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NEWS ROUNDUP: Leeds Corn Exchange update


12/05/21 | Leeds local news | On Sunday 16 May, work is set to start on transforming the public realm outside the city’s iconic Corn Exchange building.

The work, which will run alongside and complement the Connecting Leeds highways work, will see planted trees lining the streets to create a welcoming green space and shelter for wildlife, safer routes through for cyclists, and crossing points designed to assist pedestrians to navigate through the space safely.

Leeds City Council will also enter into a lease with the Corn Exchange and its owners Rushbond, in a bid to create a new Pavilion building alongside the new outdoor seating area in the public space outside Corn Exchange capable of hosting an array of outdoor events and activities along with ‘al-fresco’ dining. The building will be built by Rushbond and is subject to further planning approvals. The public space in the City Centre will provide a major new amenity for the people of Leeds, a place to meet, greet and experience, with the backdrop of one of the City’s most celebrated buildings. To support this Rushbond is proposing a significant capital injection of funding into the scheme.

The rest of the scheme will be funded by part of the £8.6m of match funding from the government’s Getting Building Fund which is part of Leeds’ £12.2m Grey to Green programme.

The money is specifically allocated to support the delivery of “shovel-ready” infrastructure projects to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs. Under the principles outlined in the Our Spaces strategy (which sets out a vision for the creation of world class, public realm and green space within the city centre of Leeds), a further 3 key areas are included in the Grey to Green Programme.

These include:

  • Meadow Lane green space - a gateway to the City Park
  • Sovereign Square footbridge
  • Crown Point Road reconfiguration and greening

Construction will be carried out by John Sisk & Son and is set to be complete by spring 2022.

To support this work, the upper section of Call Lane will be closed to buses and private hire vehicles. Bus stop changes can be found here.

Councillor Helen Hayden, executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development said:

“It is exciting to see this important project come in to fruition in a bid to provide our beautiful Corn Exchange building a befitting setting. Removing excess street clutter, planting more greenery, providing safer routes for cyclists and improving the safety of the crossings will transform this key gateway in to one which is central to a vibrant and independent retail, food, drink and day-time and nightlife offer.

“This, alongside the other three inter-related grey to green schemes will help us make Leeds City Centre cleaner and greener; helping to unlock major commercial and residential development across the centre of Leeds, as well as the delivery of private sector investment in to the new City Park; the largest new city centre green space in the region.”



An acapella singing group from Huddersfield has taken to the virtual world for the past year in a bid to keep well, creative and connected during ‘lockdown’.

Far Cry Acapella has continued to meet every week online since March 2020 and has recently released its first video recording of a popular folk song, ‘Sing John Ball’.

Musical Director Jenny Goodman, from Marsden, said:

“Lockdown has been a real challenge – we've missed singing together face to face and the sheer joy that brings. We’ve all felt the impact but especially those members who live alone and are working from home.

“Having that weekly contact with the group has been vitally important in terms of supporting people’s mental and physical health and preventing isolation.”

The group has embraced the virtual world - from regular weekly Zoom practices, to creating their own video and remotely recording an original song for the Mooonraking Festival in Slaithwaite.

Far Cry member Elaine Lonsdale feels she has benefited enormously being able to keep singing with the group – even remotely.

“When you live on your own, going out and being active or taking part in group activities is so important for your well-being. The Zoom singing sessions have been my 'hour to aim for' every week. Not just for the company of different faces and voices, but the physicality of deep breathing and actually singing – even if was in my own front room.”

Making the ‘Sing John Ball’ video together presented its own challenges for the group as they weren’t able to sing face to face:

“It was quite a complicated process with me having to record guide tracks for each part and then people recording audio on their phones, followed by videoing themselves  - all done individually in their own homes before it could be pieced together,” said Jenny.

“We had fun too, creating different scenarios and images to go with the words. It even stars our very own pet snake because one of the verses refers to Adam and Eve! ”

‘Sing John Ball’ was written by Sydney Carter in 1981 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of The Peasant’s Revolt – also known as Watt Tylers Rebellion.

“We love singing this song,” says Elaine “It’s become our lockdown anthem because it’s so rousing and is all about coming together to overcome adversity. It really lifts our spirits.”

Far Cry is a mixed acapella performance group singing songs from different folk traditions around the world, songs of freedom as well as more popular tunes and original material – anything from ‘Moon River’ and ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ to a rousing Luddite tribute, Georgian lullabies, African work songs and Christmas folk carols.

