The Seacroft Scroll is a 4 metre long publication that charts the history of the area.

Seacroft, Leeds, was originally a small farming settlement.  It is mentioned in the Domesday Book.  Archaeological finds, including Roman coins and a Neolithic hand axe offer evidence of earlier habitation.  The monks of Kirkstall Abbey held land in the area during the Middle Ages and in 1643, a civil was battle took place here resulting in the loss of over a thousand men.

It is currently one of the largest estates of housing built by the local authority in the country.  As part of Leeds City Council’s social housing programme, Seacroft emerged in the mid 20th Century as ‘a satellite town within the city boundary’.

Stories include the Battle of Winwaed in AD 655 and the Queen’s visit to open the new Civic Centre in AD 1965. When rolled up tightly the scroll can be carried in your pocket – but it contains stories and images co-created with a wide range of Seacroft residents.

We are very proud that the Seacroft Scroll has even found a place on Wikipedia as part of the History of Seacroft.

The complete Seacroft Scroll is available to view. Click below to load the document as an image (may take a moment to load).


Seacroft portraits by Lizzie Coombes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Developing the materials

Photos by Lizzie Coombes and Matthew Bellwood showing development work and story gathering for the Seacroft Scroll taken at the Discovery Centre, Leeds Central Library and primary schools in Seacroft.

Discussing the Seacroft Scroll

Alison and Matthew describe the Scroll and discuss their approach to the project, with Peter Spafford (in four parts).


The Seacroft Scroll was created by the following people:

Artistic Team
Alison Andrews – Lead Artist
Matthew Bellwood – Lead Artist
Lizzie Coombes – Photography
Ross Horsley – Archive Advice
Jaye Kearney – Workshop Facilitator
Amy Levene – Graphic Design
Matt Rogers – Workshop Support
Peter Spafford – Project Documentation

Leeds Libraries
Liam Garnett
Sally Hughes
Helen Skilbeck
Greg Stringer
Sue Wright

Discovery Centre
Gabrielle Hamilton
Andrew Kyrover
Kitty Ross

With thanks to:
Jane Riley and Anna Goodridge at The Leeds Library
Patsy Lyttle and Artemis
Sarah Hopkinson and Keepmoat Homes
Kate Taverner and the staff at North and South Seacroft
Friends and Neighbours
Staff and members of LS14 Trust

This document has been created with:
Staff and children at Beechwood Primary School
Staff and children at Seacroft Grange Primary School
Interviewees: Barbara Ackroyd, Sylvia Adams, Pearl Allen, Margaret Arnett, Zoe Carty, Joanne Curtis, Pearl Field, Mick and Doreen Firth, Paul Fletcher, Dorothy Frankland, Edna Garbutt, Geoff Hardwick, Graham Hyde, Jaimes Moran, Marjorie Nichols, Linda Palmer, Geraldine Talbot, Audrey Ward, Jean Ward, Audrey Wilson, Sue Wright, David Wrighton

‘a building for human habitation, especially one that consists of a ground floor and one or more upper storeys’

‘home, place of residence, homestead, lodging place, a roof over one’s head’

House began with the story of Robert Arthington, a rich man locally known as the Headingley Miser. He built a large house for his bride; but the bride never came. So he lived alone in one room, on half a crown a week, and received his visitors in the dark.

Around him 19th Century Headingley was growing from a country village separated from Leeds by fields and farms to a vibrant suburb, where industrialsts and imperialists alike built themselves splendid houses. The miser’s millions meanwhile were supporting missionary projects around the world. Arthington, Liberia, bears his name to this day.

Created by A Quiet Word in collaboration with members of the local community, House was a site-specific performance that explored how property and power connect Headingley and the wider world. Participants were invited behind closed doors for a conversation in the dark, and to where the present overlays the past.


Events ran from Tuesday 30 January to Saturday 3 February 2019

Photos by Lizzie Coombes.

Out of Hours was a site-specific performance, for visitors old and new to The Leeds Library.

