Street becomes village green as terrace turfs out the traffic

The road between two rows of back-to-back Victorian houses has been transformed into a village green for a summer fete today.

The grey road surface of Methley Terrace, in Leeds, disappeared yesterday under 800 square metres of turf to be transformed into Methley Green for two days. It and the neighbouring streets of Methley Drive, Lane and Place will come alive with egg-and-spoon races, brass bands, circus acts and barbecues. At night "the Green" will become an open-air cinema, with the film Strictly Ballroom projected on to the whitewashed end wall of the terrace.

Adrian Sinclair, one of the organisers, said: "A lot of people want The Methleys, as the streets round here are called, to be a greener place, with safer places for children to play and slower traffic. We thought we'd try making one road a field instead of tarmac.

"Children have offered to water the grass regularly, but because of the hosepipe ban they'll have to use watering cans."

The 1500 cost of the turf is being met by Leeds City Council's leisure department, Shell's Better Britain project and the pressure group Transport 2000. The project also has the backing of the police. Afterwards the grass, which is being laid by Inturf, will be sold at 70p a square metre to make lawns for the residents.

Derek Edwards, the managing director of Inturf, said: "Our sister company did something similar on the Champs Elysees, but nothing like this. It will be fine, football-pitch grass, laid in rolls by a special machine. I have told them to moisten it so that it sticks better, but if it's hot, dry, sunny and windy there could be problems on Saturday afternoon."

The Methleys have a reputation for devising grand schemes for their activities. They first tried the open-air cinema last August, when 300 locals brought out their sofas and chairs to watch The Commitments. Four local girls acted as usherettes, complete with torches and name badges, handing out free popcorn. The 40ft high "screen" was tastefully decorated with flowerboxes and two children gave up their bedroom so that the projector could be positioned on a DIY work-bench and pointed out of their window at the gable end opposite.

Mr Sinclair, 33, said: "It was brilliant. The weather had been so sunny that it seemed the logical thing to do. We barricaded the road off at either end and it was just like the real thing. Some curious motorists who drove up to the wall parked their cars and joined us."

The Times, August 17 1996

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