Lepidoptera in the Library

Spring is definitely here, trees are heaving with blossom, daffodils are swaying gently in the breeze and the butterflies are back. To celebrate this re-emergence of colour into the natural world we bring you a selection of our heritage Butterfly and Moth stock. Now those of you who don’t consider yourselves Lepidoptera fans shouldn’t flutter away just yet, at least not until you’ve viewed some of the beautifully bound and coloured illustrations within our collection.
butterflies12 First we have European Butterflies and Moths by W.F Kirby, assistant to the Zoological department, British Museum; and fellow of the Entomological Society of London. Printed in 1898 it is based on upon Berge’s Schmetterlingsbuch. Bound in a green cloth with bevelled edges, the front and spine of the book are beautifully embellished with flowers, butterflies and moths depicted in gilt, red and black.
61 coloured plates, some of them hand finished are each protected by a tissue guard facing plate. Below Plate 6 shows a variety of butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalis.
butterflies11 Next is British and European Butterflies and Moths (Macrolepidoptera) by A. W. Kappel, F.L.S., F.E.S. Assistant Librarian, Linnean Society and W. Egmont Kirby, L.S.A. Printed in Bavaria there is no publishing date but again the cover is beautifully brought to life using gilt, white and black on a blue cloth background showing a lone butterfly resting gently against tall grasses and flowers. Inside 30 coloured plates by H. Deuchert and S. Slocombe show multiple species and their life cycles from larvae, through caterpillar, chrysalis, and finally butterfly or moth. PLATE V is shown below with a number of illustrations showing a selection of male, female, top sides and undersides in various shades of blue.
butterflies04 Our third item, The Genera and Species of British Butterflies by H. Noel Humphreys (1959) fails to initially impress with its straightforward sage green cloth cover however opening the pages will reveal the illustrated plates ‘”In which all the species and varieties are represented, accompanied by their respective caterpillars, and the plants on which they feed” and all “described and arranged according to the system now adopted in the British Museum”. Below is Plate 13, showing the Great Tortoise-shell Butterfly, topside and underside, the caterpillar form and the chrysalis it produces.
butterflies06 Finally we have British Butterflies and Their Transformations, arranged and illustrated in a series of plates by H.N. Humphreys, Esq. with characters and descriptions by J.O. Westwood, Esq., F.L.S., sec. of the Entomological Society. Printed in 1841, this first edition has 42 finely hand coloured plates and a colourful title page displaying butterflies and caterpillars amongst grasses, leaves and flowers.
Inside 41 colour plates show the genders and life cycles of the butterflies, Plate 2 below displays the different shades of yellow and white in the ‘Colias’ family.

This is not the extent of our stock and these items along with others can be viewed in the Information & Research Library, 2nd Floor, Leeds Central Library. A 2004 study by the Natural Environmental Research Council found the UK butterfly population had dropped by 71% within a 20 year period, let’s hope these images won’t be all that’s left of such a beautiful part of our natural world.

Shakespeare 450

April 23rd marks the 450th year of his birth and here at Leeds Central Library we intend to do the anniversary justice with a celebration or two.
With hundreds of copies of the Bard’s work in stock we wanted to show off some of our heritage Shakespeare stock not usually seen by the public. The books shown below are currently on display in the Information & Research library on the second floor of Leeds Central Library. If you find something else on our catalogue that you’d like to see please ask as we are happy to retrieve items from the stacks for you to view.

message to the readerThe first item is a First Folio of Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. The title page shows it was published in London according to The True Original Copies. Printed in 1623 by Isaac Iaggard, and Ed. Blount the opposing page holds a message To the Reader written by Shakespeare’s contemporary, writer Ben Jonson praising the likeness achieved by engraver Martin Droeshout.
Seven years after Shakespeare’s death two of his closest friends, the actors John Heminge and Henry Condell choose to publish 36 of his plays with the aim of bringing his true works to life to counteract the number of fraudulent copies in existence. It was Heminge and Condell who divided the plays into the comedies, histories and tragedies categories that we are now so familiar with. When the First Folio’s originally went on sale in 1623 they cost £1.
Leeds Central Library holds the first four folios, 1623, 1632, 1664 and 1685. These are facsimiles printed in 1910.

puckOur second item is A Midsummer Night’s Dream, printed in 1908 it is famous for the Arthur Rackham illustrations throughout. First we have Puck, a mischievous character described by Shakespeare as a ‘shrewd and knavish sprite” (act II, scene I). At the top of the image you can see the Leeds Public Libraries embossed stamp.

