Council housing pioneer nets Belle Isle blue plaque

charles jenkinson blue plaqueThe pioneer of council housing in south Leeds – whose legacy can still be felt in Middleton, Belle Isle and across south Leeds even today – has been commemorated with a historic blue plaque marking his achievements.

St John and St Barnabus Church
St John and St Barnabus Church

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

The plaque is on St John and St Barnabas Church, Belle Isle Road, where he moved his congregation to from Holbeck. It was unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Rev Alan Taylor.

In a press release, director of Leeds Civic Trust Dr Kevin Grady said:

“Charles Jenkinson was a very controversial figure in his day, his housing policies were described as ‘The Red Ruin of Leeds.’

“He joined the Council in 1930 with an absolute determination to better the housing conditions of working class people, like his parishioners, who were living in the inner city slums of Leeds. The results of his relentless zeal were the groundbreaking provision of the internationally famous Quarry Hill Flats and the greenfield council housing estates around Leeds.

“Through this work and his subsequent chairmanship of Stevenage New Town Development Corporation, he became a figure of national stature in the sphere of housing improvement.

“The plaque is being placed on the church of St John and St Barnabas, Belle Isle, because he moved here with his parishioners when they were decanted from the slums of Holbeck to the newly-built Belle Isle Council housing estate.”