1920s Eclipse Fever

“Leeds never really went to bed last night. The last ordinary trams had scarcely stopped running at midnight, when a special series of ‘eclipse’ cars began the journey to City Square to meet the convenience of the thousands going to the shadow-belt by rail and charabanc.”

“A lady views the 1927 eclipse from Richmond, North Yorkshire”]
“A lady views the 1927 eclipse from Richmond, North Yorkshire”

This was the news that greeted the city from the pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post on the morning of 29 June 1927, the last time a total eclipse of the sun was visible in Yorkshire. We hope you managed to enjoy a glimpse of the recent partial eclipse on Friday morning – which certainly darkened the sky above Leeds for a time – but it doesn’t seem to have been able to match the dramatic spectacle witnessed ninety years ago. Read on for more details from the day’s YEP…

“Between 1.30 and 2.30 a.m. City Square was crowded. Coffee was on sale, and one enterprising merchant offered ice-cream, but neither he nor an orange dealer appeared to be doing much business. All through the night there was a stream of motor-cars and motor-cycles through Leeds, and police were kept busy on point duty controlling the traffic. Many sightseers went on foot to vantage points outside the city. Hundreds of persons gathered at such places as Roundhay Park, Sugarwell Hill and Woodhouse Moor, and at every street corner which commanded a view of the eastern sky there was a knot of sightseers. Here and there a baby in arms was to be seen.

“All these early risers were rewarded. The fleecy clouds that drifted across the sun when it was visible acted as a perfect screen for the eye, and made the use of smoked glass unnecessary. When the clouds finally conquered the sun, the victory was sudden and complete. What was happening behind the veil, however, was manifested by the gradually increasing darkness and the noticeable lowering of the temperature. At the moment of totality the air was distinctly chilly. Trams and motor-cars switched on their headlights during the darkness.”

One of the prominent sun-spotters up at Roundhay was the Lord Mayor of the city. The Post reported: “The Lord Mayor (Alderman Hugh Lupton) saw the partial eclipse from Roundhay. The sun could be seen clearly from 6 a.m. to about 6.10, when the disc was about two-thirds obscured. The Lady Mayoress went to Giggleswick with the University party, and had a magnificent view of the totality period.”

And here’s an artist’s sketch of the sort of view she might have seen in North Yorkshire:

“Drawn at the Astronomer Royal’s Camp at Giggleswick, North Yorkshire”
“Drawn at the Astronomer Royal’s Camp at Giggleswick, North Yorkshire”

Roll on 23 September 2090, when the UK will experience its next total eclipse!

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