Leeds nostalgia: Leeds Bridge

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This week’s blended picture shows a couple standing on Leeds Bridge around the turn of the last century - out intrepid photographer convinced two passers-by to pose in the exact same positions as the couple seen in the original photograph.

The bridge itself is one of the oldest features of the city, it originally being a settlement on a river crossing at this very point.

Records go back to the 1300s showing evidence of habitation in the area.

The Grade II listed Leeds Bridge would have been at the very centre of the original settlement of the area, although it has changed significantly over the years.

It is thought the first proper structure was in place by 1322, although possibly there was something in existence before this.

Indeed, Briggate, one of the first main streets in Leeds and which was certainly in existence in 1207 when Leeds gained its first charter, leads directly from Leeds Bridge, which indicates that there was possibly a means of crossing the waterway prior to that date.

In times past, the bridge was the centre of commerce in the town, being used to stage the Medieval cloth market.

At that point, the bridge was said to be only 12ft wide. The market was held there until 1684, when the council directed it be moved to Briggate.

Stone scavenged from Kirkstall Abbey was used to build steps which led to the river bank.

The bridge was widened in 1730, 1760 and 1796 and an entirely new bridge built in 1873 at a cost of £23,000. The iron was cast by John Butler of Stanningley.

It was also from this very bridge that the world’s first moving image was recorded, when, in October 1888, Louis Le Prince tested his cinemographic camera.

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