OTLEY AND DISTRICT MEN’S FORUM

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The Story of a  Great  City :  Leeds .
Mr J Gilleghan MBE 

                  Radio presenter, author, traveller and raconteur John Gilleghan MBE has an infinite range of talks available; today he chose to tell us about Leeds the city of his birth.

              Before his historical narration he dwelt on his childhood in Halton and Leeds, his half pence tram rides, his pharmaceutical family and finally his time studying Botany at Durham with David Bellamy.

          Then came the interesting and informative story of Leeds . Early man was discovered to have lived in the Quarry Hill area of Leeds but there is no evidence of Roman occupation of the area which is now central Leeds . In the “Dark Ages”, around the early 600’s, long before Leeds was founded, the area known as the “Kingdom of Elmet” was controlled from Barwick in Elmet where the Elmetians ruled until invaded and defeated by the Anglo Saxons. Evidence of their defensive structure can be seen as the Becca Banks at Becca Hall near Aberford.

                 A Saxon Cross found in the 1840’s was an indication of their presence in the area which eventually was overseen by the DeLacy’s in Pontefract during which time the hamlet was known as Loidis in Elmet. Gradually what is now Leeds developed: the oldest building remaining of this growth dates back to the comparatively recent time of 1552 which was also the date of the foundation of Leeds Grammar School . The school was founded to educate boys for the church, the languages used being Greek and Latin.

                  During the nineteenth century Leeds developed rapidly and became a city on 14th February 1893. City Square was completed ten years late in 1903 and early twentieth century industry increased its wealth. In the 1930’s Lewis’s store was built on The Headrow at the vast cost of one million pounds. Expansion of the entertainment business was extensive: at one time Leeds supported seven theatres and fifty cinemas. During the last century architecturally Leeds has changed considerably. John showed us these changes with a selection of well chosen slides.


Our next meeting will be our AGM which will be held in the Main Hall of Otley Civic Centre at 10-00am on Thursday 19th March.

 

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