The Ticket to Ride By David Harris.

May 1, 2022 by

A Ticket to Ride

By David Harris

It was the winter of 1958 and I was nineteen out of work and out of a place to live. I scrutinised my options there wasn’t very many but I was a fit lad and I wanted to see the world so an army career seemed a possibility. I found myself standing at the bottom of the steps outside the army recruiting office just around the corner from the Majestic ballroom in the centre of Leeds. It was decision time a sea change moment had to be addressed. I decided to bite the bullet I ascended the stairs and presented myself to the recruiting sergeant. I came out of there with just A Train Ticket To Ride and the destination on the ticket was Wrexham and stern instructions to be there within four days with just the clothes I was wearing and no luggage.

I took myself back to the lodgings that I could no longer pay for and made plans to put my affairs in order. One necessity was the matter of my best suit that had to be found a place of safety and I decided ‘Uncle’ might be the best bet for the suit, ‘Uncle’ was the local name for the pawn shop, there was one down Green Road, you put you suit in on Monday when you were skint and drew it out on Friday when you were paid and off to the Mecca in it. Of course I was not expecting to retrieve my suit any time soon but I needed to know it was safe and I could think of no better place than ‘Uncles’. I made sure I secured the pawn ticket in a safe place and set off to the army camp at Wrexham in my second best suit. I enlisted in the army and completed eighteen hard weeks of basic training. At the end of those eighteen weeks we were all excitedly waiting for our permanent postings, wanting to see the world I was hoping for Tripoli, Hong Kong Singapore Kenya or even Christmas Island they were all ongoing posting at the time. Where did I get? Scarborough! They were clearing the moors all the way nearly to Whitby to build the new Fylingdales Early Warning Station. Those moors had been used during the war for manoeuvres and there were likely live ammunition still lying around. There was even a model village on those moors built during the war to decoy German bombers to drop their bombs on it rather than on a proper town or city, we had to clear that out too, there were unexploded bombs, bullets hand grenades all over the place, there was real danger in it for us, two lads had already been killed and seventeen others had been blown up and injured but survived We were well trained though how to deal with explosives and there was always a sergeant in charge of us and we had mine detectors strapped to our backs. If anything was found that was a threat we would tell the sergeant he would stick a red flag near it and the bomb squad would come in at the weekend when we were stood down and blow them all up.  There was one dozy lad in our squad who found a ten pound bomb and smuggled it back into the billet he wanted to prove to his father what we were doing as he didn’t believe him.  He could well have blown us all to smithereens, he was made to put it outside in a dustbin until the bomb squad came and blew it up. We never saw him again after that. He was probably discharged via the nut house.

But on a lighter note this was Scarborough in the glorious summer of 1959 and we had the weekends off. One of my pals from home, Phil Wilson, used to come over and spend the weekend by the seaside with us sleeping in the billet everyone just took him to be one of us, and we being red blood males were always ready to meet the young ladies with purses full of holiday money arriving at the train station on Saturday mornings, we used to meet them at the station in our uniforms and hope they would be generous to we poor squaddies. We would carry their bags and strike up conversations to meet up with them during the week.  If we had no luck we would meet the next train into Scarborough. It wasn’t a bad life.

After I’d had my fill of army life, it didn’t look like I was going to get to any exotic places overseas so I managed to work my way out of the army on medical grounds, it wasn’t hard. By this time I wasn’t broke and I had done an apprenticeship as a joiner so I soon found work got myself settled in new lodgings and thought, ‘Right first job get my best suit out of pawn’, I still had my ticket safely tucked away. So off I went down Green Road to ‘Uncles’ I got to the place where the pawn shop had been and found myself standing on a pile of bricks! You guessed it the porn shop had been demolished. I never did get to see my best suit again but I have still got the ticket ha-ha.

I hadn’t been out of the army long when an old mate, Bluey, looked me up, he said he had a new girlfriend and she had a mate did I want to make a ‘four’ up with them for a night at the Mecca? The mate’s name was Shirley; we were courting for four years and married for forty eight years. You never know your luck in a big city.

50 years ago this year-1972-Leeds United were up for t’cup

April 1, 2022 by

50 years ago this year -1972Leeds United were up for t’Cup
And I remember it as though it was yesterday
It was a balmy evening in May 1972 and here I was standing on the Lowfields Road stand at Elland Road. My eyes were seeing but hardly daring to believe; an open top bus was passing behind the wall of ‘The Scratching Shed’ and gleaming above the wall in the rays of the evenig sun was passing the most coveted piece of silver in the land; The FA Cup And it was coming in here!

We had a lovely team at Elland Road recently under Bielsa but in the late 1960s/early 70s under Don Revie we were really something else, look at the heading in the Daily Mirror in 1972 after we had beaten Man U 5-1 and Southampton 7 nil
I’m going to take you down to Wembley stadium with me on that wonderful day in 1972 when Leeds United at last lifted the FA Cub but before I do let me try and impress on you how good they were at the time. Before the Premier League was stated in1993 – we were the last winners of the old first division in 1992 – the FA Cup seemed to have more prominance than it does now.

In 1968 we won the League Cup and the top league for the first time on that wonderful night at Anfield in 1969 and we were now in the middle of three trips to Wembley in four years for the FA Cup.

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Let me set the scene for you in 1971- 72, it was to be no ordinary season; right from the off it felt different, which was quite understandable because we started off by having to play our first four home games on neutral grounds. It seemed strange to be taking on Spurs at Hull, Wolves and Crystal Palace at Huddersfield and Newcastle at Sheffield. Newcastle were the only ones to get a hammering, we lost points to the others which we would probably have secured at Elland Road. The Yorkshire folk at these

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outposts showed their lack of love at our success; the Huddersfield crowd actually cheered for Wolves.
It wasn’t a normal season in other ways too, instead of Leeds setting the pace with perhaps one other rival, this time four teams were in the running: Derby, Manchester City and Liverpool were making a late run of straight wins with their rebuilt team near the finish. Of course we were still in the mix but with all these four clubs taking points off each other it was apparent that the number of points required to win the league this time was going to be less than last season. Into the final straight the leadership would change week by week. Our ace card was our goal average, we knew if the league had to be decided on goal average it would be ours. This happy state of affairs was due to a purple patch: five goals against Manchester United and seven against Southampton. After those two matches the press acclaimed Leeds as ‘the team of the decade’ and we had a new name: ‘Super Leeds’ as the lads strung twelve – fifteen passes together we would shout, ‘Ole! Ole! As if at a Spanish bull fight. Opposing teams crumbled like old cake in face of out onslaughts and poured out expletives to the eager media. The play was just as magnificent when Spurs came to Elland Road, I never before saw a team so outplayed only to lose two–one and at one point they even led. But this was a cup tie and we were through to the semi final – it was to be Birmingham from the second division to be played at Hillsborough. Being the worrying kind I still worried when we were three up but that was the final score. The match launched David Harvey and he was to eventually eclipsed Gary Sprake as our first choice keeper.
The road to Wembley on that Saturday in May 1972 took us alternatively through sunshine and storm: at times the rain lashed so heavily that the wipers couldn’t cope. My own feelings were ill at ease – if only it were someone other than Arsenal! Apart from the respect due to them for winning the double last year the fact that we almost always managed to beat them caused me to think that if the law of averages kicked in it would be in their favour. My mates would say, ‘You’ve no faith in them.’ But I never disillusioned myself into believing with the heart that they would win something when the head thought otherwise; so many disappointments had caused me to be cautious. As I sat in the back of the car on the journey to London my head said Arsenal.

