HMS Ark Royal


In Leeds City Museum, near the main entrance, is a bright red post box. It comes from the third HMS Ark Royal.


During World War Two, people across Britain, were encouraged, by the government, to raise money for the war effort. In November 1941 the City of Leeds decided, as an extra incentive, to adopt the HMS Ark Royal, famous for its role in the sinking of the German warships Graf Spee and Bismark, on November 4th 1941. Imagine their concern when ten days the ship was sunk. As a result the fundraising target grew from £3.5 million for a replacement hull to over £5 million for a new ship. Warships week was held on 30th January to 7th February 1942. Leeds people raised a staggering £9.3 million for a new ship. Leeds people queued outside the Civic Hall to deliver their personal gifts to the Lord Mayor’s office. In 1955 it was the most advanced aircraft carrier in the world.


On 6th May 1942 General De Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces, took the salute at the march past of Allied troops in the Ark Royal Week parade.


The first Ark Royal existed in the late 16th century. It was a wooden battleship part of Sir Francis Drake’s fleet. The second Ark Royal saw action during World War One as a seaplane carrier. The current fifth Ark Royal was commissioned in 1985 and has seen military action during the Iraq War.


Ark Royal was granted freedom of the city in 1973, continuing the strong association with people from Leeds. Three hundred of the ship’s company took part in a parade at Millennium Square in 2003.


HMS Aubretia & Horsforth


During World War II the £241,000 required to build the corvette HMS Aubretia was raised entirely by the people of Horsforth. In 2000 the then US President Bill Clinton acknowledged Horsforth's contribution to the war effort in a letter sent to local MP Paul Truswell. The letter now resides in the Horsforth local history museum.