Leeds nostalgia: Temple Newsam ‘prison’ plan causes uproar

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Dateline: September 1973: One of the most bizarre stories of the day was news that Home Office officials and those from Leeds Council seriously considered building a new prison - to replace the one at Armley - at Temple Newsam.

Speculation mounted that the Leeds beauty spot could be chosen to build a new high security facility following a government review, which said that Armley was overcrowded.

Coun Ken Woolmer, chair of the council’s planning committee at the time, said talks were at a very early stage.

Despite denying that Temple Newsam was on the shortlist, assuring Yorkshire Evening Post reporters that “to my knowledge” it wasn’t, rumour and speculation continued.

Coun Woolmer said a joint working party between the Home Office and Leeds officials had been created to look at “very possible site” in the city.

He added the caveat: “The committee has yet to agree on sites for preliminary consideration and I don’t want to suggest where alternative sites are, otherwise we shall be stirring up a hornets’ nest.”