Leeds nostalgia: puzzle of ‘1905’ student float solved by Times Past readers

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More Times Past readers have contacted us to say the picture we ran some weeks ago of a University of Leeds RAG week float baring a banner which said ‘It’s good to be alive in 1905’, could not have been taken in that year.

Richard Bond, a former lorry driver from Leeds, said concurred with Mr G A Hall, who we featured last week and who asserted the picture must have been taken some time after 1947.

Mr Bond said there were several clues in the picture as to its date, adding it must have been taken some time in the 1950s.

He said: “The float is mounted on a British Rail Scammell Scarab, which was a three-wheeler. If you look closely at the picture, you can see there is no wheel at the front corner. Additionally, it has the same colour scheme which was used by British Rail at the time, dark on the bottom and cream on top. Over and above that, in the background, there are a number of vehicles and one of them is a Ford lorry which was not made around 1905 - the vehicles are not in the stle of that era but they are in keeping with the 1950s.”

Mike Owen, from Scotton, Knaresborough, said: “Whilst enjoying your interesting November 15 article on the origins of Leeds University Rag Parades I am afraid the accompanying photograph described as “a student parade around the turn of the century” is, alas, much, much more recent.

“If you examine the left hand side of the picture you will see vehicles of a considerably more modern design than those on the roads of 1905.

“I suggest this illustration was taken during a re- enactment of the first Rag Parade and accordingly would suggest photographed in 1955 – which would of course be a celebration of 50 years since the initial Rag Parade. But even so, still “good to be alive in 1955” and the good work of the students continues to this day.”

Last week, Mr G A Hall, from The View, Alwoodley, wrote to us regarding the picture and also said the vehicle was a Scamell Scarab tractor unit and trailer.

He said: “British Railways used many in Leeds and were made from 1948-67.

“The picture also shows two [other] vehicles of the period.”