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PLAYGROUND: Exploring Armley

When I moved to Armley in 2018, I knew nothing about the area. Over the past two-years I have explored and discovered so much about this amazing place, from its history and industrial heritage, the wealth of individuals who have lived and worked here, and the community I am now proud to be part of spreading all that Armley Good Stuff! When lockdown began, I knew I wanted to do something, however small, to help people in isolation feel connected. What a better way to do this than to share all the interesting facts and stories I have found with you all, and I am so happy that so many of you out there have taken part in PLAYGROUND: Exploring Armley, and would like to thank everyone for their support and kind feedback! 120 of you scanned the sign in the Rose Garden over the past four weeks, despite the rain and lockdown, and our online posts have been seen by over 20,000 people! So to everyone who liked, commented on and shared each daily discovery, thank you for making this project such a success!

I’d like to give a special shout-out to Councillor Lou Cunningham for their support and helping to fund the project, to everyone at Leeds City Council and Wade’s Charity for making this happen, and to The Leeds Sign Co. for installing the sign so quickly, it’s certainly outlasted the weather!

I will now be working on a more permanant version of this project to provide a hub for our community, and to hopefully create a space where Armleyians can take pride in where they live, share their stories and find out more about this wonderful place we all call home! In the meantime, you can find each and everyone of the 35 discoveries below, click on the links and find a few bonus facts too! Enjoy!

James Gray, Project Lead, Director/Secretary 2020/21

Day 1: Support Local Musicians!

We loved this cover of “True Colours” by Armley based Musician That Lad From Armley dedicated to everyone fighting against Covid-19 so check out the link below, give it a listen and check out their other videos too! It’s important we all come together during this time of isolation and show off our true Armley colours as a community! Get involved in local projects, volunteer if safe to do so and make sure to keep our public green spaces clean and litter free! Make sure to like and subscribe, and support independent creatives in Leeds especially at this time when many venues have been closed. Armley has a fantastic history of musicians, bands and singers, find more below!

Day 2: Discover the Past!

This day’s discovery was the Leodis Online Photographic Archive, a collection old photographs of Leeds showing our history, heritage and the changes to our communities. This search showed images of Armley Park or Gotts Park and the now lost village of Redcote, demolished to make way for the Kirkstall Power Station. Why not take a walk and see if you can match these photos up? Did you know Redcote existed? What parts of the park have change the most or not changed at all?

BONUS DISCOVERIES: I will be adding some extra links throughout of photographs of Armley locations so keep an eye out!

Day 3: Protect Our Past!

This day’s discovery was the Grade Listing for Armley House in Gott’s Park on the Historic England website, with a ton of information about the building’s past the and all the incredible people responsible for its construction. More on them to come! Dating back to the late 17th century, there have been many changes and additions, though the original House and Walled Garden (now the Rose Garden) remain intact, which is incredible considering how much our city has grown over the last 200 years! Did you know Robert Smirke who added the East Front to the house also designed the facade of the British Museum? Someone loved a good column! Discover more Grade Listed buildings in and around Armley including more in Armley Park itself, by clicking here!

Day 4: Think Local!

Looking for gift ideas? Why not support your local independent creative community and buy something unique! We love these prints from Armley based Artist Graham Pilling or “Army of Cats” and hope you enjoyed discovering their Etsy shop. You can see more of their work on their website too. Help your community further, make sure to like or follow them, and share around with friends and family. Think locally, think Leeds and see what you can find from grafters on your doorstep! Any other Armley based creatives out there want a shout out? Get in touch and we will be happy to showcase your work!

Day 5: Get Back Up Again!

How could we explore Armley without mentioning Chumbawamba and their classic Leeds anthem?! Here are some of the extremely talented Breeze Leeds youth coming together for a lockdown rewrite of “Tubthumping” to get us through Covid-19 and get us back up again! Thank you to all the singers and musicians who put this together! Make sure to follow Breeze and find out ways you can get involved. Chumbawamba was one of many punk bands to form in Leeds in the 1970s, but did you know the band shared a house in Armley whilst gigging around Leeds and writing their first Album in the early 1980s?

