularly desirable posting site. Sheldon, fearing that his life was in danger if further conflict arose, hit upon a radical idea. He rented the wall from its owner, thereby gaining the exclusive right to put posters on it.

This catalysed the division between paid for sites and fly-posting. There is no city or large town that has not seen streets blighted by the sight of peeling wall posters overlaid with the latest news of a record release or a band on tour.

For people in the music business, and other companies wanting to hit the young and hip, fly-posting reaches a specific market and gives the brand the instant image of street credibility. Pop Art’s sister company Street Sites was set up with the intention to create a modern solution to this problem. Taking inspiration from Sheldon, Rick Wade formed Street Sites in 1994 to combat Leeds fly-posting epidemic. By creating privately owned spaces city wide for touring bands and businesses to advertise in return for a small fee, the cool, fly-posting style of advertising is retained, whilst private property remains untarnished – a symbiosis that has been well established.

The company also plays an active role in cleaning up any illegal fly-posting, in what we call our ‘prevention, provision’ ethos. As big believers in The Broken Window Theory, we know that a disordered, litter-filled city is not nice for anyone. By improving the day-day urban environment, we hope to create a more positive space for Leeds residents to live and thrive.

Across Leeds, Street Sites out of home (OOH) sites include octagonal poster drums, flat boards and our unique 12-sheet format. When one includes all of Pop Art Media Group’s formats – 16-sheet, 48-sheet and 96-sheet billboards, backlit lamppost panels, full motion digital, trailers and festival sites then the audience we can reach in the city is vast. Of course, the occasional smattering of non-regulated fly-posting still occurs, but on a minute scale.

The scheme Street Sites has set out is win-win for Leeds City Council. The advertisers still benefit from the highly effective out of home methods, where the sites are controlled, maintained and the posters are fitted for them, and Street Sites charge a (very reasonable) fee to help them achieve this. What is so unique to our scheme is that we focus on keeping the advertising space for local bands and businesses to promote all the brilliant events and culture Leeds has to offer.

AdminLeeds – The Birth of Legal Outdoor Advertising