Sights, Smells and Sounds: Memories are made of these

March 1, 2019 by

Sights, Smells and Sounds – Memories are made of these
The name of this site is East Leeds Memories, well sights smells and sounds – memories are made of these.
My old school teacher, should she be trying to put over a difficult concept to us, would say; ‘See it in your mind’s eye.’ Well even today I still try to see things with my mind’s eye. I tend to see different places in two separate states, as they are today and as they used to appear in the past. For instance: when I think of Knostrop where I spent my childhood I see it as a semi-rural ideal with its fields, farms, ponds, rhubarb, woods, Grand houses and pleasant little lanes. Not as it is now a concrete industrial estate with barely a blade of grass.

Similarly when I see the former Snake Lane playing fields, now cut by the East Leeds Express way and dominated by a builders car park. I see in my mind’s eye how it used to be: A football pitch with its two terracotta dressing rooms and us playing football twenty a side, three grass tennis courts, a prize winning bowling green complete with drinking fountain and a grove of poplar trees. We remember these sights but when we are gone who will remember them then? Sometimes I turn a corner and expect to see a familiar friendly old building but it’s been swept away and something new and unfamiliar is in its place. I suppose those who were custodians of the area a hundred years before us would have seen an even more rural scene I wish I could look through their mind’s eyes and see what our area looked like in the 19th century

And folk: I see them as they are now with the age of years upon them but in my mind’s ye I see them young and virile, handsome or pretty
There are other sights our generation experienced good and bad that are etched into our memories and although we didn’t realise it at the time they were special occurrences and unlikely to be repeated in the future: for instance the sky filled from east to west with winking Lancaster bombers off on a thousand bomber raid, a special sight for us but not a happy outcome for their destination. The liberation of Paris, Good but awakening awareness of the concentration camps, not good the mushroom cloud, bad, our lovely old paddy engines: Kitchener, Dora, Jubilee, Antwerp and Sylvia, dressed in their green livery, lovely. Fond memories of congregations beneath mellow gas lamps great.

I find it amazing how much the memory has stored which you thought you had forgotten: a film you thought you hadn’t seen until a scene comes up and jolts your memory and you realised you had seen the film before after all, I remember coming across a type of stile I hadn’t seen or even thought about for years but I was reminded where it was that I had seen a similar stile years before.
And have you noticed the amount of folk you dredge up in dreams. Folk you have not even thought about for years, where had they been hiding?
Now we come to smells: The smell of worked pine has me back in Cleggy’s school woodwork department at Victoria School.
Cattle smells and chicken bran and I’m back at Aunt Nelly’s cottage on my short wartime evacuation.
The smell of the ‘dope’ used in powerful motorbikes and I’m back at Odsal Speedway in the 1950s.
The special smell of wartime chocolate (which due to shortages had to be made without sugar), and the delicious smell of fresh wartime green paint and I’m back in wartime.
Chalk dust and sour milk smells, it’s Monday morning at primary school.
The smell of engineering soluble oil reminds me of my overalls hanging behind the door. I’m an engineering apprentice and Monday mornings is approaching.
Finally Sounds: they waft you back to places where you used to hear them.
The ‘All Clear’ siren – it’s safe to come out of the air raid shelter.
‘Moonlight Serenade’ by Glen Miller – introduced me to grown up music.
‘Jumbalay’ (and a cod fish pie etc.) waft to back to my first job where a lad sang it from dawn to dusk.
The beautiful purring tone of a Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Merlin engine, I’m looking up into the sky while at play.
‘I talk to the trees’: a song I would sing to myself, walking my bike up the hill to ‘Miggy Clearings’ to play cricket. I was very happy.
‘Volare’: a holiday with good old mates in Austria.
‘Every day’; sung by Buddy Holly: ‘Every day it’s a getting closer going faster than a rollercoaster’, winding down to demob from National Service.
Fifties ballads and I’m back under the glitter ball at the Scala Dance Hall
Last Night of the Proms: is still ongoing: Nimrod, Jerusalem, the Maritime pieces, Elgar, Rule Britannia. Their magnificence has an enormous capacity to lift the spirit to a higher plane. I’m proud as a nation we still seem to be able to do these grand ceremonial occasions so well. I suppose the generation before us: the greatest generation – would have looked back to the sound of horses hooves on cobbles, miners clogs, factory hooters ands steam train whistles.

And not forgetting unique statements: sounds that we heard for the very first time they were ever spoken:
‘One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.’
‘Never Before in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.’
‘They think it’s all over – it is now!’
‘Mafeking has been relieved’, no not even I can remember that one but the staid Victorians let their hair down for once when they heard the news in 1900 and it’s a statement that rings down the years
I hope by substituting your own sights sounds and smells you can empathise with mine.

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The Night they Bombed our old Richmond Hill School Down

February 1, 2019 by

THE NIGHT THEY BOMBED OLD RICHMOND HILL SCHOOL DOWN

 

 

Events of the landmark night for East Leeds March 14/151941 when Richmond Hill School was bombed is remembered by Barbara Blakeney (nee Reynard) and Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins) Eric Sanderson winds the entry up with a humorous finale.
At a recent East Leeds Reunion I spoke to Mrs Barbara Blackeny (Barbara) Her amazing memory can take us right back to the ‘blitz’ and that iconic night for East Leeds of the 14/15 th March 1941 when bombs hit our Richmond Hill School and the next morning the pupils of Richmond Hill School were transferred to other local school – mainly Ellerby Lane School or evacuation out of the city to places of greater safety. Betty Nevard, another of our contributors who has a story on the site was actually a pupil at Richmond Hill School says the bombing brought to an end her time as a school girl there she includes a picture of her classroom that took a direct hit. As it was though the night the school was empty and there was no loss of life. The next morning I visited the site, we girls were knitting socks and Balaclavas for the troops and remember seeing my knitting amongst the rubble my efforts looked so pitiful a khaki Balaclava on broken blue knitting pins I recall the same air raid resulted in the dropping of bombs on Butterfield Street. From then until I left school at the age of fourteen years of age I attended Ellerby Lane School.

Brian Monk who lived just off Lavender Walk remembers that night of the bombs the blast blew a sleeper right out of the deep railway cutting that hit the gable end of their house. Afterwards his dad cut it up and made part of it into an air raid shelter. Another of the stick of bombs hit the Woodpecker pub.
Note: as a result of bombing in Leeds 77 people died (65 on the night of the 14th March), 327 injured 197 buildings destroyed and a further 7,623 damaged.

Here is Barbara’s story
I remember the night Richmond Hill School and Butterfield Street were bombed during the blitz of 14/15 March 1941. My dad used to be a fire watcher and was based at Wardle’s in Butterfield Street at the top end going into Lavender Walk. Wardle’s did stabling and the business included hiring out carriages and horse drawn hearses. Dad was in World War One so he was too old for war service in 1939. Fortunately he was not on duty in Butterflied Street the night of the bombing. Many streets had their own fire watching equipment. St Hilda’s Mount where I lived included. The equipment consisted of: ladders buckets, stirrup pumps, shovels and sand, all to deal with incendiary bombs. Drills were often organised but no incendiary bombs were ever dropped in our street. There was a club to witch residents contributed three pence per week towards their cost at the end of the war when I was about twelve the residue of the money provided a street party and each child received a brass three penny bit. Tables chairs and benches and believe it or not pianos were carried out of people’s homes into the street and a bonfire was lit. I have one of the old stirrup pumps but the rubber tubing perished years ago. I have some shrapnel too from the blitz part of an exploding shell probably fired from the guns at Knostrop. St Hilda’s School was closed at the beginning of the war and some children and their mothers were evacuated to Ackworth School near Pontefract. I don’t know when they all returned but my cousin, Eunice Johnson and I were taken to Lincolnshire to stay with my grandmother’s relations in the small village of Swinstead twelve miles from Grantham and nine miles from Bourne, We arrived there on Sunday 3rd of September (The day war broke out) and only stayed there until the end of January 1940. I think we were home sick.

