Leeds Nostalgia: Kirkstall Bridge, now and 100 years ago

These two images, taken possibly more than a 100 years apart, reveal more than just the subtle changes of architectural decoration.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 5th September 2016, 9:35 am

The scene is Kirkstall Bridge and while the road may now be festooned with traffic lights and the gas lamps outside The Bridge Inn long gone, there are other changes to be glimpsed - and inferred - from this juxtaposition.

In the older picture, the wan sky dominates, grey and dreary, or could it be smog?

Judging by the piles of horse manure on the road, it would appear that the most frequent form of traffic was horse and, indeed, in the distance, several people, at least three on bicycles, linger in the middle of the thoroughfare.

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Tardis Kirkstall Bridge 15th aug 2016

One may trace the outline of some of the buildings but beyond what is today Hollybush Farm, not much can be made out, owing to the dour overcast sky, which seems to have descended upon the world.

It is not far from this spot that Turner, the famous artist penned his famous picture Kirkstall Lock in 1820. That watercolour shows Leeds and Bradford Road snaking off and up into the distance, while in the foreground, men can be seen at work, quarrying stone.

Meanwhile, in the foreground of our old picture of Kirkstall Bridge, which is a stone’s throw from Ellers Bridge, a huddle of cap-wearing drinkers may be glimpsed in the shadows toward bottom right, near the wooden structure next to the pub, upon whose side is painted the word “Rajah” and below that a price, in old money, 2d 7/1.

Perhaps the biggest feeling one gets from looking at these pictures is a sense of a change in pace of our lifestyles, the older conveying a more sedate way of life, while the other one displays all the rigidity of modern living.

Tardis Kirkstall Bridge 15th aug 2016