Leeds nostalgia: Fireworks fracas and bus station plans in 1945

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It seems that even back in 1945, people couldn’t get enough of shopping. Such feeding frenzies erupts when the number of people with a) some money in their pocket and b) nothing better to do reaches a critical mass and while we like to think of this as an entirely modern social affliction, here’s proof that there’s nothing new under the sun.

History, it seems, repeats itself. When Lewis’s in Leeds opened its doors on November 3 to sell fireworks, there was a queue so big that “some women fainted” and the whole thing descended into disorder.

The Evening Post reporter at the time said that by 9am, there were “thousands” waiting in line.

“From every entrance the mass of would be customers converged on the firework stall, swamping assistants, clambering over obstacles and struggling for a position in front.

“Assistants tried in vain to cope with the rush. Police and reinforced squads of shop workers tried to stem the tide of youngsters but it was not long before a glass cabinet was smashed, foreworks broken and trampled underfoot and harassed officials and assistants were struggling in their fast-diminishing pocket of resistance.”

Police had to shepherd youths back into line, loud speakers were used to inform the crowd of rapidly depleted stocks and “only when their last hopes had receded did the disappointed throng start to disperse.”

In other news, plans were unveiled to create a new bus station for Leeds on land between Wade Lane, Woodhouse Lane and Merrion Street. The proposal was for the council to’ compulsory purchase’ the 2.25 acre site. It never came to fruition - the site is now The Merrion Centre. It seems that even back in 1945, people couldn’t get enough of shopping. Such feeding frenzies erupts when the number of people with a) some money in their pocket and b) nothing better to do reaches a critical mass and while we like to think of this as an entirely modern social affliction, here’s proof that there’s nothing new under the sun.

History, it seems, repeats itself. When Lewis’s in Leeds opened its doors on November 3 to sell fireworks, there was a queue so big that “some women fainted” and the whole thing descended into disorder.

The Evening Post reporter at the time said that by 9am, there were “thousands” waiting in line.

“From every entrance the mass of would be customers converged on the firework stall, swamping assistants, clambering over obstacles and struggling for a position in front.

“Assistants tried in vain to cope with the rush. Police and reinforced squads of shop workers tried to stem the tide of youngsters but it was not long before a glass cabinet was smashed, foreworks broken and trampled underfoot and harassed officials and assistants were struggling in their fast-diminishing pocket of resistance.”

Police had to shepherd youths back into line, loud speakers were used to inform the crowd of rapidly depleted stocks and “only when their last hopes had receded did the disappointed throng start to disperse.”

In other news, plans were unveiled to create a new bus station for Leeds on land between Wade Lane, Woodhouse Lane and Merrion Street. The proposal was for the council to’ compulsory purchase’ the 2.25 acre site. It never came to fruition - the site is now The Merrion Centre.

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