A trip down Lantern Lane

Lantern lane

Guest blog by Jane Zanzoterra

To be honest, anything involving getting up for a 6am appointment on a Saturday morning wouldn’t normally be high on my list of priorities.  However, on Saturday 24th September, this 6am rendezvous looked enticing enough for our family of 4 to make the effort to get up and out of the house for an alternative walk through Armley.

Carol Stevens is a Bristol based film maker who will be exhibiting at The Mill Space, Armley Mills Museum at the end of  October/beginning of November.  In her research about Armley, prior to making the film, she came across a route through Armley Park known as the “lantern lane”. At certain times of day, mill workers could be seen walking to and from Armley Mills, carrying their lanterns to light their way. The present day 6am Saturday morning appointment came about because she was looking for volunteers to walk the same way to the mill, carrying lanterns, so that this unique, forgotten journey could be recreated and remembered.

Around 15 of us gathered at the entrance to Armley park promptly at 6am, lanterns were lit and handed out. Although it was still very dark when we arrived, when we set off to where the filming was to start, the sun had already started to rise ( and this happened surprisingly quickly). Having been an Armley resident for 9 years, parts of the route were familiar, and other bits completely new.

Part of the lantern lane walk which was new to me, was a narrow ginnel running through the golf course. Here the ground was uneven with lots of autumnal leaves covering the ground. Walking downhill towards the canal, in single file and mostly silent at this point, felt very atmospheric. Carol, Becky (both with film cameras) and Debs (taking photos) had walked the route the previous day and had broken it up into small sections, so we all had clear instructions about where we were starting/finishing. We had to repeat bits of the walk for the filming but despite this there was a good pace and sense of purpose to our expedition. Always useful when there are under 10s in a group.

By the time we reached the Redcote Bridge, the sun was getting higher i the sky which made for some truly beautiful images. At times, when we were walking through the dark it was easy to ‘forget’ 2011, but down by the canal , as it approached a more socially acceptable time of the day, noises from everyday life started to intrude, requiring double takes. Namely planes, trains and automobiles!

The final leg of our journey took us along the route workers would have entered the mill grounds, over a bridge which is usually inaccessibleto the public. Most of the group spotted a kingfisher (twice!), as well as traipsing past the clocking on shed, sadly derelict, and other fascinating pieces of Leeds’ industrial past.

lantern 1

All of us were eager to tuck into the promised breakfast at the Mills which consisted of a range of delicious homemade breads, courtesy of Greg and was prepared by Jane and her mum.

Afterwards Carol asked me what I thought of the walk.  The word which sprang to mind for me was illuminating.  I visited places I hadn’t been to before. I travelled by foot somewhere I usually cycle. I met new people.  I learnt more about the rich fabric of the place in which I live and I did something unique that will stay in my memory and my children’s memories for some time.

You can watch Looking for Latern Lane at the launch of Carol’s residency 6pm Saturday 22nd October at Armley Mills Industrial Museum, Canal Road, Leeds, LS12 2QF