ELHAS Meeting Report - October 2010

Life is full of surprises. On Monday 25th October 36 members and guests assembled to see a power point presentation by Bob Tyrell of Leeds Civic Trust about the Blue Plaques Scheme in Leeds. Bob has been a member of the Trust for over 20 years. Although not a Yorkshireman, he began his association with the trust by winning a competition to identify Leeds buildings from their silhouettes - his prize was Trust membership and he has been with them ever since. This has allowed him to pursue his lifelong interest in old buildings leading to his current role of expert in the Blue Plaques of Leeds.

In his introduction Bob told us that the scheme has been running since 1987 and now has 123 plaques on buildings in Leeds identifying places of historical significance in the city. Now comes the surprise - unfortunately the computer gremlins had been at work in Bob's equipment, and he was faced with every presenter's nightmare - technical malfunction! However, despite being unable to deliver the Blue Plaques presentation Bob valiantly saved the day by accessing another presentation "Leeds in the 17th Century" and delivering that for us. Despite never having seen the presentation before he was able to talk knowledgeably and interestingly about the images as they came up. The presentation was in fact images of the significant buildings in Leeds from the 1600's.

20th century photo of Red Hall (built 1628), believed to be the first red brick building in Leeds

It began with the Red Hall built during the reign of Charles the 1st. This was the first building in Leeds built of red brick a building material which has become synonymous with 'The Leeds Look'.

We were then treated to various images of other Leeds buildings such as the Moot Hall, the White Cloth Hall (currently still standing but in a dangerous state of disrepair). Perhaps the most interesting of images were the ones of Lambert's Yard, Leeds' oldest surviving building, where we were able to see images of it over the centuries until the present day. All of the images were accompanied by frequent references to John Cousin's 1726 map of Leeds, so that we were able to see where the buildings were in relation to the city centre as we know it.

Bob also told us about John Harrison, a wool merchant who made a significant contribution to the city, for example being responsible for building the Butter (or market) Cross and the grammar school. All in all, Bob gave a very creditable performance, and is to be congratulated for turning what could have been a disaster into an entertaining evening for us all.

The next meeting on Monday 29th November will be a talk by Ken Goor on 'The History of Christmas Traditions'. The meeting will close with tea or coffee and mince pies.