Lights, Camera, Action…Libraries

Central by Night_jpgYou could be forgiven for thinking you’d seen a ghost roaming the corridors of Leeds Central Library today, however the dapper gentlemen in bowler hats and ladies in bustles walking down the stairs were actors filming a new adaptation of Vera Brittain’s ‘Testament of Youth’. This first instalment of Brittain’s memoirs covers the period of 1900-1925 detailing the changes faced by herself and British women during the First World War.

BBC 030
Lighting balloon in atrium stairwell

The 1884 built Central Library’s largely unchanged atrium and staircases with their marble pillars, English limestone entrance carvings and Grade II listed stained glass, creates the perfect backdrop for the dramatic personal narrative of a young woman who in 1915 abandoned her studies at Oxford to become a volunteer nurse. The film will be released in 2014 as part of the BBC First World War commemorations and for now we can only tease you with a behind the scenes image of the spaceship style light balloon hovering in the atrium. The library stayed open during the filming process with comments from the public including; “This is great – it’s really showing the building off, it’s making it come alive.”

ToYFor those of you who can’t wait for the dramatization we have copies for loan of Testament for Youth which can be reserved using the library online catalogue.

Leeds Central Library has memories of its own from the First World War which we will be bringing to you in a series of events and exhibitions over the next 4 years as part of our own commemorations. For those of you wanting to undertake your own research we have the following resources available to the public.

Absent Voters List – Servicemen from Leeds (as per 1918 boundaries), who were away from their place of residence and eligible to vote in the 1918 General Election.  The list records the man’s regiment, service number, rank and address in Leeds where he was registered. A name index is available to search online: For further details including the home address and the names of other people registered at the same address, please visit the Local and Family History Library:

First World War service records, pension records and medal cards – These national records are available to access on the website, which can be accessed for free in all Leeds Libraries, including the Local & Family History Library, with the use of a Leeds Library card.

Leeds and the European War News Cuttings – A 15 volume set of news cuttings from the 1914-1921, some of the collection has been indexed – please ask staff for details.

Scott, W.H, Leeds in the Great War 1914 – 18: A book of remembrance, (Leeds: The Libraries and Arts Committee, 1923) – This book tells the story of Leeds in the Great War and includes a Roll of Honour compiled by Leeds City Council.

People need to make an appointment to view the following material:

Cliff, Edith M. (Lady Nussey), The Great European War, Gledhow Hall Hospital  – A collection of photographs, newspaper cuttings, soldier’s artwork, and other general material relating to Gledhow Hall VAD Hospital, compiled by Commandant, Edith M. Cliff (Lady Nussey), daughter of William Dewhirst Cliff of Meanwood Towers.

Archibald, R.H. (compiler), Record of the National Ordnance Factories, Leeds 1915 – 18, (1919) – An account of the Royal Ordnance Factories at Armley, Newlay, Hunslet, and the subsidiary departments/stores at Holbeck, Great Wilson Street, Wellington Road, Marshall Mills on Sweet Street, and the ‘Meanwood Gun Proof Range’. Included is a section on the Women’s Labour Department and Welfare Department responsible for the welfare of women employed in these factories. The volume includes photographs of the factories, some munitions workers and management.

Appointments can be made by contacting the Local & Family History Department: 0113 378 6982, local&

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