Leeds nostalgia: Record breaking cricket crowds of 1948

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Dateline: July 1948: THe gates at Headingley Cricket Ground had to be closed after a record turnout, with 40,000 inside and another 20,000 outside, this week in 1948.

The occasion was a test match against Australia. The great crowd, said to be Headingley’s greatest, settled in after restful murmurs in the opening minutes but England’s innings was only a few minutes in when some spectators at the scoreboard corner began a minor demonstration against those in front who were interfering with their view.

The gates had opened at 9am but already thousands of people were queuing round the ground and surrounding streets. Hundreds had slept on the pavements overnight and even at 6am, some 15,000 people were waiting to get in. By 9am, the number waiting had swollen to 20,000. Three-quarters of an hour after that, it was said that 30,000 had been admitted into the ground but still they came.

In St Michael’s Lane, a street seller sold 2,000 cups of tea in less than an hour. During a shower, one entrepreneur sold hundreds of waterproof capes. The map above shows the extent of the queues, which stretched all the way along St Michael’s Lane, Bainbridge Road, a fair way down Kirkstall Lane and even as far as the Headingley Oak.

On July 26, the Yorkshire Evening Post reported “the Tourists had been dismissed for 458-38, behind on the first innings.”

In other news, more people were queuing for the biggest holiday getaway in years. Bridlington was said to have no rooms left, while holidaymakers thronged the station at Keighley, waiting for trains which had been specially laid on. While, in Horbury, some 3,500 factory worker started their annual holidays.