Leeds nostalgia: Leeds ‘layer of filth’ in 1948

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Dateline: December 1948: It seems the phrase ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’ is true - certainly if you look back at the front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post 70 years ago.

On December 4, 1948, one Headingley doctor railed against people who burned coal in their fireplaces. His chief complaint seemed to be the effect the resultant soot was having on his external paintwork.

Dr J Johnstone Jarvis, a former Leeds medical officer, stopped work on the “begrimed paintwork” of his home in Wood Lane, Headingley to answer questions about his views on the contribution of the household fire on the city smoke pall.

The champion of smoke abatement said: “Can the folk who have ruined my paintwork with their smoke tell me how to remove the stuff?”

He went on: “I have electric fires and a grate burning smokeless fuel in the sitting room. My chimneys make no contribution to the layer of filth on Leeds.

“I admit it is no use trying to turn over to smokeless fuel while we are told to use less electricity and gas but if Leeds had taken repeated advice in the days of plenty, it would have been a cleaner city to-day.”

In other news, Stanley Modern School, Wakefield was the first in the region to have the use of a demonstration telephone for 999 calls. Pupils from the school were being given the chance to get to know how to use the telephone to make emergency calls. Sheila Briggs, 13, was one pupil pictured using a handset. The article added that gramophone records were also in use at the school to illustrate various voice ‘tones’.

And finally, it was a mild winter in Leeds, with some houses experiencing ‘sweating walls’.