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25. WHY IS SOLDIERS’ FIELD SO CALLED?
Suggestions have been made that the name derives from the fact cavalry troops from Chapeltown Barracks and the Royal Engineers from Gibraltar Barracks used the area for manoeuvres in the years up to and including World War I. Robert Blackburn conducted test flights here in 1909, establishing a small airport here in 1919 for flights to London and Amsterdam. According to the Yorkshire Evening Post, golf in Leeds was also first played here probably in the 1890s. For further reading see Yorkshire Evening Post, 5 October 1912, 15 July, 17 August 1914.
24. WHERE WERE THE BOUNDARIES OF THE TOWNSHIP OF MEDIEVAL LEEDS?
Leeds of the fifteenth century was quite small. The boundary was marked by stones known as bar stones. Starting at the north-west was Burley Bar (approximately on the Headrow to the west of Albion Street); Woodhouse Bar ( where Woodhouse Lane meets the Headrow); North Bar (approximately on Vicar Lane just north of the Headrow); East or York Bar (by the Parish Church); South Bar (just south of Leeds Bridge); West Bar (approximately where Boar Lane meets City Square). York Bar can still be seen marked on the Parish Church wall and Burley Bar is on display inside the Leeds Building Society. For further reading see S. Burt and S. Grady, The Illustrated History of Leeds (Derby, 1994).
23. WHY ARE LEEDS PEOPLE KNOWN AS LOINERS?
The short answer is that no-one knows for sure. Suggestions have been made that the word originated from the various lanes or yards which run off Briggate and were known as ‘low ins’ or ‘loins’. One explanation was given in the Leeds press by Harry Ingland in 1884; ‘Hevvin tane a gurt intrust in the vernackler of aar taan, I hav allus been towt that t’reason why we arr calld Leedz Loiners is becoss thear is so monny Loins in Leedz. Nearly all t’owd Streets are name’d Loins or wun soart or anuther, and this I beleev is the oanly real caase of uz bean called Leedz Loiners.’ For further reading see Yorkshire Weekly Post, 19 January 1884.
22. WHERE WAS CAT-BEESTON?
In medieval times this was a small enclave of land in Holbeck which belonged to the manor of Leeds. It was also known as Cad-Beeston. For further reading see M. W. Beresford and G. R. Jones, Leeds and Its Region (Leeds,1967).
21. WHEN DID THE LAST TRAM RUN IN LEEDS?
The last tram in Leeds was No. 187 and ran from Cross Gates to Swinegate on the night of Saturday 7 November 1959. For further reading see J. Soper, Leeds Transport; 1953–1974, 4 (Leeds, 2007).
20. WHAT WERE THE SS PLANS SHOULD THE GERMAN ARMY HAVE OCCUPIED LEEDS?
Should the invasion have occurred the SS Special Search List GB noted at least five Leeds men due for apprehension. Three were academics at the University of Leeds: Zionist leader Professor Selig Brodetsky, a celebrated mathematician, Professor Robert Bloch and Professor Theodor Plaut. Two other listed Leeds men were Karl Eschka wanted by the aliens’ police for passport offences and Herbert Purcel Astbury accused of being involved in matters relating to defence and the armed services. The frequently stated belief that the Germans intended to use Quarry Hill Flats as their headquarters has no historical foundation. For further reading see D. Lampe, The Last Ditch (New York, 1968).
19. WHERE WAS CUDDY WELL?
This was one of the famous wells of Leeds sited on Meanwood Road. People used its waters to treat iron deficiencies and eye disorders. It was sometimes known as Draw Well.
18. WHAT WERE THE WORST DISASTERS TO STRIKE LEEDS?
Epidemics at various times swept the town. In 1645 bubonic plague carried off 1,325 out of a population of about 6,000. The cholera epidemic of 1848–1849 killed 1,674 people whilst the so-called ‘Spanish’ Flu epidemic of 1918–1919 was responsible for 1,755 deaths. On the night of the 14–15 March 1941 Leeds suffered its worst air raid when 65 or 66 people were killed and about 200 injured. The worst single disaster occurred at the Barnbow munitions factory on the night of the 5 December 1916 when an explosion killed thirty-five women and seriously injured several others. At St John’s Church, Wortley on the night of 1 January 1891 a fire at the annual bazaar resulted in the death of eleven young girls. Six of the thirteen murders committed by Peter Sutcliffe, the so-called Yorkshire Ripper, occurred in Leeds.
