Retro: Strikes and dislikes

DATELINE: DECEMBER 1970

THE BIG STORY

The body of David Oluwale, whose death in 1969 was still being investigated by officers from Scotland Yard, was exhumed.

Permission to exhume the body was granted under the Burial Act 1857.

Mr Oluwale's body was recovered from the River Aire on May 4, near Knostrop, Leeds and a verdict of death by drowning was recorded at his inquest.

The case was re-opened after fresh information came to light and two officers from Leeds police force were jailed after being convicted of assault.

It emerged that Mr Oluwale, originally from Nigeria, had been systematically and repeatedly abused by the officers, although manslaughter charges were dropped during the trial on the orders of the judge.

The case was one of the first which highlighted racism in the constabulary but was quickly forgotten about until police documents relating to the case were declassified in 2000.

The files were used by author Kester Aspden to write the book 'Nationality: Wog, The Hounding of David Oluwale' in 2007, which returned the story to the public eye.

The book was later made into a stage production, which was performed at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2009 and received critical acclaim.

THE HEADLINES

Workers across the country prepared to strike over the Government's controversial Industrial Relations Bill, which pledged to bring in 100,000 fines for trade unions which condoned wildcat strikes. The bill also promised fairer compensation for those dismissed unfairly. It culminated in the Government threatening to declare a state of emergency after a six-day 'work to rule' by electricity workers left many businesses and homes without power.

Britain had the worst jobless figure in more than 30 years, with 619,809 out of work, up 18,166 on November. Estimates for the future were even worse – experts predicted another 40,000 would be jobless by January.

Parts of Leeds city centre, including Commercial Street and Lands Lane, were pedestrianised for the first time, prompting some Loiners to compare the city to parts of Italy. City architect E W Stanley, who led the project, said cars were being "put in their place".

The new 5m headquarters of the Yorkshire Post and Yorkshire Evening Post opened in Leeds, giving the city one of its most iconic buildings. The building was opened by Prince Charles on December 10. The occasion merited a letter from Prime Minister Edward Heath, who said: "First rate news coverage keeps readers continually informed. Forthright comment keeps a necessary check on the activities of the Government. I congratulate the Yorkshire Post on this momentous occasion."

THE WORLD

The USSR's Venera 7 became the first spacecraft to land successfully on Venus and transmit data back to Earth.

At least 20 of 31 stranded crew on board the drifting stern section of the Finnish oil tanker Ragny, which split apart in the North Atlantic on December 27, were rescued by the New York Coastguard.

THE GOSSIP

The Rt Rev Eric Treacy, the Bishop of Wakefield, took a critical view of your average Tyke, describing him as tough, lovely and sentimental but also suspicious, unsporting and blunt. In an address to the Yorkshire Council of Social Service Luncheon Club, he said: "You try getting a new idea accepted in Yorkshire, especially if it has been successful somewhere else." He also said Yorkshire folk were "dangerously local", adding: "People treat others in the next village as foreigners." His views were summed up in a cartoon by YEP cartoonist Arthur Day.

Sir Paul McCartney went to court to officially break up The Beatles.

AND FINALLY...

Bird lover Hugh Hartley, of Bryan Close, Whitwood Mere, Castleford, opened a hotel for budgies. Mr Hugh, 25, offered the free service for people who wanted their pets looked after when they went on holiday. Mr Hugh said: "I really enjoy looking after other people's budgies." The budgie fanatic converted an outhouse into an aviary capable of keeping 70 birds at a time.

If you recognise yourself, or know anyone mentioned in this column, please contact neil.hudson@ypn.co.uk

l

Renewed hopes for Leeds city centre housing boom