Later on in act II, Scene II, Rackman illustrates fairy queen Titania’s command to her fairies to ‘war with some rere-mice with their leathern wings, to make my small elves coats”. The illustration shows us that the rere-mice referred to are actually bats.

rere mice

heritage Shakespeare stockAlso on display we have; bound in green, The Tempest with illustrations by Edmund Dulac, 1908, bound in red, Romeo and Juliet with illustrations by W. Hatherell, R.I. and bound in blue, The Merry Wives of Windsor with illustrations by Hugh Thomson, 1910.

Below are details of the Shakespeare 450 celebrations taking place at Leeds Central Library, all events are free and no booking is required. We hope to see you there.

Leeds Central Library Tiled Hall

Leeds Central Library - Tiled Hall

Leeds Central Library – Tiled Hall

The Municipal Buildings opened April 17th 1884 by Mayor, Alderman Edwin Woodhouse, after a competition was held to design them. It was won by George Corson, whose plans included dividing the buildings into the ‘business’ side, which fronted on to Calverley Street, and the ‘popular’ side which led on to Centenary Street, now the Headrow. The popular side was occupied by the Free Public Library and took up less than a third of the whole building including a Reading room, Lending library and Reference library.

Tiled Hall Ceiling

Tiled Hall Ceiling

The Reading room was located in the Tiled Hall at the front of the building and on its opening day it was described by The Yorkshireman as:

“A magnificent place. The floor is the finest parquetry in oak, walnut and ebony.”


The roof was so magnificent it was feared “People will be continually gazing up at it, instead of quietly reading the magazines and newspapers.”

The vaulted ceiling is covered in mosaic with hexagonal bricks of various colours with golden bosses. These ceiling bosses were part of the Victorian ventilation system, which is still working today.  The original reading room or tiled hall measures 80ft x 40ft and is divided into a nave and aisles by arches supported by granite pillars.



The tiled walls displayed medallion portraits in relief of the great writers  Homer, Milton, Burns, Scott, Dante, Macaulay and Goethe.  With the Art Gallery built as an extension to the Municipal Buildings in 1888 the Tiled Hall was converted into a Sculpture gallery and the Reading room was transferred into the Art Gallery and renamed the News Room.

Sculpture Gallery

Sculpture Gallery

The News Room

The News Room

Moving books into the new Commercial &Technical Library - 1955

Moving books into the new Commercial &Technical Library – 1955

By 1918 the News room had been converted into the Commercial and Technical Library however the cramped conditions meant that in 1955 it was moved back into the Tiled Hall.  This allowed the Library to expand and have both lending and reference technical collections.

The ceiling and walls of the Tiled Hall were then hidden for nearly fifty years behind a false ceiling, bookcases and panelling. A gallery for staff use was also created in the Tiled Hall where further book stock was shelved, office space for cataloguing services and a staff room created.

Commercial & Technical Library - 1955

Commercial & Technical Library – 1955

The Music Library was moved into the Tiled Hall space in 1998 but was only there until 1999, when the Central Library building closed for refurbishment and rewiring. The 1950s panelling and bookcases were removed, along with the false ceiling, revealing, as well as the tiling, the inevitable damage caused by the work done in the 1950s.

Damaged discovered - 1999

Damaged discovered – 1999

The 1999 refurbishment of the Municipal Buildings was unable to restore the Tiled Hall due to the cost of replacing missing tiles and repairing damage from the Commercial & Technical library’s occupation. For 8 years the space was used in its unrestored state for occasional exhibitions.  The Tiled Hall was finally restored in 2007 as part of a larger £1.5million refurbishment. Despite tiles being replaced and the floor polished, those with a keen eye can spot the marks time and usage has had on the space. During the restoration the original arch was reopened into the Art Gallery allowing people to flow freely once more between the Library and Gallery.

