Two Centuries Earlier…

This week, we’re taking you on a short walking tour of the city centre – not as it is today, but as it would’ve looked in the early Nineteenth Century – using descriptions taken from the pages of The Leeds Guide of 1806. In the spirit of the original volume, which was printed by Edward Baines and sold by R. Brown of North Parade, we were tempted not to provide any illustrations – but, as usual, our photography website Leodis turned up some interesting (if much later) views that we couldn’t resist throwing in as a bonus feature. Read on, then, for a taste of the Guide’s quirky and sometimes opinionated coverage of individual thoroughfares:

“We shall begin our present survey at the West end of town, where the object that first solicits attention is PARK-PLACE, which is a very elegant range of buildings, with a South aspect, and which commands a very pleasing view of the country, particularly the river Aire; all the houses are built in a very superior style, and are principally inhabited by affluent merchants or gentlemen who have retired from business. The promenade on Park-Place is, without exception, one of the most pleasing in the town. 

Immediately to the North of Park-Place is the New Road to Bradford, which was first opened for carriages in the year 1802; this road, besides avoiding much hilly ground saves at least half a mile, in the distance from Leeds to Kirkstall (three miles) where it terminates, and to which place a broad flagged foot path is continued, to the great comfort of pedestrians, particularly on Sundays, when the road is crowded with well dressed people.”

“North side of Park Place in 1936”

“North side of Park Place in 1936”

“If we were to estimate the importance of streets by the number of inhabitants they contain, KIRKGATE would certainly claim distinguished notice, as it is extremely populous. But as fashionable people, and with them fashionable tradesmen, have deserted it, this street is fallen into some kind of disrepute, and if it did not happen to be the road to the Church, it would be a place, to adopt a fashionable phrase, which nobody knew; but as it is a wide, and upon the whole a well-built street, it may probably at some future period recover its former consequence.”

“Kirkgate as seen from outside the Parish Church, 1909”

“Kirkgate as seen from outside the Parish Church, 1909”

“CALL-LANE … is rather a long street, and connects Kirkgate with the bottom of Briggate; though several good houses have lately been erected in this street, its general aspect is but mean, nor does it ever appear to have been a street of any note; it is however the residence of many wool-staplers, being very conveniently situated for that business, as a short street opens from Call-Lane to the White Cloth-Hall, nearly opposite Duncan-Street.

Call-Lane Chapel … has nothing in its exterior appearance to attract attention (unless we add that there is joined to it a very comfortable school-room for the use of Sunday scholars, and where as many as can attend are also taught to write on a Wednesday afternoon).”

“Call Lane, sketched in 1885”

“Call Lane, sketched in 1885”

That’s where we’re hanging up our walking shoes for now. If you’d like to carry on (and find out, among other things, where exactly “the Swine Market still continues to be held to the great inconvenience of the inhabitants and annoyance of passengers”) you can consult The Leeds Guide in the Local and Family History Library, where it resides at shelf mark SR 914.2819 RYL. And, yes, as you may remember, ‘SR’ stands for ‘Strong Room’, which means we’ll ask you for ID if you want to look at it!

Retro Revelry

“Isn’t there something else?”

“Isn’t there something else?”

The bank holidays and clement conditions of late have put us in something of a party mood here at the Secret Library, so we couldn’t help but get a little distracted while using our Yorkshire Post archives for some research recently. The cause of said distraction was an article by Antony Derville from 30 June 1939, entitled ‘On Giving a Summer Cocktail Party’ – and we thought we’d share a few of his tips with you this week, in case you’ve any plans for a swanky soirée of your own anytime soon…

First, think carefully about your choice of date. Midweek is decidedly not the ‘new weekend’ for anyone over the age of 25. Derville suggests: “A Friday evening is the wisest choice, for then, with Saturday ahead, the men feel they can burn their boats and really enjoy themselves.”