Other childhood memories are of the pleasure we had walking or cycling down Red Road to the lovely blue bell woods near Temple Newsam Golf Course and up to the mansion or down Black Road to have a paddle in the Wyke Beck at Red Walls. Sometimes we cycled further afield to Leventhorpe Hall and then onto Swillington; my weren’t we in the country! Seeing the billets where the German POWs were and the big guns at Knostrop in the encampment during the war, it was another world away. Eddie and Edna Pawson lived in a farm down black road and at the side of the farm was a derelict little cottage that Edna professed had a ghost to try and frighten us. Nowadays places like that would be out of bounds due to health and safety, there was no compensation culture then. I must have been about three and a half when I saw a German airship flying over the Copperfields in a north westerly direction . From reports it was June 1936 when I started in the babies’ class at St Hilda’s School under a Miss Williamson. Until I was nearly four we had to sleep in the afternoons in camp beds with a blanket over us ( I remember those camp beds too but I could never get to sleep it seemed unnatural) There was a flat sheet with corner ties underneath which our mothers had to take home and wash every weekend. Miss Powell had standards one and two Miss Duckworth standards three and four and Miss Fewster standards four and five.
Eric Sanderson rounds up with imaginary letters to the editor
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (from East Leeds)

Letters sent to the newspapers are often a huge & important source of local information, often reflecting the metrics of the time. These might include comments on local affairs, complaints, compliments , information, responses to others & in fact, almost any other reason you can think of.
A tongue in cheek selection of a few from the archives might just jog a few memories about the matters which occupied our minds at the time.

9th Sept 1943
Dear Editor
Kept awake again by those damned Luftwaffe types dropping their incendiary bombs. They’re so indiscriminate, dropping them anywhere & not seeming to have any concern for the damage they cause. Last week, one fell bang on top of our rabbit hutch but, thankful for small mercies in these times of austerity, the roast rabbit was delicious, even if slightly overdone. Hope you can write to Mr. Hitler requesting him to be less careless
Yours etc – Al. E. Looya – York Rd, Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Looya
Believe it or not, we’ve had lots of similar complaints. We’re going to start a petition requesting Mr. Hitler to train his pilots to be less careless & to try & drop them where they cause no damage
Yours – Ed

25th Dec 1944
Dear Editor
Why do the lights keep going out? It’s as though there’s a war going on. My Xmas lunch was ruined due to the loss of power; the squirrel casserole was almost inedible. Surely the odd bomb can’t interrupt the power supply, especially when it’s dropped without notice. Damned ungentlemanly if you ask me
Yours – B. Uggeritt – Cross Green Lane, Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Uggeritt
Great shame. Why not try hedgehog next time. If you’re caught out with a power cut, don’t worry, it tastes better cooked rare – Yours etc – Ed

May 1945
Dear Ed
Thank goodness the war’s over but when can we expect rationing to end now that we don’t have to send all that food to our troops overseas? It’s like giving foreign aid when we’re skint ourselves & I don’t wish to sound ungrateful to our glorious soldiers but why can’t they scrounge it from those ungrateful Frogs?
Yours etc. – G. Reedy – Easy Rd, Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Reedy
I think dried eggs, POM dried potato, hen’s foot soup etc. can be delicious & wholesome, especially with a cup of lukewarm Acorn coffee
Yours – Ed

Sept 1945
Dear Editor
I’m trying to fatten my pigs in time for Xmas but there’s a huge shortage of potato peelings, cabbage leaves & fish heads on which my hogs thrive. It seems some are being selfish & keeping them to make soup & blaming rationing. So to those people, don’t blame me if Pigs in Blankets are in short supply this yuletide
Yours etc. – (Mr.) Ed Bangor – Pontefract Lane – Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Bangor – Have you tried killing off a few of your pigs to feed the others. After all, pigs are cannibals you know

June 1948
Dear Ed
At last, an end to rationing. I’m sick of those darned PASHA fags. Why can the Turks get their hands on so much tobacco & we can only get dog ends
Yours etc. – M. Fiseema – Temple View Rd – Leeds9

Reply – Dried cabbage mixed with used tea leaves aren’t a bad substitute – at least it’s much better than smoking those dreadful Pashas – Ed

April 1949
Dear Ed
My war time pre-fab is damp & draughty in spite of stuffing old newspapers into all the gaps. What can I do to get out of this hellhole?
Yours etc. – Y. Bother – Ellerby Lane – Leeds 9

Reply – Dear Mr. Bother, You could become a £10 POM & get yourself to Australia. You might get bitten by poisonous snakes & spiders, swelter for 9 months of the year & contract all sorts of horrible tropical diseases – but at least , that’s preferable to living in a pre-fab – Yours – ED

June 1950
Dear Ed
I wrote to you in 1945 about my pigs. Well here I am again with yet another porcine problem. Someone left the front door open & all my pigs escaped from where I keep them in the bathroom. By the time I managed to recapture most of them, they’d run off much of their bulk that I’m now going to have to fatten them up again. As well, I’m sure one or two are missing & I suspect strongly that they’ve been “accidentally” , captured, slaughtered ,butchered & turned into bacon & ham shanks. I would be grateful if those people would own up & at least send me a couple of pork pies – Yours etc. – Ed Bangor – Pontefract Lane – Leeds 9

Reply – Dear Mr. Bangor – I’m informed on the very best authority that you shouldn’t keep pigs in the bathroom. Try the front room, it’s much warmer & cosier and besides , pigs don’t like running up & down stairs – Yours etc. Ed

April 1960
Dear Editor
An establishment calling itself a “supermarket” has recently opened in our area. How can my small corner shop be expected to compete when they open all day, every day, even on Saturdays & don’t even have a mid week half day closing. They don’t even do “tick”, run a slate & their prices are ridiculously lower than mine. They even open up at 7am & go on ‘til 8pm instead of keeping sensible hours like I do, 9am to 4.30pm. Something must be done
Yours etc. – Hugh Shury – St Hilda’s Way – Leeds 9

Reply – Don’t worry Mr. Shury , it’s just a flash in the pan from America , they’ll never replace the much loved high street & corner shops – Ed

June 1970
Dear Editor
What on earth is happening to our precious local pubs? It’s becoming harder to find a decent pint of creamy, room temperature bitter these days. I thought we’d won the war but they’re all flogging some fizzy German stuff called Luger or Logger or something. I wouldn’t mind but it looks like a pint of p**s
& quite frankly, tastes like it too. It’s so cold, it nearly fractured my dentures. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Yours etc. – Al Kerhollick

Reply
Dear sir
We get hundreds of letters on this subject but don’t worry, it’s a passing fad. I feel confident we’ll not see the end of our Tetley’s, Melbourne’s, John Smiths, Ramsdens etc. They’ll be with us for years to come , just as will our local pubs. They’re part of our heritage & will never disappear.

June 2000
Dear Editor
Why are our libraries devoid of any serious literature? All I see on the shelves are fictional thrillers, romantic novels & rows & rows about someone called Harry Nutter.
Where can I find Proust, Nietzsche, Kafke, Solzenhitsyn, or even Tolstoy?
Yours etc. Hugh Jeego

Reply
Dear Mr. Jeego
You must be one in 10 billion who has a clue what any of those are on about and where each page doesn’t feel like having a pre frontal lobotomy.
If you like, I could lend you my well-thumbed copy of Rimbaud’s classic – “ My Week Long Pissup in the tap rooms of Middlesboro with my mate Horace“. That may fill the vacuum

Dear Reader
Letters to the Editor continue to this day, providing a window on current & locals affairs, giving a public voice to anyone who cares to participate & long may it continue.
Although the foregoing are obviously the (spoiled?) fruit of a tortured mind, some of the themes do reflect what were, & still are, concerns for some, then and now.
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GHOSTS OF TEMPLE NEWSAM

December 23, 2018 by

GHOSTS OF TEMPLE NEWSAM
By Eddie Blackwell
First A bit of the history of Temple Newsam House.

There are records of a Dwelling on this site dating back to the Doomsday Book (1086) approximately 100 years later the site was given to The Christian military organisation The Knights Templar until about 1200, it then passed on to the Darcy family who in the year 1500 built a new Manor House. The original recording in the doomsday book was Anglo-Saxon and spelt Neuthusam, and the name “Temple Newsam” derives from the Anglo-Saxon combine with Temple from The Knights Templar. It was in Royal hands for many years and was passed onto Henry the 8th’s niece and her son Henry (Lord Darnley) was born there in 1545, eventually he married Mary Queen of Scots and the house was sold into private hands. Sir Arthur Ingram bought it and it became his families main residence for almost 300 years, now it’s maintained and owned by The Leeds Corporation with covenants of sale to ensure its preservation for future generations.
Reputed to be the most haunted House in Yorkshire, apparitions seen are, the Blue Lady, a Monk in Brown Habit, a small boy who comes out of a cupboard, a young servant girl who was murdered on the premises, and on occasions howling screams come from the South Wing.
There are now Security Guards, on a round the clock watch to secure the premises which contains priceless treasures. It would be interesting to hear any stories they have to tell from the wee small hours, on these dark pitch black nights.

