Era ends in Leeds as Latvian club goes on sale

The Latvian community in Leeds, a city in northern England, is marking the end of an era with the listing for sale of the Daugavas Vanagi cultural and social club, according to the agent marketing the property.

The 534 square meter building at the corner of Mexborough Avenue and Chapeltown Road already has seen interest from potential buyers. The property could sell for about GBP 400,000 (nearly USD 800,000), said Nigel Tapp of Nigel Tapp & Co. in an April 21 press release.

“The decision to sell has been especially difficult and sad for older members of the Latvian community in Leeds, for whom the center was a lifeline during the dark days of the Cold War,” Tapp said. “However, proceeds from the sale will be invested to help sponsor the Latvian community and its continuing activities.”

The Daugavas Vanagi club was founded in the 1950s and through the 1980s was a hub of cultural and social activity in Leeds. After Latvia regained independence in 1991, the club’s importance and popularity declined, Tapp said.

The property, two miles north of the city center, dates from the late Victorian era. It includes a meeting hall, a bar, a library, offices and a number of rooms once used for the Saturday school.

Daugavas Vanagi club

The Daugavas Vanagi club in Leeds, England, is for sale, marking the end of an era. (Photo courtesy of Nigel Tapp & Co.)

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

13 thoughts on “Era ends in Leeds as Latvian club goes on sale

  1. GBP400,000 – is that a misprint? I know the market is diving in Leeds, but the place is cavernous and you’ll hardly get a 2 bed flat in London for that.

  2. The estate agent has glossed over the real reason for the sale. The police revoked the licence for the club bar because of drug dealing, which had taken place over a long period of time. In fact, you were very unlikely to ever encounter a Latvian in the club bar – more likely you would meet Carribean folk.

  3. Being an x- Leeds latvian girl whose family was totally committed to the Latvian club, its ethos and the making of its success so that lots of money could be sent to Latvia…it is sad but inevitable…it is positioned in an inner city area where people will not venture – even the local Latvian folk dance group – Kamolins turned away and chose to (quite rightly) have its rehearsals in Bradford a neighbouring town which has far larger immigrant/Asian community than Leeds possibly but the atmosphere in Bradford was safer and more acceptable. The Latvians in Leeds have no choice but to sell. Perhaps if they had sold 10 -20 years earlier a new property would be worth more today but the profits that they made through sales to the diversified communities of Chapeltown would not have repeated themselves in a ‘better’ part of Leeds. Many people have lived and died for the Daugav Vanags Nams in Leeds, and it would be nice to remember them – however that remains now to the ‘executor’s’ of the funds that result from the sale to remember. Here’s to all of those wonderful people who sang, held referat, ran the DVF, the Draudze, the school, Kamolins, kokles, cooked piragi, abol maizes etc. God bless them all!

  4. I am currently doing a university project on Latvian music in Leeds and would be extremely grateful for any information / comments on the Latvian music scene in Leeds or the UK. Please feel free to contact me with any responses on I will look forward to hearing from you.

  5. I am also an ex Leeds Latvian girl, (now living abroad) and was quite sad when I received the news that the building that once was my Latvian School and Club was going up for sale. I have so many memories from going to the Latvian School and the Latvian Dance group. Recently I’ve heard that the Club has re-opened, it would be nice to see this Club going back to what it once was.. .a safe place for Latvians to go and have a drink, and maybe pick up a book to read from the Latvian Library.

  6. I would like any kind of information I can get about where the Latvians immigrated to England and to which parts of England. Also does anyone know the names of any of the ships that brought Latvian Immigrants to England after WW2 in the 40’s.

    1. Hi Carol
      Many Latvian ex soldiers were in labour camps in Germany at the time the war ended and came over to Britain to seek work in the industrial cities: Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, Halifax and Leicester. I couldn’t tell you the name of the ships they boarded. My father was one of them and he landed at the docks in Hull. Maybe there are some records there you can uncover?

  7. I’m also a ‘child’ of the Leeds Latvian club and very sad to hear about the end of the Latvian club. I have such fond memories of my time at the Latvian school too. I would have liked it to have been able to carry on. I was fortunate enough to go back and have one of my daughters attend in the 70’s but we moved away as a family and now in my retirement I would have been able to willingly give my time but the community is no longer there. It was with a very heavy heart that my brother and I signed the agreement for it’s sale… but to everyone… I thank you for the memories.

  8. I’m part of a community centre that’s looking to buy the old Latvian centre. We approached the estate agents but they won’t speak to us because we’re not a commercial buyer. They want to sell it to people who will knock it down and turn it into flats. We’d love to be able to speak to the people who are still in charge of the centre so that they can persuade the estate agents to sell to us. We’ve raised enough for the deposit and have a solid business plan for the mortgage. It’s been sitting empty for years now and it’d be such a shame to knock down a building with so much history. Please get in touch if you can help,

  9. My brother Martin and I were also 2nd generation (Latvian father) and child members of the Leeds Latvian club and the dance group. I remember rehearsals every week at the club and then every so often a performance at the Jubilee Hall also in Chapeltown, with singing, dancing and playing the kokle. I left in 1978 to go to university and alrteady by that time, to keep up the membership numbers, new members of all sorts of ethic backgrounds came into the club. It wasn’t the same from that point on …

  10. My dad ronnie was the landlord for so many years and I have so many good memories it was tarnished with a bad reputation but I cannot begin to wish that in times like now this was still going strong.. such great childhood memories I’ll never forget

  11. I am looking for the Latvian family called Apenis . The old gentleman (an old Nazi) had a German Shepherd dog and was quite aggressive, but his wife showed great kindness and used to make sweet pastries for the children downstairs. In the mid 60’s he couple used to live in a flat at 111 Hyde Park road Leeds 6. They had a son called Eric who eventually became a car dealer.

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