ELHAS Meeting Report October 2008

The illustrated talk "Cross Gates Past and Present "given by Jacki and Bob Lawrence attracted a record fifty three members and guests to the October meeting of ELHAS.

Jacki and Bob are long time members of the East Leeds History and Archaeology Society, although this was their first time as presenters. Bob has been a member almost since the beginning of the society and holds a number of roles, most recently having been elected as the society's president and editor of the Leeds History Journal this year. He has a keen interest in local history and relishes the opportunity to promote the history of the area. He is also much involved in family history and runs the parish records search service for the society, which receives requests from all over the world. Jacki is meetings and events organiser and so is much more familiar with booking and looking after guest speakers rather than performing that role herself. However both said they enjoyed the experience, and judging by the audience reaction they agreed, since the presentation was most enthusiastically received.

Showing images of Cross Gates from the present day and going back over the years, the talk began with a shot across Cross Gates roundabout which is almost on the site of the old village green. Whilst some of the images shown were most definitely not familiar to the audience (since they dated from 1890, the very dawn of photography) there were several shots from the 40's, 50's and 60's which the audience could relate to. The photographs evoked many memories of buildings and events long gone and generated much lively discussion by the audience. It was interesting to note as the talk progressed with views from Station Road and Austhorpe Road, the two main thoroughfares, how little some of the buildings have changed over the years . There may have been a change of use, such as the miner's cottages along Station Road which are now all shops , but the buildings remain substantially as they were when built in the early 1800's to house the mine workers from the pits owned by Samuel Wilkes Waud. The history of the area was really brought to life for the audience by being able to see the places, as well as listen to the commentary provided. With over 90 images in the presentation, the great variety of shots provided most people with something recognisable. The talk ended with photographs of the Optare and Vickers factories, both significant in the lives of Cross Gates residents in the more recent past. These sites have just received outline planning permission to be developed for residential purposes, and so will begin a new chapter for Cross Gates.

The next meeting on Monday 24th November will be a talk about the new Leeds Museum by Katherine Baxter Archaeology Curator, Leeds Museums and Galleries.