Simpson is one of the writers of The Phoenix of Leodis - a play
about the history of Quarry Hill, where the West Yorkshire Playhouse
asked her about some of the key dates and figures that tell the
story of the area.
the 1600s plague cabins were built in Quarry Hill which was then
well outside the city boundaries. Poor people who came down with
the plague were bundled off to teh cabins so they couldn't infect
plague made repeated appearances in Leeds through the centuries.
In 1645 the disease struck in Vicar Lane. It spread quickly through
Leeds and between March and December over 1,300 people died.
Georgian times Quarry Hill was a fashionable spa area where people
came to take the waters. Leeds
had a number of spas owing to the frequency of sulphuric waters.
Spas located on Quarry Hill were associated with Sheepscar Beck
and included Spaw Well, Lady Well and St. Peter's Well. St Peter's
Well was said to aid rheumatism and rickets.
Bateman (also known as The Yorkshire Witch) is one of Leeds' most
1803 Mary poisoned three people living in a draper's shop near St
Peter's Square in Quarry Hill. As soon as they were dead she robbed
the house and shop.
years later she was hanged at York for the murder, by poisoning,
of Rebecca Perigo, the wife of a Bramley clothier.
body was dissected in public to raise funds for the Infirmary. Her
skeleton is now kept in the Thackery Medical Museum.
were rumoured to be body snatchers in the area in the 1840s. Whenever
there was a funeral at the Parish Church the body snatchers seemed
to find out. The bodies often turned up in William Hayes' anatomy
famous actress Adelaide Nelson was born in Leeds near Quarry Hill
in 1848. After she married she moved to London and became a star
of the era, starring in a number of plays on the West End and even
went to America. She died suddenly in Paris in 1880. Her ghost is
rumoured to walk the area.
National Portrait Gallery have a picture of Adelaide Nelson in their
collection. Take a look on their website.
Hill is thought to have been one of the oldest inhabited areas of
the city. During the 1780s extensive building took place, using
back to back housing. By the 1830s the area was overcrowded and
unsanitary, leading to frequent outbreaks of cholera and other diseases.
The area was classed as 'unhealthy' and by 1910 it was proposed
to clear the slum and rebuild.
some photographs of the area as it was:
area was cleared and the Quarry Hill Flats built. The building was
ready for habitation in 1938 although work continued for a time
after. The flats were apparently modelled on Karl Marx Hof flats
in Vienna and built by Leeds City Council. It was the largest housing
scheme in the country at the time and aimed to incorporate the latest
housing ideas and techniques. Flats had solid fuel ranges, electric
lighting, a state-of-the-art refuse disposal system and communal
facilities. The steel frame and concrete clad construction was to
prove disastrous and in 1978 the whole complex was demolished.
some pictures of the Quarry Hill Flats
1 September 1940, Quarry Hill Flats were damaged when a nearby goods
yard was hit. A gas main was severed, and the fire burned so severely
that the stained glass windows in St Peter's church melted. Another
local church, St Margaret's, used to host jitterbugs during the
out more about Leeds during WWII
major redvelopment in the area has seen Quarry Hill become modern
Leeds' cultural quarter. It is now the site for Leeds College of
Music, The West Yorkshire Playhouse, Yorkshire Arts and BBC
Leeds. It is also the home of Quarry House, the offices
of the Social Security in the north of the country. Planning for
the final stage of development
in the area has just been granted.
some pictures of more recent developments in Quarry Hill