Day 6: Enjoy the Views!

Ever wondered what it would be like to take a boat ride down the canal? Well here you can digitally from your own home during lockdown with this fantastic photographic guide of the Leeds to Liverpool Canal. Start at Oddy Locks and work your way up stream, past Armley Mills and under Redcote Bridge on your way into Kirkstall then Bramley Fall Woods and beyond! Did you know the canal took 47 years to complete, and was the first transpennine waterway to be built, costing five times the intended budget!? Kind of a HS2 of its time! Thank you to Canal & River Trust and all their volunteers for protecting and preserving our heritage and nature in Leeds and across the country!

Day 7: Help your Neighbours!

What’s a community without our volunteers?! Big shout out to everyone at local charity heroes Armley Helping Hands for their continued and dedicated work over the past 25 years! Find out how you can give back to your neighbours and visit their website.

Day 8/9: Celebrate Local Heroes!

We’ve celebrated some present local heroes, so let celebrate some local heroes of the past as well! Did you know there has been two ‘Armleyians’ to received the Victoria Cross for bravery?

We found out about William Boynton Butler thanks to this fantastic article by Leeds own Royal Armouries Museum! William Boynton Butler shielded fellow soldiers in their trench from a misfired shell, only just surviving the blast. In a letter to their parents in 1917, on receiving the honour, they humbly remarked “…it will only be for what other men have done, or what is being done every week of the year.”

During the battle of Paardeberg, on February 18, 1900, Armley born Sergeant Alfred Atkinson lost their life under heavy fire carrying water to the wounded. Their father, Farrier-Major James Atkinson, captured the cannon the original VC medals were cast from. An amazing person our community can be proud to call a hero!

You can find more information about some of the brave hereos from Armley from the Imperial War Museum and this informational page about Armley Park’s WW1 memorial. If you’re looking for a specific name, you can use the IWM database here, with over 80,000 searchable memorials from across the U.K.

Day 10: Speak Out!

Not all heroes are soldiers, some are just ordinary ‘Armleyians‘ standing up for what is right! June Hancock and Arthur Margereson were both children during Armley’s successful asbestos trade years. The dangers of asbestos being widely ignored, the fibers were free to become airborne, with local children playing in the ‘snow’ unaware of the damage being done. Hancock and Margereson vs. J. W. Roberts in 1996 was a landmark case, meaning owners of asbestos factories that did not provide protective equipment were responsible for negligence. In the end, T&N, the parent company of J. W. Roberts, had 263,000 personal injury claims brought against them, leading to bankruptcy. Unfortunately both June and Arthur passed away from Mesothelioma, a lung condition caused by asbestos exposure, but their willingness to fight for their fellow ‘Armleyians’ and those who also lost their lives is inspiring, and should not be forgotten. Since 1997, the June Hancock Foundation has raised over a million pounds towards medical research for treating and curing Mesothelioma. The factories may be long gone, or left to rot, but the legacy these two heroes left behind is definitely something worth celebrating!

Day 11/14: Think Local!

From local heroes to local businesses, we are celebrating some of the amazing independent places on our doorstep! Now lockdown is easing, it’s important we support our community and Think Local so look in Armley before going elsewhere! This day we looked at the amazing Porterhouse Cake Co. who specialise in sweet treats for events, celebrations and other businesses. They have an amazing range of vegan and gluten-free cakes, making them the perfect gift for friends and family, especially those with intolerances. You can visit their website via the link, make sure to like and share their page. Oh, and good news, they’re back open for orders!

