Leeds nostalgia: Stanningley Bypass ‘then and now’

MARCH 1971:  
A view of a section of the Stanningley Bypass looking towards Leeds from the bridge on Swinnow Road, Bramley.
MARCH 1971: A view of a section of the Stanningley Bypass looking towards Leeds from the bridge on Swinnow Road, Bramley.
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The trees and shrubs may have grown a fair bit since it was first built but then so has the volume of traffic. While our ‘then and now’ pictures of Stanningley Bypass might not show it, the difference between these two roads could not be further apart.

The two pictures are separated in time by almost 50 years - work on the bypass began around 1968, at a time when, like many other places, Stanningley was mostly green fields and wilderness.

PIC: Tony Johnson

PIC: Tony Johnson

There was no date on the back of our archive picture but judging by how pristine those concrete walls look, we’re guessing it was not long after the road opened. We’re also assuming, although this may be something of a romantic notion, that the earlier picture was taken at what was then ‘rush hour’.

Whilst our picture was taken between midday and rush-hour. There is still a different in traffic levels but one cannot help but rush hour traffic would make the road look more like a car park than a road.

Stanningley Bypass might be the most evocative of subjects for this column to delve into, and, indeed, the road has the humdrum distinction of being the first trunk road in the UK to have a high occupancy lane in 1998.

No doubt if were telling you this at a dinner party, you’d be making for the exit about now.

However, it’s still interesting to see how our environment changes over the years. It’s quite often too easy to glance at something (even something as ordinary as Stanningley Bypass) and think it’s been like that forever, when this week’s pictures prove otherwise.

So, if you’re even stuck for a dinner party topic, or perhaps if you’re looking for a way out yourself, just muse on these pictures a while and consider what they say about the pace of change and our propensity to forget.

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