The entrance is to be found on Commercial Street, in between the Co-Operative Bank and Paperchase. It is one of Leeds’ best kept secrets. Now there is an opportunity to uncover it, after closing time. It is rumoured that a Victorian ghost with a guilty past still haunts the building .

In small groups, over the course of 45 minutes, A Quiet Word will introduce you to those who can tell the story with a contemporary twist and who may want to ask you in return: what are you afraid of? What keeps coming back to haunt you? What are your hopes or fears – about life in Leeds or elsewhere, or the near or distant future? Where are the places only you know about and what is your best kept secret? You will be invited into the darkest corners of the library, where you will find books and perhaps something more…

In 1884, librarian John MacAllister was working late in his office at The Leeds Library. At around 10.55pm he made ready to leave, in order to catch his last train home to Harrogate. On entering the library’s Main Room, he noticed a figure, standing in the darkness. Believing it to be a burglar, he ran back to the office, to fetch the library pistol from his desk, but, on returning, he found that the figure was gone. At that moment, he realised that a face was peering at him – seemingly from within one of the bookcases. He described the vision as ‘pallid and hairless, and the orbits of his eyes were very deep.’ As he watched, the face’s owner emerged from the bookcase. The stranger shuffled past him, and disappeared into the Gentleman’s toilet. MacAllister followed, but on entering found that figure he had seen had vanished – apparently into thin air. The apparition was later identified as the ghost of Thomas Sternberg – a former librarian who had died in 1880.

Over the course of the performance, the audiences heard the story of Vincent Thomas Sternberg, a Victorian Librarian, who is rumoured to have become the Leeds library Ghost. As part of their visit, they were invited to take part in a séance and experience a supernatural manifestation via a recreation of the Pepper’s ghost illusion used widely in Victorian theatre performances.

The experience began on the street outside the library’s main entrance and lasted for around 45 minutes. All those taking part left the library with a small book as a souvenir. This was a flick-book, that showed the ghost of Sternberg, looming out of the library shelves. You can see the animation that the book contained below.


This strictly limited capacity performance ran from Thursday 5 to Friday October, 2017.

Out of Hours was created specifically for Light Night Leeds 2017.

Produced by A Quiet Word, in collaboration with The Leeds Library

Devising Team – Alison Andrews, Matthew Bellwood, Oscar Stafford, Jaye Kearny, Amy Levene, Shona Mackay, Frances Andrews and members of The Carriageworks Young Theatre Makers

Technical Team – Dave Glenister, Gideon Woods, Tony Lidington

Book Concept and Text – Matthew Bellwood and Alison Andrews

Book Design and Layout – Amy Levene at Wingfinger Graphics

With thanks to the staff and members if The Leeds Library and the Leeds City Council Light Night Team

‘Midway through the journey of my life, I found myself in a dark wood, and the way was not clear. ‘

Dante:  The Divine Comedy. Canto 1

In frozen Winter, we began walking and talking in Meanwood Park with people from the local community along well worn paths and hidden tracks. Together, we produced a book ‘Ways Through the Wood’ a kind of ‘choose your own adventure story’ that collects pieces of creative writing, historical stories and suggestions for ways to explore the area. 

Gate Alone Credit: Lizzie Coombes 2016

Gate Alone Credit: Lizzie Coombes 2016

As Spring has moved into Summer, a particularly potent story emerges; one of family grief for a son lost in a war; of an ornamental garden that would have been his inheritance, then gifted to the city of Leeds in his memory.  The family’s loss is the city’s gain.  Lost and Found

Now we are preparing to invite people on a walk that is rooted in the history of the area, in respect for the past and hope for the future.

We invite you to walk with us, way through a dark wood…

And we hope, to find the way clear. 

The journey will take you over uneven ground and different terrains, please wear appropriate footwear and dress for the weather.

This Pay What You Decide performance ran from 28 June – 2 July 2016.

To see more of Lizzie Coombes fantastic images from Way Through The Wood click here.

Matthew and Alison are helping The Carriageworks in Leeds to celebrate its tenth birthday. On 14 November 2015, you are all invited to celebrate. For more information please look here


Images by Lizzie Coombes.

