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Tweeting Headingley

I wrote about my experiences curating the [twitter.com profile] PeopleofLeeds Twitter account earlier today, and said at the end of that post that I would share here some of the pictures which I posted to that account during my week, so that I have a more permanent record of what I did with it. This post contains some (though not all) of the pictures I took of non-Art Deco landmarks in Headingley during my week, and the things I said about them.

First, what is arguably Headingley's most important landmark - a smallish oak tree - and the plaque which explains why it is there:

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Sadly, it is no longer the 'original' oak, which looked very unwell in 1934 and finally gave up the ghost in 1941. Nor, in fact, do I believe the traditional stories about its predecessor being the focal centre of the Headingley wapentake, as there is no direct evidence for that and it sounds awfully like 18th / 19th century romantic whimsy to me. I notice that even the official inscription recording its existence hedges its bets with a cautious 'it is believed'! But it has clearly been an important fixture in Headingley's history, even if what it commemorates doesn't really date back to the Anglo-Saxon period. Certainly, it has provided the toponym for the nearby Shire Oak Rd, and two pubs on either side of the road from where it stands: the Original Oak and the Skyrack (which is Anglo-Saxon for Shire Oak, but very clearly has not been there that long either).

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Further north along the same main road which runs through Headingley is a terrace of houses known as Holly Bank, at number 5 of which J.R.R. Tolkien lived for a year in the early 1920s. I went to housewarming party in what is now the ground floor flat there last year, and was pleased to find that although the building as a whole has been unsympathetically split up into cheap accommodation, most of the original period features are still in place. But I never took or shared any pictures at the time, so here at least is the exterior:


Though one is strictly in Far Headingley and the other in Hyde Park, I also wanted to give some love to my two favourite cinemas in Leeds, the Cottage Road Cinema and the Hyde Park Picturehouse:

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The Cottage Road is the elder by two years, having opened as a cinema (converted from a garage) in 1912 while the Hyde Park can only claim 1914 (after conversion from a hotel). I went to the centenary celebrations for the Cottage Road cinema last summer, and regularly go there with ms_siobhan for their Classic film nights. The Hyde Park doesn't show vintage films as often, though it still does so quite a lot, and it is also lit inside with original gas lighting, which the Cottage in all fairness cannot match.

Finally, I shared some remnants of the Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens, which opened in 1840 but closed in 1858 - mainly because they only opened late in the afternoon on Sundays in order not to distract people from church, but that was the only day working-class people had off, so it left them very little opportunity to actually visit the gardens. All locals are familiar with the remains of the bear pit on Cardigan Road, where bears were apparently exhibited to visitors standing on the 'rampart':


But a little less well known is 'Sparrow Park', a triangle of land left over from the gardens:

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Locals have been campaigning for several years to get what is currently basically waste-land tidied up and turned into a sort of urban mini-park where people can sit or play, but have faced a serious challenge - there were no official records proving who owned it, which meant that no-one was legally allowed to do anything with the land. Happily, though (as this is another thing I learnt during my People of Leeds week), the situation was very recently resolved with a compulsory purchase order, and funding has been secured to get the place renovated. So hopefully that little spot of land will start to look like a very different place pretty soon.

None of the above photos are that great, of course, because they were taken with my phone camera, and I didn't usually have the luxury to be able to wait around for good weather, good lighting, no cars, etc. before I took them. But that's the nature of Twitter, and I think they did convey a good sense of what I like about my area.

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 10th, 2013 09:32 pm (UTC)
I have a book about art nouveau which is looking for a home - would you like it?
Feb. 11th, 2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
Hello! Thanks for thinking of me, and yes, I think I could give this a home. We've missed today unfortunately, but I will be on campus again next Monday as far as I know. Shall we pencil in a coffee or something when you have finished your statistics class?
Feb. 15th, 2013 09:33 am (UTC)
Not sure if I can do Monday as I think we have a student meeting followed by a departmental seminar. But I took the book in yesterday and left it in the department so it'll be there for you to pick up whenever you're around. I can't make the Monday after either as I'll be in Nottingham, but after that would be lovely :-)
Feb. 15th, 2013 02:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, OK, thanks - that is very kind of you. Unfortunately, on the Monday after the two you can't make, I will be in Scotland, which isn't very helpful. The next one after that is March 11th, which seems a long time away, but if you're free then, I am!
Feb. 15th, 2013 03:52 pm (UTC)
It's ages, but something to look forward to :-) Down in the diary now.
Feb. 15th, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
Cool, it's in mine, too. Will get in touch to agree a particular time on the day. :-)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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