With the rain finally clearing the sunshine on its way, make sure to pop by Gotts Manor Tea Room in Armley Park for a great range of ice creams, cakes and freshly made food, hot and cold, including some proper breakfasts for all you early risers. Open 7-2pm weekdays and 7-4pm weekends, ditch the chain stores and overpriced drinks, support your fellow Armleyians instead, get some decent, local roasted Leodis Coffee and well-priced grub on your doorstep instead! Takeaways only till lockdown lifts fully, but with the lawns, parkland, forests and, of course, rose garden, who cares! Think Local and support our independent businesses! Please like their page, give it a share and leave a review if you’ve been, it doesn’t cost you anything but goes a long way in supporting them!

We continue our celebration of local businesses with Leeds Wood Recycling. Based just off the Armley Gyratory, you can find all the wood you’d ever need, whether you’re building, gardening or making, they’ll have what you need.

“Leeds Wood Recycling offers an ethical, cost effective and convenient wood collection service. We work in a similar way to a skip hire company, but offer a sustainable alternative to waste disposal as 100% of our collected wood waste is sorted, repurposed and recycled in some way.”

So don’t go to big branded supply stores, Think Local and support a small independent business as well as the environment!

Speaking of saving the environment, if you’ve had a clear out during lockdown or have some old furniture you’re wanting rid of, make sure to Think Local before going to the tip, and donate to The Feel Good Furniture Shop in Armley! This local charity provides work opportunities for adults with learning disabilities, offering training in restoring and reusing unwanted furniture, homeware and electrical items.

We couldn’t possibly cover every business, but there are plenty to choose from, so look in Armley before going else where! Do you own an independent business in Armley? We would love to hear from you, the more we can feature the better!

Day 15: Love Where You Live!

Did you know there is only one other Armley in the world? Apart from a few street names, this small farming hamlet in Canada is the only alternative. So next time you hear someone say there is nothing to do and nothing good about our community, remember this tiny, isolated place in the middle of nowhere and tell them, “actually there is plenty of #armleygoodstuff we can celebrate!” It’s easy to get caught up in the problems, and only seeing the negatives, and sure, Armley has plenty of social issues that need solving. But we can only bring about that meaningful change with a positive and appreciative attitude. Hopefully through these first two weeks of PLAYGROUND: Exploring Armley you’ve made some new discoveries, learned a few facts and maybe even been inspired to go somewhere new!

Day 16: Celebrate Together!

It’s film week! After a beautiful Midsummer sunset last night, it looks like the rain might finally be over! Did anyone celebrate the middle of our year? There was a time when the whole community would have been marching through the streets together in their Sunday best for such a day. Need proof? Then watch this amazing film from 1904 of a Walking Day Parade in Armley and Wortley! Walking Day processions were extremely important to communities, and marked the passing of each year celebrating the changing seasons. There would often be a Rose Queen, picked by the local Mayor, to lead the procession on a float, followed by a brass band and everyone from the community adorned with flowers and ribbons. Unfortunately most of the country, including us here in Armley, lost these carnival traditions. But how incredible that we have surviving footage to remind us of what community spirit can look like, and thanks to BFI you can it watch online digitally, for free!
Were you a Rose Queen or had someone in the family who was? Does anyone have any memories or stories of these Walking Days? Share and tag us in!

Day 17/18: Discover the Past!

What links Jeremy Irons to Armley? This day’s film week discovery of course! This fantastic animation, narrated by Irons, brings to life the incredible watercolour designs of Humphrey Repton (1752-1818) for Benjamin Gott’s new mansion in Armley. You’ll be amazed at how much of Repton’s original designs from their Red Book, now part of Oak Spring Garden Foundation library, still exist in the park today! We are so lucky to have such a wonderful park and grade listed building on our doorsteps, especially considering the Wither Grange Estate just opposite Gott’s lands was demolished to make way for housing. So check out the animation and go for a walk! Discover what the Mansion would have looked like in it’s prime, walk the old carriageways, find the views that Repton designed and take pride in where you live!