Our approach to the stadium that year took a different course to the usual route and we passed along streets of terraced houses bedecked in the red and white – everywhere were replicas of the Arsenal cannon. Once again we were reminded of the fabulous flair of the Arsenal fans. Up here we see stickers in the everyday normal saloon cars and vans down there Jaguars and even Rolls Royce’s were bedecked in red and white. Yet amid all those hundreds of red and white bedecked houses was one lonely house dressed up in blue white and gold. It was a light in the darkness – but how did he manage to keep his windows in? I wished I could have seen the occupant to shake his hand.
This year we were at the end where the players emerge and we were in good voice. The blue gold and white was as solid our end as the red and white at the other end. The alternate rain and sunshine had given way to solid sunshine now and a pageant was to begin for it was centenary year for the FA Cup. Every club that had won the FA Cup was represented by a marcher for every time they had won the cup. Chelsea and Liverpool had one marcher each both their singly successes at our expense, in our case marchers we had none and Arsenal took up the chant ‘Where are Leeds United?’ I wondered if we would ever be represented?
Our play was not up to the standard as in that Chelsea final but at around ten past four (by my watch) Alan Clarke scored the first goal. Even then I though, this is just to tantalise – we’ll not win. At half past four we were still a goal up and with thirteen minutes left to play I felt the butterflies in my stomach. This was the point I silently called on the gods of football, ‘If you let us last this one out I‘ll never ask for anything again.’ And this was, bearing in mind, that a draw at Wolves the following

Monday evening would win us the double. But for me this was the big one for the season I wanted that cup to want the double was greedy. We did last out but of course I didn’t keep my word.
As the final whistle sounded we threw each other in the air. I remember Mick Jones being led towards the royal box with his injured arm causing him agony; then Billy had the cup in his hands. The song we had sung so often in hope had come to fruition. The Arsenal fans were great in defeat, a great team with great supporters. Outside Wembley a poor old guy was lugging a great replica canon on his back. The canon looked heavy and the incline steep today, last year when they won the double I bet it was light as a feather. On the way home the footbridges across the M1 motorway were filled with remote Leeds supporters waving the vehicles home and one lad was already hanging upside down perilously finishing a graffiti slogan. LEEDS UNITED FA CUP WINNERS 1972.
Truly now the lads had done it all for us! We should have been able to savour that Wembley victory throughout the coming summer but it was not to be, out final league match must be completed on the Monday following the cup final, this gave the lads no opportunity to celebrate their victory and fatigue and nagging injuries had no time to heal. Jones of course was definitely out; Clarke had to play though far from fit. It was a travesty that so important a match had to be played without time to recover. But we had the cup win and that had been an unforgettable experience.

A Token for True East Leeds Grit

March 1, 2022 by
A Token for True East Leeds Grit
By David Harris
You may remember Dave (Old St Hilda’s lad) regaled us with the tale of ‘The Glencoe Railway Children’ way back in November 2016 here he is with another tale of true East Leeds grit.
1963 was one of the two worst winters in our life time, 1947 was the other but while 1947 was still in the days when we were young enough to enjoy sledging and snowball fighting by 1963 we were of an age where we had to go out into the world and earn a living. In 1963 I was a joiner working on the Merrion Centre which was still at ground level; I was working along with a few mates from East Leeds. Then it started to snow and it snowed and snowed for a full week. Snow was thick everywhere and ice on the pavements, there was no local sport and no matches at Elland Road for around twenty weeks, all work on building sites stopped.
We were told to go sign on at the labour exchange down near the Marquis of Granby pub for a pittance or volunteer for snow shifting with the Leeds City Council which was what we decided to do, there were four of us from the Glencoe’s two from ‘Mulligan’s Mansions’ and one lad from East End Park. We stayed together all the way though. You would clear the snow away one day and it would be back again the next day. The Council yard was in Dock Street down near the river – the Adelphi Pub was at the end of the road. There would be what seemed to be a couple of thousand queueing so you had to be early to get a start but the money was good for the time at thirty bob a day.
The system was: you showed your dole card at the window and they gave you a big token you took this token to the place where the brushes and shovels were kept and they took your token and gave you a brush or a shovel and a small token which you had to keep safe for at the end of the shift you had to take your brush or shovel back and they would take you small token off you and give you your big token back with which you could go to the kiosk and hand the big token in and draw your wage if you lost your brush or shovel and did not have one to take back you could not retrieve you big token and did not get paid, so if someone pinched you brush or shovel you had to make sure you pinched someone else’s or you had worked all day for nothing.
We were placed into gangs of around twenty each with a ganger and driven off by lorry to the area we would be clearing. The best area was the centre of town where at dinner time – we had an hour for dinner – we could nip into the ‘Horse and Trumpet’ or we had arrangement with the commissionaire at the News Theatre, we gave him ten bob and he would let us put out shovels and brushes in a little cubby hole and watch the cartoons, mainly however our area seemed to be Hunslet. The snow was so deep one time my mate Joe Moran lost his watch in the snow and we never found it. Mainly we were clearing the footpaths of ice and gritting over them but we were true East Leeds gents if we saw on old lady or gent struggling to cross the road we would help them the guy in charge of us didn’t mind us doing that, on one occasion an old lady on the other side of the road got her bag snatched and cried out but the guy didn’t get far we caught up with him and gave him a bit of East Leeds justice which included a couple of black eyes.
We six had a system four of us would clear the ice and snow and two would do the gritting when the gritters got too cold we would swap over this way we could keep going all day but it was so cold and they didn’t provide us with any protective clothing not even gloves we just arrived in our jeans and a pull over and our own shoes and we had to walk all the way to Dock Street on a morning before it got light and home again at night but it was so cold and we were usually wet but as the saying goes, ‘when the going gets tough the tough get going.’ But it was often it was too much for the older guys and they often collapsed on the job,
I was standing in the queue towards the end of the freezing weather when this ‘dodgy’ looking lad came up to me and said, ‘I see you have got your big token why don’t you just shoot off home and come back at 3.45 (the time we finished) show your big token and draw you wages, you didn’t draw your tools so you won’t have to book them back in so nobody will be the wiser and you can spend the day at home.’ Did I take advantage of this seemingly fool-proof wheeze? Ah well! That’s for me to know and you to wonder but two or three days later the snow cleared itself away anyway, but we had volunteered in true East Leeds fashion, would that have happened today? When I think back, was it an experience or just a dream?


