Rare pictures of VE-Day celebrations in Yorkshire, 75 years ago

The deserted centres of Sheffield and Leeds today could not be more different to the celebrations of exactly 75 years ago when, as these seldom-seen pictures from the regional archive show, there was scarcely room on the pavement to put up an umbrella.

VE-Day was, then as now, a public holiday and an excuse at last to put up the bunting and throw a street party. In Leeds, the scenes in the city centre were repeated five days later, when more than 2,000 people took the Lord Mayor’s salute at an official victory parade.

The faces in the pictures tell their own stories: of overwhelming relief but also of the pain of the previous five years and eight months; memories of those they had lost, and perhaps of those still at war in the far east.

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The war had taken a terrible toll on Yorkshire’s cities. Sheffield, a major centre for armaments manufacture, was hit by two raids in December 1940, which left 750 dead and nearly 3,000 homes and shops in ruins.

Crowds in Fargate Sheffield celebrate Victory in Europe May 1945

The vital port city of Hull – referred to in censored news reports only as “a north-east town”, was badly hit in March and May 1941 and again in June, after the worst of the Blitz was thought to be over. Some 450 people were killed and 10 per cent of the population made homeless. Leeds and York were among the cities also blitzed.

Set against a struggle from which no-one had been left untouched, the release that victory had brought was palpable and public. But for those who had survived it, the hard years of austerity were still ahead.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

VE Day celebrations Albion Street, Leeds

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Sincerely. Thank you.

VE Day celebrations, Albion Street, Leeds.

James Mitchinson, Editor

Victory in Europe street party at Upper Valley Road, Sheffield - 1945
Victory in Europe celebrations at Frith Close, Intake, Sheffield - May 1945
A street party in Kirkstall, Leeds VE Day (May 8, 1945)
Leeds: 13th May 1945. A quartet of soldiers in the uniform of a Scottish regiment perform a sword dance on the steps of Leeds Town Hall. This was part of the Victory celebrations after VE Day.
Leeds: 13th May 1945. Dense crowds on The Headrow and Victoria Square, in front of Leeds Town Hall. They are waiting for the Victory Parade to begin, part of the VE celebrations.