Leeds Nostalgia: Leeds postcards from the Great War

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When amateur historian Keith Barber begins to explain how he came by a cache of rare Frist World War postcards, even he admits it sounds a little complicated.

“They belonged to my sister’s husband’s step-mother’s man friend [Arthur Peace],” he says matter of factly.

“Although my sister’s husband always called her mother.”

Provenance over with, Mr Barber, a former distribution manager at Burtons, who at 74 is still delivering around three local history talks a week to various groups and organisations, says the postcards offer a rare insight into mindset of people who lived during The Great War.

There are 13 in all sepia and black and white images of Leeds.

They show the city as it was circa 1916 and three of the cards were actually posted and have messages on the back.

One reads: “Dear Arthur, received your letter yesterday. Would you like some of that ‘fleece lined’ underwear, same as I got for Billy, or just the ordinary? Send word straight back. Love from all. Violet.”

Another reads: “Dear Walter, Pleased to hear from you again yesterday. Here is a bit of Moortown for you but come as soon as you can and see it for yourself.”

The cards are dated circa July 1916, sent to both Arthur and Walter Peace (possibly they were brothers), serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

Mr Barber said: “When Arthur Peace died there was a lot of stuff in his house which he had collected over the years and I am the kind of person who liked to keep hold of things. I was keen to keep the postcards because I think they are of great interest.

“There may be some people who even recognise relatives from them. Some of the pictures on there show bits of Leeds which have now changed, added to which there are messages on three of the cards - the message about fleece lined underwear I found slightly humorous.

“It’s marvellous to read something from so many years ago and I think for the soldiers who were serving out in France and wherever else, to get a card from home must have been wonderful.

“They are a bit of Leeds history and they deserve to be saved for posterity.”

The postcards contain pictures of the former bear pit at Headingley, an image of the Moortown to Shadwell bus, a Daimler, which had spoked wheels and whose front cab and upper deck were entirely open to the elements.

There’s also a picture of the Chained Bull Hotel, Harrogate Road, Moortown, with Arthur Jackson named as the licensee.

The former coaching inn was the only one with that name in the country but it was replaced by The Bull pub, which itself was demolished in 2008 to make way for a supermarket car park.

The Chained Bull will be well remembered by some and not by others.

In the late 1990s and early in the new century, it was a place to be avoided - there were several gang shootings not to mention other incidents.

Other cards include an ivy-clad Abbey House, Kirkstall, now run by Leeds City Council and used part as a museum and part cafe, there is a picture of children stood in a car-less street in Moortown, their views bounded by open fields and Moortown Post Office was also a ‘telegraph office’.

On another picture, a motorised bus runs alongside a horse and cart, while a woman pushes a large pram along the pavement, there’s a picture of the old Leeds Grammar School and Briggate and several more of Moortown.

Anyone who would like to get in touch with Keith can email him at keith.barber50@ntlworld.com


Yorkshire reveals its historic secrets as part of the Heritage Open Days 2014 weekend.

This year, Heritage Open Days is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and there are plenty of ways to join the party before the weekend itself.

From Medieval guildhalls to vintage bus rides and Georgian courthouses, there will be all kinds of places which are normally off limits to explore.

Over 400 free events are taking place around Yorkshire - just by visiting you play a role in keeping local history alive. The events will take place from September 11-14.

Log on to www.heritageopendays.org.uk/news for more information and to enter the Cake Bake or Selfie Challenge, or simply plan your weekend by choosing from guided tours, family-friendly themed events, fairs and festivals.

If you have a story you would like Times Past to cover, or if you want to have a go at submitting your story, contact neil.hudson@ypn.co.uk, remembering to supply your full name, telephone number and we will do our best to get back to you.

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