Christmas Eve Ghost Busting Expeditions.
(when the clock chimes twelve)
Who remembers the No. 20 and 22 Trams, they both went up Selby Road the No. 20 terminus was at the Irwin Arms, (now Lidl) and if memory serves me correct it usually came back as a No. 15 Whingate. The No. 22 went on to its terminus at Temple Newsam and usually came back as the Corn Exchange. There’s now a running track you pass when you take the route the No. 22 Tram went to Temple Newsam, and just above the track a large car park. There used to be a tram stop outside where the car park is today, and in those bygone days, there were two large man made fresh water ponds, probably about 20 ft wide and 40 ft long they were not very deep ponds about 2 ft at the most. It’s said in the 1760’s Capability Brown England’s Greatest Gardener was employed by Viscount Irvine to remodel the grounds and gardens, they were probably ornamental ponds at one time, which had become overgrown and reclaimed by nature. They contained broken bricks and broken bottles all manner of debris as you would expect. Many kinds of wild life, sticklebacks, redbellies (males), frogs, tadpoles and newts, seaweed like plants. All types of insects, flies, blue bottles, bees, wasps, dragonflies, mosquitoes, earwigs, slugs, worms and snails lived in the surrounding habitat, and I recall going there with my older sister on the No. 22 Tram. We’d have a bottle of water or diluted orange, some jam/treacle sandwiches, and two large empty jam jars, string tied around the top, with two fishing nets on bamboo canes. We used to catch the tram opposite the old Library in York Road, a penny half as I recall. It was a great afternoon out on a sunny day, and there were always a lot more children of the same age. Anything we caught was always returned to nature before boarding the tram for home.

The Fairy Glen
It was there that I remember first hearing about the ghosts in and around Temple Newsam House, my sister used to try and cover my ears when they were telling the stories, she knew I’d be nervous, and probably scared, (well there was a war going on you know, a blackout and sirens going off in the night, then ghosts on top, the last straw that broke the camel’s back) but excited at the same time. They were all talking about a Blue Lady, and a figure in a Monk’s Habit, I didn’t want to be around there after dark thank you, sounded spooky to me at seven years old. Life went on as usual and I’d forgotten all about the ghosts of Temple Newsam within a few days.
School had restarted after the holidays, and there was talk that the war was reaching its conclusion, “V” day was on its way, and all those scary thoughts evaporated from the conscience mind with the prospect of your Dad being demobbed. When Dad Came home from the war in 1947, he took us all to Scarborough with his demob money. The first holiday we’d ever had, it was like a dream come true the world was full of ice cream and candy floss, the future was secure. Eventually the euphoria wore off and life was restored to a normal pace.
We moved houses in 1950 and went to live with my Grandad, in Osmondthorpe. At the weekends if conditions were reasonable, Dad and I would go walking late at night from the house where we lived, across Halton More and up into Temple Newsam via the bridle path, through the golf course, and around the grounds of the Mansion. We never experienced any sightings of the ghosts or the Blue Lady, although on one occasion looking in through the ground floor windows on the north side, we both felt a cold presence is the only way to describe it, nothing visual but we thought we were being observed. At that time there were no Night Guards or Security, and we peered through the windows into the blackness hoping to see a ghostly figure, but nothing ever transpired. Then we’d proceed on our way down Selby Road, onto our estate and back home to bed.
Some years later my Sister got married, and they bought a newly built house in the Dunhill Estate, at the bottom of Selby Road. A similar distance from Temple Newsam as from our house in Osmondthorpe. They had their family in that house, three daughters and a son. At the festive season it was our tradition on Christmas Eve to gather at their house exchange gifts for the children and have a few drinks in celebration of the forthcoming event. All the children were of course excited, and my Brother in law Roy, and I would take them out for a walk to let off steam, trying to tire them a little in the hopes that they would go to sleep when we got back, then we could have a quiet celebration. As you can imagine the destination was always Temple Newsam, we’d all have a race around the running track, then up to the House have a wander around looking through the windows then back home. On one occasion someone said they saw a light in one of the rooms, but I think it was his imagination at work we were all looking into the same room, and he was the only one to see anything.
This became an annual tradition for many years and eventually we were joined by the children’s friends in the local area. The Christmas Eve Ghost Busting Expedition it became nicknamed and we’d always talk about seeing ghosts through the ground floor windows to add excitement to the walk, which was taking on the proportions of an adventure as the years passed, and the children became teenagers. Our races around the Running track continued, but became more and more competitive, as you would expect young legs were getting stronger and on one occasion I recall coming into the home straight and hearing footsteps pounding up behind me, and I was overtaken by the young boyfriend of one of my nieces. (they eventually got married and now have children of their own) Then it was up to the House to carry out our annual Ghost Busting visit. I remember one year by the South Wing we did hear some loud screams and we stood firm as a group, but it only takes one to break and we were off running like the wind, nobody beat me on that occasion, I stopped by the old Tram terminus and the group gathered all around, checking that everyone was there, but we had one missing, I instructed everyone to remain where they were with Roy, and made my way back to find the missing one, he’d fallen and hurt his knee, I helped him up and he was OK, but I’m sure I could hear a faint sound of cackling laughter coming from the South Wing. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and we hurried along to join the others at the terminus. Then we all made our way back to the estate as a group ensuring everyone got home safely.
Regrettably that was the last occasion for the Christmas Eve Ghost Busting Expedition, all the children were growing older, and we weren’t getting any younger. My brother in law Roy who was always a co-partner on these adventures, passed away 26th July this year he was 84 years old. Whenever we met we would always reminisce about our midnight walks to Temple Newsam House with the children, we were never rich in monetary terms, but then you can’t buy the riches we shared.
Just to finish off I’ve written a short poem about Christmas, hope you like it.
Ed’s Ramblings.
Christmas Eve.
The night before Christmas all children in bed,
Pitch black outside and the pets have been fed,
Not even a whisper or a sigh from the trees,
And no flags are fluttering there isn’t a breeze,
A faint swish can be heard just now and then,
But it isn’t a sound that’s being made by men,
Santa is coming and he’s well on his way,
And has lots to do before the start of the day,
Rudolf is leading his nose is quite red,
But he’s not been drinking it must be said,
His nose is aglow with a feeling of cheer,
Excitement that Christmas day is so near,
Onward and onward we’ve got to keep going,
And it shines the way when his nose is glowing,
All over the World before the Sun shines it’s light,
Now it’s starting to snow it’s a wonderful sight,
Snowflakes are falling without making a sound,
There covering the landscape and all around,
The branches of trees are covered in snow,
The Moons peeping out there’s a silvery glow,
What a beautiful sight for the World to behold,
Keep warm everyone it’s getting terribly cold,
But hark there’s awakening as Santa draws near,
The cattle start lowing but there’s nothing to fear,
And your presents are left as he speeds on his away,
Then Old Jack Frost starts to spread Christmas day…

Thank you everyone Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year to you all…

A BUSY LIFE

December 1, 2018 by

A BUSY LIFE
By Doug Farnill
(East Leeds lad now in Australia)