February 1, 2022 by
By Eddie Blackwell
It’s strange but when I look back over my life I find many points in time when events have occurred that could prematurely ended my life. Shortly after I was born I was seriously ill. Dr McCartney who brought me into the world diagnosed me of having double pneumonia, I wasn’t eating or drinking and his opinion to my parents was to expect the worst (there were no antibiotics in those days), however my grandmother recalled a drop of brandy had been used in similar cases to start fluid intake and fortunately for me it worked, that first dabbing of the brandy on my lips started me taking fluids and I survived the ordeal but I was never very robust.
Grandma used to look after me when I was small, the war was ongoing and mams fit enough went out to work to help the war effort. I was gran’s ‘posser man’ and ‘mangle man’. In the afternoon we would go to bed for a nap, one day she rolled over in her sleep and we fell out of bed, unfortunately I was underneath and the weight of gran falling on top of me cracked my right collar bone and I had to wear a sling for what seemed like an age and I still have a depression in the right side of my rib cage to remind me from that time on I have used my left hand predominantly.
I started school in the infant’ class when I was five, I remember on the first day we were told to line up for the headmistress to record our names, gas masks had to be worn over our left shoulders, they were contained in a small cardboard box about 6” cubed and had a piece of string which you wore over your shoulder when you put it on you looked like Mickey Mouse which added to the novelty. I had a bottle green corduroy windjammer that I thought was the bee’s knees, got a picture of it somewhere, my first school picture. The playground was enclosed from the road with one inch metal bar and a huge double gate. I must admit in those days my ears did stick out a bit and who do you think got his head stuck in the railings? You’ve got it, it was me. Well the teachers tried to free me without success, eventually the Headmistress sent for the fire brigade and they arrived with the full works big red fire engine and all the gear, helmets and the lot, scared me to death, Vaseline on my ears, still no joy, ‘Looks like he’s stuck in there,’ the fire chief with the big hat said, well that did it I was crying my eyes out by now. My big sister was in the same school at the time in the upper juniors she is five years my senior, ‘Send for his sister,’ the headmistress said. Along came Sheila she looked at me and said, ‘stop crying now.’ The silence of the lambs descended, I always did as she said or I was in for it, ‘How did you get into this mess?’ she said, ‘I tippled over and my head got stuck,’ I said. She looked at the chief fireman and said, ‘You big bully frightening him like that,’ and went back into her class. These memories are all absolutely true I swear on my life.
I met up with another boy in my class called Kenneth Walker, he lived the other side of York Road opposite the swimming baths in the posh area called Bickerdyke Street part of Saville Green, we were really good mates we used to go swimming together for hours on end and we played together after school, we were always very competitive and he would delight in saying, ‘I’ll race you to the end of the street, ready, steady, go,’ and off we’d go like two rockets, he was fast but I always seemed to be a little bit faster. He had a dog called Lassie and she was spitting image of the one on the films a beautiful border collie. His dad was a Leeds United fan and Kenny had all the Leeds United gear, scarf, gloves and a woollen bobble hat. He went to all the home games with his dad.
One night we had been playing up at my house and Kenny needed to go home for his tea and his mam had said bring your friend along as well if he wants to come. This meant crossing York Road just below the swimming baths it was no big deal there were trams up and down but very little traffic, there was no fuel for domestic vehicles in those days, most of it went to the war effort and we’d been racing all the way down from our house and we got to York Road and I said, ‘I’ll race you to your house.’ And shot off like a bullet then BANG the next thing I was doing a summersault and landing on my head. I was knocked out for a minute or so and slowly started to regain consciousness, I remember Kenny thought I was dead, The guy whose car I had run into said, ‘where do you live I’ll drive you home,’ Mam and Dad were out that evening but Sheila was at home, the guy told her what had happened and gave her a card and said please contact me if he faints again and I’ll take him down to hospital. My sister said, ‘You’re in for it when Mam and Dad gets home and I tell them what you have done,’ she loved my really but she had a strange way of showing it. . Sure enough come 10 p.m. Mam and Dad come home and Dad said, ‘Are you OK? ‘Yes Dad,’ I said and then I got grounded for a week for acting stupid. Mam said, ‘He deserves a crack for doing that, but Dad said, ‘No let’s be grateful the angels were watching over him and he’s still here in one piece. Well I won’t take him to the hospital for doing such a stupid thing,’ she loved me even more and knew I knew she was telling fibs
By this time both Kenny and I were both quite proficient swimmers his mum had a friend who knew Doris Story a professional swimmer who taught swimming at York Road Baths and Kenny got swimming lessons from her and became quite a proficient swimmer at front crawl or freestyle as it was called. I on the other hand swam a strong breaststroke and developed my own style which was later banned, It was a big arm stoke then a quick short arm stroke to every leg kick dad said I looked like a pair of men’s braces going through the water, he admitted I was quick. Although you wouldn’t believe it I now had very powerful legs when I was that age, I could l kick off from the side of the pool and I could glide a full breadth or half a length at speed without making a stroke, next time you are in the pool try it and see how you go. In later years I could do 25 yds … they used to call me the fish because I went well with chips. There was a swimming gala coming up at York Road baths and our school had been challenged by a larger school to compete for some trophy or other, the main race was called the medley where a three man team swims two lengths each, Backstroke, breaststroke and crawl. Ours was only a small primary school {All Saints?] and we had been challenges by one of the large secondary schools that had only recently been formed. The P.E. teacher, Mr. Hallett was to form a team to compete in this race and he chose Kenny for freestyle, a lad called Harry Shaw for backstroke and me for breast stroke, we practiced a couple of times then the event was upon us, we were all thin normal boys of our age I was the tallest and the opposition were all giants, all of them taller than me this obviously gave them an air of confidence and didn’t do much for our moral. Harry was to swim first two lengths backstroke which started with a two hand push off the whistle was blown to start the race and off they went, Harry was falling behind but the crowd were going wild, on the home leg Harry was closing the gap and they were coming in neck and neck looked across at the guy I was racing he was a big lad six feet tall for an eleven year old seemed a bit odd to me, then Harry touched and I did my racing dive like a parallel belly flop but very good for distance I felt as though I was flying and the crowd were raising the roof which spurred me on I did a two handed summersault and the water just parted to let me through I was coming home at speed and Kenny was ready, I touched the wall and Kenny went in I stood up and looked across to see my opposition was just turning his first length and I thought how deceiving looks can be, Kenny came home in great style and we had won the six length race by one clear length. It was said the crowd was so loud that tiles had come lose on the pool roof. We were hero’s the following morning the headmaster had us out at the front at assembly, we’d been there before but that was for the cane for wrongdoing, at playtime Kenny had all the girls swooning over him, he was always better looking than me, his nickname was the young Alan Ladd and he did look like him…Mary Green the school sweetheart threw herself at him and she was pretty, she stood out from the crowd… Dad had been to watch the gala and was crying when I got home, which was when he said, he had tears in his eyes; Ethel (that was my mum) said I was just like a pair of braces in the water but the fastest braces she’d ever seen. That’s when the body blow came Mum said that’s lovely but it’s the last time he goes swimming they’re saying that’s where all the children are catching polio, a debilitating disease at the time.
We moved house shortly after that and went to live with my granddad at Osmondthorpe there was a school just at the end of the street and Mum said it would be better to go there rather than travelling every day down York Road on the tram. This was late 1949 and Grandma had just passed on and grandad couldn’t cope on his own. We had been living in a through terraced house in Devon Street off Pontefract Lane, it was where I was born but the area was classed as a ‘red area’ and overdue for demolition, we had an open fire, a cold water tap, no inside toilet or hot water bath and a gas supply, but we managed as people did in those days. meanwhile in Osmondthortpe it was an end terrace house with hot and cold water and an inside toilet and bathroom, no more boiling a little kettle to get a washed and gardens front and back, opulence personified, luxury beyond our wildest dreams to turn the tap on and hot water gushed forth we were just not used to this level of technology.
Granddad was 71 years old when we moved in with him he was still quite fit and able and had all his faculties about him. I recall he would tell me stories about when he was serving in WW1 He was on the front at Ypres and on the Somme. They were gruesome tales he told me of how men and animals were used as cannon fodder to further the ends of the bureaucrats and politicians who claimed to have claimed 600 yards but fail to mention how many lives and animals it had cost. He was Labour through and through but old Labour not this load of rubbish we have now. I’d have followed him to the ends of the Earth, I’m in my 80’s now but I still miss him. He had lots of sayings too, things like,’If tha does owt for nowt make sure tha does it for the sen’. His favourite was ‘Life is but a span enjoy it whist you can.’…’Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched’ …. ‘Why did the chicken cross the road?’ and a host of others.
He liked his pint as well The ‘Wykebeck Arms’ in Selby Road was his favourite he used to manage the football team from there and he was always well received. Come Sunday morning at 11 o’clock he’d start to whistle a little tune then rub the ends of his waistcoat between his thumb and forefinger, he always wore a waistcoat, collar and tie with a suit and trilby hat, come hail, snow, rain or gale he’d not miss his Sunday lunchtime special, I’d go meet him at 2.30 pm he was always a bit tipsy coming out, I’d put my arm in his to steady him and we’d walk back home and have Yorkshire pudding, roast and mashed potatoes, two veg, roast beef and gravy. My Dad was a chef in the RAF during WW2 and there wasn’t anything in the food line he couldn’t do that didn’t taste fantastic. They were happy days I shall always treasure and remember.
Now here’s a turn up for the books I’ve searched for 65 years to find my boyhood friend Kenny Walker and one of my stories I wrote on the East Leeds Memories web site was seen by Kenny and he charged his sons to find me on Facebook which they did. So after all these years we are reunited and it feels great… I’ve not been well these last couple of years which is why you have not heard from me but I seem to be on the mend at the moment, hope this story brings back a few happy memories for you all. Hope you have had a merry Christmas and a happy new Year.
Lots of love and may 2022 bring health and happiness to all.

