Leeds’s rich history becomes the focus of new social club

Carlo Harrison, a member of Aireborough Historical Society,
Carlo Harrison, a member of Aireborough Historical Society,
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It seems that when it comes to history, we all like to put on rose tinted glasses. Neil Hudson reports on the success of a new social history club Leeds

A brand new club is launching in Leeds this month aimed at bringing older people together to explore the stories behind their city.

Leeds City Museum’s Sociable History Club will see local groups and heritage experts delivering a series of talks that will look at how some of Leeds’ local communities and heritage institutions came to be.

The free, drop-in talks will begin on May 20, when Hannah Carey of Little London Arts will be examining the Stories of Little London.

Hannah’s talk will be based on the group’s A Little Bit of History project, which took place from 2010 until 2014, culminating in a book of the same name.

The project saw residents in the Little London area get involved, submitting their old family photos, cinema tickets and programmes, with researchers also looking through archives to find museum and community artefacts.

Researchers also found artefacts from Leeds Museum, including original signs and bricks from the Carlton Towers housing blocks. The project told the stories of how people came to live in the area and even resulted in a book.

Hannah, who coordinated the project and will be taking part in the May 20 event in Leeds, said: “I will be talking about and showing examples of some of the photographs and quotes from the project’s contributors, a couple of whom will be joining me on in May.

“I’ll also be bringing along some of the material that was gathered during the project for people to look at.

“I hope that some of the people attending will be able to share their own experiences and memories of living and/or working in the Little London area, formerly known as ‘Camp Road’, past or present.”

As well as Hannah’s talk, the Sociable History Club’s programme will also include a look at the story of Leeds City Museum, established in 1819 by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.

Led by Leeds Museums and Galleries’ assistant community curator Patrick Bourne, the talk will take place on July 15.

On November 4, Carlo Harrison of Aireborough History Society will discuss the importance of preserving historical documents and artefacts.

All talks will take place once a month on a Friday from 10.30am until 12pm and a full programme can be found at on the council’s website, then adding ‘sociablehistory’.

Councillor Brian Selby, Leeds City Council’s lead member for museums and galleries, said: “It’s wonderful that we’ll be giving older people in Leeds a chance to learn more about the history and heritage behind the communities they live in.

“People can live in an area for many years and still discover so many interesting facts about how that area was established and how it has evolved through the ages.

“Leeds is a city filled with so many captivating stories and who better to tell them than the many local groups who have worked so hard to preserve and promote the communities they are so rightly proud of.”

The launch of the Sociable History Club will come hot on the heels of the museum’s second Local History Fayre, which takes place on Saturday, May 7 from 11am until 3pm.

The event will explore see local history groups from across Leeds gather at the museum for a day celebrating community heritage with talks, stalls and craft activities.

Groups attending will include Leeds Libraries, the Thoresby Society, Wortley History Society, the Friends of Pudsey Roller, Rothwell and District Historical Society and Horsforth Civic Society.

For full details, visit leeds.gov.uk/localhistoryfayre