A BUSY LIFE
In 1947 I started work as an apprentice at Geo Bray and Co. One of my fellow apprentices and close friend was Jack Bosomworth. (I would love to be in contact with Jack someday to compare our life stories). One day, Jack asked if I would like a weekend job, helping him and his father, Mr Bosomworth – I never knew his first name – erect garden sheds and garages. My apprentice pay was about 24 shillings in the old money, and I gave most of that to Mam, who allowed me a few shillings spending money. So, I jumped at the chance of acquiring a few extra bob.
The sheds and garages consisted of wooden frames to which fibro-cement (aka asbestos) sheets were nailed. A seven foot by five- foot garden shed was a fairly small job and Mr Bosomworth could manage one on his own. A 16- by 8-foot garage with a concrete floor, however, was a different matter. Jack and I would nail the frames, cut the asbestos sheets to fit, and nail the panels to the wooden frames with galvanised nails. We cut the asbestos by scraping a groove down the required line and breaking the sheet over a straight edge. The nail holes had to be drilled, otherwise the asbestos sheet would split. What with scraping, drilling, and hammering, there was lots of asbestos dust floating around.
I worked every other Saturday or so for 5 years before emigrating to Australia. In the beginning I took 10 shillings for my day’s pay, and later negotiated 15 shillings. Despite being frugal, by 1952 I still needed to borrow money for my sea trip to Australia.
I have survived 70 years since my regular encounters with the asbestos dust and count my lucky stars. I worked hard, learned a lot, earned not so much, enjoyed great mateship, and still look back with some nostalgia at what Jack and I used to achieve. We polished our techniques to eliminate waste, made special scraping tools out of old metal files, and perfected mixing batches of concrete in an old galvanised bath tub. In retrospect, I’m not confident that our sheds and garages would stand without wobble for more than a few years, nor am I sure that our thin concrete (in cement strength and actual thickness) would have stood much weight without cracking, but I never heard any complaints.
A 43.75 hour working week at Geo Brays, a 7-8 hour Saturday job, three nights a week night-school, Saturday nights at the Mecca or Barnbow or Starlight Room, and Sundays with the Leeds Atlas Cycling Club, how was it possible? It was a busy life for a Yorkshire lad. If you told a young person these days, they would never believe you!
Seriously, if anyone knows Jack Bosomworth I would love to hear. And, it would be nice to hear some more of the part-time jobs that we used to do in the old days.

Great tale Doug. This sets up a stall for anyone else to send tales of their after school or part time jobs. If anyone has any information concerning hack Bosomworth please send a comment to this site and we will try and put Jack or his descendants in touch with Doug after all these years – I’m sure Doug would love that.

LOOK OUT FOR A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Gothic Horror Delicous Fright

November 1, 2018 by

GOTHIC HORROR – DELICOUS FRIGHT
If you ‘google’ gothic it says Gothic: belonging to our redolent of the dark ages, portentously gloomy and horrifying. This worked well with the Victorian’s morbid preoccupation with death and all thing black
I was born In the 1930s before the advent of TV and there were only black and white films at the cinema. This type of film seemed to revel in the gothic – Boris Karloff in ‘The Old Dark House’ was a prime example. If the film opened to a dark brooding mansion with lightening flashing you knew you were in for a bit of gothic horror and a fright.
There was a radio programme on Thursday nights at 9.30 p.m. called ‘Appointment with Fear’; these were tales of horror read by the velvet tones of Valentine Dyall. These tales terrified and delighted me in equal measure. Stories set your imagination racing to an extent that film can never match. My parents used to say, ‘You can’t stay up to listen to those awful stories it’s passed your bedtime and anyway they’ll give you nightmares.’ but I begged them to let me stay up and listen and they usually gave in to me. The Beast with Five Fingers, The Hands of Nekamen, The Middle Toe of the Right Foot and Mrs Amworth I think that tale frightened me most of all Mrs Amworth was a vampire who came knocking on a sick little boy’s bedroom window. Of course Mam and dad were right; when I went to bed I would look under the bed and hide under the covers.
It was not surprising that I was nervous in that bedroom as we lived in a huge Jacobean house on Lord Halifax’s estate in Knostrop. We only rented the house of course all the properties in Knostrop belonged to the Temple Newsam estate and all were devoid of electricity and not even gas in the bedrooms, I had to go to bed with a candle in a candle stick like Wee Willy Winky. The bedroom I slept in was a huge oak panelled affair and the ivy that grew on the outside walls had forced its way through the brickwork and was growing down the inside walls. Particularly scary for me was a panel which was of a brown fabric rather than the normal oak ones and running down the centre from behind was a ‘knobbly’ line of little bumps that had me in mind of the back bone of a skeleton being walled up behind. That is not to say I didn’t love that old house, I have never loved one more but it was a bit scary to a young lad with a vivid imagination.
I would have been about ten or eleven when a film came to our local big hutch of a picture house: Bud Abbot and Lou Castello in Abbot and Costello Meet the Ghosts. I suppose with those two in it, it was supposed to have been a comedy and probably it was to adults but for us kids it was a whole new experience, the class at school was buzzing about that film for a week, we were introduced to Wolf man, Frankenstein and particularly Dracula. The first time we see him we are shown a coffin with a candlestick on the lid, very slowly the candlestick starts to slide as the lid begins to open with a creak and then a hand grasps the edge of the coffin from inside. Wow! What an introduction to the vampire.
Universal Studios of America produced three vampire films in the early 1930s: Dracula, The Mark of the Vampire and The Vampire Returns. The main protagonist for the part of Dracula was played by Bella Lugosi – he of the black staring eye. Those early black and white vampire films might seem a bit jerky and corny today but at the time they were a new innovation, previously the monster had always turned out to be a man and brought to justice but Dracula he was the real McCoy, they shocked people and broke new ground.
So these films introduced me to ‘delicious fright’ and my imagination ran riot when I was in scary surroundings, for instance I was an altar boy at St Hilda’s Church at the time and sometimes I had to serve at the seven a.m. mass in the middle of winter when it was still dark. I would push my way through the great church door into the nave, which was pitch black, and no one else about some times there would be a coffin in the centre aisle where some poor soul had been left overnight before the morrow’s funeral. Then it was down a long dark passageway, still no light, and into the vestry where the cassocks and surpluses were kept behind a big black curtain, when I stood in front of that curtain I would think when I pull that curtain back ‘The Count’ will be waiting to grab me.
It was no better at home if you needed to go to the outside toilet in the middle of the night (which thankfully was rare at that age), I had to descend the oak staircase without a candle – I was not allowed to light a candle in case I burnt the house down – then into the kitchen where I would try to cajole the dog out of his nice warm bed to accompany me, he wasn’t happy but usually came with me then it was through a stone pantry up some steps into a washhouse and then out into the garden where the huge brick toilet lay in an veritable wind tunnel, by the time you got there you felt a long way from safety and civilization. On one occasion the dog who was sat alongside me suddenly gave out a great howl and the hackles stood up on his neck, I thought Dracula and all his mates were after me, I was back in bed and under the covers before he’d finished howling.
Knostrop in the ‘black out’ years added to the Gothic Horror there were a few old scary mansions there and one ‘Rider’s’ as we called it was necessary to be passed on our way to the ‘top’ as we called it. Knostrop was in a valley there were only houses no shops so if we wanted anything – fish and chips for instance – we had to walk to the top of the hill in complete darkness all the lamps were out due to the air raids. The gateway to Rider’s mansion was always the worst part it was always open and the interior seemed to lead to even deeper blackness. If you got past Riders you thought you were OK But of course you had to pass it again on your back down. Pauline, a lovely lass who lived next door, used to say, ‘When I go past Rider’s I call on my guardian angel to keep me safe.’

So, I had developed this fascination with vampire films, when we were lads a group of us used to go to the cinema and we’d take it turns to pick the film we would see. When it was my turn I always picked a vampire film which exasperated the rest of the lads a bit. Colin, god rest his soul once said, ‘Not another vamp film – you’re going to be a vampire you when you die, the fust fat ‘un’.
In the modern era I’m disappointed how the vampire myth has been prostituted and watered down to suit todays audiences who like crash bang films. I know it was only a myth to begin with but it was a good ‘un based on the tenets of vampire lore used by stoker in Dracula and those who set those tenets even before him: The vampire has to sleep in a coffin sprinkled with his native earth by day, direct sunlight can destroy him, he can’t cross running water, has no reflection in a mirror, doesn’t like crucifixes, garlic and holy water, he is invulnerable in the hours of darkness, has amazing strength, can change himself into a bat or wolf, can change local weather conditions usually making fog, can be killed by a stake through the heart but otherwise can live for ever.
My mother told me that when the stage play of Dracula was shown at the theatre Royal Leeds in the early twenties St John’s Ambulance Service personnel were on hand to minister to those who fainted with fright. Now vampires are not scary anymore they have vampire films for kids: The Little Vampire, Count Duckula. Instead of just the one vampire that nobody believes is slowly and climatically introduced they have armies of vampires being shot at by folk with wooden stakes

Max Schreck in Nosferatu
fired by crossbows. In the Vampire Diaries vampires are college students, heroes, lovers. One is tempted to think that making them vampires is just an excuse for giving ordinary guys super powers. If you dropped Max Schreck’s vampire as played in Nosferatu (1922) in among them I think those mamby pamby modern portrayals of vampires would have it away on their toes.

