50 years of upholding a great Easter tradition in Leeds

PIC: Tony Johnson
PIC: Tony Johnson
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A hiker passes the Easter Cross on Otley Chevin. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the tradition.

The first cross was 36ft tall and was built by local Methodist Lay Preacher and funeral director D B Good in 1969. However, high winds resulted in it being blown down the day after it was put up. Hasty overnight repairs saw it re-installed the following day, albeit 6ft shorter.

In about 1997, the cross was deliberately vandalised, being cut down with a chainsaw in the middle of the night. Thanks to the help throughout the town, however, it was repaired and re-erected within 24 hours.

After many years of wear and tear, the original cross was replaced using wood salvaged from the 1996 IRA bombing of the Manchester Arndale Centre, the UK’s largest ever mainland bombing, which resulted in more than 220 people being injured but miraculously no deaths.

Ilkley cabinetmaker Brent Thompson used some of the wood taken from the wreckage 
to craft the new cross, which stands 32ft tall and has a span of 16ft.

It was used for the first time in 1999/2000, being erected to mark the Millennium celebrations. Today the cross is also seen as a tribute to those killed and injured in the 2017 terrorist attack at Manchester Arena.

In 2001, the cross was not erected because of the restrictions caused by foot and mouth disease, the only year it has not been put up.

Traditionally, the cross is put up two weeks before Easter and taken down two weeks afterwards. It begins its journey in the town’s market place before being transported up the Chevin, which stands 282m (925ft) above sea level and offers a commanding view over the surrounding countryside, meaning the symbol of hope can be seen for miles around.

This year, the raising of the cross took place on Saturday, March 17, when hot cross buns were served in the market place to mark the occasion.

Volunteers gathered to help load sections of the cross onto a wagon and later install it at on top of the hill.

Technical details: Nikon D3s, 28-70mm lens, exposure of 1/8000th sec @ f8, ISO250.

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