Leeds nostalgia: Time stands still in Beeston

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Unlike some areas of Leeds, Beeston has largely escaped the wave of architectural changes which have transformed other parts of the city beyond recognition.

Smart new office buildings and apartment blocks have altered the skyline of the city centre and with the addition of Trinity Leeds the shopping offer has been transformed.

The same is true of many suburbs, which have been gentrified with new delis, coffee shops and bistros springing up to satisfy the demand of increasingly middleclass neighbourhoods.

Much of that change has been confined to the north and west of the city.

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Those who grew up in the south and the east could easily return to their old stomping ground and in many cases find themselves in very familiar territory.

Take this picture of Beeston. The black and white picture was taken in the 1980s, but while the cards in front of the parade of shops may date it a little, today’s scene is much the same.

Beeston has always been a largely working class suburb, but it’s one which has a rich history. While its origins date back to the medieval period, it grew substantially during the Victorian period when the growth of industry saw the city’s population rapidly expand.

One interesting chapter in its history came during the Second World War when Beeston had more bombs dropped on it than any other district of Leeds.

The most sustained raid came on the night of March 14, 1941, but fortunately most of the bombs landed on Cross Flatts Park and the casualties were few.

It was an event which inspired poet Tony Harrison, who was in Beeston that night, to write Shrapnel, in which he wondered whether the fact few houses were bombed was an act of heroism by the German pilot.

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