Time to recognise Hunslet and Holbeck’s historic contribution to Leeds

Holbeck and Hunslet Heritage Project
Holbeck and Hunslet Heritage Project presentation at Leeds Town Hall

It’s time for Hunslet and Holbeck to be seen for the value they have given Leeds.

That was one of the messages coming out of a special heritage meeting held at Leeds Town Hall.

The Hunslet and Holbeck Heritage Project met to celebrate the 19th century indistrial heritage of the two communities and heard how Hunslet was once ‘one of the great workshops of Great Britain’ thanks to its industrial output.

Guest speaker councillor Elizabeth Nash paid tribute to the work of The Rev Charles Jenkinson, Vicar of Holbeck and Leader of Leeds City Council, who was responsible for clearing slum housing in the area in the 1930s.

She said people would have been pleased not to have to go outside to the toilet. But she also said it was a shame some of the area’s heritage was lost. On 1960s and 70s developments in the area she added:

“Some bright sparks in the government and in the council decided to put the M1 across Hunslet Moor and the M621 across Holvbeck Moor, which divided up green spaces  and communities. Can you imagine this happening in Roundhay Park today? There would be uproar.

“In Holbeck we have listed buildings like St Matthew’s Community Centre and Marshall Mills, which is under investigation for use as a community resource. There are problems with the roof which puts the whole building in jeopardy.

“It is up to you to shout out loudly if you see a building you love or have know for years and it’s under threat. Let one of your coucbillors know and we will step in and try and get it preserved. Be vigilant and shout out and protect our historical monuments and buildings.”

Cllr Nash pointed to the success of the recent £70,000 improvements to Hunslet Library, a ‘splendid art deco building’, as examples of preserving south Leeds’ heritage.

Local resident Dennis Kitchen said that Holbeck needed new development. He said Holbeck culd be traced as far back as the 12th century and by the 19th centrury was the most overcrowded and unhealthiest village in the country.

He spoke of the Holbeck Neighbourhood Plan, which will allow residents to map out how the area should be planned in the future.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Holbeck+Working+Mens+Club,+Jenkinson+Lawn,+Holbeck,+Leeds,+West+Yorkshire+LS11+9QX,+United+Kingdom&ie=UTF8&hl=en&geocode=FRSyNAMdfkXo_w&split=0&hq=&hnear=Holbeck+Working+Mens+Club,+Jenkinson+Lawn,+Leeds+LS11+9QX,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=14&ll=53.785108,-1.555074&output=embed&w=425&h=350]Residents can attend an open forum meeting on October 25 at Holbeck WMC (6.30pm) where they can sign up for the plan and take part in task groups.

Dennis added that future development in Holbeck should be sustainable and substantial, giving the example of Holbeck Towers, which was only built in the 60s but was demolished two years ago.

Other speakers incuded Alan Lane from the Slung Low theatre group under the arches in Holbeck who spoke about creativity and sparking interest in history, using the 1936 Battle of Holbeck Moor as an example. Gill Knowles spoke on how part of Hunslet Baptist Church, which dates back to 1837, has transformed part of its church into a new  facility for the whole community.

Jason Slack spoke on the work of the Hunslet Club, which dates back to the height of The Blitz in the Second World War. He said the club celebrated the successes of local youngsters and has brought different generations together over the years.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLgooUzb9qk&w=420&h=315]

The event, at Leeds Town Hall, was the project’s final official meeting, with project members due to go off and develop a number of ideas, including a mobile smartphone app on the area’s heritage. The project was run by the Unversity of Leeds.

One Reply to “Time to recognise Hunslet and Holbeck’s historic contribution to Leeds”

  1. I have been championing this area for years now, the history of these places is astounding and, although so much tragedy and bad planning has happened in the past, there is real potential in these areas to make thier stamp on the wider city, a stamp made from thier proud heritage and looking forward to a bright future. I would love to get involved if possible..please ensure that this heritage is at the forefront of regeneration for this area and say NO to any more demolition!

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