A picture perfect tribute to Leeds firefighting heroes Solomon and Frank

Michael Maw, holding a photo of Solomon Belinski, and his wife June with a photo of her father Frank Thomas. Photo:  Lizzie Coombes.
Michael Maw, holding a photo of Solomon Belinski, and his wife June with a photo of her father Frank Thomas. Photo: Lizzie Coombes.

He was just 41 when he died while bravely battling a fire in Leeds city centre during the Second World War.

Now, nearly 80 years on, an exhibition at the former Gipton Fire Station building in east Leeds is paying fitting tribute to Solomon Belinski.

The old fire station was recently reopened as a base for a number of third sector organisations, including the arts and health charity Space2.

To mark its relaunch, Space2 has organised a pop-up exhibition that charts the illustrious history of the building.

And taking pride of place in the exhibition is a photo of Mr Belinski, who was a firefighter at Gipton during the war.

He was called out on April 1, 1941, to deal with a blaze on Park Row, where the old Leeds City Museum had been bombed.

As Mr Belinski climbed a ladder to try to tackle the fire, another bomb came down and he was killed.

The exhibition also features a photo of Frank Thomas, a second Gipton firefighter who was called out to the incident on Park Row in 1941. He later died of a heart attack aged 61.

Space2 director Emma Tregidden was made aware of the pair’s story after meeting Michael Maw, a former Gipton fire crew member who is married to Mr Thomas’s daughter, June.

Ms Tregidden said: “To see Solomon and Frank reunited after all this time is something really special.”

The exhibition runs at the renamed Old Fire Station building until this Friday.

Gipton Fire Station was the oldest operational fire station in the city prior to its closure in 2015.

It has been renovated in a project led by the Leeds Community Foundation charity with the help of a fund set up in memory of the late Leeds philanthropist Jimi Heselden.

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