Do We Look Strangely Familiar to You?

This group of girls and boys with their bicycles are posing with attitude on Wolseley Road, Burley, in 1969. They had just returned from Kirkstall swimming baths on Kirkstall Road, which was close by. And that’s when visiting photographer Eric Jaquier captured the moment in a striking black-and-white image, full of the warmth and personality typical of his style.

Now, almost fifty years later, Eric is compiling his pictures into a forthcoming book to be titled Strangely Familiar: Photographs in the Streets of Leeds 1969-2015. Not only that, but he hopes to revisit the sites of many of his original works to document anew the changing character of the areas. He even hopes to reconnect with some of the people from his photos, in order to create new portraits that both recall and revise the images of decades ago.


View of Rillbank Street taken from Westfield Crescent. A series of steps with hand-rails climb up either side to Rosebank Road. The two large properties seen in the background are the rear of large terraces, numbers 181 and 179 Belle Vue Road. Small children run towards the ambulance parked in Rillbank Street. (1969)

That’s where Eric hopes you might be able to help. Let’s hand over to him now to let him explain in his own words:

“My name is Eric Jaquier. I’m a retired Swiss journalist and photographer. A long time ago, in 1969, I took hundreds of pictures in the streets of Leeds during my one-year stay in the city. Almost forty years later, in Spring 2008, I had a big show, together with Leeds photographer Peter Mitchell, at PSL (Project Space Leeds). And now I’m working on Strangely Familiar, a book project containing these photos. That’s why I need your help.

“The main section of the book will offer the Strangely Familiar photos from 1969. And, for this section, your help would be appreciated because a lot of these pictures appear on the Leodis website. You can find them using the keyword ‘jaquier’, or click here for a direct link to all of them.

“Leodis visitors have already left quite a few comments under the photos. But I need more. I’m looking for people who recognize themselves, or relatives, or friends. And even if you don’t recognize anyone, recollections and anecdotes about this time in the life of the city are welcome.”


A young woman walks towards the camera in York Road holding two small girls by the hand. They are just passing William Lambert & Son, Estate Agent, Valuers and Building Society Agents at number 248 York Road. Behind the woman are the Thrift Stores at number 256 York Road. Beyond is the junction with Ivy Street. To the left-hand side is the Victoria Spice Mills (Stokes & Dalton Ltd., spice merchants), now York Towers. (1969)

More then just a coffee-table object, then, Eric’s book will be a venture with a deeper ambition. As well as its unique juxtaposition of Leeds’ past and present, he hopes it will contain texts written by specialists in various fields, such as history, sociology and architecture.

So please take a look though Eric’s photographs on Leodis. If you’ve lived in Leeds for a while, scour the faces for people you recognize and think about the places you remember. Leave comments on as many images as you can, or drop us an email at and we’ll be sure to pass it on.

Even if you’re not acquainted with many of the sights and scenes he captured in that now-distant decade, we’re sure you’ll find yourself lost in a city-scape that seems strangely, enchantingly familiar.


A group of young boys play ball games in Westfield Crescent. The gas lamp post stands at the corner with Rosebank Street. The two streets seen in the background are Back Rosebank Crescent (left) and Rosebank Crescent. Beyond, Woodsley Road, at the top of Westfield Crescent, is just visible. (1969)

A 1950s Night on the Town

This week at the Secret Library we’re taking you on a wild night out in the company of the Three Peaks Club, a Leeds-based hiking society formed in 1944 by a small group of students. Over the years, the club grew in size, completing a walk of all three Yorkshire Peaks every March, camping out in the Dales each June, and enjoying social events through the autumn. January was the time for a big night out ‘in town’, however, and this account comes from The Three Peaks Club Log on 9 January 1956…

“A meal up to the usual excellent standard was consumed at Whitelocks and after a short visit to McConnell’s* the party wended its way up to The Ship Inn where Pierre Duval of the Tennant’s Arms is now in command.

The interior of Whitelocks pub, little changed since 1880, where the Three Peaks Club began its night on the town with dinner.

The interior of Whitelocks pub, little changed since 1880, where the Three Peaks Club began the night with dinner. (Photo from

“Pierre joined the group and after a drink or two all entered The Palace of Varieties where the entertainment was just about to commence. An interesting programme appeared to improve progressively as the evening passed by. This phenomenon is difficult to explain unless it be connected in some manner with the close proximity of the circle bar. At all events a certain amount of time was spent by most members in this bar. 

Comedy, magic and glamour girls made up the bill of GIRLS YOU'RE GORGEOUS, the 'hot' show that the members of the Three Peaks Club would have enjoyed on their night out on the town on 9 January 1956.

Comedy, magic and glamour girls made up the bill of City Varieties’ GIRLS YOU’RE GORGEOUS, the ‘hot’ show the club members would have seen on their night out on 9 January 1956.

