What was life like in Yorkshire 50 years ago?


Before the days of the internet, social media, a sophisticated transport network, and trendy bars on every corner, at a time when children could happily play out on the street, Yorkshire was a very different place to live, work and play. Weetwood Hall explores what life was like in the historic English county of Yorkshire life in bygone years and particularly what life was like in Leeds 50 years ago.

Yorkshire is an incredibly historic region of England, which was first occupied around 8000BC after the retreat of the Ice Age. Over the centuries, Yorkshire’s history has shaped its heritage, influenced by the many different cultures that gained control of the county throughout history, including the Celts, Romans Angles, Vikings and the Normans.

During the twentieth century, Yorkshire experienced some important social change. During the earlier part of the 1900s, Yorkshire was home to an unequal mix of residents, ranging from the extremely poor to the extremely rich. However, during the 1900s the gap between rich and poor began to narrow, particularly in important cities like Leeds. Consequently, a middle class began to emerge and with it, schools began to improve and there was an improvement in transport networks. As My Learning notes, more convenient and cheaper transport options meant that the working class no longer had to live so close to their places of work.

With leisure activities now appealing to the masses, more facilities were built in the likes of Leeds, which became home to many of the leisure facilities we are familiar with in Leeds today, such as playing fields, swimming baths and parks.

In 1968, the housing charity, Shelter commissioned photographer Nick Hedges to take images of the streets of some of England’s poorest areas, including Sheffield and Leeds in Yorkshire. In February this year, the Yorkshire Evening Post published some of the images in a story about life in Leeds during the 1960s.

The black and white images show children playing care-freely on cobbled streets with rows of terraced houses. One of the images depicts an advertisement for Bile Beans, the vegetable-based tonic that promised to “purify and enrich the blood” and “disperse unwanted fat.” A far cry from the myriad of sophisticated advertising available today, the advert comprises merely of the words ‘Bile Bean’s emblazoned on gable end of a row of terrace houses.

Yorkshire today

Despite clinging onto many of its traditions that ensures ‘God’s Own County’ retains its unique charm, Yorkshire today is a vibrant and dynamic place to live, play, study and work. And no more so than Leeds.

In Victorian England, Leeds was one of the leading centres for industry in Britain. There are plenty of sites to visit in Leeds today to brush up on the local history, such as Leeds City Museum. Or why not mimic the amusements of the citizens of Leeds fifty years ago why walking around the city’s many fine parks? Roundhay Park, which first opened in 1872 and is one of the biggest parks in Europe and one of the largest urban parks in the world, is a fabulous spot to stroll through the 700 acres of parkland, lakes and woodland and reflect on what Leeds might have been like in bygone years.

If you are looking for a place to stay during your visit to Leeds to experience the city’s unique history and heritage, Weetwood Hall in Headingley on the outskirts of Leeds would be an excellent choice of accommodation. Reserve one of Weetwood Hall’s stylish and comfortable rooms and enjoy the ideal base to experience the very best Yorkshire has to offer.


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