Belle Isle blue plaque for social reformer Rev Charles Jenkinson

The work of a former leader of Leeds City Council – and a pioneer of council housing in south Leeds –  is to be honoured with the unveiling of an historic blue plaque in Belle Isle.

Social reformer the Rev Charles  Jenkinson (1887-1949) was also vicar of Holbeck and was responsible for clearing many of the slum dwellings in the area during the 1930s and replacing them with state-of-the-art council housing. Jenkinson, who was also the person responsible for the Belle Isle estate and Middleton, was the first incumbent of Belle Isle Parish Church.

In his column for the next issue of South Leeds Life magazine, MP Hilary Benn says of Jenkinson:

“His faith and his politics combined to make a great pioneer in the struggle against poverty and in support of decent homes. He had vision and energy, and what he did reminds us that just because things are [difficult] now, that doesn’t mean we can’t change things for the better.”

He was elected as a Labour member of Leeds City Council in 1930, and in 1933 became chairman of the Housing Commitee. In this role he was responsible for the demolition of 14,000 slum dwellings and the building of over 15,000 council houses, an issue that he became passionate about after seeing the living conditions of some of his Holbeck parishioners.

Blue plaques commemorate the link between notable figures of the past and the buildings in which they lived and worked. Singer Ivy Benson has a blue plaque in Beeston Hill.

The unveiling of Charles Jenkinson’s blue plaque will be held at the church he built around 1938-39 – St John and St Barnabas off Belle Isle Road on Sunday, 12 February at 10am.

See the recent Middleton and Belle Isle Together newsletter for more on Jenkinson:

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