Leeds nostalgia: History in your hands

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Some of Leeds’s historical treasures have been uncovered in a series of books about Yorkshire’s past – among them are stories of 1,000-year-old churches and old windmills still being used today, albeit not to make flour.

Times Past has teamed up with Amberley Publishing to offer three lucky readers the chance to win four of its history books, worth about £60.

In Yorkshire Windmills Through Time, author Alan Whitworth takes the reader on a journey into the region’s agricultural past, when those most enigmatic of structures – windmills – were a common sight on the skyline.

As Mr Whitworth points out: “Few structures add as much atmosphere to the English countryside as a windmill. Even in ruination, a mill possesses a dignity few other buildings can equal.”

He goes on to say that the first reference to a windmill, 1185, related to a mill at Weedley, Yorkshire, let for eight shillings a year and in the ownership of the Knights Templar, the military order founded to guard pilgrims journeying to the Holy Land.

At one point, in the East Riding, it was said there was one windmill every six miles – most are now gone but a few still stand, some as destitute, abandoned reminders of a bygone way of life, while others have been given a new lease of life and turned into dwellings or given other uses.

A few still survive in Leeds, among them Sugar Well Hill Mill, at the junction of Scott Hall Road and Potternewton Lane, amid a housing estate and next to a school. It was once the property of one Jeremiah Dixon, who let it in 1775, it being converted to a house in the 1880s.

Another in Leeds is the one which stands near the roundabout at Seacroft and is now incorporated into a hotel complex. Built of magnesium limestone in the 18th century on what was Whin Moor, it was still in use in 1928 and for many years was known as Betty Barker’s Mill, taking it’s name from a former owner.

Landscape

In another of Mr Whitworth’s books, Images of Yorkshire Through Time, the varied landscape of the UK’s largest county is celebrated, from the bleak yet breathtaking views across Marsden Moor, above Huddersfield to the relative seclusion of Malham Cove.

Buildings are also celebrated, among them the splendid Harewood House, built between 1759 and 1767 and the Queen’s Arcade, Leeds; even the M62, the highest motorway in the country, gets a mention.

In Yorkshire Churches Through Time, Mr Whitworth looks at chapels and churches across Yorkshire, some of which are over a thousand years old.

Among the oldest is St John the Baptist Church, Adel, which was constructed in the mid-12th century and is one of the finest examples of a complete Norman church in Yorkshire – it has its original door, complete with closing ring depicting a monster swallowing a man.

Bramhope Chapel on the Otley-Leeds road is one of the earliest examples of Puritan chapels in the country – built in 1649, by the 1990s it had fallen into disrepair but was restored in 1996.

St Gregory’s Church, Kirkdale shows a Saxon sundial above a stone arch, along with an inscription dating from 1055, which reads in part: “Orm Gramal’s son bought St Gregory’s Minster when it was all broken down and fallen and he let it be made anew from the ground to Christ and to St Gregory in the days of Edward the King and Tosti the Earl. And Haward [built it] and Brand [was the] priest.”

In West Yorkshire Railway Stations, Peter Tuffrey travels from Aberford to Yeadon, rediscovering many of the now long since closed stations which once thrived prior to the infamous ‘Beeching Cuts’ of the 1960s.

Among them were gems like Hunslet Railway Station, opened in 1854 and closed in 1873 but replaced by a new station on Hillidge Road, which opened the same day – September 14 – and which remained operational until June 13, 1960.

Excursions

Leeds Central Station, which confusingly was not in the centre of Leeds but on Wellington Street, opened in 1854 and closed in May 1967.

Another station is Yeadon railway station, which was on the Midland Railway’s Guiseley line and which opened in 1894 but was only ever open for goods and excursions and which closed on August 10, 1964.

* To be in with a chance of winning, simply send your name, address and contact telephone number on a postcard to the following address: Times Past Through Times Offer, Yorkshire Evening Post, Wellington Street, Leeds, LS1 1RF. The first three names drawn from a hat will win a set of the four books featured above. The draw will take place on December 16. Readers can also visit www.amberley-books.com to get a 10 per cent web discount when ordering online.

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