So, they debased my lovely vampire myth but I should cocoa, my fascination with the subject and my preoccupation with the rise and fall of the vampire myth has enabled me to write a dissertation on the rise and fall of the vampire myth which got me a Master of Arts degree.

Back in leeds for the First Time in 63 years

October 1, 2018 by

Back in East Leeds for the first time in 63 years!

Before John’s tale, a date for your diary: The 2018 East Leeds Old Codger’s reunion will be held at the Edmund House Club, Pontefract Lane Leeds on Tuesday 6th Nov from noon for a couple of hours on.

By John Holloway

Finding the ‘East Leeds Memories’ site quite by accident two years ago did the trick – I was 9 years old when my family left Copperfield Avenue and I was determined to go back to have a look around the neighbourhood of my early years, well aware that it would be a very different ‘East Leeds’ and that I may not come across any of my old pals from childhood. I knew that my old school ‘St Hilda’s’ had gone – AND….. that the school building which replaced it on the same site had also been demolished some years ago! I suddenly felt very old! I was also well aware of the old saying ‘Never go back’. But things change – I was well prepared for disappointment.
With help and encouragement from Peter Wood and Eric Allen – both of who, I was soon to discover, were in my sister Linda’s class at school before she went off to Thorsby High School for girls – my wife Sue and I decided we would make a detour to Leeds on our way home to Orkney after our annual Holiday in Kent in November 2016, and spend a few hours in the Cross Green Lane area of Leeds. And what a treat it was!
Peter and Eric were waiting for us in the ‘Edmund House’ car park and instantly made us feel at home. We were right in the middle of my childhood ‘haunts’ – just 200yds from East End Park, and 100yds or so from my old house in Copperfield Avenue. We stepped out of the Taxi, and after warm hand-shakes and greetings, I took a long slow look around the immediate area. I was staggered! It all seemed so familiar – the mainly tree-covered East End Park looked the same (even the neat hedge around the bowling-green we later discovered); the curve of the railway lines past Neville Hill was still there, and further round to the right……yes, it was still there – the East Leeds Cricket Ground, tucked below the embankment up to the railway lines to the left, and Black Road to the right. I’m home! The only ‘landmark’ that had disappeared was the ‘Paddy’ railway lines across Cross Green Lane but hold on a minute, one major thing was missing – the whole of Taylor’s Farm to the east of where we stood. It now appeared to be one big industrial estate – no cows, no rhubarb fields! But hold on – one other important feature WAS still there – the recreation area including the football pitch where East Leeds used to play on Saturdays (and me and my pals after school for the rest of the week!). Wonderful. Peter Bradford (who I understand had a trial for Leeds Utd.), Ronnie Harvey, Graham Clarkson and Bobbie Taylor (all old school pals) instantly came to mind, and I do remember playing in goal for St Hilda’s School on the smaller pitch at the bottom of the sports field – with Paul Reaney (later to play at full-back for England) on the right wing. (Clever man Don Revie – he put his fastest runners at full-back and no ‘winger’ could get past them!).
Back in Eric’s car, our two hosts suggested a slow drive around the neighbourhood, and – once again – expecting the area to look nothing like it did in my youth, my first impression in the ‘Copperfields’ was that it looked almost exactly the same! There were a few porches added to the front of the houses, many of which had the same wooden fences to the small front garden as per the 1950s – and virtually no cars in the whole area – as per the early 1950s! It still looked possible to set up a washing-line right across the street as my mother and other neighbours did in the early 1950s, lifting it up with a ‘prop’ if a car or horse and cart should venture into the street. Looking up Copperfield Avenue, there was still the ‘gap’ in the houses along Cautley Road which gave us access to our favourite playing place – the ‘Navvy’ – yes, the one I fell down! Looking back down Copperfield Avenue towards Cross Green Lane, the only change seemed to be that one of our favourite ‘play areas’ (mainly marbles) to the right, had gone. It had remained the ‘bottom hollers’ (in fact a bomb-site from the war) until a small residential scheme was erected just a few months before our visit. Any chance of a quick game of ‘taws’ was foiled, but I looked down at my right thumb and forefinger which were already ‘tensed-up’, ready for the first ‘flick’ of the game. No exaggeration here – it just happened naturally. A sure sign I really was back in Leeds!
So all’s well with the world – the neighbourhood had hardly changed structurally and it appeared to be a very peaceful place to live, but standing outside my old house – No 10 Copperfield Avenue (at the front) and 10 Copperfield Drive ‘at the back’ – my mind went back to how everyone used the Copperfield Avenue entrance as their ‘front door’ for everyday use, whilst the ‘back door’ in Copperfield Drive was hardly ever opened except on Sundays. Everyone regarded the garden in Copperfield Drive as a place to relax (evenings and Sundays) and all the hustle and bustle of everyday life was confined to Copperfield Avenue. Driving a car up Copperfield Drive on Sunday was almost heretic, but traffic was hardly an issue in the whole area and we made good use of the flat road surface of Courtley Road for roller-skating – at any time of day!
As a young lad I had always thought that all the houses in the neighbourhood I lived in were fairly modern, like ours in Copperfield Avenue – built in around 1930 or so – but as we strolled towards Cross Green Lane with Peter and Eric I looked up at the houses and realised that those in Copperfield View were much older – perhaps Georgian or early Victorian? I then noticed a strange configuration of the windows at what appeared to be the ‘ends’ of each house in a row of quite substantial two-up and two-down houses. There are three windows (one above the other) in each house which do not ‘tie-in’ with a two-story house. Each house appears to have this ‘three-tier’ construction – some ‘inside’ the chimney stack and others at the gable end – outside the chimney stack. The chimney stacks would surely be the division between each household – other than the stacks towards the gable end of each row. The problem is far too complicated to explain in writing – hence the photos attached.(Myself aged 3 in Copperfield Drive – said windows along Copperfield View in back-ground, and one – taken at the same point from Eric’s car by Sue during our visit in 2017). If anyone can come up with an explanation please let me know! We have spent many hours during the long winter days here in Orkney trying to resolve the conundrum. (It is well worth ‘Google-earthling’ – ‘The Copperfields’ may have their own unique piece of historic architecture!).
Eric and Peter then gave Sue and I a ‘guided tour’ of virtually the whole area of East Leeds but I have to say that most of it was unrecognisable once we had passed the Cricket Ground heading eastwards. We did see the woods at Temple Newsam in the distance but everything seemed to be ‘new’.
Turning back towards Leeds through ‘Knostrop’ with Hunslet to the left was no more enlightening, but I suddenly realised that two things WERE missing – there was no stench from the Glue Factory where bones were rendered down – AND no huge fluorescent sign ‘Waddingtons’ where the ‘playing card’ factory formerly stood.
We had soon passed across Cross Green Lane and – after a quick look down the Navvy – now encased in chain-link fencing – we went for a slow look along Easy Road which I remembered as very ‘wide’.No ‘bug hutch’ Cinema in sight there but the area did look similar to how I remember it .
I quickly realised that my ‘sphere’ of activity as a lad in East Leeds was very small – virtually all between Easy Road and Cross Green Lane and I now wonder how on earth I managed to get all the way to Lady Pitt Place in Beeston every day for several weeks after school one year when my Mum was in hospital for several weeks. I caught the bus by St Hilda’s School into the centre of Leeds, changed to a No 5 Tram in Brigate (?) and got off near the top of Beeston Hill. My ‘nan’ there had Television (Wow! – Andy Pandey etc.) And I had beans on toast for tea every day. Sheer bliss. What else could a young lad of 7 or 8 want? I was back home by 7 o’clock, by which time Dad was home from work at Lever Bros Opticians. Great fun the Trams, and it is amazing that two brand new ‘single-decker’ Trams came into service in Leeds not long before we left for Gillingham in the early ‘50s.
There was still one more huge delight – and a real surprise – on the way back to the city centre to catch our train. The whole area directly before the brick railway viaduct was still a mass of flower beds – just as I remembered it as a lad. Not quite so colourful, being November, but an unexpected treat and a lovely ‘send-off’ as we approached the railway station.

So what was the biggest ‘change’ I noticed after 63 years away? The lack of small shops in the area around the Copperfields – no ‘Lightowler’s’ or ‘Mrs Woodward’s’ just round the corner. Where on earth would we get our ‘bubble-gum’ and ‘Dandelion and Burdock’ from today!