The Guildford Hotel

January 1, 2022 by
Guildford Hotel By Val Milner Some time ago I was in the Headrow when I stopped to look at the Guildford Hotel across the road. I was particularly interested because in the late 1950s, I’d swapped my unsocial hours at a GP’s practice for a job with an even worse timetable, first as receptionist and then as secretary to the manager of that hotel. The upturn of this change was less travelling, a better salary and meals on duty. As a ‘for instance’ my 30/40 minute lunchtime meant eating in the restaurant, silver service, choosing from the a la carte menu, then back up to reception ASAP. The smart restaurant was overseen by the Headwaiter Eddy Read and Winewaiter Andy, both resplendent in black tailcoats. Everything very pleasant, easy to get used to! In addition to the kitchens, wine and beer cellars, and other utility and storage rooms, the Guildford had thirty bedrooms, large restaurant (open to the public at lunchtimes only and used for private events in the evenings), ballroom, meeting rooms, residents’ lounge, residents’ dining room, a lift, manager’s apartment, his office, reception area and three bars. The Saloon was our ‘rough and tough Men Only’ bar that had its own outside corner customer entrance, and the other two were the Mustard Pot and the Merryboys Bar. Reminiscing about the old times in Pete Wood’s East Leeds Memories in 2012, Eric Sanderson talked about the city centre pubs recalling “Our preferred choice of pub was the Guildford Hotel in the Headrow. At the time it was a rather upmarket hostelry, and we particularly liked the Merryboys Bar which had an appealing atmosphere in which to enjoy our couple of pints”. I was lucky to have known the Guildford in its heyday when it was a lively, bustling establishment so different from that time four or five years ago when I stood in the Headrow sadly contemplating what it had come to. Its upper storeys now looked dark and empty; the main entrance to the hotel had gone and on part of the ground floor a small bistro had opened. Did this new pub/bistro use any of the first-floor space or did they even know there had been a ballroom up there? I had the crazy notion of all the rooms still being behind the hotel frontage, everything untouched, silent and locked up in a time capsule. Then a walk round Green Dragon Yard at the back of the hotel brought me back to reality with its CTV warning notices to protect the large office buildings there. This wasn’t the place I used to know. Was the hotel frontage then just that – a heritage grade 2 listed façade? I don’t get it. I was one of two alternating receptionists. When on late duty I took over in the afternoon at 3.00pm until 10.30pm and then 8.00am to 3.00pm the next day, and so on. Once a fortnight I had a weekend duty when I chose to stay overnight Saturday, this guaranteed me being at the reception desk by 8.00am Sunday morning. It saved me getting up at the crack of dawn at home in Cross Green Leeds 9 and having to make an anxious dash into town. Admittedly, getting a bus from home was always a performance – entirely my own fault. I was, and am, always at the last minute. I used to stand at the crossroads at the bottom of Easy Road to keep watch for the first bus into town – one route came up from South Accommodation Road from Hunslet; one down Dial Street into Easy Road, and another across from East End Park.Then it was a sprint to catch the first one that came into view. Licensing Laws meant bars closed at 10.00pm when the last job for the receptionist on duty was to go down to the bars to collect each bar takings after unlocking the till, noting the till reading and turning it back to zero for the next day. After that the Night Porter was around to see to any guests, and I was free to race down to Eastgate to catch my bus home. That was the 2 plan, but sometimes the weather had other ideas, like the night I had to practically feel my way down the Headrow because of a thick, filthy, toxic yellow smog getting worse by the minute. How scary was that, but even more so thinking the buses could well have been stopped. So relieved when there was my bus at the stop ready to undertake a hazardous journey at snail pace with a couple of intrepid volunteer passengers in the worse-lit foggy areas taking their lives in their hands by walking in front of the bus to guide the driver, mainly to help him from veering off. That driver was a hero. The Guildford was a popular venue for meeting rooms – the Rotary Club met for luncheon every Friday in the ballroom; reunions (e.g., Leeds Pals), wedding receptions, annual dinners, and annual dinner-dances. If requested, for these private evening events an extension of the drinks licence could be applied for to allow more drinking time to 11.00pm. I was on reception the night of one of the big Annual Dinners of the Northern Cricket Society when the guest speaker was fast bowler Freddy Trueman – an entertaining after-dinner speaker, I would have loved to have heard him. Fiery Freddy was my hero, especially after the time he took 11 Australian wickets for 88 runs in the 1961 Test Match at Headingley; it was agonising that I should be in reception on the Mezzanine floor when he was downstairs, so I couldn’t catch a glimpse of him. Then suddenly there he was, bounding up the stairs to reception AND he spoke to me. He said, “Where’s Gents, luv”?! Another nice fella was cricket aficionadoMichael Parkinson who was guest speaker at another Northern Cricket Society function. Their committee had booked him to stay overnight but on arrival he said he’d get away afterwards and wouldn’t need the room. However, his hosts wined and dined and looked after him so well he decided it prudent to stay after all. Our regular guests were usually businessmen, though occasionally we had some famous faces, among them Colin Welland and James Ellis from Z cars on TV. Was it James Ellis who said he’d had his wedding reception at the Guildford? One of them did. I don’t think I’m dreaming. Then there was Millicent Martin and Jill Ireland, and Alan Wheatley who played the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham in the popular TV series ‘The Adventures of Robin Hood’. Remember its catchy signature tune about Robin Hood, riding through the glen, with his band of men? Alan Wheatley’s character was instantly recognisable, a suave villain with neat pencil slim moustache and trim beard like some elegant grandee of old. It was funny on morning reception when guests paying their resident bills hesitatingly asked if that really was the Sheriff of Nottingham having breakfast in the Residents Dining Room. Indeed it was! My favourite was Irene Handl who was staying with us while starring at the Grand Theatre in a comedy play called ‘Goodnight, Mrs Puffin’. I was given a free Monday night ticket to see the play. The management got a free ticket now and again for displaying Grand Theatre advertising in the hotel – it came my way only very occasionally. I did enjoy it, had a great laugh and Irene Handl was priceless, so much so the next day I went to book to see it again. A nice quiet lady she had her little dog with her and in reality, of course, she wasn’t at all like the characters she played. She would return late to the hotel after each performance to have strawberries and cream and a pot of tea, served to her in solitary splendour in the Residents’ Dining Room by Tony the Night Porter. 3 I was at the Guildford for twelve and a half years and left shortly after my bosses did, the late great Mr and Mrs Hayward. Times they were a-changing. I didn’t like the new manager and the feeling was mutual. Much later I heard the hotel was no longer residential, and then afterwards ceased business within 6 or 7 years? Such a shame. So, it was I started work in the Examinations Office of the Registry of the University of Leeds, a huge change which turned out for the best. I didn’t realise I would be working at the University for the next 32 years. It was a 9.00 to 5.00 five job, but no-one thought to mention the enormous amount of overtime expected, and the Saturday mornings, particularly during summer exam time. BUT I am a Saturday born child and the old rhyme does say “Saturday’s child works hard for a living”. From Ellerby Lane School to retirement – a mere 45 full-time working years – it must be true!

My Top Ten Places in Old East Leeds (Part Two)

December 1, 2021 by


In no particular order: I listed five of my top ten places in old East Leeds last month (in no particular order) here are the next five again in no particular

6. The Schools Churches and Chapels 7. Knosey (Knostrop) 8.East End Park,  9.The Shops, 10. The Ground Underfoot. 

6: The Schools, Churches and Chapels:  The schools were: St. Hilda’s, Mount St Mary’s, All Saints, Ellerby Lane, Victoria, St Charles’s, South Accommodation Road and East End Park, Special School.  The Churches: St Hilda’s, St Saviours, Mount St Mary’s, All Saints. St Patricks, and Leeds Parish Church were a little out of the area. The Chapels: Bourne Chapel, Richmond Hill Chapel and Zion. I think I may have missed some.

Being a St Hilda’s lad that is the church and the school I was most familiar with but we attended Victoria School for wood-work classes and we were familiar with the pupils of the other churches and schools socially and through sport. It was the era of the eleven plus (scholarship) the clever ones who passed that were off to pastures new but the rest of us stayed in the same school (apart from South Accommodation Road (who had to move on at eleven too) until we left at the end of the fourteenth year. We didn’t get the chance to learn a foreign language (although Ellerby Lane learned Spanish) but we were not encumbered with school uniforms or satchels to carry homework around.

 Victoria school

The teachers were strict being mostly Victorian born and wielded the cane liberally but in my own case I always found them fair and inspiring they had lost their best students to colleges at eleven but they didn’t give up on us and inspired me, personally, to pursue more knowledge. So too were the clergy, the churches and chapels were always full on Sunday’s, and they ran Scouts and Guides and the Chapels Boy’s Brigades.  They always tried to put us on the straight and narrow and if we failed it was not usually down to them, we owe them a great deal.

