The 1941 Leeds City Museum bombing


Bomb damage to Leeds City Museum, 1941
(Courtesy of the Yorkshire Evening News)
15th March 1941 was a dark day for Leeds Museums and the moment everything changed is recorded forever on this weather chart which was recording atmospheric pressure in the meteorological window of the museum.
 The moment of the blast is indicated by an arrow on the chart, and the dramatic inkblot resulted when the barometer stopped working a week later.
Leeds escaped lightly compared with other industrial cities but did suffer nine air-raids and the worst raid was that of 14th-15th March 1941. At 3 am a bomb crashed through the roof of the bird room in the City Museum (then on Park Row) and the explosion destroyed the roof and floor of the front half of the building.
 Fortunately no-one was seriously hurt, although both the foreman and a fire-watcher were caught in the blast and suffered minor injuries from the debris. Many exhibits were less fortunate and the main museum building (dating from 1819) had to be demolished. The photograph above, courtesy of the Yorkshire Evening News, shows the scene the morning after.
Leeds Philatelic Society items
It was not only the museum collections that were damaged or destroyed. The Leeds Philatelic Society had lent items for a temporary exhibition at the museum at the time. These bomb-damaged exhibits are currently on display at Abbey House Museum to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of the Society and can be viewed until the end of June 2015.
By Kitty Ross, Curator of Social History

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