Meeting Report September 2017
We couldn't have had a better audience to welcome Patrick Bourne to our first meeting of the winter programme. Patrick is assistant community curator at Abbey House Museum, and has worked for Leeds Museums and Galleries since 2010 after being educated at Leeds University. Local history has long been a passion of his, and we are delighted he came to us to deliver an illustrated talk entitled "The Lost Buildings of Leeds".
He began his talk by explaining that although Leeds had many fine buildings in all parts of the city which are no longer with us , he would concentrate his talk on the buildings from the city centre. Beginning with familiar buildings such as the Moot hall and Red Hall, Patrick showed us several images of these buildings whilst regaling us with anecdotes and stories about them. For example, Red Hall built 1628, was the first red brick building in Leeds and the scene of the incarceration of King Charles 1st. The story was told how John Harrison tried to help him escape by smuggling gold coins to him in the bottom of a tankard. Patrick was keen to point out he could not corroborate this story, although it is a widely known tale. The Red Hall survived until the 1960's and indeed a member of the audience could remember it. He also told how the Moot Hall, situated in Briggate and rebuilt in 1711, was finally demolished having been regarded a nuisance to the citizens of Leeds, because it was sited in the middle of the road and thus caused an obstruction to traffic. Showing us the interior as well as exterior images, Patrick said that the panelling from the Moot Hall was on display in Leeds City Museum and urged us to go to see it.
Naturally his presentation included images of some of the many coaching inns and public houses which Leeds boasted in the 16th and 17th centuries, and some of these still exist today. Again he had tales to tell, including the story of the attempt to put a body snatched from the graveyard onto the mail coach at the Rose and Crown Inn, in order to send it to Edinburgh. We were also treated to images of the white and coloured cloth halls which were so important to the commerce and industry of the city. It seemed most appropriate to see these since Kirkgate, Leeds' oldest street and site of the white cloth hall is currently undergoing much needed refurbishment.
What we really enjoyed about the talk was how Patrick described the growth and development of the city as he went along, and explained how different parts of the city became recognisably different over the years. We were also impressed by the number and variety of the images he showed. Many images of old Leeds are familiar to us and have been featured in different publications over the years, but Patrick had made the effort to seek out some previously unseen images and we were very glad to have the opportunity to see them. It proved to be a thoroughly entertaining and informative evening, and generated much discussion amongst the members afterwards.
Photos courtesy of Leeds City Libraries, Leodis.
The next meeting on Monday 30th October 2017 will be a talk by Neil Moroney entitled "Past Times in West Yorkshire".