Leeds nostalgia: VE Day celebrations in Freehold Street, Leeds in 1945

Thanks to Yorkshire Evening Post reader Tony Crosbie for sending in this wonderful photograph of VE Day celebrations in Leeds in May, 1945.

The picture shows families gathered in a cobbled street, with Torre Road running across the top of the image. All are celebrating the Allied victory. We wonder whether you can recognise anyone from the picture.

There appears to be twin sisters sat at either side of the table near the front, both smiling and wearing party hats. Behind them, other children crowd into the frame, many punching the air triumphantly. One boy on the right leans on a cricket bat, while in the background, one can observe a resident stood with arms folded, with what looks like washing hung on a line behind her.

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It’s quite possible the boy had been playing cricket in the street, as there are no cars to be seen in the picture, a stark contrast to modern times.

A street party in Kirkstall, Leeds
VE Day (May 8, 1945)A street party in Kirkstall, Leeds
VE Day (May 8, 1945)
A street party in Kirkstall, Leeds VE Day (May 8, 1945)

Mr Crosbie writes: “With reference to your picture of York Road Swimming Baths, I was born over the road on Freehold Street [off York Road, demolished in the 1950s], next to St Patrick’s School, where I went together with my brothers and sisters. The picture shows my mother, Mrs Beatrice Crosbie and family. We all used to go to the baths from school.”

Street parties were held across the city to mark VE Day on May 8, 1945. The lower picture, opposite, shows another celebration taking place in Kirkstall.

It is interesting to note that the term ‘VE Day’ existed as early as September 1944, in anticipation of the Allied victory.

The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, May 9, 1945. It thus marked the end of the war in Europe.