Leeds nostalgia: When the Leeds oak was at the centre of Yorkshire

The Origional Oak at Headingley old pic
The Origional Oak at Headingley old pic
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Herewith a selection of Leeds-based trivia...


The word ‘Skyrack’ derives from the Saxon and means ‘Shire Oak’. ‘Scyre’ means shire and ‘ac’ refers to oak. .In those days, Yorkshire was divided into ‘thriddings’, literally the third of a shire. Each third was then divided again into hundredths. The wapentake, referenced in 11th century literature, is when a new lord of the manor summons all his lords and touches (‘tac’) their weapons (‘waepun’), both as a sign of respect and fealty.

The old oak, which was said to be almost 1,000 years old, finally falling into ruin in November, 1941, was designated the place of the wapentake. It therefore lends its name to both the Skyrack and the Original Oak pubs, Headingley.

Some parts of the original old oak still exist - one is a wood carving of Christ which resides in nearby St Michael’s Church. There are two others in other locations across the city.


The popular children (go on, admit it, and adults) sweet was invented by Leeds research scientist Brian Boffey.

He was working at Rowntrees in the 1960s, experimenting with injecting colours into jelly.

He had some samples laid out on a tray when the managing director happened to walk past. He later summoned Brian and asked whether the samples could be flavoured. Brian said yes and the rest is history.


Quarry Hill Flats might not have been everyone’s cup of tea but in 1938, most people liked them. They were part of the slum clearance programme.

Generations of children will recall them fondly. They also had an innovative waste disposal system, which meant all refuse (yes, all), was simply put down the sink. Then a series of pipes and churners did the rest. The flats were pulled down in 1978.