Sue and I would like to thank Peter and Eric for a wonderful 4 hours. Some people say ‘never go back’ – all we can say is: ‘It was worth every second!’

We hope to be able to come to the reunion this coming November. John & Sue Holloway.

2 photos to accompany text (at bottom?)

1) Myself in Copperfield Drive around 1947 (age 3?) note configuration of windows and position of chimney stacks on houses in the background (Copperfield View)

2) Same view in 2017 taken from Eric’s car, showing same ‘tier’ of three windows!

Great tale John Thank you

1) Myself in Copperfield Drive around 1947 (age 3?) note configuration of windows and position of chimney stacks on houses in the background (Copperfield View)

2) Same view in 2017 taken from Eric’s car, showing same ‘tier’ of three windows!

Great tale John Thank

Waterlooville the Lost Village

September 1, 2018 by

WATERLOOVILLE THE LOST VILLAGE
My old school teacher, who knew a bit, said that Leeds was at the most northerly point of the Yorkshire Coalfield. We were at the last point of ‘The exposed Coalfield’ where coal was relatively easy to win before it went much further underground to that which was known as ‘The Concealed Coalfield’ and became much harder to mine.
It would seem the earlier Victorians and those who mined even earlier (coal was mined in the area since the 17th century) made the most of coal being at hand and sank shafts all over the place, unfortunately they were reckless in their infilling of them and neglected to mark their positions on maps, the result is: they keep opening up. I recall one opening up on East Street another in the precincts of Mount St Mary’s Primary School which caused them to re-locate to Porta Cabins in the old Victoria School Yard. Others were found when excavating the railway cutting for the line from Richmond Hill to Neville Hill and yet others halted the construction of St Saviour’s Church. Further evidence of coal extraction is also to be seen by the pit spoil heaps at the Shaftsbury (Black Hills), Knostrop (red Hills) and in East End Park itself, also in many streams in the area running with orange mineral water from the old mine workings and the smell of leaking methane gas.
We were all used to seeing pit head gear at: Allerton Bi-Water, Rothwell, Swillington, Featherstone, Stanley and Lofthouse but our last and most familiar pit was Waterloo (Temple Pit – 1913-1966). This was the pit from which our lovely old paddy engines: Kitchener, Jubilee, Dora, Antwerp and later Sylvia were familiar sights delivering coal to the staithe on Easy Road or ferrying the miners to work at the pit itself. Temple Pit was located to the south east of Temple Newsam House near to a little road Called ‘The Avenue’, now disappeared too and not far off Bullerthorpe Lane at Swillington. The shaft was located in a deep cleft in the land so it was hard to even see the pit head gear; they sunk them in places where the land was lowest so they didn’t have so far to dig down to the coal seams.
There were three old shafts at Knostrop when I was a lad, two behind Knostrop Old Hall had not been filled in at all and had crumbling brickwork housings across the top which foolhardy kids would climb up and look down to the water which always rises to the height of the water table in old shafts. One was broken away at the side and I once saw a chimney sweep getting rid of his soot down there. The third shaft (Dam Pit) was located between the two plantations at Knostrop and the provider of the red shale spoil that hard cored our two ‘red roads’. The shaft was brick filled to about five feet from the top and there was still a bit of the pit head gear in place. We would dangerously play in the shaft oblivious to the fact, we later learned, that the shaft had only been capped off with timber that would probably have started to rot. I have visited that site lately, it was where the rifle club used have its pitch so that the red hills was a back barrier for its bullets, the whole area has been grassed over now but I can see a little ‘dimple’ forming where the shaft is. I wonder if anybody realises what that is? I wonder if anybody cares about the danger?
Now I’m coming to the disappeared Waterloo village. The first sod for Waterloo Colliery was taken on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, (1815), hence the name. Many shafts have been and gone between the first shaft and the end of mining in 1966. I have made a study of the shafts in the area and made my own map, as you can see there were a lot of shafts. I must point out that the map is a composite of several maps and covers a time period of over a century; they were not all in production at the same time. Please ‘click’ on maps to enlarge writing. In later years open cast mining has dredged the whole area. Once that has been completed they put the land back and leave it in good order but any historical landmarks are gone for ever. I did read where a Viking settlement had been found near to the River Aire but I cannot see any evidence of that been left for us to see. But I did speak to one of the operators on the open cast scheme and he said they had opened up galleries where the old Victorian miners used to work, he said they were like worm casts and he had recovered an old green bottle left by a miner after having his ‘snap’,

REMEMBER TO CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE

In David Joy’s Regional History of Railways in Great Britain he tells of a rail service to service the pits in this area as early as 1750, that began as wooden wagon ways that ran from Thwaite Gate to Temple Newsam that a decade later there were seven pits a network of wagon ways and an iron works.
A further search of the records showed that a pit village – the earliest purposely built pit village in West Yorkshire was built on a site between Thorpe Stapleton on one side of the canal and river and Rothwell on the other side.

The village originally called Waterloo colloquially grew the name ‘Waterlooville’. Although I must point out Temple Newsam in their guide book seem to refer the village as ‘New Market’ and they ought to know but I always thought Newmarket to be the colliery at Stanley. Anyway I shall continue to call it Waterlooville and it has completely disappeared. It is not unusual for pit villages to die when the mine is exhausted that is the nature of the beast but in the case of Waterlooville, on our very doorstep there does not seem to be a stick of evidence that it ever existed, no ruins, nothing. I have placed the village on the map (Please see map) as seemingly between the river and the canal, there were two streets a square and a school cum Sunday school. It is quite obvious there was a connection to the Temple Newsam Estate as the square is called ‘Irwin ‘Square’, the Irwin family were incumbents of the estate at the time and probably had a financial input into the village especially the school/Sunday school. There was also a bridge ‘Waterloo Bridge’ across the river to allow miners from the village to cross over the river on their way to work on the north side of the river. Of that too there is no trace.

Over a period of time I searched both sides of the river and the canal bank for the merest sign of Waterlooville, nothing. I did find some huge blocks on the side of the canal which I thought might have at one time been anchor points for the bridge but they were inconclusive. I regularly asked folk I met along the canal bank if they had ever heard of a disappeared village but without success, then speaking to the lock keeper at Fishponds Lock I finally stuck gold, he said he had once heard about the village from an old timer who had said there were remains of the old school wall beneath the old cement bridge, the one carried the trains that took coal from Fanny Pit at Rothwell to Skelton Grange Power Station, but that he hadn’t seen them himself. So I clambered across the Paddy bridge to the north side of the river and had to descend the steep banking at the other side which looked quite treacherous but some kind soul had attached a rope to a tree to make the descent just about possible and there looking back to the south side of the river I saw the old brickwork that the lock keeper said was the remains of the old village school wall. I took this photograph – I have had to whiten the brick work on the photograph so it would show up.
On another occasion I attempted to climb down the other side of the river onto the top of the wall that I could see from the north side to see what else I could find but the bank was very steep and slippery and covered in brambles and I could see the river was running very fiercely at the bottom and I could sense that a slip, and I’m not as nimble as I used to be, would have seen me washed away in the torrent, so I decided the better part of valour was to abort that particular quest

Thankfully some kind organisation has now built a bridge across the river near to that old cement bridge making it easier to see across to the remains of the wall of the old Waterlooville School building also making it possible for walkers from Woodlesford and Rothwell to walk all the way across to Temple Newsam.

Vera’s Contribution to Eddie’s Tale

August 17, 2018 by

Contributions to Eddie’s tale by Vera Belshaw

I have Just Read yours and Eddies July and August contributions. They were brilliant for its put down just the way it was, Immediately transporting back in time recalling people and places of long ago.
I was born in Ascot Street in 1927, lived in The Bank from 1929 to 1936 then moved to Sussex Crescent till the 50s. Found this picture among some family photographs. It’s Ascot Street party celebrating King George the V Silver Jubilee in 1936. I thought it might be useful for the East Leeds Memories site. I know most of the people there, the lady with the teapot is my aunt…Annie Douglas (known locally as, Annie Sanders.)

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Thanks Vera for that lovely contribution to the site.