School sport was king. Victoria and Ellerby Lane were the kings in our day but it had Been Richmond Hill and Mount St Mary’s before the war. Sporting notaries were to be found at Victoria, Jackie Overfield and Willie Knot, Mike O’Grady at Corpus Christie, Paul Reaney at St Hilda’s, Brian Monk at Ellerby Lane and a host of later to be professional rugby players’

7. Knosey (Knostrop) I have enough to say about Knostrop that could fill a book but there is insufficient space here but see also Knostrop Tour, Jaw Bone Yard (Knostrop’s  Golden Acre) and the ABC Houses also on this site.

Knostrop was a paradise playground for kids in the 1940s and 50s it had everything: a great hill with a bend for sledging, a pond for fishing for tiddlers and tadpoles two plantations for tree climbing and a host of grand houses: Knostrop House, Knostrop Old Hall, Knostrop New Hall, St Saviour’s Home Thorp Stapleton Hall, The Humbug House,  Jaw Bone Yard, The ABC Houses, Access to Dandy Island, all portals to adventure, all disgustingly demolished on our watch for a concrete wilderness in the pursuit of commerce and nobody seems to care.  No one traversing Knostrop today would ever imagine its forgotten magic.

8. East End Park. East End Park deserves a far greater write up than a fifth of a monthly blog, Please see: East End Park Then and Now else ware on this site by Eric Sanderson. But briefly, East End Park was the centre of our universe. We just called it ‘The Park’ it was the only park in our lives. Any walk or wander we would make would invariably home in on ‘The Park’ There we would meet likeminded individuals if you were a boy this usually meant girls.

            There was a little paddling pool, a kid’s playground, tennis court, football pitches and a bowling green a band stand which in former times had held brass and silver band concerts playing genteel music to be enjoyed by perambulating Edwardians in their straw Benjie’s and ladies in their long skirts To the east there ran the L.N.E.R. railway line to Yok and Scarborough, the engine sheds and the mighty ‘coal cracker’ that lifted full trucks of coal and redeposited them were there for us to gape at. There were old pit hills long since grassed over and flower gardens a plenty guarded by the eagle eyes Parkie’ that had a detached house on site and would lock the gates at dusk – before they were taken away for the war effort.

As St Hilda’s lads we would assemble in the play there before making our way up to ‘Cleggy’s’ woodwork classes at Victoria School. Usually dicing with death on the longboat that a manic lass could take so high it locked and threw you off.

No 9: The old shops, especially the ‘chippies’.

Fish and chips were our staple diet in wartime, they were never on ration as many other foods were at the time and at two penneth of chips and a five penny fish they were an affordable meal for our East Leeds society unlike today, even taking into account inflation, fish and chips do not strike me as a

Cheap family meal today.  We had a great choice of fish and chip shops in our area at the time, here they are: The Copperfield’s, Burt’s on Fewston Avenue, The Cross green Lane the Easy Road Fisheries, Ellerby lane, The Hampton The Berthas’. The Cosy Corner, he Charlton’s, East Park Road Accommodation Road Ivy Street. Doris Stories near the Star Cinema. Apologies if I have missed any out. When we were young and you didn’t have to worry about being overweight we used to fill our boots.

Other shops I remember were Jim Goodall’s off licence on Cross Green Lane, Hick the cobbler on cross green, Lane Bill Benn’s bike shop Charlie Atha’s bike shop near the Princess, we had three Coops, two or three post offices Butchers, Chemists There was a shop on almost every street corner they are too many to mention but here is a list of some of them.

No 10. The area underfoot

    (Remember to ‘Click’ on picture to enlarge

When you spend a lengthy period of your life in a self-contained area like Cross Green, Richmond Hill and East End park where almost everything is available on hand without leaving the area you become familiar with almost every stick of the place that you have needed to access at one time or another and if you return for a nostalgic wander it is like returning to an old friend.

The main portals to adventure were: Red Road, Black Road and Knostrop Lane. Red Road (Halton Moor Road) and Black Road (Pontefract Lane) both stayed for us opposite the Bidgefield Pub. Red Road was a gated road that we used as a way to Temple Newsam, (gates didn’t stop us) Black Road was also a way to Temple Newsam but continued on to Swillington and conker trees.  Knostrop lane I have already covered.

Other main arteries were Cross Green Lane, East Street, Easy Road, Accommodation Road, East Park Road, East Park Parade Pontefract Lane, Dial Street and our bit of York Road. There were a myriad number of streets intersecting them and many groups of streets with an initial name and then tags; Crescent, Grove, View etc.:  Copperfields, St Hilda’s Cross Greens, Glencoe’s, Ascots, East Parks, Ascots, Glensdales, Pretoria’s, Vinery’s, Easys, Falmouth’s, Dawlish’s etc. I could go on but access map to see for yourself.

A wander around today sees many iron grilles and stumped off streets but still nostalgic. I can’t close without mentioning ‘The navvy’ the ultimate scary playground But in my mind I see helicon days with the children running down to school and I penned a poem this one about the Copperfields but it could have been anywhere in our area

Once through these Copperfields streets they came,

Laughing and chattering in sun and in rain

More joined the throng along the way

Futures bright and hearts so gay,

Others came from different paths,

To face English tests and study maths.

Now these streets seem so forlorn

As I wander through them all alone,

Fresher fields called all away,

The time had passed to skip and play,

Where they have flown it is not mine to know,

Have their lives been fulfilled

I’d like to think so.

Linda’s Butterfly Memories of the 1950s

November 25, 2021 by

Linda’s McCarthy is a new contributor
Up until we moved to Victoria Avenue, opposite the old tram/bus depot at Torre Road, in 1958/9, I lived in Walford Avenue just opposite Victoria School. Compared to that address, the place I live now is a palace – with three bathrooms and four toilets – all indoors. However as kids my brother and I were well fed – with best butter on the table – we were always clean and tidy and most importantly always loved.
The first time I was smacked or struck by an adult was when I went to school at Vicky as it was known. When I started in the infants at 5 ½ years old, I was considered uppity and a bit of a show off, by kids and teachers, because I could read and write before I went to school. My dad – a tram/bus driver – had taught me and he always took me to York Road library twice a week – come hail or shine. Dad was great pals with Mr. Glover, the librarian with a quiet voice and sandy hair, who always reserved the latest books for Dad. I think they must have known each other from the war because those were the sort of books they both enjoyed. When they chatted I went and looked at the books displayed on the spinning table which stood, polished to a glassy sheen in the middle of the floor. If you spun it too fast all the books fell over and I’d get a ‘look’ from dad and Mr. Glover. I delighted in spending time with my dad in reading, going on long walks, especially to Temple Newsam, naming birds, other wildlife and plants. The only time we didn’t share was when there was a test match on the radio. Then you interrupted him then at your peril ‘’ Not now Linda!’’ was enough to keep me quiet.
One of my favourite jaunts was to East End Park. We would have a wander around to see the trains filling up with coal at the bottom of the park and then a visit to the playground which had a paddling pool. Mum would never allow us (my younger brother and I) to go in as she said the bottom was covered in glass and other nasty stuff. Maybe – but dad let us paddle and he’d wipe our feet with his hanky with the warning ‘Don’t tell your mum and we’ll get an ice cream tomorrow’. We never squealed and dad always kept his promise.
On Sundays Mr Carrazzi would come round the streets with his horse drawn ice cream cart. The best treat was to get ice cream in a glass and then fill it up with Tizer when we got back home. Who cared if the ice cream was a bit crunchy in parts? We thought we were in heaven. Then it was a slice of Yorkshire pudding with gravy, jam or marmalade. That filled you up really well before the meat and two veg came along. That joint of lamb used to last until Tuesday to feed four at tea time– cold meat and chips on Monday, shepherd’s pie on Tuesday plus sandwiches with piccalilli for dad’s lunch .
You always knew what day it was by what we had for tea. Wednesdays and Fridays it was fish and chips from the shop in Ivy Avenue. Extra scraps if you were polite and remembered to say please and thank you. Then egg and chips on Thursdays and usually a stew of some kind on Saturdays, with dumplings if mum had time.
On Mondays during the summer holidays we’d go with mum to the wash house behind the library. My brother and I would swim in the indoor pool with the horrendous wooden floor racks – no wonder we were always getting verrucas – until our skin started to pucker on fingers and toes. Meanwhile mum would have washed clothes, sheets and bedding, dried them on the pull out driers and then folded the warm, sweet smelling laundry into our old pram to wheel it up the hill and home. On top of everything else, mum did home sewing for a local tailor. She kept the bundles of coats on top of the bath in the kitchen! A man called Tommy would come twice a week to collect completed men’s coats and deliver a fresh batch. Because I was good at writing it was my job to enter the coat numbers in mum’s record book and I also got to pull out bastings if she was pushed for time.
Friday nights were a family night out – always to the pictures. We usually went to the Star on York Road, sometimes the Shaftesbury, the Regent or may be the Princess. I adored the cinema and until I was about 10 years old believed that the film stars lived at the pictures. Dad loved the ‘road’ movies with Bob Hope and dad’s idol, Bing Crosby. I do remember being taken to the Star with a ‘big girl’ called Jean. We went to see ‘Francis the talking mule’. I was terrified of this weird creature that could talk. Apparently I screamed my head off and had to be taken home. Jean never took me to the pictures again – but did lend me her long black taffeta shirt to wear as a cloak when I played the Lord Mayor in ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ at Victoria.
As a special treat my dad sometimes took me into town to the news cinema next door to the Queen’s Hotel in City Square. We howled at Woody Woodpecker, Tom and Jerry and Mickey Mouse along with a news programme and usually a travelogue and a tube of Spangles as a treat.
On Sunday mornings I sometimes woke up around 6 a.m. to the lowing of cattle being driven, on foot – or should that be hooves – down York Road to the abattoir, which was behind the bus station. To a city kid it was like an invasion from the countryside. But one of the most magical memories was waiting up, with the house lights turned off, just before Christmas, to see the illuminated tram go down York Road. To a small child it was like looking at wonderland. Whatever happened to that custom I wonder?
The next time I felt such delight was watching the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in black and white on next door’s tele – it must have measured 12’’ x 8’’. There must have been 20 or more neighbours crammed in with spaces on the floor at the front for the kids. Amazing.
I’m sure my short trip down memory lane will be familiar to many – I hope it gave pleasure – I really enjoyed the mental jumping about in my memory bank!


