Dodging blustery showers, residents, school children, Councillors, staff from builders Keepmoat and Housing Leeds came together on Friday (29 January 2016) to celebrate the completion of new council housing in Holbeck.
Before the new community garden was opened, people gathered in The Holbeck club out of the rain. First we heard children from Ingram Road Primary School sing a reworking of a High School Musical song – The Start of a New Holbeck. You can listen to them here:
Simon Costigan from Housing Leeds reminded the audience of Holbeck’s past achievements, as the cradle of the Industrial Revolution. Later Holbeck was home to important social reformers such as educationalist Rev John Kendall and Rev Charles Jenkinson who championed council housing in the 1930s.
Councillor Angela Gabriel reminded those present that the project had been ten years in the making with three separate bids going to government to secure the PFI funding. She also spoke about the many community groups in the area including Holbeck in Bloom who have just published a walking guide to the area.
The rain cleared and the sun came out in time for the official opening of the community garden which has been created outside The Holbeck club.
At its centre is a monument containing facsimiles of plaques recovered from the demolished Holbeck Towers. The plaques honoured two important figures in securing local council housing – Rev Charles Jenkinson who was both Vicar of Holbeck and Chair of the Housing Committee; and Hugh Gaitskell was MP for the Leeds South constituency and leader of the Labour Party until his death in 1963.
Finally it was revealed that the new housing would be named Gaitskell Towers.
Work continues in Beeston Hill and the housing regeneration project will eventually see 275 new council homes built and 373 homes refurbished.