Thursday, 4 September 2014

Cyclist Beryl Burton OBE to be granted posthumous civic honour

Caption: Leeds enjoyed a hugely successful Tour de France Grand Départ earlier in the year, and Beryl Burton OBE was one of the first people to put the city on the cycling map through her achievements.

The fantastic achievements of female Leeds cyclist Beryl Burton OBE will be officially recognised next week by the award of the city’s highest civic honour.

As part of a special meeting held at Leeds Civic Hall on Wednesday 10 September from 1pm, Beryl’s name will be added posthumously to an illustrious list of people that feature on the ‘Freedom of the City’ board in Leeds Civic Hall. Those who have previously been granted the award, include Jane Tomlinson CBE, playwright Alan Bennett, former South African president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and former British Prime Ministers, Clement Attlee and Sir Winston Churchill. Conformation of Beryl’s nomination was confirmed by councillors at a previous meeting of council in July, which was also attended by Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme.

Councillor Keith Wakefield, leader of Leeds City Council said:

"After hosting a truly unforgettable Grand Départ earlier this year which will live long in the history of both our city and indeed the Tour de France, it is only right that we recognise Beryl Burton OBE for her amazing deeds in the sport that were pivotal in first putting Leeds on the international cycling map.

"The word legend is sometimes used far too easily in sport, but I doubt there is anyone who is aware of Beryl’s achievements that would argue she is not fully deserving of this title. Beryl accomplishments were simply staggering, and make her undoubtedly the greatest British female cyclist of all time. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if Beryl was racing today given the higher profile that women’s cycling has now compared to the 1960s and 1970s, she would be a global sporting star."

Beryl, who died aged 58 in 1996 having lived throughout her life in Morley, enjoyed a stellar career and left a record that is undoubtedly one of the greatest that the sport of cycling has ever seen. These include being crowned five-times world champion over 3,000 metres, 13 time national champion and in a truly incredible feat, British best all-rounder champion for 25 successive years.

In what is Beryl’s arguably great accomplishment, the former Morley Cycling Club and Knaresborough CC rider also held the men’s world 12-hour time trial record for two years in the 1960s. In 1967, this included pedalling 277.25 miles in 12 hours, and it was only in 1969 that a man was able to beat this record. To this day, no other woman has been able to beat the time set by her.

This civic recognition will help ensure that Beryl’s achievements, which did not always receive the plaudits that they truly deserved during her lifetime, are not forgotten, and also act as a real inspiration to future cyclists.

Present at the ceremony will also be members of Beryl’s family, as the city recognises someone who transformed cycling and women’s participation in the sport in particular. This impact is highlighted by the words of a Frenchman in the foreword of Beryl’s memoir, who simply said: "If Beryl Burton had been French, Joan of Arc would have to take second place."

Also being held in the city centre on the 10 September to coincide with the official awarding of the posthumous honour to Beryl, will be a special festival of cycling on Millennium Square. Organised by go:cycling, as part of the event, which will be held from 10am-4pm, visitors can enjoy cycling simulators, cycling lessons, bike powered smoothie makers and try out accessible bikes and multi-person bikes.

To find out more about the range of cycling opportunities in West Yorkshire, visit the go:cycling web site at

Councillor Wakefield continued:

"The awarding of the city’s highest civic honour is also our way of ensuring that Beryl’s legacy will live on, and we look forward to seeing her name be placed next to those people previously awarded the ‘Freedom of the City’.

"Members of Beryl’s family will also be attending on the afternoon and we look forward to welcoming them on what promises to be a really inspiring and fantastic occasion as a special festival of cycling is also held on Millennium Square throughout the day."

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Heritage Open Days to be celebrated at Leeds Museums and Galleries

Caption: Leeds Art Gallery is playing its part in Heritage Open Days events.

A special programme of free events and activities are set to be held in a number of Leeds Museums and Galleries’ sites this month as part of the national cultural initiative Heritage Open Days.

Held from Thursday 11 September - Sunday 14 September, Heritage Open Days sees participating cultural venues give free entry to visitors and schedule special heritage events. Visitors will have the opportunity enjoy a wide range of tours, talks, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

Beginning the festivities is Leeds Discovery Centre on Thursday 11 September, who will be hosting a special behind the scenes tour. Members of the tour can step inside the state-of-the-art facility, which is home to over one million fascinating objects, and discover a range of treasures such as elephant skulls, a medieval logboat, mummy bandages and meteorites.

As part of the commemorations in the city marking the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago, on Thursday 11 September Leeds Art Gallery will be giving you the chance to Discover the Heritage of the First World War in a special talk by Professor Alison Fell and organised in partnership with the University of Leeds and Leeds Civic Trust. While on Friday 12 September, curator Lucy Moore will also be on hand at Leeds City Museum to speak about different aspects of the conflict and Leeds Museums and Galleries’ heritage collections.

The city of Leeds played a key part in the industrial revolution and at Leeds Industrial Museum on Friday 12 September there is an opportunity to find out more about the experience of workers during this time as they faced poverty, disease and a host of serious accidents. Curator Daniel Martin will also be providing an insightful behind the scenes tour on Saturday 13 September at Leeds Industrial Museum.

Driving enthusiasts also have the chance at Thwaite Mills on Sunday 14 September to check out a range of classic makes and models as part of a special vintage car show. Boat rides along with a number of stalls and family activities are also set to be available on the day which is not to be missed.

For more information about Leeds Museums and Galleries please see:

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"We are delighted that Leeds Museums and Galleries are taking part in Heritage Open Days, where there will be a range of fantastic free events and activities.

"There really is a lot to see and do, from finding out more about Leeds and the First World War, to enjoying the delights of a classic car show.

"We are extremely proud of our museums and galleries and this is a great chance, especially if you have never visited one of our sites before, to find out about what all the fuss is about."

Get involved by following @LeedsMuseums and using the hashtag #HODs

Notes to editors:

Heritage Open Days:

Heritage Open Days celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and culture by offering free access to places that are usually closed to the public or normally charge for admission.

Every year on four days in September, buildings of every age, style and function throw open their doors. It is a once-a-year chance to discover architectural treasures and enjoy a wide range of tours, events and activities that bring local history and culture to life.

This year sees Heritage Open Days celebrate their twentieth birthday. Heritage Open Days is organised by a huge network of people who share a passion for places, history and culture. Locally, over 1,400 organisations and some 40,000 volunteers organise thousands of site openings and events, jointly attracting over 1 million visitors. They make Heritage Open Days England’s biggest voluntary cultural event. On a national level, the programme is managed by the Heritage Open Days National Partnership and funded by English Heritage.

Full details of events:

Heritage Open Day - Behind the Scenes Tour:
Free Entry, Free Event
Leeds Discovery Centre
Thurs 11 Sept, 11am - 12pm & 2pm - 3pm

Discover the Heritage of the First World War:
Free Entry, Free Event
Leeds Art Gallery
Thurs 11 Sept, 1.15pm - 2pm

First World War Histories of Leeds Museums & Galleries:
Free Entry, Free Event
Leeds City Museum
Fri 12 Sept, 2pm - 3pm

Poverty, Pus and Pestilence:
Free Entry, Free Event
Leeds Industrial Museum
Fri 12 Sept, 3.30pm - 4.15pm

Heritage Open Day - Behind the Scenes Tours:
Free Entry, Free Event
Leeds Industrial Museum
Sat 13 Sept, 12pm - 2pm & 1pm - 3pm

Classic Cars:
Free Entry, Free Event
Thwaite Mills
Sun 14 Sept, 11am - 4pm

For media queries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578