Central Library Tiled Hall Cafe - Current

Central Library Tiled Hall Cafe – Current

From Reading room to Sculpture gallery to Commercial & Technical Library the Tiled Hall is once again a vibrant and lively meeting space for visitors to the Leeds Central Library.  The Tiled Hall now houses a public café however as the space is part of the public library its ‘magnificent’ ceiling and ‘finest’ parquet flooring can be viewed for free by any visitors to the building.


Celebrating 150 Years of Rugby in Leeds, 1864-2014

From 1st April to 20th April in our newly refurbished Arts Space on the 1st floor we have an exhibition celebrating the history of Rugby in Leeds. Panels for each decade display information and photographs depicting the sport in Leeds.

The 1860s started it off with an advert in the Leeds Mercury for “persons to form a football club, for playing on Woodhouse Moor a few days a week”.  Reports vary between 200 and 500 people attended the first session to begin an association with the sport that has been at the heart of Leeds for the past 150 years.

leeds_centralThe 1870s saw clubs forming including Leeds St John’s, the forerunners of the Leeds Rhinos and the Leeds Parish Church Rugby Club who became one of the city’s leading clubs. Rugby in the 1880s became the ‘national game’ of Leeds and West Yorkshire with England defeating Wales at Cardigan Fields in the first-ever rugby international to be played in Yorkshire. The 1888 suspension of St John’s for allegedly breaking amateur rules and paying players resulted in a controversy that grew into the 1895 splitting of Rugby into Union and League.

1890s_thumbThe new Headingley Stadium staged the first-ever Challenge Cup final in the 1890s while the 1900s brought in a new century for the sport. Hunslet became the first team to win all four cups in the season including the Challenge Cup, Rugby Football League Cup, Yorkshire League and Yorkshire Cup, all captained by “Our Albert”, Albert Goldthorpe.  In the 1910s Hunslet signed Lucas Banks, probably the first black athlete to play rugby league and the programme as a whole was interrupted as many players went off to the Great War. Harold Buck becomes the first £1,000 transfer when he moves from Hunslet to Leeds in the 1920s and in the 1930s Leeds finally win the Yorkshire Cup beating Wakefield Trinity. The game had to be played twice following two draws and was the only occasion it took three attempts to settle a Yorkshire Cup final.  Rugby was again interrupted by war in the 1940s with Bramley and Hunslet dropping out of the Yorkshire League. Hunslet returned to competition in 1943-44 and Bramley in 1945-46 however several clubs failed to return after the war including Leeds Bohemians and Pudsey due to clothes rationing making it difficult for clubs to find enough shirts.

The 1950s saw a return to form with Lewis Jones scoring a record 496 points in a season for Leeds. The Rugby League Championship was won by Leeds for the first time in the clubs history during the 1960s and in the same decade the birth of Student Rugby League occurred with Leeds as its first approved member. 1960s_thumbA less thrilling time was had by the players and spectators at the notorious Watersplash final between Leeds and Wakefield, where a torrential downpour at Wembley dampened the entire game.  A memorable game at Otley in the 1970s resulted in the North beating the all-conquering All Blacks 21-9. The 1980s saw further developments in the sport as Womens Rugby Football Union formed with Leeds University as a founding member.  In the 1990s Leeds RUFC was founded with the merger of Roundhay and Headingly clubs and after 100 years the league became a summer sport.

In the new millennium Leeds secured their first Championship win in 32 years as well as becoming World Champions for the first time in the clubs history.  In 2012 Leeds became the most successful team in the summer era with their sixth Grand Final win coupled with a third World Cup Challenge success. They reached every possible cup final and picked up two of the four pieces of silver available.

baines_thumbThe above is just a taster of the exhibition which includes a program of talks, interactive table showing important documents and glass cases containing; a Hunslet Rugby League Club shirt from the 1965 Wembley final and a programme from the match. England caps from 1911 and 1896, a Yorkshire cap from 1907/08, a Kirkstall cap from the 1880s and a Leeds Parish Church Rugby Club cap from 1891/92.

Rugby in Leeds has come a long way from that first kick around in 1864, visit our exhibition to find out more.

Find out more about Rugby talks at the Central Library