“When the programme was over most of the party returned home by car in dense fog but a few, more intrepid than the rest retired to The Ship where Pierre proved once more his renowned hospitality. Later the select group of drinkers were joined by the Principal Boy and the Principal Girl from the Leeds Empire pantomime. The Principal Boy proved to be an adept at the art of telling jokes and had the whole group in fits of laughter.

“The party eventually broke up and Mr. Clough’s group departed with three other members in the Standard 8 together with the Principal Boy in the rear of our car conveniently sandwiched between Seabrook & Midgeley.**

This is

MOTHER GOOSE was the Empire’s pantomime running throughout January in 1956. Perhaps Jane Kimm was one of the actresses who joined the club members at their table in the Ship Inn.

“Having safely deposited the glamorous female at her place of residence in Coburg Street course was set in dense fog for Keighley. Progressing slowly down Kirkstall Road, however, the entourage was hailed by a solitary female of comely proportion. Nothing loth the vehicle was brought to a standstill and yet another beautiful girl was seated upon the knees of the two members in the rear of the car.

“The girl turned out to be a French Canadian who considered herself rather attractive and seemed determined to prove it to the astonished delight of the passengers upon whose knee she was sitting. She eventually disembarked, thanking the driver of the car by means of a warm embrace and the remainder of the journey was completed under great difficulties owing to the poor visibility.”

If you’d like to read more of the club’s adventures, the Club Log is held in the Local and Family History Library at shelf mark YQ 796.51 THR. The playbills shown also come from our collection, many of which can be viewed online at Leeds Playbills.

* Users of our photographic website, Leodis, have shared some interesting memories of the long-gone drinking establishment McConnell’s.

** John L. Midgeley was the club’s President, 1955-56, and Wikipedia can help you out if you’re wondering what a Standard Eight was.

It’s Mr Tetley’s Birthday

Leeds Libraries will be at The Tetley on Saturday 18 July for the free event, Joshua Tetley’s Birthday Party – so be sure to come and say hello and find out more about our special collections and library services.

In 1822, a 44-year-old Joshua Tetley signed an agreement with Mr William Sykes, Common Brewer, to take over his brewery at Salem-Place, Hunslet Lane, Leeds. While large successful breweries flourished in London, there was nothing of the sort in the North of England and Tetley felt there was an opportunity to be had, even though others in the trade may not have been doing so well. Joshua Tetley obviously had the right idea because almost 200 years later Tetley is one of the best known brewing names in the country, and iconic in Yorkshire.

A Tetley's timeline, taken from our Local History stock

A Tetley’s timeline, taken from our Local History stock

Coming from a long line of Maltsters, Joshua Tetley would have been no stranger to the beer brewing process and only chose the best candidates to partner up with for his first brew. After a slow but steady start, Tetley’s beer became more well known and an exciting opportunity to expand came with the Beer House Act of 1830, which made it legal for anyone paying a fee to sell beer from his own premises without permission from the Justices. This gave Tetley the chance to put more of his beer into the newly opened beerhouses of Leeds, the staff of which were unlikely to have the right experience or equipment to brew.

In the Nineteenth Century, the brewing of beer did not seem to be particularly experimental; brewers would rather stick to the simple well known process. However, Alfred Barnard’s 1889 book Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland implied that Tetley’s were trying exciting new brews in an ‘experimental plant’, a dedicated room in the existing brewhouse. With ambitious moves such as this, Tetley’s had become a very successful and profitable business by the 1880s with around 500 staff and an increase in profits year upon year.

In 1889 Tetley’s profits took a dip, this being primarily because of other breweries buying public houses and selling their own beer. Tetley eventually gave in to the trend that was drying up their market and bought the first Tetley pub, the Duke William, in 1890, and shortly after the Fleece in Farsley which is still a pub today. With a large number of pubs ‘tied’ to the Tetley brewery and business on the up again, in 1931 the iconic Tetley Headquarters in Leeds was erected; and by the 1960s, after a takeover of Leeds’ Melbourne Brewery, Tetley’s became Leeds’ largest brewery, employing a thousand people.

The Huntsman, Tetley's staff magazine

The Huntsman, Tetley’s staff magazine

Tetley’s became the world’s largest producer of casks ales in the 1980s and was then taken over by Carslberg in 1998. However Tetley’s still remains an iconic part of Leeds history with the 1930s headquarters still standing, now used as a heritage and contemporary arts and learning space. Leeds Libraries hold an exciting collection of books and ephemera on Tetley’s brewery, including The Huntsman (above), Tetley’s staff magazine from the 1960s-80s, prints, postcards and information on the famous Tetley shire horses, the ‘Gentle Giants’, along with various agreements and inventories.

See our photograph archive Leodis for historical photographs of Tetley pubs, plaques and events over the years, and visit the Tetley website for more information about this Saturday’s festival.