The group hopes to get back to performing live during the summer.  Previously they have sung at local Festivals, including Hebden Bridge and Holmfirth Arts Festivals, and Slaithwaite Moonraking, in libraries, on the streets, and at local carol concerts.

“Our varied repertoire can be adapted to suit a range of events,” said Jenny. “We love singing together and putting our heart and soul into every performance.”

To see Far Cry performing ‘Sing John Ball’ go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-XkyrYySRg or search on YouTube, Jenny Goodman In Good Voice and click on Sing John Ball.



An incredible collection of more than 1,500 letters written by a young soldier to his wife during WWII has been unearthed after being hidden away for over 70 years.

Lieutenant David Dawson wrote to his wife Blanche often between 1939 and 1945, including a letter written from an unknown location on 9 May 1945 - the day after the war in Europe was won.

The astonishing letters have been donated to the Scarborough Museums Trust and paint a vivid portrayal of a young soldier’s memories, and of his persistent longing for home.

They were left to collect dust in Ruth Walker’s attic in her home in Scarborough, North Yorks., but were found again during a ‘lockdown project’.

The hopeless romantic wrote to his wife with impressive regularity, and the heartfelt notes were raw in emotion and often featured typos and grammatical errors.

Despite being written between 1939 and 1945, they have been remarkably preserved.

In a letter penned the day after Victory in Europe Day (VE) , he told his dearest Blanche that the ‘day we have been waiting for for so long [h]as arrived’.

The letter read: “My dearest Blanche,

“At last – the day we have been waiting for for so long [h]as arrived – it seems hard to realise. The main topic now is when will they be starting demobilization and let us get back to civvy street.

“There was very little in the way of celebration here yesterday – in fact as far as we were concerned there was nothing at all.

“To-day we went to the cemetery and the burgomaster layed a wreath on each of the graves of some RAF men who had been brought down somewhere near here.

“The graves had been beautifully kept and I know that if the relatives could see them they would be very pleased…

“There has been some weird and wonderful processons throughout the day reminding me somewhat of my extreme youth.

“According to the wireless there was much merrymaking in Britain yesterday – I suppose the people were glad of the opportunity of letting themselves go.”

David, who was a lieutenant in the Royal Army Pay Corps, was stationed in London, Scotland, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

But a prevailing theme of the letters is his love for Scarborough and his longing to come home.

On 7 May 1940, while in Hastings, he wrote: “I am writing this letter in the open-air as it is a pleasant evening, and I want a bit of fresh air after being closed indoors for the best part of the day, so I am sat on a seat on the front in a small shelter – something like the North Side at Scarborough, but not as good.”

Ruth Walker, who donated the letters, said her family had been taking care of them for some years now.

David and Blanche were good friends with her grandparents, and her mother was the executor of the Dawsons’ wills.

Ruth said: “The letters have been sitting in the attic for years – finally sorting through them was my lockdown project.

“It’s very apparent from them that David was very much a Scarborough man. He loved the town, and a running theme of the letters was his wish to come home – so where better to give them to than Scarborough Museums Trust?”

The Trust’s Collections Manager Jim Middleton says: “ We’re delighted to have been donated this amazing collection of wartime letters: they offer a rare personal insight into the everyday plight of ordinary people during extraordinary times.

“So often collections like these are lost over the years as people pass away, so for such a complete record to be saved for the town is fantastic both for local historians and future generations.

“The museum has been collecting Scarborough history for nearly 200 years, and it’s donations like these that make up the core of our collections.

“As an accredited museum, donors can be safe in the knowledge that anything given to the museum will be very well looked after, saved for future generations and available to all for research.”

Andrew Clay, Chief Executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, says: "We are privileged to look after the collections held in trust on behalf of the people of Scarborough.

“It is vast and comprises over 250,000 objects, including some of exceptional rarity but also some – like these letters – which are wonderful artefacts relating to the normal, everyday life of this remarkable town.

“One of our key strategic aims is to democratise the collection – to make it more accessible. We’ll do this by organising more exhibitions and displays, but also by introducing new digital formats so people can access the collection online. It is growing all the time and we are enormously grateful for the innumerable gifts and bequests we receive from local people and beyond."

(SWNS | Joe Pagnelli)

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