Taking a moment to stop history from passing us by as we look at what made the Leeds we know today

Almost every day, most of us, will walk past a fascinating piece of Leeds' history and not really give it a second glance or thought.

Sunday, 19th September 2021, 4:45 am

We probably don't even know we are doing it, and, as the passage of time moves on, and people inevitably forget or the back story to a particular place or building gets lost with those that know it, we are becoming less likely to ever know.

That is the natural progression of life and society but it doesn't mean we can't all stop and take, even just a few minutes, to think about it and events such as the national programme of Heritage Open Days is the perfect place to start.

The idea was established in 1994, and Heritage Open Days is England's contribution to the European Heritage Days and has since grown into the country's largest community heritage festival.

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Northern Monk has brought an old flax mill back to life.

Each local town or city will then work on its own programme to promote its public buildings that have historical significance, those that have been re-purposed for future use and those, and often the most interesting, are those that are not usually open to the public but open their doors especially for this annual event.

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The 2021 Heritage Open Days has been taking place all week and continues over the weekend, and, even if you had taken a week off work there still wouldn't have been enough time to take in all the weird and wonderful venues that are listed - so it is probably a good thing there are a mix of in person and on-line events this year.

And here is a snapshot.

These rooftops in Harehills tell a story of development, deprivation and community.

Back to back houses in Harehills form the basis of a talk on the house type in the late 18th century, its development and eventual decline. These houses are considered in the context of changing legislation, social and sanitary reforms, as well architectural character and this brief look uncovers interesting insights into the lives of early and current residents.

Beer boss, Northern Monk has done tours of its Grade 2 listed Marshall's Mill complex, a former flax spinning mill and once the beating heart of industrial Leeds. It has been restored and the brewery is expanding each year and becoming a pioneer for independent business - keeping the spirit of Marshall's Mills alive.

And, we all know where the lake is at Roundhay Park and Mansion House but what about a medieval hunting area, or the arboretum containing many exotic trees, the sham castle and Barrans Fountain?

While events such as Heritage Open Days are great for highlighting these historical gems, it would be great if it wasn't just for one week of the year. As Leeds Civic Trust says, "what we build today is tomorrow's heritage" and this was true of what was being built 100, 200, 500 and the rest years ago.

Roundhay Park is familiar to many but has a wealth of hidden gems.

These buildings, places and people shaped how we live and work in the city today.