Changes during my Eighty Years Living in East Leeds

August 1, 2018 by

Changes During My Eighty Years Living in East Leeds.
By Eddie Blackwell

It’s been a lifetime of changing and adapting to new things. When I think back over the years at the changes that have taken place, in both a physical and a social sense it’s amazing.
They say technology has moved things forward and of course that’s true. Communications for example, when I was a lad we had a Radio, with valves and condensers, one step on from a crystal set, it was the only thing in the house powered by electricity, that magical stuff that travelled along a wire, that you couldn’t see and didn’t really understand, until you experienced an electric shock, then comprehension suddenly dawned, it was powerful and sometime a dangerous thing, that must be respected.
The telephone was a red G.P.O. kiosk with a door, at the end of the street, it had a black box you put pennies in, then you Pressed A or B to speak or get your money back. There was very little vandalism in those days and a man from the G.P O. came around to collect the pennies from time to time, then another guy would clean the windows and sweep it out and sterilize the hand set, each kiosk had a telephone directory for local calls and intercity calls. If you couldn’t find the number you could dial the operator and speak to a lady, give her the Name and address you wanted to call, and she’d give you the area code and telephone number and ring the number for you if you wished, after you’d put the requisite amount of money in the box.
Suppose most communications were made by letter through the Royal Mail (or the G.P.O. as it was sometimes called) in those days, stamps were not expensive and you had two domestic postal deliveries each day Monday to Friday, one delivery Sat morning. Sunday was a day for rest and religion, except for essential services, hardly anything opened on Sundays. Shops and Cinemas were closed, Sunday newspapers were available and delivered, Public transport ran a limited service, and generally things happened at a more relaxed speed.
Today with mobile telephones people’s lives have changed completely, they even answer the telephone in the toilet, and they can’t leave the house or go anywhere without their mobile. I recall when car cell phones first came out, The Company I worked for installed a phone in my car, great I thought what a perk. How wrong could one be, I soon realised that I was now available 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year, there was no escape, if I didn’t answer they left a message. I was accessible 24 hours a day to the Company, the Customer and the men on site doing the work. Don’t get me wrong there were advantages that were good, and saved a lot of heart ache, and time, but at the end of the day working in Heavy Industrial Contracting, usually on a 24hr shift basis, the Company was the winner. I do have a mobile phone now, but it’s not in my pocket continuously, and I only use it for private communication, it’s not glued to my body 24hours a day.
Public transport whatever happened to that. Trams were the main form of transport when I was a lad, I think when they started in 1891 they were single deck Horse drawn carriages. Electrification was completed in Leeds in 1901 taking, advantage of Electricity produced at Whitehall Road Power Station which was located near the Leeds City Station just off Leeds City Square. Who makes these decisions to dispose of a network of trams that existed in Leeds, they were a cheap reliable environment friendly form of Public Transport, which fell victim to the smelly expensive diesel Buses, just think of the emissions that have been released into the atmosphere, since that one decision in 1959, do people ever think through the consequences of their actions. The world seems to revolve around eliminating jobs and saving money for short term profit and long-term disaster, all the money in the world can’t stop the Ice Caps from melting and the Seas from rising to consume the land, but reducing our toxic emissions into the atmosphere can.
I loved the Trams you could go from one end of the City to the other for just a few pence, and they inter linked with Bradford and Wakefield, in fact my Dad would say you can get all the way to Manchester and back by Tram, not sure that was true, but it sounded possible. I suppose in those days the most important thing was were you giving a good service to the Public, as opposed to today with privatisation, it’s does it make a profit without any consideration to giving a service. A sad change in philosophy with the emphasis on commercialisation a step in the wrong direction in my opinion. I once saw an Architects plan of an underground tramways system which had its central station under City Square and linked all of the outlying districts, this idea was from early 1900’s. Just think of the benefits of that today, no traffic jams no expensive link roads or one-way systems and no pollution, a fantastic scheme and very forward thinking. Had it gone ahead it would have saved millions upon millions of pounds in to-days money. regrettably it was shelved and the drawings filed to gather dust in a drawer somewhere.
Over the years things other things have changed dramatically, as a boy one of my jobs was, to go for this, go for that, and usually to the local shop. We had the Co-op which was the largest store I can recall, but generally it was the Corner Shop the Butchers or the Greengrocers, sometimes it would be into town on the tram to go to Leeds Market. Never ever did I have to go to the Supermarket they didn’t exist thank goodness. We do go to the Supermarket today, there like the old corner shop almost one on every corner but I preferred the old system, can you really expect to get the best deal from a Supermarket it’s there to make money. They rate their customers on how quickly they can get your money in their till, It’s true. One store we go to say you can’t put your goods in the bags at the till it slows the process down, they provide a table after the till to do that, well I suppose times money.
There was nothing to equal looking the Fishmonger in the eye and saying my Dad says can we have four cod stakes cut from the neck please, and he’d look down at me and say, your Joe’s Lad aren’t you I know just how he likes them, and I’d put them in the shopping bag and be off home to later put them in a pan cover them with milk and water a pinch of salt and pepper then turn the heat down to low after it started boiling, and let them simmer till Dad got home from work about 15 mins later. Then we’d do Mashed Potatoes and Garden Peas and Dad would make a Parsley Sauce delicious.
It was amazing what those words could do in our local shops my Dad says, and they always knew who my Dad was, I think he must have gone to school with most of them. Then there was the one if he was skint, where I had to say my Dad says can we have a one and a half lbs of stewing steak and he’ll call in after work on Thursday and pay you, I was always a bit embarrassed when I had to say that, but those days we lived hand to mouth, and you never missed paying, because if you did your credit would be no good, and we all needed credit now and then in those days.
Does anyone remember the Club Cheques and Whitsuntide Clothes, I was eight years old in 1945 and I think it was early 1946 before my Dad was demobbed from WW 2. Every year in those days you got new clothes for Whitsuntide, and Mum had joined this Club Check syndicate where you paid so much money every week and then when it was your turn, you got a club check of several pounds to spend, but you could only spend them in certain shops. Whitsuntide was fast approaching and in York Road opposite the Butchers shop, near the Star Cinema was Adleman’s, they sold children’s clothing and school clothes. Armed with the club cheque Mum took me into the shop for a suit for Whitsuntide. Well the first thing Mum said when Mr Adleman came out to serves us was, do you take Club Cheques please. We do Madam he said what a relief, if he’d have said no I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself. He then proceeded to bring out a range of clothes to suit our price range, I was still in short trousers at that time, and the one we chose was made from that woolly Blue material that they made R.A.F uniforms from, the colour suited me and the size was right so we settled on that and bought it, I can still feel it itching when I remember it, It wasn’t top drawer, but it served its purpose and I was set up for another year. I have a photograph taken on Whitsunday of that year which shows me in my new suit, together with my older sister Sheila, and cousins Greta, Shirly and Charles, all of us resplendent in our Whitsuntide clothes, they lived at number 3, Kitchener Street which is off Harehills Lane, Leeds 9 district. It’s not a very good picture unfortunately, but remember cameras were few and far between in those far off days, and film and developing was very expensive, we were lucky to have any pictures to record events. Can you imagine buying clothes only once a year, today it’s a regular occurrence.

