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A day out in York

Just 25 minutes away from Leeds. High towers, narrow medieval streets, little shops and hidden libraries, yellow daffodils and old trains.

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Plan for Leeds

John Cossins’ sketch. Quite hard call it just sketch. It’s the “New and exact plan of the town of Leeds”, 1726. It’s one of the oldest printed map in Britain, probably the first on Leeds, and according to Dr Kavin Grady we’re very lucky to have the original one because only one has ever existed.

I was in the Holy Trinity Church, some days ago, attending to a free lecture from Mr Grady (the director of Leeds Civic Trust) from the cycle “Leeds in your lunch time”… just 30minutes talks about the old city compared to the modern one. I was really surprised seeing the church completely crowded. I didn’t expected that these themes can raise so much interest.

Anyway, it’s a very detailed map, amazing for that time, and Cossins designed it after studies and measurements using a particular tool called Gunter’s chain and a plane table to sketch the plan following the right alignment of streets and buildings. So it’s very precise. You can se the rectangular shape of the fields, always with the same proportion of 22yards for 220 yards, because 22yards was the basic unit of the Gunter’s chain and Cossins reported it precisely on its map. In this way he designed long and narrow fields (as they actually were), representing the pattern of medieval agriculture.

But it’s also a celebration of the prosperity of Leeds, look at the description: “Leedes is a large, rich and populous town […] is particularly famous for its Great Manufacture of Cloth where here is every Tuesday and Saturday several thousand Pounds worth of Bread Cloath bought on Briggate in a few hours time..”