Roots: Gipton and GIPSIL

"Our roots are in Gipton, East Leeds. Although our services have grown beyond the estate, we’re proud to remain based here and to contribute to community life."

Charlie Jenkinson

(Photo Source)

In the mid-1930s, Rev Charlie Jenkinson pioneered the development of Gipton as a ‘garden suburb’. Charlie was Vicar of Holbeck, and later, Leader of Leeds City Council. He was elected as a Labour councillor in 1930 and in 1933 became Chairman of the Housing Commitee. In this role he was responsible for the demolition of 14,000 slum dwellings and the building of over 15,000 council houses, an issue that he became passionate about after seeing the living conditions of some of his Holbeck parishioners. He also introduced a scheme of rent relief for lower paid families, and an arrangement where tenants could hire purchase furniture through the council.

The first people to vacate their condemned housing moved into brand new housing in Gipton. As well as flats for the elderly, there were houses specially designed for sufferers from consumption called ‘sunshine houses’. Newly built tramlines linked Gipton to the city and other suburbs. Many Gipton residents worked at Burton’s huge Hudson Road factory in neighbouring Harehills, which employed 10,000 workers at its peak.

Gipton Development (1937)

There were shops, pubs, churches, cinemas, dancehalls, youth clubs... the area grew into a thriving community. But decline came as Burton’s moved business away and eventually ceased production in 1981: one by one the shops and pubs closed down. Cinemas became Bingo Halls and then fell into dereliction. The Gipton estate became an outpost of an older Leeds, adrift from the growing prosperity of Leeds’ city centre and fashionable suburbs.

GIPSIL Founded (1992)

GIPSIL was formed in 1992 as 'Gipton Supported Independent Living’ by members of the local community who were concerned about the number of young people sofa-surfing on the estate. They realised that the solution to this problem was not simply granting young people their own tenancies, but also providing support to help them develop the skills to live independently.

Mary Sheard

From 1992 to 2006, Mary Sheard was Director of the organisation: she led GIPSIL through our formative years and created the legacy we continue to build on today.