For further reading see http://www.historic-uk/History/HistoryofBritain/barnbow-lasses; D. Thornton, New Year’s Day Tragedy (Leeds, 2013).
17. WHAT WAS A LANCE CORPORAL TRAM?
This was stream-lined tram designed by William Vane Morland. It began operating in 1935. With de luxe bucket seats, it ran on the circular Roundhay and Moortown route, and gave rise to the belief that is was built only for the richer suburbs. Known as ‘blue birds’, it is said that if people knew a ‘blue bird’ was due they would allow others trams to pass by. Only three were ever built. For further reading see J. Soper, 3 Leeds Transport 1932–1953 (Leeds 2003).
16. WHAT WERE ROBOTS?
Robots was the popular name for traffic lights in Leeds. The first set of traffic lights in the city were installed at the junction of Park Row and Bond Street on 16 March 1928. The Leeds Mercury claimed they were the first set in Great Britain and it called them traffic robots! However, the Shell Book of Firsts claims that the first set were installed in Wolverhampton in November 1927. A website claims it was on 5 November 1927. For further reading see D. Thornton, Leeds: a Historical Dictionary of People, Places and Events (Huddersfield, 2013).
15. HOW LONG DID MONKS INHABIT KIRKSTALL ABBEY?
According to the monastery’s records a party of Cistercian monks arrived at Kirkstall on 19 May 1152. They remained in constant occupation until 22 November 1539 when the abbey was dissolved. It should be remembered that they were not the first religious occupants of the site. Seleth, a religious hermit, established a community there some years before but surrendered the site to the Cistercians recognising they could develop the area better. For further reading see B. Sitch, Kirkstall Abbey (Leeds, 2000).
14. WAS MIDDLETON RAILWAY THE OLDEST IN THE WORLD?
It is known that a narrow-gauge railway operated around the coal mines at Alsace in 1550 and that horse drawn waggonways were in use at many English mines early in the seventeenth century. However, in 1757 Charles Brandling the owner of Middleton Colliery began constructing a waggonway across various people’s property and on 9 June 1758 an Act of Parliament was passed granting permission for the railway to be built to the coal staithe in Leeds. It began operating on 20 September 1758. As this was the first ever such Act of Parliament, the railway justifiably makes the claim to be the oldest railway in the world. For further reading see S. Bye, A History of Middleton Railway (1994).
13. WHAT WERE THE ALPHABET STREETS?
These were a series of streets off Kirkstall Road in Burley. They were arranged alphabetically stretching from Angel Street to Ventnor Street. There were no streets beginning with I, X, Y or Z. For further reading see We Remember the Alphabets; Living Back-to-Back in Burley (Leeds, 2000).
12. WHO WAS THE FIRST MONARCH TO VISIT THE LEEDS DISTRICT?
Some historians make the claim that Robert the Bruce in either 1314 or 1318 wintered at Morley and in 1322 destroyed St Mary’s Chapel there. The first monarch that can be said with certainty visited Leeds was Charles I, though ‘visited’ is hardly the most appropriate word to use, in that he was brought as a Parliamentary prisoner there in February 1647 when he was lodged in Red Hall. For further reading see D. H. Atkinson, Old Leeds: its Bygones and Celebrities by an old Leeds Cropper (1868).
11. IS IT TRUE THERE WAS ONCE A RIOT IN LEEDS OVER 2LB OF DRIPPING?
In January 1865 Eliza Stafford the cook in Henry Chorley’s house in Park Square was accused of stealing 2lb of dripping. She alleged it was common practice for cooks to do this as a perk of the job. Chorley, however, said this was just one of many thefts by her. Eliza was prosecuted and sentenced to a month in Armley Gaol. Following her release, an incensed crowd gathered in Park Square to demonstrate before Chorley’s home and rioted. Police and the military were called in. In the rioting that followed a man was killed and the Chief Constable was injured. The magistrates, recognising the sense of injustice that had precipitated the violence, dealt leniently with the four men arrested. For further reading see Leeds Mercury, 23 February 1865.
