Slum Clearance


1954 -1985

During the last years of the First World War, Lloyd George inaugurated a national campaign to build ‘Homes fit for Heroes’. Neville Chamberlain, chairman of the government’s Unhealthy Areas Committee wrote in his report of 20 April 1921 that ‘The City of Leeds is perhaps confronted with the most difficult problem to be found in any of the provincial towns, owing to the enormous number of back-to- back houses. There are 72,000 of these of which 33,000 are the oldest and worst, built in long continuous blocks opening directly to the street. They are crammed together at the rate of 70 to 80 per acre, and it is difficult to suggest any method of dealing with them satisfactorily short of complete clearance.’ The majority of the working classes of Leeds lived in back-to-back houses which were cheap to rent, easy to heat, and provided separate single-family dwellings. In these streets close knit communities had developed, providing comfort and support for each other during hard times. Inside, the houses were sparsely furnished and lacked inside toilets, bathrooms and piped hot water. Many of these homes had a cellar where food and coal were kept and some had coppers where the water was boiled on wash day. They hardly represented ‘Homes fit for Heroes’!

Something radical had to be done. The Addison Act of 1919 required local authorities to survey their inhabitants’ housing needs and offered government subsidies towards building costs. Leeds council responded energetically. The entry of the council into the provision of municipal housing and its extensive slum clearance activities were therefore a dramatic feature of the period between the First and Second World Wars. The Medical Officers of Health for the city helped to identify the worst properties where outbreaks of various infectious diseases were prevalent. Many of these were located in the yards and folds off Kirkgate, Briggate and Vicar Lane, on The Bank, and in Holbeck. These were the first to be targeted for demolition. The owners of these properties were issued with compulsory purchase orders, compensation payments were made and the insanitary houses demolished. By 1930 the council had erected 7,000 houses but the rents were comparatively high, so this did nothing to improve the plight of the slum-dwellers. In 1927 a back-to-back could be rented for under 5s a week, including rates, whereas even the cheapest council property cost over 16s. When Revd Charles Jenkinson became chairman of the council’s Housing Committee in 1933, things changed markedly - 14,000 houses were demolished and 15,000 houses, cottages and flats constructed. By 1939 there were 24 estates ranging in size from 33 to 3,500 houses. The key to the successful implementation of the slum clearance programme was to make the replacement houses affordable for the poorer families. Jenkinson introduced a differential rent scheme, whereby every tenant with sufficient income to pay the full economic rent of their council house was required to do so, while those with inadequate incomes were granted rent relief – in some cases they paid nothing. For the first time people had the opportunity to transfer directly from the slums to new council housing. Unfortunately, the Second World War interrupted this groundbreaking initiative.

After the end of the conflict building materials were expensive and in short supply, making it difficult to build new houses at an economic rate. Eventually, however, the slum clearance programme restarted. Leeds City Council created a new register where the houses and streets that were to be demolished were marked in colour on copies of the 1939 Ordnance Survey Maps for Leeds. The register also lists the date when compulsory purchase orders were first posted to the owners of these properties, and the day when the final demolition orders were issued. Thanks to the generosity of Leeds City Council the Thoresby Society now has this register in its collection. The register has been scanned and this information is now available online.



City of Leeds: Slum Clearance Represented Areas

1. Front Cover
2. Key
3. List of slums to be demolished: A – B
4. List of slums to be demolished: C – D
5. List of slums to be demolished: F – H
6. List of slums to be demolished: I – K
7. List of slums to be demolished: L – M
8. List of slums to be demolished: N – O
9. List of slums to be demolished: P – R
10. List of slums to be demolished: S – T
11. List of slums to be demolished: U – W
12. List of slums to be demolished: Y – Z
13. Map 1: Bramhope
14. Map 2: Rawden
15. Map 3: Harewood and Weardley
16. Map 4: Bramhope and Carlton
17. Map 5: Bramhope and Breary Marsh
18. Map 6: Eccup
19. Map 7: Eccup Reservoir
20. Map 8: Horsforth and Scotland
21. Map 9: Cookridge
22. Map 10: Alwoodley
23. Map 11: Alwoodley Gates
24. Map 12: Wigton
25. Map 13: Scarcroft
26. Map 14: Horsforth and Troy
27. Map 15: Lawnswood
28. Map 16: Adel
29. Map 17: Moor Allerton
30. Map 18: Roundhay and Moortown
31. Map 19: Shadwell
32. Map 20: Horsforth
33. Map 21: West Park
34. Map 22: Meanwood
35. Map 23: Chapel Allerton
36. Map 24: Roundhay Park
37. Map 25: Roundhay Grange and Seacroft
38. Map 26: Farsley
39. Map 27: Rodley and Bramley
40. Map 28: Kirkstall and Bramley
41. Map 29: Woodhouse
42. Map 30: Potternewton and Buslingthorpe
43. Map 31: Harehills and Oakwood
44. Map 32: Seacroft
45. Map 33: Scholes
46. Map 34: Stanningley
47. Map 35: Bramley
48. Map 36: Armley
49. Map 37: Burley and Little Woodhouse
50. Map 38: Little London, The Bank and Mabgate
51. Map 39: Osmondthorpe, Harehills and Killingbeck
52. Map 40: Crossgates and Seacroft Hospital
53. Map 41: Austhorpe
54. Map 42: Farsley Park
55. Map 43: Wortley and Farnley
56. Map 44: Wortley and Holbeck
57. Map 45: Hunslet
58. Map 46: York Road and East End Park
59. Map 47: Halton
60. Map 48: Austhorpe
61. Map 49: Tong
62. Map 50: New Farnley
63. Map 51: Beeston
64. Map 52: Beeston and Hunslet
65. Map 53: Stourton and Skelton
66. Map 54: Newsam Green
67. Map 55: Swillington
68. Map 56: Gildersome
69. Map 57: Churwell
70. Map 58: Beeston Park and Mill Shaw
71. Map 59: Middleton
72. Map 60: Rothwell
73. Map 61: Woodlesford
74. Map 62: Topcliffe and West Wood
75. Map 63: Middleton
76. Map 64: Tingley
77. Map 65: East Ardsley and Thorpe on the Hill

For the website the maps are listed in alphabetical order and can be accessed from the menu on the left or you can follow the trail through the links at the top of each map. They are much lower resolution than the originals. Only the maps with a compulsory purchase order are included here.

The addresses for each map can be viewed by clicking the link underneath it.

The book itself is very large but should you wish to see it, or larger scans of the maps, please contact our librarian.

First map