Cool memories roll back the years

A photograph of the old Silver Blades Ice Rink in 1962

A photograph of the old Silver Blades Ice Rink in 1962

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It was once a place where hordes of youngsters gathered to meet and skate.

In its heyday the old Silver Blades Ice Rink could accommodate 1,500 skaters and 1,000 spectators.

A pair of roller skates from the 1970s are in the exhibition

A pair of roller skates from the 1970s are in the exhibition

Now the rink is featuring in a new exhibition exploring more than 70 years of growing up in and around Leeds. The Decades of Youth exhibition at Abbey House Museum features a series of vintage objects and images from around the city.

Items from Silver Blades on Kirkstall Road, which opened on April 17, 1962, are among those on display.

Emily Wells, a member of Abbey House Museum’s Vintage Youth Club, said: “There were three public skating sessions per day with regular intervals for couples and speed skating. Beneath the ice rink, there was a ten pin bowling alley that had 24 lanes, and above the rink were restaurants. Music was played through loudspeakers and an array of coloured lights were used to create a fun and lively atmosphere. The band Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames also held a concert at Silver Blades in the mid-sixties.”

Later in the 1960s the rink was converted into a roller skate arena. Among the exhibits local residents have loaned to Decades of Youth are a pair of roller skates from the 1970s and old pictures of the skating rink. Other items include 7” vinyl records, Leeds Festival posters, Sinclair video game consoles and a Spice Girls doll.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “As anyone who has grown up in Leeds knows, it’s an amazing place to be young and what’s clear from this exhibition is that some of the experiences people have had in the city as young people have lasted a lifetime.”

l The YEP will feature various items from the exhibition in the coming weeks.

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