Speaking of Benjamin Gott, we also discovered this brilliant little clip from Leeds Museums and Galleries of a Spinning Mule in action at Armley’s own Leeds Industrial Museum at Armley Mills! Our Mills have a long history, and was once the largest woollen mill in the world! It was also the first to use metal beams rather than wood, a design element owner Benjamin Gott, also used in the redesigns for their Mansion just across the canal. After almost loosing everything when another of their mills set alight, it was a pretty smart business move and one that quickly caught on across the country. We think is amazing that this building has been kept alive, and our heritage protected, so that future generations can see machinery like this still being operated. Its a reminder of our nations industrial past, but also a way to connect with our family trees, seeing how our forbearers lived. So whilst we are unsure when the museum will reopen, make sure to go follow them, and keep an eye out for your opportunity to go visit! Oh, and we should probably mention, it’s only £1 to visit if you live in LS12 and under 5’s go free! Bargain!

BONUS DISCOVERIES! There is another video of the Spinning Mule in action here! You can also check out Leeds Museums and Galleries’ digital content in repsonse to covid-19 here!

Day 19: Think Forward!

This day’s film discovery was this incredible VHS footage of a car ride around Whingate and Armley from 1994. Maybe doesn’t seem that long ago, but keep in mind when this was filmed, I wasn’t even born yet! It’s amazing to see how much and how little has changed, and am sure it will make some of you feel very nostalgic. So let’s discover the past, but let’s also think to the future. What would we want Armley to look like for future generations to look back on? What changes as a community can we make? How can we get more involved in keep our lovely local area clean, friendly and thriving? Food for thought!

Day 20: How Times Change!

What were you up to in the summer of 1976? Well for these two lads, Russell and Victor it was a lot of mischief! This is a much watch short documentary available for free with British Film Institute!

“With school over and a long summer ahead, two boys from Armley take us on a tour around their favourite outdoor hideaways. Overgrown graveyards, derelict buildings and a deserted section of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal form an inexhaustible adventure playground. The semi-feral existence of the boys set against the stiff approach of the reporter is inadvertently telling of its times. The film was well received when it was broadcast. Six years later the Yorkshire Television crew revisited the lads for a Calendar Special programme and found them both married, one working as a builder, the other as a church organ tuner.”

Does anyone know these two? Anyone one else get up to this much trouble? Anyone know who’s rhubarb they were stealing!? Drop a comment below! (We had a lot of responses from friends and family of both lads and Jimmy who also appears, so thank you to all that commented and shared this film!)

Day 21: Take Pride and Listen!

From film to music! Those who scanned yesterday thought I might have gone mad, posting a Christmas Carol in June, but there is good reason! Schulze is a name synonymous with organs, having being commissioned to build one for the Great Exhibition by Prince Albert. That’s why T. S. Kennedy had one built by them for their wife in their new mansion, Meanwood Towers, in the mid 1860s. Due to failing health, the organ was eventually put up for sale. After a brief stop at St. Peter’s in Harrogate, the Schulze Organ eventually found its way to St. Bartholomew’s having being purchased by local textile giant Henry Williams Eyres. St. Bartholomew’s is the largest church in the whole of the Ripon and Leeds Dioceses giving the organ its unique, rich sound. It has almost 4000 pipes! So large is the organ that the water pressure in Armley wasn’t sufficient to power it, so they converted it to gas; this was eventually converted backed to water, then electricity, due to parishioners passing out from the fumes during hymns! If you’ve never heard the organ in action here is your chance! There’s plenty of other recordings too, go have a search and see what you can find!

BONUS DISCOVERY: Did you know St. Bartholomew’s was built on the site of a much smaller church from 1630 now demolished?

Day 22/3: Armley in Pop-Culture!

