A House Through Time in Leeds: Meet the owners of the intriguing Headingley property featured in the new series

It all started with a leaflet landing on the doormat of their house in Headingley.

Pete and Jackie Slater outside 5 Grosvenor Mount with Dr David Olusoga
Pete and Jackie Slater outside 5 Grosvenor Mount with Dr David Olusoga

The missive was from the producers of BBC social history programme A House Through Time, who were searching for period properties to research as potential candidates for the programme's fourth series, to be filmed in Leeds.

Pete and Jackie Slater, the owners of Victorian end-of-terrace 5 Grosvenor Mount, were immediately intrigued. They had the deeds and census records for their house going back to the date it was built, but were eager to flesh out the stories of its past occupants and applied to be featured.

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"I think what we hoped for was that they'd share the research with us and then be on their way, and we wouldn't have to go on television!" laughs Jackie, who gave up a career in finance to retrain as a photographer and has lived at number five with Pete, a retired teacher, since 1995. Their children are now grown and gone, to be replaced by an eclectic mix of young lodgers and two cats.

Instead, number five made it all the way to the finish line thanks to the fascinating threads researchers uncovered about residents down the decades - from mill owners to social reformers, Greek immigrants to student movers and shakers. Their beloved six-bedroom home will make its television debut on September 7.

For Jackie, buying number five was the culmination of a childhood dream. She grew up in Hyde Park and used to walk to school along Grosvenor Mount, where she and her best friend would talk about how they would live in the terrace when they were adults. Pete arrived in Leeds as a student in 1978, but in their early years together they were priced out of Headingley, and lived in Meanwood when their first child was born. Jackie always kept an eye out for houses for sale on Grosvenor Mount, and eventually they bought number 13 - though she still yearned for number five, with its superior views. Luckily, they befriended the elderly widow living there, and when she sold up, she gave the Slaters first refusal.

"We moved heaven and earth to get it - I had to ask for a pay rise! We're both interested in local history, and years ago I got the census records from Leeds City Library - but what we hadn't appreciated was how many people lived here in the 10 years between censuses. We were amazed by what the research team turned up and it was so exciting for us - we had no idea.

"The selection process was long and we never thought we'd get chosen, but we really enjoyed the filming. It was hard for the crew because of Covid protocols, but they were very careful. Presenter David Olusoga was lovely, and very invested in the city. He is just like he appears on TV, very well-informed and he had a high level of interest - which I think makes the programme work."

They were interested in the house's link to the Nicholson construction dynasty, who built Victorian gems such as Leeds General Infirmary and the County Arcades, and the story of past owner William Bruce, a lawyer and social reformer who opposed the death penalty, and were astonished to discover that a rumour about a crack above their front door being caused by an earthquake was true - it was a legacy of the Dogger Bank quake of 1931.

The programme also focuses on the wider city and the suburb of Headingley, which became swallowed up by Leeds as it rapidly industrialised in the 19th century.

"Headingley has changed a lot, mainly since the 1990s and there are so many more students now. A lot of the owners of the little terraced houses where I grew up sold to investors because the offers were so tempting. But Headingley Hill, where we are, is still a family area, as many of the houses are listed and not easy to convert."

It was during the course of filming that producers revealed they had tracked down a group of friends who had rented the house from the Slaters in the late 1990s, when they moved to Hong Kong for work. Pete and Jackie thought they had let it to the same young professionals for the entire period they were overseas - but stumbled upon an amusing truth.

"It turned out there had actually been about 30 people living there at various times, some of them students! They had parties with the Kaiser Chiefs - but the neighbours back then said they were all lovely."

In recent years they have shared the house with a succession of nieces, godchildren and family friends, and admit that the experience of taking part in A House Through Time had made them consider downsizing.

"It's on the cards - though we are still quite young!" said Pete.

Jackie added: "Having this focus made us appreciate our role as custodians of the house, and we try to look after it. I would love to develop the gardens more before we leave - there is always something to do in a house this old.

"We kept it quiet, but since the Yorkshire Post article last week we've been inundated with messages. Our neighbour's son, who lives in Switzerland, was the first person to see it and we've had friends in Spain and Hong Kong contact us."

A House Through Time starts on Tuesday September 7 at 9pm, BBC Two