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Explore Armley Jail’s Grisly Past at Left Bank Leeds’ Talking Histories Evening

· Joseph Sheerin · Culture

From public executions to famous prisoners, delve into Armley Jail’s fascinating past.

HMP Leeds, Armley Jail

Talking Histories is back at Left Bank Leeds this month and their next topic is all about Armley Jail and its incredible, often gruesome history.

Left Bank Leeds is delving back into Leeds’ past with their Talking Histories events, a series of talks and walks centred around Leeds’ landmarks. The next one takes place on Thursday 21st September 2017, with an intriguing look around one of the city’s most notorious buildings – Armley Jail, Leeds’ category B men’s prison.

It’s a lecture-style event led by Eric Walsh, a prison officer of 40 years who spent 25 of them at Armley Jail. As well as looking after the prison and its inmates, he spent much of his time researching the jail’s past, including running tours around the site for many years. Unfortunately, that’s no longer allowed today, so instead he’s sharing his wealth of knowledge at Left Bank Leeds this month.

He’ll be taking you on a journey through the jail’s remarkable past, from escapes to disorder, punishments and executions. The evening will go right back to Victorian Leeds, with details about the very first Armley Jail inmate, James Beaumont, who arrived on Monday 11th October 1847. There’ll also be tales about the only public execution to be held there in September 1864, the only female to be executed at the jail in December 1904 and some of the famous names to have been held there, including Charles Bronson, Peter Sutcliffe and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown to name but a few.

Eric will spend around an hour taking you through its grisly past, before you get a chance to ask your own questions about this fascinating place, which has been Grade II listed since 1974. It’s no surprise that it’s listed, with its iconic castle-style facade an iconic landmark in the Leeds suburb.

Left Bank Leeds’ Volunteer Manager, Linda Horsburgh told us more about their Talking Histories events, “Talking Histories is a 2-year series that is funded by Heritage Lottery. We are looking at the history of Leeds, told through its buildings and people. We started in May this year, and we started with Kirkstall Abbey, that was the very first place we did, and we are going to go all the way through right up to Victoria Gate, over the next 2 years, in a rough chronological order.”

With two years of monthly events lined up, there’s plenty of Talking Histories to look forward to, but with such a fascinating history and plenty of stories to tell, Armley Jail could be one of the best.

Talking Histories: Armley Jail takes place at Left Bank Leeds on Thursday 21st September 2017 at 7.30pm. £5 on the door.