Beginning in Farsley this summer and, over the course of a year, we’ll be exploring and documenting the town in a range of ways.

We’ll be interviewing local residents, documenting the shops and high street with photographer Lizzie Coombes, delving around in the archives at Leeds City Library and designing a Farsley Monopoly set with children at Farsley Farfield Primary School.

All this activity led to some amazing conversations. We heard all sorts of different stories – some funny, some sad, some strange, some inspirational – a mixed bag of local folklore, historical anecdote and personal recollection. We chose thirty of the stories we were told and coupled each one with a black and white illustration, to create a Farsley colouring book, as a way of sharing back the material that we gathered.

Images by Lizzie Coombes.


One road, a thousand stories.
A Promenade Performance on Roseville Road

Roseville is a place in California where the sky is always blue. The story there begins with the dreams of pioneers. We have our own Roseville in Leeds, of a different kind, a road on the way to somewhere else. Our story here also begins long ago.

Take a walk with us down Roseville Road, for a performance trail created with the people living, working and seeking residence in the Roseville area of Leeds.

There will be romance, food, and stories you won’t have heard before – for the blue sky though, you may have to go to California.

Roseville is a strand of our ongoing exploration of the city through 365LeedsStories. The project was funded by Leeds inspired and Arts Council England and produced by A Quiet Word.

This performance walk ran from Monday 8 – Saturday 13 December 2014.

Video by Blessing Bolu Oyebanji

During February half term of 2013, we worked with members of ELFM to create new maps of the city. For three days, we walked the streets, found places where we could look over the city, including the OWL (Observation Wheel Leeds) and the Skybar, and explored ways of recording our journeys and thoughts.

We were based at Carriageworks, which makes an excellent central base for exploring Leeds.

We didn’t have to move far to visit the City Museum, Leeds Central Library and the Leeds Tapestry 2000, the Markets for example, as well as walking along the riverside to the Canal basin to talk to people who live on narrow boats.

A Quiet Word is working with the Yorkshire International Performing Arts Network to create a City Walk as part of Ludus Festival Leeds June 25th to 30th 2012.

The theme of the walk is Mutability. The kaleidoscopic history of Leeds, as of any great city, is one of perpetual change. Developers have overwritten the work of previous city makers; pedestrians wear desire paths into the grass and through flower beds. The smallest actions impact on the environment and the accretion of these actions change the cityscape for better or worse. The participants on the City Walk are themselves acting on the environment as they perambulate – or are transported – deeper into the city – and during the walk will be invited to make choices about the impact they make, for the present and maybe into the future.

The Walk is a work of imagination for sure, but en route, participants will meet a range of people concerned on a daily basis with the environment: scientists, city planners, residents and the artists of the Network.

Commissioned by Leeds City Council for Light Night 2011. This project for The Leeds Library was first presented at Light Night in Leeds on 7 October 2011. A Quiet Word worked with Leeds City College and staff at the Library to create an event for our friends and families and for anyone else in Leeds who has ever imagined their name on the cover of a book…

The shops are closing on a Friday evening. Twilight – the city is quiet. You are outside the Library which would usually be shut by now, but you are expected. You are the author of the Book, once in your head but now on the page, and it is time to celebrate… An administrator takes your details, another issues you with an electronic swipe card and shows you how to enter. At either side of the entrance, which you may never have noticed before, behind the glass windows of a bank on one side and a stationer on the other, burlesque dancers are typing manuscripts to a soundtrack you can just make out through the glass. This is a visit to a library of your dreams, open to you alone, when the rest of the city is heading home or meeting friends for a drink or dinner. When you find yourself in the lobby, a welcoming committee congratulates you, assures you that you are not late, but asks you please to make your way upstairs.. as you enter the main body of the library, you realise that you are the author of the book which is to be launched this evening. Just one small matter – crucial pages are missing. Your task is to find the missing text and insert it, before the rest of the guests arrive…

The ideas were further developed in daytime workshops with Pyramid of Arts and young people with a learning disablilty in November, with a public showing of work. Two performances of The Book in my Head were held at the Library on 21st and 28th November.