VIDEO: Plaque for Leeds musician...150 years on

PLOT 6,641 in a Leeds cemetery holds the secret to a musical tradition dating back to the 16th century.

But for 150 years there was no headstone marking the pauper's grave that was overgrown.

The remains are those of Thomas Crawshaw, born in 1781 in Harper's Yard near what is now the Duck and Drake pub in Leeds city centre.

When Thomas died in 1858 he was the last original Leeds Wait – an official musician for the Borough of Leeds – and with him disappeared a tradition which began in 1530.

On Saturday a memorial white marble plaque with a pewter badge will be unveiled at the plot in the Beckett Street Cemetery in Burmantofts.

The event will also draw back a curtain on a once lost art.

Doctor Alan Radford, Chief Wait in the revived Leeds Waits, said: "Thomas Crawshaw was one of the old borough musicians, effectively a musician to the Lord Mayor and the corporation.

"The Waits performed on civic occasions and would lead the mayor and councillors and aldermen to the Parish church.

"The Leeds Waits also played for the opening of the assizes and the celebration of major victories or announcements involving the king – for example in 1782 they played a celebration for the health of George III who is now known for his madness.

"The 1835 Municipal Reform Act abolished the Waits as a waste of money.

"Thomas was the last of the old borough Waits to survive. He died on November 15 in 1858 according to the Leeds Intelligencer newspaper.

"He died a pauper in the outrelief office in Grantham Street which The Light Shopping Centre is now built upon.

"His grave was unmarked but we have his plot number. On Saturday, after 150 years, we're giving him his badge back."

In 1983 Dr Radford, who is a retired University of Leeds geneticist, revived the Leeds Waits and they were officially recognised in 1991 by Leeds City Council.

He said: "I'd got interested in playing earlier period music and I noticed a Waits badge in the city's silver collection in a glass cabinet outside the Mayor's Banqueting Suite in the Civic Hall."

To hear Dr Radford play click on

The public are invited to the plaque unveiling at noon by Leeds Lord Mayor Coun Frank Robinson.

The Leeds Waits will play at the graveside and later at Temple Newsam House from 2.30pm to 3.30pm in the Picture Gallery.

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