When the Meanwood Village Association was formed in October 1972, Leeds City Council was implementing the Clearance Act to demolish older, sub-standard housing to create land for re-development. In Meanwood, the Bywater Buildings and housing on Tannery Square on Green Road were on the Council’s list for demolition.
Fortunately, in mid 1971, Mr D. Mason Jones, a Leeds architect, had persuaded the Department of the Environment to list the buildings in question. He wrote “This is one of the remaining corners of the Old Meanwood Village, and here is an opportunity for conserving the strong architectural quality of the stone cottage tradition.” These buildings, flanked by the Church School on one side, and the Meanwood Institute on the other could form, as he said “a unique group”.
Following publicity around this issue in the Yorkshire Evening Post and Radio Leeds a group of local residents banded together in order to maintain pressure on the City Council to retain the properties in question. This ‘pressure group’ became the Meanwood Village Association (MVA) in 1972.
Throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, the MVA was involved in a long list of events reflecting the aims of the Association.
In the 70’s these initiatives included the redevelopment of Memorial Drive; helping to clean up Meanwood Beck and objecting to a proposal to build a large sports complex near Meanwoodside in Meanwood Park.
In the 80’s these initiatives included: objecting to a proposal to establish an official encampment for Travellers on Smithy Mills Lane; persuading the Council of the day to build toilets in Meanwood Park.
In the 90’s the Association spoke out against a proposal to build a large sports and recreation centre on the Meanwood Hospital site, and were involved in the planning process for the redevelopment of the Highbury Works and Meanwood Tannery.
Further initiatives include
In 2004 using a grant from The Countryside Agency, and with support from M. P. Greg Mullholland and Councillor Brenda Lancaster, the MVA instigated the restoration of a drystone wall along the edge of the Meanwood Cricket Club Ground off Parkside Road. A spin off from this was the publication of two books “Meanwood Quarries and Quarrymen”, and “Over 100 Years of Cricket in Meanwood”.
In November 2008 the MVA instigated the planting of 2000 daffodil bulbs at Meanwood terminus/bottom of Church Lane. The tradition of planting daffodil bulbs in the Meanwood area, by the MVA, has become an annual event.
In 2009 with funding from English Heritage(War Memorial Trust) and Green Leeds, the Meanwood War Memorial was professionally restored by Rupert Harris of London. On completion the Memorial was re-dedicated on 12th December 2009, by the Bishop of Ripon. The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Judith Elliot also attended the ceremony.
In celebration two fundraising events were held prior to the re-dedication and £5000 was raised and donated to the 'Help for Heroes' appeal.
Following a lapse of some 40 years, the Somme Service of Remembrance was reintroduced as an annual event to be held on the first Thursday in July led by the Royal British Legion assisted by clergy from local churches.
In 2014 to mark the Centenary of the start of WW1, Meanwood Village Association applied for and were awarded Heritage Lottery Funding for the following:- A plaque, added to the War Memorial inscribed with the names of 48 of the fallen 1914-1918: 48 oak saplings, one for each man, were planted in Meanwood Park creating a Memorial Avenue. Finally a book 'Meanwood Men' featuring the 48 men from this locality who were killed during the conflict, was published and launched at a 'Vintage Tea Dance' held in the Parochial Hall. The proceeds from the sales of this book were donated to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Copies of this book are still available.
The MVA had representatives on the committee responsible for the blue plaque and information boards on the Oates Memorial in Meanwood Park commemorating the life of Captain Lawrence Oates, a member of Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1912. Leeds City Council design team and the Leeds Parks department carried out the work and set up the memorial.
In 2016 the MVA staged a day-long event in Meanwood Park to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
This event was opened after a procession, along Green Road from the War Memorial, (led by the City of Leeds Pipe Band, followed by the Lord Lieutenant, the Lord Mayor and Mayoress and several City Councillors). reached the park.
A number of static displays were on view and a variety of singing, dancing and re-enactments took place on the stage. Although it was a very wet day a significant number of people stopped by.( see the photos of this event on the Gallery page)
In accordance with its historical aims the MVA holds a large archive of photographs /maps /information of relevance to the Meanwood area.