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Yards and Courts

The Ordnance Survey Map of 1847, shows that the pattern of yards and narrow streets still reflected the pattern of the thirteenth century burgage plots. Behind the shops, inns and hotels was a network of yards and narrow alleyways. The gardens of the old burgage plots had by this time been filled up with small cottages, and workshops.

An example was the Rose and Crown Yard. We can tell from the census returns for 1851 who was living there at that time, and what they did for a living. In 1851, Jeremiah Smiley was the innkeeper at the Rose and Crown, and also living in the Rose and Crown Yard were a brewer of beer, a former innkeeper, a dressmaker, a cabinet carver, a joiner, a billiard table marker, an apprentice plumber and glazier, a shopkeeper, a tailor, a leather hose maker, a whip maker and a sawyer.

Just over thirty years later in 1887, a photograph was taken of the Rose and Crown Yard. We have the census returns for 1881 which tell us that, in 1887, Joseph Binks was the innkeeper. His wife was called Maria, and their two sons aged 28 and 25 were living at the inn, and so was their daughter Maria aged 15. Also living in the Rose and Crown Yard were: a lodging house keeper, who rented rooms to a hard-ware dealer, an actor and an actress. There was also a boot manufacturer, a joiner, a tobacconist, a shop keeper, and an iron moulder, along with their families.

Until the middle of the century there was no proper drainage or sewerage, and the yards were dirty and insanitary. Some of the worst of the old streets were demolished when the Leeds Estate Company developed the area between Cheapside and the Bay Horse Yard. These included the butchers shambles in Fleet Street and Cheapside, and the yards and courts on the site where the Empire Theatre was built.

At the turn of the century despite the development of Briggate as a shopping centre, there were still families living in the courts and alleyways alongside the big stores. In 1903, some of the buildings on the west side of Briggate were demolished to make way for Albion Place. Among them were the Leopard Hotel Yard and the Wheatsheaf Yard which are pictured in a photograph taken around 1900. The census returns for 1901 tell us that at that time there were 5 families living in Wheatsheaf Yard, as well as the family at the Leopard Hotel. One of those families was Ellen Beck, with her sons Thomas, Ernest and George, and her daughter Grace. Of course we can't say for certain, but perhaps some of those listed in the census appear in the photograph.



Click images to enlarge
Ordnance Survey map, 1847
Ordnance Survey map, 1847
Rose and Crown Yard, 1887
Rose and Crown Yard, 1887
Fleet Street, The Shambles
Fleet Street, The Shambles
Part of the site of the Empire Theatre
Part of the site of the Empire Theatre
Leopard Hotel
Leopard Hotel




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© 2003 Leeds City Council | Site created by: LCC electronic information team | 25 March 2003