At Whitsuntide in 1892, the Leeds Rifles staged a military exercise that culminated in an armed skirmish in the area between Otley Old Road and Horsforth.
A force of 120 men (“the defenders”), led by Captains Rowe and Kirk, set out from Carlton Barracks at 10.30am. They were followed one hour later by a 140-strong opposing force (“the attackers”), commanded by Captains Morley, Bedford and Braithwaite.
The defenders arrived at Tinshill around noon and took up a position near Cookridge Towers. The imagined scenario was for this force to resist an assault by the attackers long enough to allow reinforcements to arrive.
The attackers advanced on the area in the three sections – the first along Otley Old Road, the second via Spen Lane and the third across country through the bleach works. Scouts were sent ahead of the main force on bicycles to ascertain the position of the defenders.
When the first detachment of attackers came within about 100 yards of a defensive outpost, the defenders opened fire but were pushed back, whilst the other two attacking sections took possession of Iveson Wood. Surrounded and outgunned, the defenders were forced to abandon their redoubt and retreat to Sykes’s Farm, at which point a ceasefire was ordered.
The men then retired to White House Farm (where Gusto now stands) where they enjoyed refreshments before marching back to barracks via Headingley.
The Leeds Rifles was formed in 1859 and served in the Second Boer War and both World Wars.
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Contemporary Ordnance Survey map of Cookridge reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland