February 20, 2013

THE RADICAL HISTORY OF WOODHOUSE MOOR

Filed under: History — Bill @ 9:21 pm

June 26, 2012

LAUNCH OF WOODHOUSE MOOR TARDIS ON TWITTER

Filed under: History — Bill @ 8:13 pm

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Bryony Lawless has launched Woodhouse Moor Tardis on Twitter so people can quickly and easily exchange information about the Moor and its history.

If you know anything interesting, why not let us all know by tweeting the information on Bryony’s site.

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December 13, 2009

PATHETIC PLEA FROM WOODHOUSE

Filed under: History — Bill @ 8:54 am

(photo courtesy of The Thoresby Society)

Ordnance survey maps give the name “Cannon Walk” to the path that runs from the Victoria Memorial to the former Grammar School. The reason for the name is supplied by “The Official Handbook to The Public Parks of Leeds and Kirkstall Abbey” written by Parks Superintendent Arthur J Allsop and published in 1906 :

From Woodhouse Lane to the Grammar School there is a pleasant path along the top of the Moor, banked on the left by a shrubbery in which there are circular bays of grass for the sheltered accommodation of flower beds. In the centre, one of these bays is ornamented by two 36-pounders of the old smooth-bore muzzle-loading type, mounted on ship’s carriages. These are relics of the fall of Sebastopol, and now look over their crenelated parapet in eloquent silence. When they were publicly placed on the Moor in 1857 no less than 50,000 persons were present.

The above photo shows the cannon isolated behind the “crenelated parapet”. In this position, the guns were neglected, and over time, their carriages fell into disrepair. This prompted a concerned resident to write to the Yorkshire Evening Post. His letter was published on 21st October 1911 :

PATHETIC PLEA FROM WOODHOUSE

Sir, – We the cannons on Woodhouse Moor, have fallen on sad and bitter days. We are neglected and forgotten. Will someone help us, or does nobody care ?

How different from the days of long ago, when we were proudly glistening in the sunshine and guarding the fort of distant Sebastopol; we didn’t stand on the wet sod and have a coat of dirty drab paint then !

Now we are placed behind a monstrosity in stonework. Goodness knows what it represents. Surely it is not a feeble imitation of a fort ? For years we have stood on the damp earth, and the woodwork of our carriages has become rotten and fallen to pieces, causing one of us to fall to the ground, the other having to be propped up under the muzzle.

In our early days on the Moor, we were proudly admired – a powder waggon, long since gone, stood in the centre then – and looked upon as grand relics of British valour. Do let us be moved from this horrid position, given suitable carriages, and placed on a basement of concrete or flags on the level – Yours etc.,

THE RUSSIAN GUNS

The plea from “the guns” was heard, and the guns were moved, as the following article from the Yorkshire Evening Post of the 28th December 1911 describes:

NEW CARRIAGES AND A NEW POSITION FOR OLD RELICS

A fresh resting place has been found for the two old Russian cannon on Woodhouse Moor, Leeds. For many years they occupied a site close to the reservoir, but in consequence of the continued exposure to the weather the wooden carriages became completely rotten, and recently, the cannon had to be taken down.

In this out of the way spot they went unnoticed, so the Parks Committee decided to place them in a more prominent position when the new carriages were ready.

The site chosen is in the middle of the wide walk at the main entrance near the police-station, a circular flower-bed having been cleared, and the ground concreted. The hoisting of the historic relics into position has been watched with curious interest by large crowds these last two days.

The large iron shell removed from Templenewsam some few years ago has also been placed on this spot.

The photo below shows the guns in their new location. They remained in this position until they were taken away to be melted down as part of the war effort.

Crimean War Cannon

September 6, 2009

THE LUNGS OF LEEDS

Filed under: History — Bill @ 7:42 am

The Lungs of leeds

The reason we have the Moor today is because of the public spirited people who back in the 1850s fought to acquire it for the people.  What on earth would they think if they knew how their precious Moor is being used today.  Here are clues from the pages of the Leeds Mercury, beginning with an extract from an article that was written on the 23rd June 1855 :

Woodhouse Moor, ‘the lungs of Leeds,’ is the people’s park, and almost the only open space within the borough where our citizens can assemble for recreation in the open air. It has from time immemorial been the favourite resort of our working classes on all holiday occasions, and there they have year after year, while enjoying innocent pastime, gathered fresh strength from the pure air they inhaled.”


Shortly afterwards, at a public meeting, the Revd W Sinclair said :

“All they asked was only that they should be permitted to enjoy without interruption their Noble Moor, where they could breathe the pure air, and where no doubt they were enjoying invigorating games, and adding greatly to their manly health.”

Following the meeting, the Leeds Mercury wrote :

“It is our “People’s Park,” and of late years, as the heart of the town has become more thickly populated, the moor has been increasingly the resort of the inhabitants, – thousands of whom now daily visit it to breathe its free air, and escape the denser atmosphere surrounding their hemmed-in homes.”

And later that year, the Mercury wrote :

“There can hardly be two opinions as to the value of a place like Woodhouse Moor to such a town as Leeds.  We all of us require now and then, after confinement to our desks and factories, a place within easy distance, which we can reach without expense, where we may walk or run, or play at cricket, and clear our brains and invigorate our bodies by wholesome exercise in the fresh air.  “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” and we no know place where Jack can so healthfully and innocently disport himself as on the Moor.  The beautiful view which it commands, – the ample space it affords for manly exercises, – and the breezes sweeping over it from the north and west, make it a most desirable place for public recreation.”

August 15, 2009

THE CANNON DESTROYER

Filed under: History — Bill @ 9:34 am

Battle of Sinop

The above is a painting by the Russian painter Ivan Aivazovsky (1817 – 1900). It’s a representation of the Battle of Sinop where on the 30th November 1853, Russian warships destroyed Ottoman naval vessels anchored off the northern Turkish port of Sinop. This was the event which triggered the Crimean War, a war with which our area has connections in the form of street names such as Raglan Road and Cathcart Street, named after Crimean War commanders, and Cannon Walk on Woodhouse Moor, named after the two Russian cannon that were placed on the Moor in 1857. The guns were subsequently removed during the Second World War to be melted down as part of the war effort. In his Yorkshire Diary column two weeks ago, Yorkshire Evening Post columnist Neil Hudson recalled Reginald Rivers’ story of how he used to play on the cannon as a child and later had the sad task of feeding the smashed remains of the cannon into the furnace at Greenwood and Batley’s on Armley Road.

July 3, 2009

DESECRATION OF THE BOWLING GREENS

Filed under: ASB,Byelaws,History — Bill @ 6:16 pm

Bowling Green

One of those attending last night’s INWAC meeting, told me that the night before, he saw a group of people having a barbeque on one of the bowling greens. When he went up to them and told them that barbeques are illegal in the park, they said that they hadn’t realised, and they stopped what they were doing.

It was only a question of time before this happened. Everyone, apart from our councillors could see it coming.

The Moor’s first bowling green was opened in May 1906, by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Mr Edwin Woodhouse. I wonder what he’d have made of councillors who regard the destruction of the Moor as just people “having fun”.

May 17, 2009

CRIMEAN WAR CANNON

Filed under: History — Bill @ 7:29 pm

Crimean War Cannon

On the 6th September 2008, there was an interesting article in the Yorkshire Evening Post about two captured Russian cannon taken from a Russian ship at Sebastopol during the Crimean War. These were subsequently placed on Woodhouse Moor with great ceremony in 1857, and remained there until they were carted away in 1940 purportedly to be melted down as part of the war effort. The Moor may have lost the cannon, but it still has a connection to the Crimean War thanks to nearby Raglan Road and Cathcart Street, both named after Crimean War commanders.

If the article’s print is too small for you to read, please click on your browser’s “View” button and use the “Zoom” facility.

April 25, 2009

CONCRETE BLOCK SCHEME POSES THREAT TO THE MOOR’S VICTORIAN DRAINAGE SYSTEM – ANOTHER REASON WHY THE COUNCIL SHOULD BE APPLYING FOR PLANNING PERMISSION

Filed under: Barbeque consultation,History — Bill @ 12:47 pm

Clay Drainage Pipe
One of my neighbours rang me this morning to tell me she’s concerned that the council’s scheme to sink 60cm x 90cm x 60cm concrete blocks 60cm into the ground will interfere with the Moor’s drainage system, installed in Victorian times. She told me that there are springs beneath the Moor. These springs used to cause the Moor to be really marshy. Streams would form from the water that gathered on the Moor and these streams would run across what is now Hyde Park Road and Moorland Road and down the hillsides. The streets known as the Rillbanks at the bottom of Woodsley Road got their name from the fact that “rill” is another word for stream. Sometime after the Town Council bought the Moor in 1857, they drained it. This probably means that they installed beneath the surface, a system of perforated clay drainage pipes. The lady who rang me told me that in the Autumn, if you go onto the Moor and listen carefully, you can hear water running beneath the grass. This must be the sound the water makes as it passes through the drainage pipes. If Leeds City Council goes ahead with its scheme to sink 40 concrete blocks 60cm into the ground, the chances are that they’ll destroy this Victorian drainage system. This would very likely turn the Moor back into a marsh. And then wouldn’t that be a good excuse for the council to send in bulldozers and workmen to level and drain the Moor so that the part not used for barbeque areas, could be turned into playing fields or whatever else the council wants.

(photo courtesy of mahalie)

April 16, 2009

CURBING AN EXCESS OF DEMOCRACY

Filed under: Barbeque consultation,Byelaws,History — Ian Harker @ 7:33 pm

The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy.

The people do not want virtue, but are dupes of pretended patriots.

– Elbridge Gerry

Local councillor John Illingworth has compared the current consultation on a barbeque area on Woodhouse Moor with similar exercises undertaken to produce a “gerrymandered” result.

Elbridge Gerry

Elbridge Gerry (1744 – 1814) was a signatory to the Declaration of Independence, as well as to the first constitution of the United States of America.

During the years of America’s first constitution, he argued passionately for a stronger government with the power to levy taxes, raise a standing army, enforce law and order, and subdue Native American Indians, whose rebelliousness was devaluing the price of land in the not-yet-quite won Wild West.

So ardent was his support for a new constitution and a powerful single government (as well as for a central bank of the United States) that in 1813 he became America’s fifth vice president. His president, James Madison, was the primary architect of the new constitution.

Gerry Mander
As governor of Massachusetts, Gerry was infamous for re-drawing electoral boundaries to keep him in office and preserve the power of his party. A caricaturist at the Boston Sentinel, looking at a map of the carefully re-drawn districts, saw in its outskirts the shape of a salamander, sketched it accordingly, and showed it to the editor.

“Better say gerrymander,” was the editor’s reply; and the name stuck.

Gerry was also the first vice president not to run for the presidency; not due to any lack of ambition on his part, but because he died before he got the chance in 1814.

Certainly gerrymandering was not new in the first days of the American Republic; and the spirit of Elbridge Gerry is alive and well in Hyde Park and Woodhouse.

[ Part of this article is taken from the Millennium Edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. ]