A House Through Time in Leeds: The Victorian terrace in Headingley where 18 homeowners submitted a joint application to appear in the programme

Producers of BBC social history programme A House Through Time have revealed the identities of some of the properties they assessed as part of the research process for the new Leeds series.

Oakfield Terrace, Headingley
Oakfield Terrace, Headingley

One of the more unusual applications they received was the first multiple household submission in the programme's history, from the residents of 18 Victorian houses on Oakfield Terrace in Headingley.

The property eventually chosen to be the focus of the fourth series, presented by Dr David Olusoga, was 5 Grosvenor Mount on Headingley Hill, but the research team uncovered several other fascinating stories from the suburb's past while studying Oakfield Terrace.

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Built in 1874, the terrace is one of the first examples in Leeds of a 'co-operative building society' formed when a group of individuals each wanted to invest in a house in one of the city's most fashionable districts.

Oakfield Terrace, Headingley

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The land they chose was a 10-acre site originally owned by the Church's Headingley Glebe estate, who sold it to speculators. Leeds estate agent Benjamin Richardson then bought a two-acre plot for the Oakfield Terrace Building Club. The land value had risen by 200 per cent during these transactions.

The club's aim was to raise subscriptions to buy the plot and build 18 terraced homes on it. Richardson cannily offered architect William Hill, who had worked with Leeds Town Hall designer Cuthbert Broderick, a share in the scheme rather than a fee, and Hill's business partner T H Watson also became a shareholder.

They advertised in the Leeds Mercury, saying that the houses would have eight rooms each and large gardens, would be situated five minutes from the tram route and occupy a position that was 'the best in the district'

By August 1874, all 18 shares had been taken, with each founding member entitled to a house. At the completion of construction, all shareholders could occupy or sell their properties and the club would dissolve.

Sam and Sarah Vollans were among several of the street's current occupants who submitted a group nomination for their small enclave. Their home is number two. Nowadays, the terrace's residents hold outdoor parties, run a Whatsapp group and have a communal greenhouse.

The 1881 census captured the street's new residents for the first time. At number two were the Burnistons - wool merchant's widow Mary, three unmarried daughters, her fourth daughter's three-year-old child and a servant. She and her husband James had also had three sons, two of whom followed him into the wool trade. Daughter Fanny appears to have married into the Lister textile family, but died the same year her daughter Winifred was born. James had died before they moved in.

By 1891, the house's occupant was architect and original shareholder William Hill, along with his wife, baby, nurse and servant. By the time of his death, he had moved to Pannal, near Harrogate, and his sons had become an architect and a surgeon.

Two years later, 2 Oakfield Terrace was offered for rent. The new tenants were an insurance clerk and his family, but by 1901 the occupancy had changed again. Manufacturing chemist William Richardson arrived with his wife and two small sons, with three more and a daughter being born later. They stayed in the house for several years, but by the time their second son, Basil, was killed in action during World War One, were living at another Headingley property called Linfield.

The 1911 census showed yarn merchant Philip Boyle, his wife, baby daughter and a servant as the occupiers. The family were tracked down to Wetherby by the start of World War Two, by which time they had taken in a German-Austrian refugee couple, the Schroetters. Siegfried Schroetter was working as a foreign correspondent and the Boyles' son was a medical student. One daughter was studying dietics and the other worked in a hospital.

By 1927, two doctors, John and Agnes Jervis, had moved in. John worked in public health roles while Agnes - referred to as a 'lady doctor' on her marriage in 1918 - supervised child welfare clinics. John was responsible for shutting down cinemas during the Spanish flu pandemic, and he later took on a lecturing role at the University of Leeds.

They had a daughter, also called Agnes, who attended Leeds Girls' High School and also went on to become a doctor. Aged 16, Agnes became caught up in a bizarre series of events when she rescued two children and a baby from drowning while on holiday on the Northumberland coast, but was then struck down with scarlet fever and ended up in an isolation hospital.

By the time of her engagement to another doctor and RAF veteran in 1946, the Jervis parents had left Oakfield Terrace. Agnes had served in Bombay, where she met her husband, and had a son of her own after returning to England.

Number two's medical associations continue today, as current owner Sam Vollans is an orthopaedic surgeon. He and his wife Sarah, a fitness instructor and education worker, live there with their three children, aged 15, 13 and 10. Sarah said: "We love the house for the community feel of the terrace; we have a Whatsapp group where everyone helps each other out and lots of street parties. We love the character of the houses, the way they fit together, the deceptive size when you get inside and the feeling of space for our teenagers.

