Leeds in Pictures

The old cliché has it that a picture is worth a thousand words and certainly a picture can convey something that mere words cannot communicate. Words could never truly capture the inner turmoil that a Van Gogh painting reveals, the horror of Picasso’s Guernica or the ethereal enigma of the Mona Lisa’s smile. Edward Baines in his Leeds Mercury realised the power of the visual image. In 1812, when Murray’s steam engine ran for the first time on Middleton Railway, like the Leeds Intelligencer, he featured a detailed diagram of the engine, though the puzzle remains why the report on ‘Mr Blenkinsop’s Machine’ made no mention of Matthew Murray!

From medieval times when paintings brought to life the Bible to a mainly illiterate world paintings, prints, drawings and eventually photographs recorded people, places and events for posterity or reflected their artist’s view of them. The graphic images of Belsen and Buchenwald needed no words to tell their story. The Daily Mail’s Herbert Mason’s, iconic photograph of St Paul’s defiantly standing surrounded by the flames of the blitz in December 1940 needs no caption, nor does Joe Rosenthal’s classic image of four marines hoisting the flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima in February 1945 – despite the fact its was in truth a re-enactment.

We are fortunate in Leeds that we have our own rich visual record the city as it has grown. Compare William Lodge’s semi-pastoral scene of Leeds in 1680 to Alphonse Dousseau’s 1840’s view of the polluted town as mills and factories have begun to scar the landscape. The renowned Leodis website offers undoubtedly the richest collection of visual records of the city but we of the Thoresby Society, thought that we too could add to that by offering on line many of the images that are contained in the Thoresby Archive supplemented by others from our members. We hope to add to them as our collection develops and if any of our members believe they have images that would be of interest we would also be happy to display them here.


Sketch Book of Old Leeds  





Lantern Slides

Don Coles' Images

The Opening of Lewis's in 1932