10. WHO WAS THE FIRST JEWISH PERSON IN LEEDS?
In the 1820s Gabriel Davis was listed as the first Jew in Leeds. By the 1841 census a small community of fifty-six was recorded. Between the 1880s large numbers of Jewish people arrived in the town escaping the pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe so that by the time the census of 1891 was taken the number had reached 7,856. Many found work in the burgeoning tailoring industry. For further reading see D. Charing, ‘The Jewish Presence in Leeds’ in Religion in Leeds ed. by A. Mason (Stroud, 1994).
9. WHO WERE THE LEEDS PASSIVE RESISTERS?
These were the Nonconformists in the city who objected to the Education Act of 1902 which allowed rates to be used to subsidise schools that taught varying religious views to theirs. A branch of the National Resistance Committee was formed in Leeds to combat the legislation and several who refused to pay their rates were imprisoned in Armley Gaol. For further reading see Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement, 15 October 1904.
8. WHAT WAS THE MAIN RIDING?
This was the part of the manor of Leeds which lay outside the bars of the township.
7. WHO WERE THE FORTY THIEVES?
This pejorative expression was used by the Leeds Intelligencer and various Tories in the town with regard to the forty shareholders of the Allan Brigg Mill that straddled the boundary of Pudsey and Bramley. The revising barrister decreed they had a right to vote in the 1834 by-election, a decision which gave the Whigs a decided advantage. For further reading see Leeds Times, 15 February 1834
6. WHY IS THE STATUE OF THE BLACK PRINCE IN CITY SQUARE?
The reasons given are tenuous in the extreme. One explanation is that the Black Prince’s father, Edward III, had introduced Flemish weavers into the West Riding and thus launched the wool textile industry. However, the truth is that the wool textile industry had been establish there centuries before. Another more rational explanation is that Colonel Harding, who was the driving force behind the development of the square, had a passion for medieval history. For further reading see D. Thornton, Leeds: a Historical Dictionary of People, Places and Events (Huddersfield, 2013).
5. DOES LEEDS HAVE AN ANCIENT EGYPTIAN TEMPLE?
Temple Mill, built between 1838–1843, was designed in an Egyptian style based on the temple of Horus at Edfu and Hathor at Dendera. It was built for John Marshall, the linen-manufacture, by Joseph Bonomi Jr and is a Grade I listed building. For further reading see P.Connor, ed. The Inspiration of Egypt: Extracts Relating to Temple Mill also known as Marshall’s Mill (Brighton, 1983); S. Wrathmell, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Leeds (2005).
4. WHO WAS THE FIRST WOMAN TO STAND IN A PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION IN LEEDS?
On 15 November 1922 Mary Pollock Grant stood for the Liberal Party in the general election that year. She contested Leeds South East. She secured 9,554 votes but lost out to Jim O’Grady of the Labour Party, losing by 4,122. She was Yorkshire’s only woman candidate.
3. DID LEEDS EVER HAVE TROLLEY BUSES?
The first trolley bus service ever to operate in England did so on 20 June 1911 and ran from City Square to New Farnley. The service was discontinued on 26 July 1928. For further reading see A. E. Jones, Roads and Rails of West Yorkshire, 1890–1950 1984).
2. WHO WAS THE SULTAN OF LEEDS?
This was the name given to Sir Charles Wilson, the Conservative leader of Leeds City Council and a noted civic imperialist. His ambition was to see Leeds extend from the Pennines to the sea and went as far as to claim he wanted to make Leeds ‘the hub of the universe’. He is equally famous for his remark, ‘I am Leeds.’ For further reading see W. R. Meyer ‘Charles Henry Wilson: the Man who was Leeds’, Publications of the Thoresby Society, Second Series 8 (Leeds, 1998).
1. WHAT WAS THE SAVAGE CLUB?
This was founded on 6 January 1898 in Owen Bowen’s studio and catered for artists, musicians and writers, ‘kindred spirits typical of the Bohemians for convivial and congenial amusement and recreation’. It ceased to exist in 1912, an attempt was made to reform it in 1921, and it was finally reformed in 2010. For further reading see G. Black, ‘The Leeds Savage Club and its Origins’, Publications of the Thoresby Society, LIV (Leeds, 1979).