November 1, 2021 by

I’m going to list my top ten places in OLD East Leeds – (in no particular order). As this is quite a lump of material I propose to do five this month and five next month. The five for this month are: 1.the Cinemas, 2.the Pubs and Clubs, 3. The Market District Bous Club, 4.The East Leeds Cricket Club, 5.The Football pitches. Remember to ‘click’ on pictures to enlartge.

No One: The Cinemas. Or ‘the flicks as we called them. The Easy Road, The Princess and The Star were the favourites for we who lived in our area of Gross Green, Richmond Hill and East End Park. With: The Regent and The Shaftsbury on the periphery. We were spoilt for choice, the evening papers would advertise two full sheets of alternative cinemas and the films they were showing in other parts of Leeds should we wish to go further afield. Each cinema would show one film Mon Tue Wed and change the show Thurs. Fri and Sat. Sunday openings did no come along until well into the 1950s. Everyone went to the cinema at least once a week they were ‘The theatre of Dreams’ during the austerity of wartime

I’ll just pick out a couple of films which I recall from that period which was surprisingly: Abbott and Costello Meet the Ghosts. You would think that would be a comedy with those two in it and it probably was to adults  but to we juveniles it scared us to death we were introduced to Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf man. Usually the ‘baddie’ turned out to be a real person in disguise but these three were the real thing the class at school the next day was buzzing with everyone who had been to see the film. Another landmark film was: The Wizard of Oz. We were used to seeing films in black and white and The Wizard of Oz started off in black and white but part way through it turned into Technicolour which made us gasp.

The owner of the Easy Road (The Picture House Easy Road was its real name) was the genial roly poly Abe White and his sisters ran the pay box. You were not supposed to see ‘A’ certificate films if you were under 16. But you could always say, ‘Will ya tek us in missus?’ to some adult and they would usually oblige to pose as your guardian until you got passed the pay box. I recall the screen was just white material held up by scaffolding but the ‘Talkie’ was claimed to be the best in Leeds. The show would usually consist of: The News a cartoon, a short cowboy film or sometimes a serial which wold leave you on a cliff edge so you would want to come next week. Then it moved on onto the feature film. The flicks were our staple diet we never missed. If it had been a cowboy film you would tie your coat round the back like a cloak and run down Easy Road slapping your backside as if it were a horse and shooting  folk with you finger like a gun.

The Easy Road Cinema had wooden forms at the front: ‘the five pennies’ but it had a balcony if you could afford a shilling the ‘Upstairs’ as we would call it. The ‘Princess’ our other favourite didn’t have a balcony but it didn’t have wooden seats either. Who can forget Big Ernie the commissionaire in his green uniform controlling the crowds and shouting out the miscreants?

The Star a more modern and larger cinema located on York Road came into its own later when Sunday showings were allowed and was a good venue for ‘boy meets girl’. All in all our lives would have been far poorer without ‘the flicks’

 The Star Cinema

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No Two: The Pubs and Clubs.  We had some great pubs and clubs in our area, popular for our generation and for our dads ‘The Greatest Generation’ that came before us and enjoyed them through the war years and before that.

I’ll name them all for a start and then pick out a few of my favourites.

The Hope Inn, The Accommodation Inn, The Prospect, The Hampton The Spring Close, The Yew Tree, The Hampton, The Fisherman’s Hut, The Black Dog, The Cross Green, The Bridgefield, The Waterloo, The White Horse. The Shepherd, The Slip Inn (New Regent), The Cavalier. And the Clubs: The Liberal Club, The Labour Club, The Conservative Club East End Park Working Men’s Club,

The Edmund House.  As you can see we were well served in the forties and fifties but tastes have changed today. A few of the clubs are still with us but only The Hope Inn pub which is way up on York Road remains and was my least favourite anyway.

I have been in ‘em all but I think the first local pub I entered was the Spring Close. I was way too young to drink but if you were a big lad nobody looked for proof of age. I remember there was a piano in ‘The Spring’ and a glass case on top of it with a piece of decaying parkin in it and a note saying this had been sent by a mam to her son serving in the First World War but unfortunately he had been killed before it arrived, a sombre start to my drinking career. The Prospect with its singing room that expanded over the years to suite the many great turns that graced it’s stage: Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee used to nearly blow the roof off you could hear them in Dial Street, The White Horse was another popular venue they had a talent night on Wednesdays which always packed it out. The Hampton was possibly my favourite it had previously had the legendary Dolly Dawson and Mine Host and in my time I played football there and one year we won the Sunday League Cup. We would get bathed in a tin bath provided for us in the cellar and then drink in the pub after the match. Another favourite was The Cavalier an Irish pub near to Mount St Mary’s Church and on Saturday night we would be regaled with Irish songs some were rebel songs but nobody seemed to mind. The Slip was probably the most popular pub in the area, it was waiter service in the singing room but you had to fall in with the doors to get a seat. And we shouldn’t forget the clubs Great nights could be had in the clubs if you could get signed in. The East End Park Club still offers a good night and The Edmund House Club on Pontefract Lane used to hold our East Leeds Old Codgers Reunions until The pandemic put paid to them

 No three: The Market District Boy’s Club

You might not think The Market District Boy’s Club was really in East Leeds but it was, just about, it is in the Leeds 9 postal code and more importantly it was the magnet that drew we East Leeds Lads and it wasn’t just a boy’s club either girls had their own night and we had shared nights where we mingled for dancing. The club played such an important part in our young lives and many of life’s partnerships were forged there. I feel it has to be included

In the case of the boys the great football and rugby teams they ran at all age groups were the initial draw but the club turned out to be much more than that, the week revolved around the club. Monday was girl’s night, Tuesday and Thursday were football training, Wednesday was for rugby training and boxing,  Friday and Sunday we all came together for dancing in the basement we had done out ourselves like a disco. In the midst of the Sunday dancing we would break off for half an hour in the on-site chapel taken by a curate of the Leeds Parish Church who were benefactors of the club this half hour intermission from our frivolity was accepted in good grace for the chapel was a powerhouse of many years standing of old members many of who had attended the chapel before going off to fight in the two world wars. In addition to the training there was always a café available and games like table tennis and billiards there was always a resident club leader who ran things and arranged trips etc. and many brilliant voluntary helpers

Originally it was designed to keep young folk in a ‘difficult‘ area on the straight and narrow. It was a great success for which I am ever grateful.

