History’s coronation streets revealed as photos revisit crowning glory days: 1911 LL Illuminated Tram

27 Apr 2023

History’s coronation streets revealed as photos revisit crowning glory days

Libraries Arts

An illuminated tram, a giant crown and roasting a whole sheep are just a few of the unusual ways Leeds celebrated coronations of the past, historic images have revealed.

The right royal collection of photos capture more than a century of the city’s coronation memories and have been rediscovered by the city’s librarians.

The images show the streets and landmarks of Leeds decked out in spectacular finery for a series of city-wide celebrations which took place to mark auspicious regal occasions over the course of the last 100 years.

The nostalgic gallery shows how different workplaces and communities marked the event and has been carefully curated from the vast archives at Leeds Central Library as Leeds prepares to celebrate the upcoming coronation of King Charles III on May 6.

Among the fascinating photos plucked from the library’s records is a photo believed to have been taken at the old Kirkstall Tram Works on June 2, 1911. It shows a specially illuminated tramcar which was created to celebrate the coronation of King George V.

The archive also shows how staff at John Barran and Sons Limited, a wholesale clothing manufacturer in Chorley Lane, marked the occasion, stoically seated at their Singer sewing machines wearing flowered bonnets in a workshop filled with decorative bunting, paper chains and rosettes displaying the portrait of George V.

The people of Bruntcliffe also got in on the act, hosting a sheep roast for the local community, while the Morley Corporation constructed an immense bonfire on Morley Rugby Ground.

More than half a century later, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was marked in similar spectacular fashion by the people of Leeds, with streets and communities across the city breaking out the bunting and the stunning floral display outside Leeds Civic Hall shown in full bloom in photos from 1953.

Residents on Copperfield Lane off Cross Green Lane took the unusual step of suspending a giant paper crown above their street along with colourful bunting. But it was the people of Kirkdale Drive, Lower Wortley who took the title of Best Dressed Street thanks to their elaborate display of flags and banners.

Senior librarian Louise Birch has been curating the collection of images from Leodis, a huge online photographic archive which features more than 68,000 images of Leeds taken over the centuries.

She said: “It’s fascinating to see how different communities in Leeds celebrated what were clearly important and historic moments for the city and the nation and how coronations have brought people together to mark the occasion in their own way.

“Images like these give us a unique insight into the lives of those who have lived and worked in Leeds over the years, capturing and preserving a single moment in time and illustrating the people and events which have shaped the city we know today.”

People are also being invited to submit their own images from past royal visits to Leeds, coronation or jubilee street party celebrations or images of decorations and events taking place this year on the Leodis website.

Councillor Mary Harland, Leeds City Council’s executive member for communities, said: “We’re extremely fortunate to have such a vast and comprehensive archive of images which captures the changing face of Leeds and how our city has evolved over the centuries.

“It’s also incredible to reflect on how our communities have united in celebration for coronations over the past hundred years and more as we look forward to the coronation taking place in Leeds next month.”

Leodis is part of Leeds Libraries and Information Service and is free to access via: https://www.leodis.net

To view the coronation gallery in full, visit: https://www.leodis.net/viewguidedtourimage/1014

For more information about events taking place across Leeds marking the coronation of King Charles III on May 6 and how you can get involved, please visit: Coronation of King Charles III and Her Majesty The Queen Consort (leeds.gov.uk)


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Leeds City Council Communications team