Friends of Holbeck Cemetery hits the airwaves

holbeck cemetery
View of Holbeck from Holbeck Cemetery viewing point

South Leeds Life reader Eve Tidswell has sent us the following guest post about the Friends of Holbeck Cemetery group – which she’s a member of – appearing on BBC Radio Four…

If you are a listener to Radio 4 or a fan of Mark Lawson you may have heard a mention of Holbeck Cemetery on a programme broadcast earlier this year. The programme was called Domesday Re-loaded – Me and My Square.

Gnarled trees in Holbeck Cemetery. Photo by Alison Neale

As part of BBC Domesday Reloaded various presenters return to their ‘square’ – the 3X4 kilometre piece of Britain that had special significance for them in 1986. They looked at what had changed and what was the same. Did their discoveries tell us how society has moved on?

Mark was a great interviewer, chatting to us as he walked up from Elland Road, where he had been remembering what Leeds United used to be like and what it was now.

By the time we reached Holbeck Cemetery it was like chatting to an old friend. He was really interested in everything that The Friends of Holbeck Cemetery were doing and had noticed a great difference from the time he last came in 1985. Then many monuments had been covered in graffiti and everywhere was much more overgrown.

Mark had come to meet us in Holbeck Cemetery because, when he had been a student in Leeds, he had become interested in the poet, Tony Harrison.

He had a well treasured, and much read, Penquin edition featuring a photograph of the Harrison family grave in Holbeck Cemetery. He now wanted to see if things had changed and what we had to say. In 1985 Tony Harrison had been a very controversial poet after publishing his poem ‘V’, linking the graffiti covered monuments here in the cemetery, football vandalism and the miners’ strike.

The poem was commented on mainly because of its swear words, and at that time it was deemed unsuitable for showing on Channel 4 TV.

It was good fun to take part and also to hear Mark’s positive comments about the cemetery. How his researcher had discovered us we never did find out.

At the end of the interview he mentioned that he had also interviewed Bernard Atha about the development of the arts in Leeds, including The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Opera North and the Northern Ballet, so we did wonder if we would be ‘edited out’.

But when the interview was broadcast we were delighted that so much of ‘our’ section had been left in. Not only that but there are photos on the website to prove to everyone that he was here with us in the cemetery!!

To hear and see more about the broadcast go to BBC website at Then search Domesday Reloaded – when that page is opened go to right of screen, check TV Radio Programmes (24) go to foot of page and you will see listed: Mark Lawson -Me and My Square -Episode One.

For more information about Friends of Holbeck Cemetery, email