No Four: East Leeds Cricket Club

East Leeds Cricket Club makes my top ten due to its longevity. It has always been there throughout my lifetime (and I am over eighty) through thick and thin and it is still there today.

Good old Stan pickles an author on this site writes of watching East Leeds winning the Hepworth cup as long ago as 1923 and that of course is now almost a hundred years ago. I played for East Leeds in the 1950s it is located in the ‘Vee’ between the start of Red Road and Black Road and although a relatively small playing area has always been well maintained by generations of aficionados. It always pleasantly surprises me that local and village cricket clubs generally have a progression of retirees willing to cut the grass and generally maintain the area.

I watched cricket there as a young child, they had a wooden fence around it then and you had to pay two pence to an old guy sitting at a table just inside the gate. But I had an ulterior motive I collected train names and numbers and while Mam would not allow me to watch from Neville Hill as being too dangerous I could sit and watch the cricket and see the trains and collect rain names and numbers at the same time from my seat in the East Leeds Cricket Ground. But of course the trees surrounding the ground have grown much higher today and you wouldn’t have been able to see the trains pass and my eyesight was better ha-ha.

When I played in the 1950s we played on some other well maintained Leeds League pitches, I remember: Holbeck, Hunslet, Hunslet Nelson, Horbury Works, Carlton, Claytons, Colton, Leeds Police at Woodhouse, Yorkshire Copper Works, North Leeds at Roundhay. Many companies that had nice cricket grounds found them swept away by new owners when the companies were taken over.

My two mates Eric Allen and Gordon Brown made a few bob far taking it in turn to be the scorer and lugging the great heavy cricket bag between them on the tram to away fixtures for which they would be paid the princely sum of six pence but if they were lucky they might get a sandwich and a cup of tea along with the players for their tea..

Now I pass the ground on my walk some weekends and if there is a match on I can stand a moment and take it in as they have got a wire mesh fencing now so I can see through. Oh and they have moved on to a fancy electronic score board.

    East Leeds CC

No five: The football pitches

I suppose few girls played football in the 1940s 50s and most girls sports netball etc. was played on concrete so the grassed pitches were mainly the province of the boys

Snake Lane, nick named ‘Snakey’ was the school playing field for St Hilda’s and Ellerby Lane. St Hilda’s played their matches in Green jerseys with a red vee and Ellerby Lane in their red and white squares Mount St Mary’s School sometimes played on there in their all green. There were two pitches, we called them: the top pitch and the bottom pitch, (there is only one pitch now but it is superior to the two we had.)

                                     ‘Snakey’ today.

On Saturday afternoons and later Sunday mornings the men’s teams took over the pitches there were two terra cotta dressing rooms as dark as Hades inside with no light or water but there was three grass tennis courts and a prize winning bowling green and of course  the infamous drinking trough with its  attached iron cup that everyone and his dog drank out of but miraculously never poisoned each other  On evenings and Sundays we would have impromptu games of twenty-thirty aside anyone who turned up paired up with the next one who turned up and went one on each side you always got a game. How we loved those games and hated it when it got two dark to play and we had to pack up. I played in those impromptu games from being a school boy to turning up in a car in my thirties. Folk would disappear for two years on national service and then after two years turn up and join on as though they hadn’t been away, we were very competitive especially keeping the score when it got into the twenties someone would say ‘what’s the score,’ and someone would answer say ‘25 – 26 to us’ and there would be a squabble and someone else would say, ‘How can that be we were winning 23-22 a minute ago’. And we would argue when it was time to finish those winning would want to end and those loosening would say no let’s go on a bit more sometimes we would say we’ll finish when the Paddy train gets to the Bridgefield no one ever had a watch and we didn’t have a referee but anyone who was a serial fouler usually met a nasty end. Those games were one of the happiest times of my life we couldn’t wait to get home from work or school get our boots on and out onto Snakey.

East End Park itself was another venue for football pitches, over the years the pitches moved around but in our time there were three pitches which was a bit much for the area available and they had to be very narrow, there was only a couple of Yards between the touchline of one pitch and the touchline of the next and supporters from the two matches sometimes jostled each other. Victoria School played their matches on there and it was said that in pre-war days when mount St Mary’s and Richmond hill School played there it attracted four figure crowds and with no barriers mothers often ran onto the field with umbrellas to extract vengeance on those who had fouled their sons. I once had to referee a match on there when the proper referee did not turn up, as I had no watch or whistle we went by the clock on the engine sheds and I waved a hankie in lieu of a whistle. They too had these twenty side impromptu matches on the park just like us on ‘Snakey’ and often local professional footballers would join in. Who can resist the thud of a football? Their managers would have gone ballistic if they had seen the tackles they were taking, for nobody held back on them.

There were numerous other pitches at Halton Moor, St Bridget’s, Burtons or the Soldier’s and Skelton Road where East End Park Club played in the Yorkshire league and where we held our district sports and Osmondthorpe YMCA ground a lovely enclosed ground where we held our semi-finals but I’ll finish up with the three pitches opposite the Shaftsbury Cinema on York Road for it was there we trained and played football for The Market District Boy’s Club.

 Here is a picture of us getting changed to train there. This must be one of the earliest colour shots taken by a normal individual, note the red tram passing the Shaftsbury Cinema and the little cases we carried our kit in – before sports bags, this picture will have been taken around 1953.

There were three football pitchers on the Shaftsbury but no changing accommodation so we had to change in the club in Marsh Lane and ride up on the tram which was OK riding up to the Shaftsbury when we were clean before the match but after the match when we were muddy it was not very nice for ordinary citizens who were going shopping in town to be jostled about in the tram cars with us lot in our muddy gear, but for us there was a huge warm bath waiting for us back at the club.

Thar’s it for my five favourite spots in OLD East Leeds for this month but look out for five more next month.

Stan Pickles’ First Holiday

October 1, 2021 by

Last month’s tale took us on an adventure to the Leeds School’s Camp at Langbar near Ilkley in the 1950s. This month our old stalwart Stan pickles takes us back, through the papers he left for us, to 1923 and a beautifully different schools holiday for deprived children organised by the Leeds Schools.

My First Holiday
By Stan Pickles
Recently I was returning from a holiday in Whitby with my twin eleven year old grandsons and my mind went back to that holiday many years ago when I was thirteen years old and throughout the hard years I hadn’t had a holiday from one year to the next. Silverdale had been providing holidays for Leeds school children for a number of years but a new venture had just got underway. Yorkshire villages such as Nun Munkton, Barmby Moor and Bishop Wilton opened their doors to many under privileged poor children of Leeds and a memorable school holiday in the depressed year of 1924 is still treasured in my life.
Along with two other boys from my class at Ellerby Lane School I was chosen to have two weeks at the delightful Barmby Moor. You can just imagine our excitement as the wonderful day in August arrived. Children from various schools in the city grouped on the station platform for their big adventure, what a scene it was with about a hundred boys and girls all carrying pillow cases packed with a change of clothing and the other essentials for our holiday. Many of them had never been on a train, let alone a holiday. Eventually, the train pulled in to the excited chatter of our party, with our parents waving us goodbye and a last word from the officials we were on our way to Pocklington station where four or five farmers with horse-drawn flat carts took us to our village about a mile and a half down a lovely country road, where the local children greeted us and took us to our ‘digs’ for our stay.
Barmby Moor was beautiful; we stayed in a cottage by a stream with an elderly couple who were so kind to us. The three of us shared a bedroom with a big double bed and we soon made ourselves feel at home with the nice couple. Each morning we came down to breakfast at 8.30 to the smell of fresh baked bread in the neat kitchen where a pot of tea, a boiled egg with bread butter and jam awaited us. Then it was outside to walk around and explore, sometimes accompanied by the village children who had become our friends. Each day a very nice lunch and tea were ready for us and always there was a glass of milk at bedtime.

