How a Leeds town celebrated the relief of Mafeking

This remarkable photo rewinds more than 120 years.

Friday, 14th May 2021, 11:30 am
PIC: David Atkinson Archive

It features a street party on South Parade off Middleton Road in Morley held and was taken in May 1900 to celebrate the relief of Mafeking in the Boer War in South Africa.

The effigies hung up on the clothes line are of Stephanus Kruger and his wife.

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He was President of the Boer Republic (Transvaal and Orange Free State) and was particularly vilified in Britain as the British army was finding it hard going in South Africa.

The siege of Mafeking was a 217-day siege battle for the town, now called Mahikeng, in South Africa during the Second Boer War from October 1899 to May 1900.

The siege received considerable attention as Lord Edward Cecil, the son of the British Prime Minister, was in the besieged town, as also was Lady Sarah Wilson, a daughter of the Duke of Marlborough and aunt of Winston Churchill.

The siege turned the British commander, Colonel Robert Baden-Powell into a national hero. While of little military significance the relief of Mafeking was a morale boost for the struggling British.

Most of the people on the picture are children and youths. At the centre of the front line is a boy holding a smaller boy on the collar. The younger one of these later became manager of Morley Co-op - Samuel G. Priestley.

It is published courtesy of the David Atkinson Archive whose collection is housed on photographic archive Leodis, which is run by Leeds Library & Information Service. They also run heritage blog The Secret Library Leeds, which provides a behind the scenes look at the Central Library and highlights from its special collections, including rare books hidden away in the stacks.

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