Horsforth has come a long way in the last 100 years, as this picture shows. It’s hard to imagine the town was once one of those ‘far flung’ places which were considered so much on the fringe of the city that no-one knew if it was meant to be part of it or not. Doubtless, its people felt the same.
While the town has managed to hold onto its rural edge and keep its stunning views over the Aire Valley, where once its streets were empty save for the odd tram, today it has to be one of the busiest places in Leeds.
Horsforth was once described as the largest village in England. Its name is derived from ‘horse ford’ and it was mentioned in the Domesday Book, wherein it was noted the King had six carucates, with three thanes recorded living there. Both monks from Kirkstall Abbey and the Knights Templar held lands here.
The area is semi-rural with a strong history of farming, although in the past quarries also provided work and no doubt contributed to the need for housing as commuting between Horsforth and Leeds became more commonplace.
Our two pictures today, taken almost 100 years apart, show the same spot, on New Road Side/Leeds Road, looking toward Horsforth Roundabout.
Two trams can be seen on the otherwise deserted road - one heading away from the camera, the other (in the distance) towards. A shelter on the right of the picture carries the words ‘John Smith’s Tadcaster Ales’. Note also the gas lamps and the sign on the house on the left, which reads ‘New Road’.
In the modern picture, taken just a few days ago, the shelter outside The Fleece pub appears to be gone, while the difference in traffic is plainly evident.
Horsforth was also home to one of the city’s two prisoner of war camps, no.244, at Butcher Hill. Residents raised £241,000 to build HMS Aubretia.