More music! We’ve already celebrated Chumbawamba but they’re not the only punk band with a connection to Armley. The Mekons formed in Leeds in 1976, a uni band that’s still on the go today, here’s a song from their 1987 album Honky Tonkin’ all about our own Charlie Cake Park! Named after a local peddlar of popular cakes the park is an iconc part of Armley, even appearing in an episode of “A Touch of Frost” and other TV shows. These cakes were so popular even Queen Victoria tried one whilst on one of her many visits to Leeds, and loved it! If punk’s not your thing maybe give it a miss and check out this song instead…

It’s been many years since Armley lost both of its railway stations, and thanks to Dr Beeching, our county lost over one-third of its railways in total. Here is a wonderfully nostalgic and calming number from iconic comedic composers Flanders & Swan. “The Slow Train” lists many of the stops used by holiday makers and day-trippers around the country, and reflects on the sad loss of such a large part of our national identity. Enjoy, listen out for Armley getting a mention, and stick to the end for some classic Flanders & Swan banter. This discovery was also a clue for the next, can you guess what the link might be?

Day 24: Discover Prehistoric Armley!

Did you get the Flanders & Swan clue? It was Hippos of course! Did you know that Armley was once home to Hippopotamus? Around 130,000 years ago, these Hippos roamed across the country, though this is the most northern these animals have been discovered. In 1851, workmen came across the remains, and after being identified, more excavations were carried out. This specimen housed at Leeds City Museum is one of the most intact, and is still on display today. There is also a marker on Town Street if you’ve spotted it?
With museums posed to reopen its important that those of us who can safely go visit them, show our support and donate if we can, or else risk loosing this vital community asset. Do it for the hippo!

Day 25/34: Discover the Past!

For all you history buffs out there, The Thoresby Society has a fantastic website jam-packed will all kinds of interesting Leeds based facts, go check them out!

After the 130,000 year old Hippo, we moved forward in time and discovered the origins of Armley over a 1000 years ago. Armley was originally a small settlement, owned by a Danish Chieftan called Erm or Orm. It literally means Erm’s Hill, though some local stories say the name refers to the elbow like shape of the River Aire that borders our town. There are even remains of a Danish Fortress on what is known as Giant’s Hill, by Armley Mills. The ruins were thought to have been the home of a local giant that liked to throw boulders at neighbouring villages. One of these, the greystone, still survives to this day in Burley. The fields these Danes worked continued to be fertile right up till industrial revolution, when the landscape change from farms to mills, though the signs of our past are all around us, in street names, in our parks and in the old stone boundary walls that still survive all over our community. We have come a long way since the times of Danes and Giants, but its important to keep our local stories alive. Makes you think of all those people to walk these fields and hills!

Speaking of which, have you ever wondered who lived in your house in the past? Armley has lots of old cottages with a wealth of family histories. This discovery uncovered some of these with this brilliant list of the 1871 census for Armley! The link will take you through to the list of those who lived at Gott’s Manor, Armley Ridge Road and Dead Lane, now the site of the ‘Edinburghs’ Estate. But if you explore you’ll find listings for the whole town including lost locations like Botany Bay, Redcote and Far Fold. Go see what you can find, you might even find a relative and track down your own family past!

All these old places and census records might leave you feeling a little lost, after all Armley has changed massively over the past 200 years. Did you know that the National Library of Scotland has an online digital archive of old ordnance survey maps? Even better you can access them and explore them in detail for free! Be transported into a story of our town’s development and get lost in the now paved over streets, farms, mansions, parks and halls that used to exist. There are five maps to choose from, from 1847 1894 1909 1933 and 1945, see if you can spot the before and after for when your house was built!

We also discovered the West Leeds Boys School, built in 1907 in Armley! Although the building still exists, a new building was constructed to celebrate the schools centenary which is now Dixons Unity Academy. This amazing archive has the entire history of the school, and I mean entire! It’s honestly one of the best online archives I’ve seen, and is well worth the exploration! Learn all about the house names and meanings, the many teachers and students, and a complete timeline of all sorts of stories and memories. From Fred and Ethel’s tuck shop selling scones for tuppence, to Oedipus Rex, Cricket and Mediterranean School Trips, you’ll find all sorts of good stuff here!

