Leeds nostalgia: Trick of the lens 100 years on in Kirkgate

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This blended picture of Kirkgate in Leeds is revealing in many ways, not least because the mode of transport and manor of people’s dress has changed dramatically.

Another curiosity emerged, however, when our photographer went out stand on the same spot where the original was taken back in the early 20th Century, because, as he aimed his lens and aligned it to the correct angle, something just didn’t seem right. The image of the Leeds Parish Church in the background would not match up with that of the original, which for some reason appeared much larger.



This apparent contradiction can be clearly seen in the blended picture, so even though the buildings on either side of the road appeared to match, the church looked for all the world as though it had somehow managed, during the course of little over 100 years, to physically move itself several hundred yards further down the road, which, of course, is an impossibility.

One possibly explanation offered up is that the kind of photographic equipment used at the time may have accounted for the enhanced image of the church, making it appear closer than it actually was.

The original image was taken during the late 19th or early 20th Century. In the original picture (below), Tiger stores can be seen on the right with the slogan ‘We lead, others follow’.

Kirkgate is one of the oldest streets in the city and, following the Saxon pronunciation of words common in Leeds (another example of which is the word Briggate, which takes its name from the words ‘bridge’ and ‘gate’), Kirkgate is often pronounced ‘Kergit’.

Originally, it was lined with wooden houses but by the 1840s it had degenerated into one of the worst slum areas in the city.

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