Then there’s the matter of announcing your chic shindig: “The clever hostess issues her invitations just a week in advance (not two weeks before, or people will cease to look forward to the event; yet not giving only three days’ notice, for through this would be pleasantly exciting, there is more risk of it clashing with other engagements).”

And, whatever you do, don’t get blasé about the guest list: “The ideal arrangement is to have three men to every girl, for some of the men may be tired after their hard day’s work and prefer enjoying themselves in silence by the buffet.”

Speaking of the buffet, Derville recommends locating it on a table in the centre of the room – thus, “with a vase of the tallest flowers on it, screening off guests on one side from those standing on the other, a pleasant sense of mystery is created.”

A few bottles of gin and some fruit juice are the only beverages you’ll require. From these, the hip hostess can create just about everything that was apparently considered a cocktail in Leeds in the 1930s. But, just in case, “a bottle of sherry will be needed, too, for those few irritating males who take one sip at her concoction and ask if there is ‘something else’”.

If you were thinking of drinking something more exotic, however, we’ve had a snoop through some of our authentic 1930s cookbooks and found something rather offbeat for you from the pages of a publication called Requested Recipes. (If you ever want to have a peak yourself, you can find it in the Local and Family History Library at shelf mark: L 641.5 Y82.) We’ll leave you with the recipe now… Enjoy!

PARSLEY WINE

3lb. parsley, 1 lemon, 3 quarts water, 2 oranges, 1lb. raisins, loaf sugar, tablespoon cloves.

After the parsley has been thoroughly washed, put it into the preserving pan with the water. Cut up the lemon and the oranges in slices, removing the peel from one of the oranges. Add to the contents of the preserving pan, and bring slowly to the boil; then add the raisins. Boil all for three-quarters of an hour. Strain the liquor into a tub, adding a pound of loaf sugar for each quart. Stir until the sugar is well dissolved, and when cold, add a tablespoon of cloves. Cover and allow to stand for four days, stirring occasionally during that time. Then, turn the wine into a dry cask, placing a piece of calico over the bung-hole until fermentation ceases. After then, bung closely for a few weeks, then the wine is ready for bottling. Parsley has a very strong flavour of its own, but with the addition of orange and lemon juices, it acquires a flavour which is very palatable. The wine is inexpensive to make, and a good tonic.

Easter Scenes from Years Gone By

It was a wet and slightly chilly start to the bank holiday weekend this year in Leeds, but a look through our photography website, Leodis (www.leodis.net), shows that this isn’t unusual for the city at Easter time. Here’s a photo from Easter weekend two years ago, when the Trinity Leeds shopping centre first opened its doors and welcomed over 132,000 people on its first day. Look at that snow-covered glass roof!

Trinity Centre

Trinity Centre

Back in 1988, worshippers braved more miserable weather to take part in an Easter service at the top of Otley Chevin. Our photo shows them huddled beneath their umbrellas around the 30-foot wooden cross erected there every year since 1968. It takes fifty volunteers to raise the landmark, and the current cross uses materials salvaged from the Manchester Arndale Centre after it was damaged by a bomb in 1996.

Easter service on Otley Chevin

Easter service on Otley Chevin

Our next picture takes us to Roundhay Park in the early 1900s, where crowds have gathered around the bandstand to listen to live music. Two clues in the image suggest this was most likely taken at Easter time: firstly, the lack of leaves on the trees in the background and, secondly and perhaps more tellingly, the fact that everyone is dressed in their best clothes.

Roundhay Park

Roundhay Park

Finally, let’s fly up into the air above Hyde Park for an aerial view of Woodhouse Moor in the springtime. This photo was taken in 1952, around the time of the Easter fair, and shows the pattern of the pathways nicely as they radiate to each corner from the central circle. Another feature of the park revealed clearly from the air is the covered reservoir along the right-hand side of the frame. This dates back to 1837 (but wasn’t covered over until 1865) and gave its name to the road visible on the right edge, which we now call Clarendon Road but which used to be named Reservoir Street.

Woodhouse Moor

Woodhouse Moor