diamond geezer

 Sunday, January 08, 2017

diamond geezer event: North of England Caucus
(this year, Leeds - meet by the Black Prince statue in City Square, 10am)

The annual North of England readership meet-up took place yesterday in the city of Leeds. The weather was overcast but with a couple of outbreaks of low sunshine to brighten the mood. A splendid time was had by all.



As the clock on the Old Post Office ticked towards ten o'clock, those gathered in City Square made themselves known to the organiser and were crossed off on the official attendance list. Though outnumbered by the pigeons roosting on the Black Prince's plinth, the meeting was deemed quorate, and the business of the day got underway.

Members were very keen to visit Leeds Art Gallery and enjoy its collection of national importance. Renowned works by William Holman Hunt and Barbara Hepworth are amongst the many treasures inside the listed Victorian building. Unfortunately the gallery is closed for roof repairs and will not be reopening before October. The Tiled Hall Cafe is magnificent, but it was felt to be too early in the day for a coffee stop, so the party moved on.



St John the Evangelist's is the oldest church in Leeds, dating to just before the Civil War, and has been highly praised by Pevsner. Made redundant in 1975, its marvellous interior is now in the hands of the Churches Conservation Trust. Unfortunately it was closed on arrival, and members were not willing to wait around for a couple of hours before the nice volunteers opened it up.

The ruins of Kirkstall Abbey lies three miles from the city centre along the Aire Valley, and have previously been blogged. All eyes were therefore on the neighbouring Abbey House Museum, with its famous recreation of a Victorian street. Alas the museum is currently closed for a fortnight for the replacement of a fire alarm, so we did not attend.

A highlight of the day's activities was to be a ride on the Middleton Railway, the world's oldest continuously working public railway. In 1812 Matthew Murray designed and put into operation the very first successful commercial steam locomotive, operated by the world's first professional train driver. Although the colliery has long since closed, volunteers run regular passenger services on the mile-long line at weekends... except in the winter months.



It was not possible to visit Lumiere, the tallest residential skyscraper in Western Europe, because this was cancelled in 2008. A subsequent replacement was also cancelled, and the intended 14 storey office block has not yet materialised, so the tour enjoyed looking at the car park on the levelled site instead.

Harewood House is a magnificent country mansion, now almost 250 years old, on the outskirts of the city. Still home to the Lascelles family, outdoor shots for ITV soap opera Emmerdale are filmed in a purpose-built 'village' on the estate. Tours of the house and grounds are available, but the place doesn't reopen for another ten weeks, so it wasn't worth going there either.



By now the group had built up quite an appetite, so lunch was taken in Kirkgate Market. This is the largest covered market in Europe, and site of the original Penny Bazaar that gave birth to Marks and Spencer. A recreation of the groundbreaking stall exists in the gorgeously ornate 1904 hall, and sells souvenirs and confectionery.

Preferring something a little more substantial than a packet of Percy Pigs, delegates descended on Crawshaws in Butchers Row and picked up a Large Leeds Pork Pie for just £2. This culinary behemoth consists of a disc of finely chopped meat, one inch thick and almost three inches in diameter, surrounded by a moist pastry case and topped off with a layer of mushy peas. "With or without mint sauce?" asked the lady behind the counter, and on discovering it was the former, duly double wrapped the confection to prevent leakage.



The pie proved somewhat of a challenge to eat, not least because the acidic mint leaves got everywhere and stuck to the fingers, but also because that really is a lot of pork. Nevertheless at least half of the pie was consumed, including all of the vegetable topping, and next time a regular £1 pie would surely suffice. Londoners really do pay over the odds for their baked goods, although maybe their arteries are less congealed.

Members of the tour party with other commitments then took their leave. It really had been a marvellous morning, they agreed, and many interesting places had been almost seen. Readers of diamond geezer are urged to keep a close watch on the Facebook group for further communal events.

If this trip to Leeds has whetted your appetite for a visit, Ian has details of a special Virgin East Coast rail offer with half price tickets (for the period 30 January - 31 March) available from 10am tomorrow morning. London delegates at yesterday's meet-up paid only £5 each way for their train tickets, thanks to a similar (but even better) offer a couple of months ago.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream