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100th anniversary of when suburbs became part of Leeds

Jacki and Bob Lawrence and Peter Walls, of ELHAS.

Jacki and Bob Lawrence and Peter Walls, of ELHAS.

  • by James Dixon
 

This week marked the 100th anniversary of the suburbs of Cross Gates, Seacroft, Roundhay and Shadwell becoming part of Leeds.

The city’s boundaries remained unchanged from 1836 to 1912, when the suburbs came under the control of the authorities in Leeds on November 9, 1912.

With the council looking to add 4,839 acres to the north and east of the city, the green and leafy, affluent areas free from the grime of city living were targeted, to reap the benefit of the taxes.

In the early part of the 1880s all that existed of Cross Gates was a dirt track between Seacroft and Whitwork, used by churchgoers attending Whitkirk Church.

Despite coming from a small settlement, Cross Gates was transformed when prospector Samuel Wilk-Ward opened up the first coal mining pit.

Bob Lawrence, president of the East Leeds History and Archaeology Society, said: “It was a pit village, it supplied coal to York, Selby and Harewood House, many professional people considered it a desirable place to live.

“Seacroft, Roundhay and Shadwell were also quite similar and people lived there to escape the expensive rates set by the Leeds City council and the city conditions. Leeds was only a short distance away and an easy commute by train.”

Celebrating the milestone, the East Leeds History and Archaeology Society has created a special display at Cross Gates Library, marking the anniversary with artefacts from across the changing history of Cross Gates and surrounding areas.

Bob said: “The area underwent quite a lot of improvements to the infrastructure, like new roads and gas lighting. It was a big change. But it wasn’t well received at first because people who lived in the area did not want to pay the higher rates.”

During the First World War, the Barnbow munitions factory was built in 1915, Seacroft had the first council estate in Leeds built in 1921 and in 1967 Cross Gates was home to the first covered shopping mall – The Arndale Centre.

Bob said: “A lot of people now considering themselves a part of Leeds, but I think Cross Gates, Roundhay and Shadwell still have their own identities.”

 

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