Leeds nostalgia: The Headrow before widening

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This week’s ‘blended picture’ shows The Headrow near Lands Lane.

The original picture is undated but looks from the type of vehicle in use to be from the 1930s or 1940s. There is a rag and bone man riding a horse and trap.

BLEND: David Clay

BLEND: David Clay

It could date from even earlier, because it looks from the original picture as though the building on the north side of the street are far closer than they are today.

The Headrow was only widened in the 1930 after a lengthy campaign to create a new east-west thoroughfare through the city. Work began in the 1920s to buy up properties on the north side of what was then Park Lane and Guildford Street.

As far back as 1843, it had been noted that Leeds lacked some sort of major road connecting the city along this line - T J Maslen, who wrote widely on town and city planning and layout, wrote that Leeds would need such a road if it was to develop and he suggested at the time it ought to be at least 30 yards wide. He even identified the route.

More than 70 years later, the Leeds Corporation Improvement Committee, agreed with him. Work began on demolition in 1927 but that was not complete until the 1930s. A competition was held to name the new street.

Thousands of suggestions were sent in from all over Yorkshire. Names such as Avenue Imperial, Loinersway, Magnificent Road, and The Pygmalion. From all the names sent in the Lord Mayor and others selected twelve names: Broadway, Leedsway. Maingate, Park Lane, Queensway, Red Hall Street, Templars Gate, The Crossway, the Headrows, Uppergate, Wadegate, and Wideway. A competition was then announced to choose the most popular name. The Headrows came third but was chosen anyway and the ‘s’ later dropped.

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