Leeds nostalgia: Leeds streets “thronged till midnight” after WW1 peace declared

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The streets of Leeds thronged until midnight - so said a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post the day after the First World War Armistice.

The report noted: “The peace celebrations in Leeds continued until a late hour last night and even until midnight, but they remained as they had been throughout the day, quite orderly. At no time had the police any trouble worth mentioning.”



Briggate and Boar Lane were said to be “crowded from end to end” with “no mafficking”.

It went on: “There was abandonment of restraint sufficient to mark the occurrence of some great event but the bounds of good conduct were not overstepped.”

This then was how Loiners - and their countrymen - celebrated the end to what was the largest and most devastating conflict the world had ever seen. People gathered from all around to mark the occasion. Some made impromptu speeches in City Square, while one soldier caused amusement by engaging in a “prolonged embrace” with one of the statues encircling the Black Prince”. He was, according to the report, pelted with hot potatoes by his comrades but remained where he was until their supplies were depleted.

A ban on fireworks which was lifted almost immediately was good news for the youth of the city, who embraced the moment and took to the streets to let off whatever fire crackers they could.

News of the end of the war took its time to reach some of the troops fighting on the front, however. Another report on the same page details the efforts made to circulate news of the Armistice to “the last vanguard which still sought contact with the beaten enemy.” Most troops knew within an hour, apart from some cavalrymen, who were out on patrol and learned when they returned.