Leeds nostalgia: 100-years-ago in Leeds: Mill Hill Chapel congregation turfed out of their home for second time

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A Century ago today, there were disgruntled reports from the congregation of Mill Hill Chapel, who were being unceremoniously turfed out of their home for the second time by the military.

One member described the scene in a letter to the Yorkshire Post on July 16, 1917 (published the following day).

The letter began: “A passerby walking down Basinghall Street last Thursday afternoon might well have robbed his eyes, wondering if in his dreams he were looking on at an Irish eviction of the old days, or at a scene in a Belgian town occupied by Prussians. For a veritable eviction was taking place, the whole of the furniture, crockery, Sunday School library and the contents of cupboards and desks belonging to Mill Hill Chapel school were being turned out, none too tenderly, and carted away by the miliary authorities to the Chapeltown Road Barracks. The Mill Hill Chapel schools - the proper name of the building in spite of the Recruitment Board persisting in calling it Priestley Hall - were occupied by the Medical Board from November 1915 to February 1917, during which the Sunday School... had no suitable place to meet and the effect on them was disastrous.”

The letter goes on to describe how Sunday School members were able to get back into part of the building in May of 1917 but were thwarted in July when the Forage Committee took a liking to the accommodation and turned out all their belongings “bag and baggage”.

The writer concludes: “If we were quite persuaded no other buildings in the city were available and therefore it was our duty to help the country in this way, it would have been done cheerfully but when we know two large buildings, one on Park Row, the other on Cookridge Street, are unoccupied... we think it is unjust to be deprived... again.