Each Sunday we went to church and on the first Sunday the vicar gave a special welcome to the ‘Leeds children’ and wished us all to have a happy holiday. An optional pleasure was a ride in the cart to our host’s hayfield to pitch haystacks. It was all new and interesting to us – quite a novelty – and I learned something I had never known before and what an appetite it gave us! Our kindly hosts gave us an apple each during the rest periods. On the two Saturdays we were there we were taken to the pictures in Pocklington which made a change
I can still see the little stream rippling its clear water through the village. Yes! And the walks on the moors, trips into Pocklington, services in the beautiful church, our work in the hayfields and the welcome we received. To have it all and to be blessed with good weather made this a holiday always to be remembered.
However, all good times have to end and the day of our departure arrived and after we had been given a bunch of flowers each for our mums we said goodbye to all the friends we had made and we were on our way back to Leeds. It had been indeed a special treat for us in those hard times.

My First Girl
(A Little Love Story)
I met Elsie on that lovely Barmby Moor holiday. We hit it of right from the start when we stood side by side on that farmer’s cart taking us to that lovely village for those lovely two weeks. ‘Which school do you go to? Where’s that? What’s your name?’ etc. We had made our first tentative efforts to be acquainted. Although there were about thirty boys and girls in our party we were always in each other’s company. We even managed to go to the two Saturday picture matinees in Pocklington together.
Elsie lived in Hunslet and I knew it well as I often went to the rugby matches at Parkside and to Hunslet feast on the moor. During our holiday a few kisses and cuddles passed between us and on our return to Leeds we said goodbye at the station and Elsie ran off ran off to greet her mother who had come to meet her and I was met by Father. What an excited crowd was on that platform as we went off in all directions to our homes
I never thought I would meet Elsie again but a few days later as I was leaving the street with my pals to play football on the park a voice called out, ‘Hello Stanley.’ I looked around and there was Elsie looking very smart. She told me she was on her way to visit her aunt and after a few words with her I rushed off to catch up with my pals, nothing but sport was on my mind at the time. Alas, I never saw Elsie again. We were both thirteen years old at the time.
After I had had written out Stan’s memories we decided to have a run out to Barmby Moor. It is a beautiful East Yorkshire village with a stream running through the centre. I took a copy of Stan’s tale with me and presented it to the post office None of the present generation had any knowledge that there had ever been such a scheme to give deprived kids from Leeds the chance of a holiday in the country but they were delighted that their forebears had been so kind and charitable. They put Stan’s tale on show in the post office and it was published in the local paper.
Well done the Leeds Schools!

The Leeds Schools Camp

September 1, 2021 by

The Leeds School’s Camps
The city of Leeds had a schools holiday camp designed for children from deprived families who would not otherwise have had a holiday at all, which opened in Silverdale as early as 1904. But the camp our generation will perhaps remember better is the one that was popular to us at Langbar near Ilkley in the 1940s/50s. I was privileged to spend a week there myself but I will leave it to Keith Gibbins to tell his memories of a week at that schools camp
The league of Mountain men, by Keith Gibbins. Around Leeds and dispersed throughout the country there must be thousands of ‘certified mountain men’ who as school boys enjoyed a ‘ten bob’ holiday at the wonderful Leeds School’s Camp. This facility for both boys and girls was permanently sited at langbar near Ilkley. ‘ The aims and purposes of the camp was to provide the children of Leeds affordable holidays in the countryside in an environment which was loosely based on military lines to promote character building and appreciate nature. For the boys who proved themselves to be good campers and climbed Beamsley Beacon their reward was the presentation of ‘The League of Mountain men ‘certificate which was endorsed with the boy’s name and signed by the camp superintendent (no doubt there was a similar one given to the girls) These were great times for us city dwellers and a breath of fresh air during the austere years of the 40s and 50s.
A couple of years ago I took my Grandkids or a nostalgic climb up Beamsley Beacon. I insisted they had to pick up a rock from the base, carry it up to the summit and place it on the cairn which had been formed by thousands of kids fifty years ago. Now this pile of stones is probably the only remaining memorial to the Leeds Schools Camp and it evokes great memories of childhood adventures. When we reached the top I met a man from the old Blenheim School. I introduced myself as an old ‘Ellerby Lane’ boy and he told me four rocks in the middle of the pile that were his. The memories of the fifties came thick and fast: the wooden dormitories – Denton and Nesfield were named after local villages – Mr Podmore was the camp leader, David the cook, the last night cabaret dances at the Stephenson Jaffe memorial Hall – visits to the valley of desolation and Bolton Abbey long crocodiles of boys on day trips to places of local interest – cold water ablutions – early morning inspections of the bunks with folded stick blanket boxes having knife edge squareness etc. ect. etc.
I told my fellow camper how I had personally caused chaos and disruption to the camp in my final visit in 1953. We were on a day trip to the River Wharfe, it was a hot day in mid-April, myself and two other boys decided to go swimming. The river was freezing and within a couple of minutes we were back on the bank drying off in the warm sunshine. Suddenly I developed a blinding headache – the pain and the camp nurse was called, she thought I was having a migraine which was the wrong diagnosis, she sent two boys back to camp for a stretcher and then four boys carried this delirious 14- year old back to the camp sick room where incredibly she kept me overnight. My condition got worse and the next morning she put me in the back seat of a car and took me to Ilkley Coronation Hospital. The events that followed must have caused absolute panic for the Leeds Schools Camp and the Ilkley health Authority as the doctor told them I had meningitis and I was transferred by ambulance to Seacroft Hospital in Leeds and eventually given the lumber punch which showed that I didn’t have meningitis but that I was suffering from a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage. After a couple of months in X Ward: patient number 551. I made a full recovery; despite my shortened last holiday at Langbar I eventually received my ‘League of Mountain Men’ certificate for 1953.
Footnote from Keith’s brother, John, who was also at the camp the same week: I missed out on Keith’s river trip as I had been assigned spud bashing duties but I do remember the stretcher bearing party returning to camp, with their consignment. High drama indeed. Alan Allman was carrying a corner of the stretcher. Our hut was fumigated and we slept on the floor of the memorial hall. Great fun at the time despite Keith’s problems.
Thank you, the Gibbins brothers for your camp memories. Even though I wasn’t an Ellerby lane School boy myself the news of Keith’s drama filtered through to the rest of the East Leeds Schools. I attended the Langbar Camp myself it would have been 1952 a year before Keith’s adventure I remember it was only 7/6 then it must have gone up half a crown to be ten bob the next year. There are just a couple of my own memories I’ll add to Keith’s tale. When we first arrived a guy said to me, ‘You will be a blue eyed boy.’ I thought, oh that’s nice. To another lad he said, ‘You will be a green eyed boy.’ I suppose he said the same to the girls too who were usually from another school so that you were all strangers. Anyway the blue eyed, green eyed thing was just a tag when they called over the speakers for blue eyed boys it meant you had to go to the kitchen and wash up or peel spuds or something, similarly thing with the green eyed lot they had specific jobs too, perhaps lay the table or something.
The last night for the dance in the Memorial Hall every boy had to approach a strange girl from another school who you had never seen before and ask her if you could take her to the dance and of course as fourteen year old boys we were mostly a bit shy and it was a traumatic experience but I’m sure it was character building
One day while we were out on an organised walk, can’t remember if it was the Valley of Desolation or Bolton Abbey, we approached a little temple like building and the organiser said we must make a sacrifice here and he selected a lad at random and made him bend over a stone that he said was the alter. He made the lad pull up the back of his shirt and he said I must brand you to appease the gods, then he took his stick and touched the lads naked back with the cold ferrule tip, evidently extreme cold and extreme hot feels the same and the lad thought he had been branded and screamed out and we all laughed, but can you imagine what would have happened to an instructor if he had performed that trick today.
That week at Langbar was a good rehearsal for National Service which for many of us was soon to follow. And I too have my ‘League of Mountain Men’ Certificate to cherish and remind me of a great character building week at the Leeds Schools camp.
Much later I took my wife to the base of Beamsley Beacon and I said, ‘Right we are going to pick a rock up each and take them up this mountain and place hem on the cairn at the top.’ She looked at me as though I was mad, she had no empathy for it. She was not a mountain man!