Another building down the road has a hidden past. Many of you will know of St. Mary’s Hospital in Armley, but did you know that it used to be the Bramley Union Workhouse? Built in 1872, the workhouse on Hill Top could house up to 220 inmates, housing those who were disabled, homeless, suffering from mental illness and ‘disorderly’ children. Expanding upon in 1895, much of the original building survives, except the Chapel tower. In 1925, workhouse across south and west Leeds were consolidated and eventually converted into hospitals or schools; new social infrastructure and understanding of disabilities and mental health brought an end to the many workhouses across the country.

Goes to show that not all of our history is visible, and without even knowing it, right under our feet, lies an unexplored world of abandoned buildings and structures. Did you know that Armley had two air-raid shelter’s built during World War 2? Both kept civilians safe during the Leeds Blitz, and were built quickly and cheaply out of concrete, mimicking the design of most across the city in public parks. What you might not know is that both air-raid shelters are there today still! Rather than demolish them they were simply covered over with soil and turf. If you look closely on ariel maps, you can still make out the distinctive patterns in the landscape. Luckily for us, someone managed to grab these amazing photographs of the inside 65 years after they were last inhabited! These photographs were taken of the west air-raid shelter, situated close to the Mansion. You can still see the painted signs on the walls, the small stoves to keep civilians warm and fed, and even an old pram left behind. It’s hard to imagine everyone crammed into this tiny space whilst over head bombs fell. True community spirit. Just a quick disclaimer, these photographs were taken by urban explorers, and whilst the results are impressive, urban exploring is extremely dangerous, and often trespassing, so a criminal act. We do not share these photos to condone urban exploring, but to highlight a hidden aspect of our heritage. Since these photographs were taken, both air-raid shelters were filled in and entrances blocked permanently. Please do not attempt to access this site or any other abandoned structures anywhere!

BONUS DISCOVERY: Air-raid shelters were built across Armley, here are some pictures of them being built! Just click here, here or here!

If you’ve ever walked down the canal, you may have seen a shipwreck by the Mills. Some of you might know this is a sunken ice breaker, used to break up sheets of ice during the winter months. The barge was left unclaimed and remains there today. What you might not know is this whole area was once known as Botany Bay.The bay was a landing and mooring site for goods coming to and from factories in Armley. This included wool from Australia to be spun at the Mill, hence the name. With the newly built Armley Canal Station, this area became a central point for trade and travel in the community. With street names of Pickering and Whitby, you get a real sense of the Victoria lifestyle for coastal days out. Factories, Mills, houses and pubs are still packed together down there, though a lot have been destroyed or abandoned, partially to the end of the canal and railway, but also the Armley Asbestos Disaster we’ve already covered. If you look close you’ll notice an old stone doorway by the icebreaker, and other warehouse foundations, giving you a glimpse of what this area would have looked like. In fact, if you walk the full length towards city centre, you’ll notice all sorts of old platforms, drains, staircases, chimney stacks and tunnels from Armley’s industrious past. You’ll also get a sense of just how important this Bay must have been. There are even records of people living on boats there in census records! It’s funny to think that this whole area started with a small Danish farm on a hill near a river.

Speaking of Armley Mills, here is a brilliant little write up from The Yorkshire Reporter with a brief history, and a glimpse at the average life of a worker. Check it out!

We’ve already mentioned Benjamin Gott, the owner of Armley Mills and Gott’s Manor, but here is a better insight into this amazing Armleyian. A truly remarkable figure of the 19th century, the Gott family would spend the majority of their fortune on Armley and its community.

