Leeds nostalgia: How our town looked 300 years ago...

editorial image
Have your say

Above are two images of Leeds, one dating back over 300 years, which show just how much the city has changed in that time.

The images were published in 1926 sas part of the tercentenary celebrations, included in a special supplement of the Yorkshire Post.

The first image comes from an illustration of the then town from the Knostrop Road and is dated to 1712. On it can be seen the River Aire, reaching up and around to the left and on the centre of the etching is St John’s Chuch, an Anglican church built in the 1630s.

It was quite possibly the tallest building on the Leeds skyline at that time. If we compare it with the later sketch, which was done in 1745, the difference is obvious, as the skyling was by then dominated by the Trinity Church, built in the 1720s and being completed by the end of that decade.

Still, the thing one takes away from both pictures is that the Leeds of 300 years ago was more akin to the rural villages one may still find in the lesser visited parts of our county today. The town centre was small, with open fields within just a few minutes walk.

Leeds has certainly been settled since at least the 7th Century and was at that time still home to members of the ancient tribe united under the Northumbrian King Edwin, the area being known as Elmet, a name which still survives to this day in places like Sherburn-in-Elemt and Barwick-in-Elmet.

The famous Saxon Cross, which resides in Leeds Parish Church, dated from around the 9th or 10th Century. But in 1086, as recorded in the Doomsday Book, Leeds was said to have a church and a priest - important facts they were too, especially because it made the town liable for taxation.