Leeds nostalgia: Memories of Quarry Hill flats almost 40 years on...

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As west Yorkshire Playhouse prepares for a £14m refurbishment in the second half of 2017, three West Yorkshire writers help us remember what once stood in its place.

Secret Leeds, written by John Edwards, David Marsh and Christopher Allen, uncovers the history of Leeds and some of the secrets behind the buildings and statues we pass every day.

Quarry Hill is a distant memory for some and for others it means absolutely nothing but for 3,280 people Quarry Hill was once their home. The flats were built in 1938 to tackle the housing problem in Leeds which was affecting thousands of working class residents who until then lived in slum properties and illegal back to back housing. The huge building became the largest social housing complex in the United Kingdom and helped to reduce the housing problem during the war.

Quarry Hill was seen as a modern build at the time which included lifts, electric lighting, a laundrette and even a swimming pool. The flats were popular, encouraging a sense of community through the highly communal way of living. Although popular and deemed ahead of their time the flats were demolished in 1978 due to their poor condition.

It is difficult to picture such a huge housing complex but what now stands in its place puts the sheer size into perspective. West Yorkshire Playhouse, BBC Yorkshire building, Quarry House (known to locals as ‘The Kremlin’) and Leeds College of Music now cover the area where the flats stood.

Next year will mark 40 years since their demolition.

Pictured (top) are: Rachel Appleyard, who kept the shop and Eva Hudson watching as the lights go out; and (below) Betty Kime, of Oastler House, doing her last wash after 29 years.

Thirsk, North Yorkshire 1967
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