Leeds nostalgia: Straight back to Compton (Road)

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Some places in Leeds seem to change every five minutes and yet others travel through time unaltered.

This appears to be the case with Compton Road, Harehills, which, as our ‘then and now’ pictures show, looks pretty much the same as it did more than 100 years ago, so long as you discount the tram, that is.

BLEND: Dave Clay

BLEND: Dave Clay

However, appearances can be deceiving, because while this street may look the same, the surrounding area has undergone great change.

Nowadays, Harehills is very much part of the city of Leeds but turn the clock back just a few hundred years and it was a village in its own right. It has some of the first allotments in the city centre. Indeed, even up to the turn of the last century, it was regarded as a relatively rural location, which shows just how much it has changed in that time.

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Ralph Thoresby, who published his influential Ducatus Leodiensis 300 years ago this year, wrote about it in his book.

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Thoresby recalled how Pagan King of Mercia, Penda, mustered his troops here prior to the Battle of Winwaed in AD655, at which he was killed by the King of Northumbria. It is thought the battle was fought near Seacroft and Cross Gates, with several streets around that area reflecting the ancient king in their names.

The battle was fought on November 15 and was, in essence, a battle between rival religions. At that time, many kings were converting to Christianity but Penda, who commanded a large kingdom, refused to do so. Despite losing the battle, however, it is his name which perpetuates even to this day.

Harehills hasn’t been without its problems - in the 1980s, it suffered race riots, some 20 years after it took in some of the first Commonwealth immigrants to the city.

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DROUGHT 1976

Julie Greensmith
Fir Tree Green, Moortown, Leeds

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