The love locks on Centenary Bridge have become a familiar sight over the last few years, but Leeds is now following in the footsteps of the Paris, as the decision has been made to remove them from the bridge.
If you’ve walked across Centenary Bridge lately, you may have noticed that the rails have been adorned with locks. It’s part of a tradition that has travelled from the continent to Leeds, but just as it has proved somewhat unpopular with authorities across the Channel, so too is it frowned upon in Leeds.
There have been mumblings for years that council would remove them, but only now have they actually taken action. So if you cross Centenary Bridge today, you’ll not only be met with the sight of hundreds of glittering locks, you’ll also stumble upon the council’s signs, which state in no uncertain terms that they’ll be removing the locks.
It is, of course, a step to preserve and protect the bridge itself, not a random act of maliciousness, but it will take a little bit of the joy out of our river crossings – and for the people who placed a lock on the bridge, it could mean a little more.
The legend that goes with the love locks is this – during World War I a local schoolmistress in Vrnjačka Banja fell in love with a Serbian officer. He then went to war and fell in love with another woman, so they broke off their engagement, but Nada never recovered, eventually dying of heartbreak. Hearing her story, young women from the area wanted to protect their own love, so they engraved their names onto padlocks, attached them to the bridge and threw away the key.
Is it a true story? Probably not, but it’s certainly a romantic notion and one that has spread across the world. So while the locks on the bridge are a curiosity to passers by and a nuisance to the council, they also have a very personal significance to the people who put them there – which is why the locks are being removed, but not destroyed.
Anyone who has placed a lock on the bridge will be able to claim it back, as the council will be keeping them under lock and key for three months. To get yours, simply contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.