First look: Rare snapshots of Leeds parks at new exhibition

The open air bathing pool at Roundhay Park, Leeds, on Whit Monday, 1944. Pic: Leeds Parks and Countryside.
The open air bathing pool at Roundhay Park, Leeds, on Whit Monday, 1944. Pic: Leeds Parks and Countryside.
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Victorian snapshots of Leeds’ parks are to be revealed in a new exhibition and online archive.

The photograph collection has been produced by University of Leeds researchers with more than 100 pictures donated by members of the public and Leeds City Council to be showcased at the Roundhay Park Visitors’ Centre from Saturday to Monday.

Bridge, Low end of Castle Wood, near entrance to Gorge, Roundhay Park. Pic: Leeds Parks and Countryside.

Bridge, Low end of Castle Wood, near entrance to Gorge, Roundhay Park. Pic: Leeds Parks and Countryside.

Rare images of a zoo that existed at Roundhay Park in the 1920s – which are being displayed to the public for the first time – and snaps of the city’s Dig for Victory campaign during the Second World War rationing period will feature.

Dr David Churchill, part of the university’s research team, said: “The photos underline the important role that parks have played in the life of this city since the Victorian era when many of them came into being. The creation of parks allowed people to escape from the rapidly growing city, to get out and enjoy themselves.

“There’s little doubt they’ve had a major impact on people’s health and recreational lives.”

He added: “The photographs we’ve received show they are the jewels of the city – and our research with park users reveals that many people are anxious for them to remain as the treasured social assets they are.”

At 2pm on Saturday and Sunday, there will be guided walks around Roundhay Park to explore its history.

Following this at 1pm on Bank Holiday Monday (May 1), there will be a talk at the visitors’ centre about the history of the city’s parks.

As part of the university’s The Future Prospects of Urban Parks research project a public survey revealed which green spaces in Leeds are most popular.

Roundhay Park was the clear winner, with Golden Acre Park and Temple Newsam following in second and third place.

The photographs can be viewed on the Leodis database at www.leodis.net

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