View Full Version : Archived: The Bear Pit, Leeds, April '09

07-04-2009, 03:11 PM
The Bear Pit, Cardigan Road, was part of Leeds Zoological and Botanical Gardens and opened in 1840.
This post card was mailed on the 20th August 1905 at Hyde Park Corner. It is hand tinted.

Here it is today.

Victorian visitors could climb the spiral staircases within the towers and look down safely upon the brown bear. Other animals seen in the gardens, which opened in 1840, included a pair of swans, some fowl, an eagle, a racoon, a fox, some monkeys and tortoises.

The gardens boasted 'tasteful parterres' or ornamental flower gardens, shrubberies, two ponds with islands, a fountain and conservatory where exotic plants flourished. Despite many events held such as band concerts, exhibitions, fireworks and hot air balloon ascensions, the gardens could not maintain financial success. They were sold for building in 1858. The Civic Trust renovated the towers in 1966.
One of the three tunnels leading into the pit.

Only one of the turrets has steps in any more.

Boom, boom, shake the camera.

Looking into the bear pit.

Inside was full of burnt stuff, which was depressing and sad. I did however take this, an unrelated but intersting picture inside the pit. For those with low brain output, it is part of a guitar that had been set on fire.

One of the reasons for its failure was the opening hours. Disagreements between the local churches, worried that it would take the congregation away meant that it opened late afternoon until dusk.
These are the bricked up paying windows, found on a nearby street. The windows where adults were charged 6d (2.5p) on entry, children 3d (1p) which local people found expensive.

Luckily this place was saved from ruin in 1966. Lets hope that it doesn't end up like this again. Here it is, photographed in 1956 (not by me)

There is a rumour that a tunnel leads from here to the Town and Country club in town. I didn't see it today. Probably because everything had gone blue.
(Leodis for the old pictures)