When you consider the machine’s we use these days that were never there when we were young, and if they were there we couldn’t afford them, Vacuum Cleaners we used a brush and shovel, Washing Machine and Spinner, we used a tub and a poser, rubbing board and then the mangle, Steam cleaner, we used a mop with disinfectant in the water, Central heating and hot water, we had a coal fire with set pot for hot water, bath and shower, we had a galvanized tin bath that we filled with kettles of hot water, and went to the swimming baths for a shower, Fridge and freezer, we had a larder which was a small well ventilated room with a thick stone slab on which you put your food containers if it looked all right, and the smell was OK, tasted right then you ate it, always remember my Grandad would say, there’s nowt wrong with that lad get it eaten. No use by sell by best before dates just plain ordinary common sense.
We used carbolic soap for most things washing and suchlike we didn’t have a soap for your face, a soap for your hands, a shampoo for your hair, soap for your body, there are more products now for cosmetic purposes it’s commercialisation gone mad, a Marketing mania, just think of the number of different shampoo’s there are on sale, I think they’ve even got one for if you don’t want to wash your hair, if you consider the money that’s been spent on developing these products it must be ginormous, and you’re paying for it all when you buy the goods.
Then there’s the fast foods, in my early days we had Pork Pies (growlers we called them), Sausage Rolls, Cornish Pasties, Fish and Chips, and that was about your lot, I remember in 1956/57 when the first Chinese Restaurant opened in Boar Lane then it wasn’t long before the takeaways started to appear, now there’s a takeaway for almost every nationality you can think of Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Tia Land, Indian, U S of A, Turkish Moroccan, the choice is endless, and there must be a demand for these foods otherwise they wouldn’t be in business for very long. I must say I’ve always enjoyed my Fish and Chips, I can remember going to the original Quarmby’s Fish and Chip Shop that old Mr Quarmby ran, it was in Ascot Street on the corner with Cross Ascot Street opposite where my Grandma lived. One and a halfpenny worth of chips in a little triangular bag, lashed with salt and vinegar, and the vinegar running down your arm I can feel it now after seventy odd years, it’s amazing how a little thing like that never fades from your memory, and is treasured for ever.
I suppose your falling asleep by now thinking we’ve heard it all before, what’s he going on about. Well wake up now I’m about to take you on a ride on a magic carpet. “On wings of song for sailing to distant lands we’ll go”. Air travel has opened the four corners of the World, North, East, South and West, anywhere in the World you can go and rest. The speed at which we travel now it’s difficult to comprehend, before air travel became affordable to the majorities it took days to travel distance we do in hours now. There is a downside of course, each Jumbo Jet you see as a vapour trail in the sky burns one gallon of fuel per second to maintain its flight, that’s a lot of pollution every day seven days a week.
My dad joined the R.A.F in 1941, and he left a book at home called the History of the Aeroplane, I was only just three years old at that time, but it was the only physical thing that I could latch onto that my Dad had, and I looked at the pictures and I tried to understand the words. Then as the years passed and I could read what the book was about, I became fascinated by Aircraft and flying, and the early attempts that were made, I know that we accredit the Wright brothers with the first successful controllable flying machine, and rightly so, but there were others before them, some who gave their lives in a valiant attempt to imitate the flight of the bird. There was a picture in the book of Otto Liliethal flying his glider down a hill on 29th May 1894, I still have that picture imprinted in my memory from all those years ago. It’s a fascinating subject and I started designing and flying model Aeroplanes at a very early age, and I still do, but I only try and simulate natural flight using air and gravity, Gliders. Before I finish I must tell you this, Dad and I used to dream of manpowered flight and we’d design wings and things to try and achieve this, but we never had any money to build anything. One of the things we designed we called Mothman,

I’ve still got the drawings somewhere I’ll post them if I can find them, a couple of years ago I did look them out, and I said I was looking for a volunteer to fly the machine, and my Great grandson said I’ll do it Granddad, how cool was that.
Finally the motor car, I learnt to drive in 1960, I was doing my National Service which was two years of your life wasted, and I thought, I may as well do something that will be of benefit to me when I get out. In those days the mechanics of the engine were easy to understand, and most owners could do their own minor repairs and servicing. Over the years the access to the engine has been made more and more difficult until now without special tools and instruments it’s no longer possible to perform anything other than a water oil lights and tyre check, if you look under the bonnet it’s just all boxed in with no access at all to the engine. It’s just unbelievable that they would go to so much trouble to prevent you from accessing the engine, today without a diagnostic machine for your model it’s almost impossible to do anything at all, and then every activity needs a special tool unbelievable each vehicle is now a captive maintenance market for the manufacturer.
I know I’ve rambled on a bit but I’m putting that down to my age. Peter wrote a story in December 2016, the Magic of Aeroplanes which inspired me in 2017 to build a model Handley Page Victor, I’ll try and include some pictures of it which may be of interest. I know I’ve not covered everything that’s changed in the last eighty years in this tale, perhaps that’s fuel for another story sometime in the future.

I Fear Our Old East Leeds May be Unloved Today

July 1, 2018 by

I FEAR OUR OLD EAST LEEDS MAY BE UNLOVED TODAY.
Followed by a poem: A True Tyke by Eddie Blackwell

When I have a nostalgic wander around the old area (Cross Green, Richmond Hill and East End Park), that bit of terra firma that we old East Leedsers look back upon with great affection, I cannot help but think that the lifeblood has been drawn out of the area. These streets used to be alive with excited children on their way to and from school, usually tarrying to indulge in their children’s games. Now it would seem mams take they children to school, mostly in cars if they have them. I do not image the present incumbents will bother to take a trophy such as a street name plate, or as I have, secured a brick from the old demolished St Hilda’s School, to regale my back garden.

I do not blame the present custodians for the demise of the area, many do not have the East Leeds heritage and although the housing stock has been improved since our day and there are many satellite dishes adorning the walls, they have lost almost all their amenities. Motor cars or busses whisk them out of the area for shopping and pleasure whereas we, more or less a self contained society, lived cheek by jowl with each other and had most things at hand without having to leave the area. This resulted in the development of a good community spirit and a great street corner society. I do not traverse the area after dark but I cannot imagine, after taking in the metal grids on the doors and the large concrete semi-circular spheres blocking off our once friendly streets against ‘joy riders’, that they enjoy good natured banter under the street lamps.

They do not have any pubs, we had twelve or thirteen. They don’t have any cinemas; we had five within walking distance. Primary Schools: We had ten now they just have a new Richmond Hill School, A new All Saints School and a jumble of Porta Cabins.

Perhaps for those who wish to worship we have seen the biggest amenity loss of all. Here is a list of churches and chapels written down by an old Richmond Hill resident in the 1950s: Mount St Mary’s R.C. Church, St Saviours C of E Church, Richmond Hill Wesleyan Methodists Chapel, Bourne Chapel Primitive Methodists, All Saints Church of England, York Road Baptists, St Hilda’s Church of England, Bethel Mission Friends Adults, and Temple View Mission. Zion Clark Lane Chapel. Usually these institutions had Sunday morning service, Sunday school and sometimes even-song so we were kept busy on Sundays and pretty much in touch with community. They all had social attachments: clubs, Scouts, Guides, Boys Brigade, Parties, Jumble sales, outings, camps etc.
Today, St Hilda’s and St Savours survive with tiny congregations, Bourne Chapel, I think is the surviving chapel and Mount St Mary’s has removed to St Therese’s.
Shopping: Dial Street had as many shops in the 1950s as the whole area has today.

Perhaps the biggest difference of all between that which we had and that which is lost today is ADVENTURE! They can’t go for adventures down black Road – It’s a motorway, Red road it’s a grey footpath, Nozzy with its pond it’s an industrial estate. They can’t jump on the back of the paddy train for a ride home or down the navvy it’s all fenced in. They can’t even get chucked out of the Princess by Big Ernie or The Easy Road Bug Hutch by Abe, the local cinemas don’t exist anymore.
What they CAN do, that we could not, is sit inside on a sunny day with a lap top, a mobile phone, i pod, x-box, play station or tablet and while away the hours indoors.
Weren’t we the lucky ones?

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And now a poem by Eddie Blackwell
.A True Tyke.
When I was a young lad there were twelve of us in our family
Mam and Dad nine older sisters and me I was the youngest,
We lived in a hole in the Cemetery covered with asbestos sheets,
Dad was a grave digger so we lived on the job so to speak,
We were that poor that the Church Mice used to leave scraps for us to eat,
And in return we used to chase away the cats to keep them safe,
Well my big sister always said one good turn deserves another,
And she should know she works outside the Town Hall but she says,
Business is slow yet one day she earned £2 and that’s a lot of pennies,
Dad beats us all to sleep with his belt when he gets back from the pub,
And we have a big hole in one corner covered with a wooden pallet,
It acts as a drain when it rains but after a while it starts to smell,
Then Dad fills it in and digs a fresh hole in another corner,
He says we may have to move shortly because the floors a bit muddy,
He’s digging another hole for us to live in at the other side of the cemetery,
They’ll be new neighbours but their always very quiet and reserved,
My younger sisters work in’t Mill 18 hours a day seven days a week,
The pays not good but they say it’s better than’t Town Hall steps,
Well I’m in my late 70’s now and I’ve lived through WW 2 and the 60’s and the 70’s,
It’s been a hard life full of drama and tragedies scrimping and scraping,
I’ve just had a walk through the City Centre it’s changed a lot,
People begging and complaining about living in shop doors,
They don’t know their born these days living in a shop doorway,
It’s like Buckingham Palace they just don’t know when their well off,
Well T.T.F.N. keep smiling be happy and don’t let the bugs bite,
If they do bite ‘m back they go down well with salt and pepper.