Nostalgia: Changing face of Leeds city centre

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Social divisions began to emerge in Leeds as far back as the 1770s, with the wealthier folk living near Park Square and South Parade, while the east of the town developed into tightly packed housing dominated by back-to-backs and yards, many of which were without sanitation.

Real change began in the 1830s as social reformers attempted to address the issue but a key turning point came when James Hole argued in 1860 that overcrowding and people living in unsanitary conditions had a knock-on effect and led to other social issues.

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Rapid population growth toward the end of the 19th Century brought the situation to a head and betsween 1886 sand 1914, some 57,000 new homes were built in Leeds.

Slum clearances began in 1890, at which time two thirds of all Leeds houses were back-to-backs.

Our file pictures show (top): Leeds, 30th April 1965: Elland Road, Leeds. Rubble adjoining Mr Dobson’s garage and derelict property alongside the trim houses in Baron Close.

The accompanying story read: “Mr G Dobson, garage proprietor, of Elland Road has threatened legal action in letters to the city’s Public Health Department and the Town Clerk alleging that the Corporation is responsible for derelict property adjoining and near his home.”

The picture above is dated July 19, 1968: New views of the city and its buildings are constantly being opened up as old buildings are demolished in Leeds.

The story read: “One of the latest ‘new looks’ is from outside the Civic Theatre in Cookridge Street looking across the demolition site of the former Cookridge Street Baths towards the Civic Hall and the Brotherton Wing of Leeds General Infirmary with entrance to the baths.”

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