"We didn’t know an awful lot about the history when we moved in, but have enjoyed learning lots and finding things out from more knowledgable neighbours who have lived here longer."

Also part of the joint bid were Glyn and Helen Middleton, of number 16 - who revealed that producers did a leaflet drop along the terrace to gauge interest. Glyn works for Screen Yorkshire and Helen is an international officer at the University of Leeds. They are long-term residents who raised their children, now grown, in the house.

Helen drew researchers' attention to historic features such as the old laundry block and the greenhouse where residents leave items to share, while revealing interesting facts such as the turf from the nearby Test cricket ground which was re-laid in her garden.

Their home's stories and records petered out by the 1930s, but in the Victorian and Edwardian periods plenty of intrigue came to light. The first occupant was a Halifax worsted mill owner and his family who appear to have moved to Headingley after he went bankrupt and lost the business, though by 1890 they had moved again to Harrogate. They were replaced by aptly-named barrister Benjamin Law, but he too was declared bankrupt in a coincidential twist.

The next family to move in were the Sedgwicks, but little is discovered about them until 1918, when a newspaper reported that daughter Emily had died of bronchial pneumonia which a coroner thought was brought on by her witnessing an explosion in the wartime munitions factory where she worked two years previously. By the time of her death, Emily was living at another Headingley address.

The final occupant of note was Dr John Doorly, a well-known practitioner of the Christian Science movement who had lived in Barbados and the US before coming to Leeds.

The Middletons still have the original parchment documents for the house issued in 1874, which include a list of all past owners.

"We love a big old terrace and the sense of community you feel belonging to these 18 houses with their shared history - we've felt that more than ever this last year. Glyn and I are of an age where our kids are grown and gone, but hearing family noises from numbers 15 and 17 means that you never ever feel alone," said Helen.

"I'm sure some very interesting characters have lived here over the years. We were led to believe that one of the previous tenants of our house worked for the Soviet TASS news agency (often thought to be a cover for spies). Glyn's old boss, documentary producer Grant McKee, used to rent this house in the 1980s and Glyn recognised it when we viewed it, as the venue for many media parties back in the day. Grant also mentioned a square of Headingley cricket ground turf had been incorporated into the front garden when the Test cricket stadium was re-turfed in the 80s.

"Twentytwenty's leafleting on the terrace caused quite a stir. At the end of the Bristol series, there was Whatsapp chatter about volunteering the terrace for the Leeds series."

At number 11 are Andy and Sally Morgan, who bought the house 23 years ago. Andy is a retired teacher and Sally worked as a bereavement counsellor. They contributed to the terrace's creative reputation by renting out the attic rooms to actors working at the Leeds Playhouse in the years after they moved in.

The 1881 census records the occupants of their house as the Frost family, headed up by insurer Benjamin, who had moved from Sheffield. His two sons both died in their 20s, and by 1890 they had moved to Harrogate and been replaced by civil engineer George Forsyth and his family. They had migrated from Edinburgh for George to take a job as a foreman in a foundry, indicating the opportunities available in industrialising Leeds at the time. He had four daughters, two of whom were married to the same man, stationer Francis Struth, after the first died young.

The next occupants, the Grants, were also Scottish. Thomas Grant was a journalist and author who edited the Northern Ensign, and his son John followed him into journalism and became the editor of a newspaper in Elgin, Scotland.

The house was then rented out, and in the 1911 census the tenants were the Rhodes family. Frederick Rhodes' wife Violet was, unusually, born in Turkey, and her father worked in railway management, later moving the family to Ilkley before she married Frederick, whose father owned Brier Mills in Birstall. Their daughter Doris, who went to Leeds Girl's High School, was unconventional for the standards of the day - she studied at all-female Girton College at the University of Cambridge on what seems to be some sort of scholarship for those with links to the cloth industry, and then became a tutor at Oxford in 1926, undertaking research trips to America.

The semi-rural terrace stood alone beside a turning circle for the trams until further housing development along Grove Lane began in the 1920s. On its 100th anniversary in 1974, residents commissioned research about eminent past occupants.

They include a Dr Adamson, one of the UK’s first female gynaecologists; Professor Sir Derman Christopherson, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University; the London correspondent of the Russian news agency TASS; and Lucy Newlyn, now a professor of English language and literature at Oxford and author of a bestselling biography of William Wordsworth, who lived there during her childhood.

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