Whale Tales

This week sees librarian Helen Skilbeck investigate some whale tales from the 1950s. At a recent virtual coffee morning I talked to an engaging group from Rothwell about some of the treasures of the Local and Family History Library. Afterwards one of the gentleman asked if I had any information about the whale that came…

West Leeds Boys High School

As part of our ongoing Armley Treasures series, librarian Helen Skilbeck looks at the early history of the West Leeds Boys High School. This is a companion piece to the West Leeds Girls High School blog post of August 2020 by Josh Flint. The school opened in September 1907 and was ‘planned not as a…

The Chapeltown Uprising of 1981 – commemorating and investigating.

This week sees the 40th anniversary of the uprising in Chapeltown, where the weekend of 11/12th of July saw social unrest around Roundhay Road and Chapeltown Road. This coincided with other protests that year in Brixton, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham as well as smaller uprisings in Bradford, Halifax and Hull. Leeds Libraries, West Yorkshire Archives,…

Glimpses of Mary Gawthorpe

As International Women’s Day approaches, we look at some inspirational women of Leeds, as chosen by Local and Family History staff. Here librarian, Helen Skilbeck, reveals her admiration of a local suffragist. A personal favourite of mine is Mary Gawthorpe (1881-1973) who was a teacher, suffragist, suffragette, organiser and public speaker for the WSPU (Women’s…

People of Leeds #16: The Brothers Johnson, Swimmers Extraordinaire

A previous blog post took a look at the Cookridge Street Public Baths where the general manager and swimming instruction was Professor Peter Johnson. Today, librarian Helen Skilbeck takes a closer look at Johnson and his younger brother. This article forms #16 in our People of Leeds series. Peter and his brother John Baptist (J.B.)…

People of Leeds #15: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

This week, we hear from the Central Library’s Helen Skilbeck, who talks us through a fascinating and very-valuable Playbill. This article is #15 in our People of Leeds series – short biographies of lesser-known contributors to Leeds’ past.  Leeds Libraries collection of playbills can be viewed online but one that has not yet been digitised is…

Cookridge Street Public Baths

This week, librarian Helen Skilbeck takes a look back at the history of the public baths on Cookridge Street… Directly opposite Leeds City Museum, on the site of Millennium Square, were Cookridge Street Public Baths –  also known as the Oriental and General Baths. Opened in 1866, these baths survived for nearly a century until…

People of Leeds #11: Superintendent Henry Baker and his Fire Books

This week Helen Skilbeck looks at a collection of scrapbooks compiled by Superintendent Henry Baker of Leeds Corporation Fire Brigade, covering the period 1870 – 1896. This article is #11 in our People of Leeds series – short biographies of lesser-known contributors to Leeds’ past.  Deep within the stacks in Leeds Central Library are a collection…