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Leeds nostalgia: First ‘automatic’ pedestrian crossing in Leeds

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Dateline: October 16, 1948: Seventy years ago today the first automatically signalled pedestrian crossing came into use in Leeds. Illuminated signs were installed at the busy junction of Boar Land and Briggate and the Chief Constable of Leeds himself turned out for the occasion.

Mr J W Barnett apparently sat in a police car and addressed crowds via loudspeaker, telling them that whenever the lights were on red, they should wait and whenever the sign reading ‘Cross Now’ lit up, they could cross in safety.

The article in the Yorkshire Evening Post from the time said that if the scheme proved a success, it could be installed at other busy junctions across the city.

In other news, thieves who broke into Benson’s Dairy on North Lane, Leeds “wantonly smashed” about 10 dozen eggs. They also stole butter, sugar, margarine, 41 shillings and five ration books.

The article reports: “They apparently indulged in an orgy of egg smashing, some being hurled into a stock of iced lollipops. A wall was also chipped.”

Mr E Bean, who managed the shop for her father, said: “The walls were splattered with eggs and the floor was swimming with them. One had been smashed against a window.” They also broke into Murphy’s hardware store next door, kicking a 3ft wide hole in the ceiling, before gaining access. Police found a candle and matches at the scene and took them for fingerprinting.

And finally, the Minister of Food, Evelyn John St Loe Strachey, announced there would be extra rations for all at Christmas.

He said there would be extra allocations of meat, sugar and sweets and it was almost certain there would be more tea, together with more nuts and dried fruit.