This painting by Thomas Laurence of Gott gives you some sense of the importance and wealth this Calverley-born self-made individual accumulated in their lifetime. Born in 1762, by the time they died in 1840 at the age of 77 they were a millionaire, with an empire of Mills, had a stint as Mayor of Leeds and even presided over the founding of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society. Not bad for an apprentice from Pudsey! The Gott family are responsible for many of the buildings in Armley, some of which we’ve already covered, including both St. Bartholomew’s and Christ Church, including the school, the Chapel that is now Interplay Theatre and whole red brick housing complex in Upper Armley. Benjamin’s son, John, even had Armley Ridge Road expanded to provide work and an income for empoverished Mill workers during the winter months when wool trade was slow. The traces of the Gott’s family legacy can be felt across the city, but nowhere more so than Armley. The Park was built on land donated by the family to create a recreational ground for the community, including a fountain, three bandstands, a cricket and football pitch, bowling green and ornate garden. The iron bridge crossing the river aire on Redcote Lane was built to provide better access to Armley, and even had a toll booth build to provide money to the workers at Redcote. Schools, workhouses, hospitals, churches, halls, parks, houses, streets, bridges, libraries, I mean, the Gott’s practically built the Armley we know today! Eventually, even their house was given to the war effort as a hospital for injured soldiers, and then donated to the citizens of Leeds, to be used purely for our recreation for 999 years, meaning even LCC can’t built houses on it! Even their book collection was donated. It’s an amazing legacy, and one of the few examples of a truly philanthropic industrial family. Goes to show, never forget your roots!

BONUS DISCOVERIES: The Gott family have their own burial plot at St. Bartholomew’s Church, and there is a memorial statue of Benjamin Gott inside the church, sculpted by his cousin, Joseph Gott, but it’s missing a finger! There is also a blue plaque to Benjamin Gott at the house, which was crowdfunded and unveiled by one of the last living Gott decendents, historian and journalist Richard Gott.

We couldn’t possibly have explored Armley properly without mentioning one of Britain’s most celebrated writers, Alan Bennett, another Armleyian who didn’t forget thier roots, and with the recent production of Talking Heads on the BBC, it’s a perfect time to reflect on this brilliant individual! Bennett lived as a young boy on the Hallidays Estate in Upper Armley, the son of local butcher, and these early years can be discovered through a letter written to Christ Church Primary School in celebration of their 150th anniversary, and yes, for those of you keeping up with our post, the Gott family were responsible, funding both the school and Christ Church, Upper Armley itself! Click on the link in the bio to read this wonderful write-up by Yorkshire Evening Post and if you fancy a good read, get hold of a copy of his autobiography “Keeping On Keeping On” to find out more!

BONUS DISCOVERY: Alan Bennett had these wonderful words to say about Local Hero June Hancock mentioned above!

Day 35: Love Where You Live!

This project was always meant to be about providing some entertainment for people during lockdown, and now we have some more freedom to go outside, we want to encourage as many of you as possible to make use of our public green spaces, keep them tidy, be respectful and love where you live! So here is a guided walk for you to have a go at over the weekend! It follows the old tithe boundaries and is a great way to see what Armley would have looked like in the mid 19th century. For those who don’t know, tithes were a donation to the church, a tenth of whatever you produced, which everyone paid. In 1836, a law declared that tithes could be paid in coin as well as goods, so maps were drawn up in amazing detail, and would be a precursor to ordnance survey maps. Click here and download the guide as a pdf file!

On this trail you’ll pass through the old village of Redcote, and make your way up to now lost Wither Grange Estate, later a hospital, then loop round Houghley Gill before coming back into Gott’s Park. We really recommend checking out the Leodis photographic archive too, see if you can match up some old pictures to our modern world! This guide also has loads of facts for you to enjoy whist you get some fresh air and enjoy nature! Make sure to stop by Gotts Manor Tea Room for some refreshments as well!

BONUS DISCOVERY: There is also this guided walk which starts at the same point, why not give it a go as well! You can also find other walks around Leeds and across the U.K. with Casual Ramblers.


Published by graftcollaborativecic

Graft Collaborative is a non-profit Community Interest Company established to support emerging creative practitioners from a range of artistic and performative disciplines through the development of engaging projects involving Leeds-based communities to highlight and engage residents with important social issues. This will be achieved by creating and developing opportunities for communities to engage and participate in artistic projects from emerging artistic and performative practitioners.

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