Snippet of History: Taylor, Mason and Timothy White

In 1985 the Timothy White chain of stores – formerly a major presence on British streets – disappeared from the high street following a takeover by Boots the Chemist. It’s perhaps not secret history – more forgotten history – that the Timothy White company had at least part of its roots right here in Leeds. That was due to the determination of one individual, William Barker Mason, who launched the Taylor Drug Store in 1881 from a small unit in Thornton’s Arcade. Later expanding to over 250 branches nationwide, all run from a head office in Leeds, Taylor’s Drugs merged with Timothy White in 1936 to form Timothy White and Taylor’s.

Much of this history came to light while we were casually browsing through a copy of the Leeds Mercury (available on microfilm in our Local and Family History Library, or free online to all Leeds Libraries members through the Nineteenth Century British Newspapers resource) from 1 January 1891, and came across the following advertisement:

taylor mikado

This fantastic-sounding event was held at Taylor’s warehouse at 5 & 7 Albion Street. Using the early Goad maps held at the library (these showed occupiers of premises for insurance purposes), we are able to identify the exact location of that warehouse, a little earlier in time – around 1886:

goad 1886

Then, using our photographic archive, Leodis (available at, we were able to find some images of the Albion Street area in the decades around the same time.

Image showing the west side of Albion Street at the junction with Bond Street, 1882

Image showing the west side of Albion Street at the junction with Bond Street, 1882

Mason – who named his stores after his wife’s maiden name – was something of a major figure in local Wesleyan Methodist circle, at least according to his obituary, which we located in our collection of Leeds news cuttings. No further information is known about his connections to that religious movement. If any readers of this blog can shed further light on that tantalising hint we would be delighted to hear from them!

William Barker Mason obituary

Lines Around Leeds


One panel of the display in Local and Family History

The current display in the entrance of the Local and Family History department, Leeds Central Library, showcases the history of trams in Leeds. It features a large number of photos from our collection, plus articles from our archive of local newspapers, copies of route layout maps, and a selection of books on the topic.

Leeds Corporation Tramways formerly served the city of Leeds. The transport network first opened on 29 October 1891 and its original trams were horse-drawn but, by 1901, electrification had been completed.

There were several lines running between the city centre and Cross Gates, Chapel Allerton, Moortown, Roundhay, Middleton, Beeston, Armley, Hunslet, and Kirkstall. The network, of which certain sections were on reserved track, was far more extensive than the Leeds Supertram system proposed in the 1990s.

Tram no. 400 at Kirkstall Abbey terminus on Abbey Road, bound for Harehills on route no. 3. The grounds of Abbey House Museum are behind the wall in the background (22 June 1948)

Tram no. 400 at Kirkstall Abbey terminus on Abbey Road, bound for Harehills on route no. 3. The grounds of Abbey House Museum are behind the wall in the background (22 June 1948)

The earliest trams were single-decker vehicles, but later purchases were double-deckers, operated by Leeds Tramways Company. The last of these ran in 1901. Steam trams were also used until full electrification. Throughout most of the Twentieth Century, the tramway used a mixture of bus-style and balloon trams, both in double-decker formation. The system of collection by trams from the overhead wiring was unusual in that it used pantographs rather than poles, obviating the need to turn the pole round at each terminus.

Even when other cities were abandoning their tramways in the 1940s, Leeds continued to modernise its system. Two prototype modern single-deck trams (somewhat similar to those used in continental European cities) were built in the early 1950s. In particular a single-deck tram painted purple for the Queen’s Coronation, was in operation on ‘route 3’ in 1953 – perhaps because this followed a segregated track along Roundhay Road to the popular attraction of Roundhay Park. This ‘Coronation’ tram still operates in the Beamish open air museum in County Durham.

Lower Briggate showing tram no. 197, a 'Horsfield' built 1930-31, heading to Meanwood. All the shops are decorated to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (2 June 1953)

Lower Briggate showing tram no. 197, a ‘Horsfield’ built 1930-31, heading to Meanwood. All the shops are decorated to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (2 June 1953)

In the early 1950s, Leeds purchased 90 ‘Feltham’ second-hand trams, dating from 1931, from London Transport. By this period, Leeds tramcars were normally painted in red. After the closure of the Leeds system on 7 November 1959, Sheffield became the last city in England operating trams (closing in 1960) with Glasgow the last in the UK (closing in 1962). The Blackpool tramway then became the UK’s only commercial tramway, until the opening of the Manchester Metrolink in 1992.


Queen’s Hall, showing tram no. 199 entering the tram depot on Swinegate (7 September 1954)

Queen’s Hall, situated off Swinegate, was Leeds’s central tram shed. This was used as a concert hall after the tram system’s closure and came to be a renowned music venue. It was demolished in 1989 and site is now a car park, with some redevelopment taking place. There still remains an old electricity substation used for the tramway on Abbey Road in Hawksworth. Several Leeds electric trams are now preserved at the National Tramway Museum at Crich, and the last remaining (Leeds horse tram no. 107) is now being restored by the Leeds Transport Historical Society.

For more photos of the tramways, visit our Leodis website ( or call in to see us in the Local and Family History department on the second floor of Leeds Central Library.