Leeds nostalgia: Street scenes from history

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IN the 1960s, with the post-war austerity finally lifted, Britain saw a rash of new building projects.

There was a thirst for new, contemporary architectural designs and with families having money to spend, shopping centres were in high demand.

The old cinema in Harehills, which was demolished to make way for a new shopping complex.

The old cinema in Harehills, which was demolished to make way for a new shopping complex.

One of the casualties of this wave of construction was the Harehill’s cinema on Roundhay Road. While it had been a familiar landmark for decades, the bulldozers moved in to clear the site which had been earmarked for a brand new shopping area.


It was a few years before preservation societies and heritage bodies recognised the importance of these buildings and in the years that followed, countless other Leeds cinemas bit the dust.

As can be seen from our second picture, taken just a few years ago, many of these projects didn’t quite deliver on the promises they had made.



The building which replaced the old cinema is unlikely to have ever won any architectural awards and is now home to one of dozens of takeaways and fast food outlets which line the streets of Harehills, so much so it is not hard to see why it has earned the nickname of the Curry Mile.

When Leeds was an manufacturing, textile and tailoring hub, Harehills was where many of the factory workers lived and the population expanded rapidly.

Today, the area is more multi-cultural than it has ever been and having remained untouched by the gentrification which has transformed other suburbs of the city, Harehills has not been without its problems.

Yet for all the issues of social deprivation associated with this corner of Leeds, the streets of Harehills tells an important chapter in the history of the city and the people who have lived and worked there.