Leeds nostalgia: Archive film shows Leeds at turn of 20th century

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This week’s featured film clip, available to view in full on the Yorkshire Film Archive website, was filmed during the early stages of cinema. It shows Leeds Bridge and city centre near the turn of the 20th century.

The film begins on Leeds Bridge. There are a few boys standing together looking over the side of the bridge, while behind them many people make their way across. Most of the traffic consists of horse-drawn carts or carriages, both passenger and freight, though there are many pedestrians as well.

Video link HERE

The next scene is at a crossroads in the city centre. The streets are quite crowded, and a policeman can be seen trying to direct some of the traffic. The streets are full of different types of people using a variety of modes of transportation. Specifically, visible are both horse-drawn carts as well as double-decker electric trams. One of the trams stops nearby allowing its passengers to disembark using the back staircase.

In a common filming technique of early cinema, the final portion of the film consists of a single shot phantom ride through the streets of Leeds on an electric tram, which travels across Leeds Bridge.