Get ready to see a Leeds you’ve never seen before as new films are released that show off important moments in the city’s history.
As part of a project by the Associated Press and British Movietone over 1 million minutes of historical video footage are set to be digitised and uploaded to YouTube – and there are five amazing snippets of Leeds’ history that steal the show. From Victorian Leeds to visits from royalty and lost traditions, we’re about to see a side to Leeds that we’ve never seen before, at least not on film.
1. Boar Lane and City Square, 1897
This may be a silent film, as you’d expect from the time, but you could probably watch it all day. In 1897, the country was celebrating Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, but here, on what looks like an incredibly cold day in Leeds, it’s business as usual, with trams running from Boar Lane and through City Square, and horse and carriages heading towards Swinegate. A priceless look back at Leeds over a century ago.
2. King George V Opens Leeds Civic Hall, 1933
In a remarkable video, we see the moment the grand Leeds Civic Hall is opened by King George V in 1933. As the first visit by any reigning monarch since 1894, the hordes of ‘Yorkshire subjects’, as the video puts it, fill the streets to see the King in town – and the fact it’s followed by Tommy Atkins doing some good ol’ ‘foot-slogging’ shows you its age.
3. Princess Elizabeth in Yorkshire, 1949
Just three years before Princess Elizabeth was to become Queen of England, she took on a tour of West Yorkshire. While also visiting the likes of Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield and York, her visit to Leeds, alongside the Duke of Edinburgh, saw her spend a morning with over 3,500 Leeds schoolchildren at Roundhay Park before making her way to Leeds Civic Hall and around the county.
4. Leeds Children’s Day, 1946
In the ‘aftermath of war, rationing and all that’, as the narrator so brilliantly puts it, the focus of the city in 1946 is Leeds Children’s Day at Roundhay Park. It was an event that Leeds had become famous for in the early part of the 20th century and featured such bon homie as the ‘Healthiest Baby Competition’. There was also a sports day in kind, as well as the crowning of a Children’s Day Queen – can we bring it back for 2015?
5. Queen Mother & the Ark Royal, 1973
In this short newsreel video, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother is in Leeds to grant the men of the fourth Ark Royal Navy ship the freedom of the city of Leeds. While it may be odd for a city as deep inland in Leeds to have an association with the Navy, as the video tells us, Leeds had adopted the Ark Royal before the third ship was sunk in World War Two and it’s a relationship that continued until the fifth ship was decommissioned in 2011.
The full set of Associated Press and British Movietone videos are available to watch on their YouTube channel.Feature image courtesy of Leodis.