The power of the People

September 1, 2022 by

                                     The Power of the People

There is one particular match at Elland Road that stands out more to me for the interval than the match itself. I remember it was against Newcastle United and it was in the early part of the present century when Leeds were in the premier League before our last relegation. It’s a long time ago but I have remembered it all these years.

It so transpired that a local motor car agency, which shall remain nameless (it was Dixons) had taken to advertising their product by driving one of their cars around the perimeter of the Elland Road football pitch at half time. It was usually a little yellow Fiat bedecked in the company’s logo; the idea was that some lucky football fan could win the car by their skill at kicking a football.

The competition involved stringing a sheet across the whole of the goal at the Kop end of the ground, this sheet in addition to providing another advertising board for the company had three holes in it, on the left about half way up the goal was a hole about two feet in diameter on the right was another hole about four feet in diameter and in the centre a tiny hole hardly bigger than the size of the football itself.

idea was for three fans to be selected at random out of the crowd and invited to come down onto the pitch and try with three shots each to win the car. On the field was a white suited master of ceremonies complete with a microphone prancing about and addressing the crowd in a mock American accent in a way only white suited pillocks with microphones can.

The idea was that if a shot went through one of the larger holes the guy or the girl would win a replica Leeds United shirt or meal at a popular restaurant depending on which one of the larger holes they were successful in scoring through.  If they were lucky enough to kick the ball through the two larger holes and the little one, which would be indeed luck for even the guys playing in the match would not have had enough skill to do that as the tiny hole was hardly large enough to allow the ball to be passed through by hand, if in the unlikely event of he/she being successful on kicking the ball through all three holes they would win the car that was being driven around the ground. Dixons had increased the difficulty as previously someone had won the car which obviously had cost them real money and I imagine wasn’t in their plans, hence they required the fan to shoot through all three holes, surely an impossibility. On this particular day a lad in a bright yellow jersey had been called out of the crowd and he managed to score through the tiny hole with his first shot. We all cheered, somehow he then managed to shoot through one of the bigger holes as well and for good measure he scored through the third hole too with his last shot, it was a phenomenal achievement, I would like to have bet that none of the professional players playing in the actual match could have matched that. We all cheered like mad and yellow jersey was holding his hands above his head in triumph he had won the car. Then this berk in the white suite who must have received some information through his headphones walks up to the lad in an uninteresting manner and says, ’Hard luck you shot the balls through the holes in the wrong order you do not win the car,’ and straight away moved onto another subject brushing off the lad’s disappointment as if it were of no consequence. The lad was obviously disappointed and slouched off back to the west stand you could see his yellow jersey making his way back up the terracing. Surely his had been such an astonishing achievement that the order in which he had scored them was obviously of no consequence. In the space of a few moments he had won and lost a car.   

Then almost imperceptibly a murmur could be heard around the ground which turned into audible ‘boo’ low at first but beginning to swell louder and louder with every minute. The prat in the white suite tried to ignore it and continued spouting on about something else but no one was taking any notice of him now, his voice was being drowned even though he had the microphone  such was the extent of the sound it could not be ignored.

The chant then turned from booing to;

 ‘Give the lad his f………g car! Give the lad his f……….car!’  It reached a mighty crescendo and the Newcastle fans joined in too, nothing could be heard from the public address system above the din. It continued right until the players came out for the second half and still went on. White suite was obviously flustered he didn’t know what to do it is perhaps unfair to put all the blame on the lad – he was literally left in the middle by the sponsors to take all the flack but the dismissive way he had shunted yellow jersey aside won him few friends  and now he had to pay with the situation from he’ll.

The way things were going there was no way the match could have commenced against such a barrage. Finally white coat managed to get across that he’d received a message from Peter Ridsdale – the Leeds United chairman and still a good guy at the time – that he would personally pay for the lad his car – great public relations. We all cheered, Yellow jersey came skipping down again from the west stand receiving an ovation all the way down for white suite to finally tip up the keys. That it subsequently turned out that he couldn’t drive was incidental. The point is if the crowd had remained quiet the lad wouldn’t have got the car he so justly deserved. It was down to the people who recognised the injustice and used its united power to re-adjust the outcome. On this day I was proud to count myself part of:

                                                    THE POWER OF THE PEOPLE

                      (I wonder if anyone else remembers that day?)

Bruce’s tale and how the Geriatric Four,Plus Madge and their Bette used their magic Day

August 1, 2022 by

Bruce’s Tale and how the Geriatric Four, Plus Madge and their Bette used their magic Day

                                    Bruce’s tale by Bruce Brewer

We used to walk down black road towards Knostrop. Down there was a pond where we used to fish for gudgeon. It was very small but we called it Danger, Deep Water after the sign on the side. Once, Terry Sidebottom and I were standing on opposite sides of the pond throwing a large wood beam as deep as we could to see how far it would go under. It then surfaced at the other side. He chucked it in his side and it bounced right out of the water and landed on my foot! He was mortified! I limped home and my Mam took me to the Dispensary where they told us that I’d broken a bone in my foot and put a plaster cast on it. Later that evening I was sat on our front step In Oxley Street waiting the sun to dry it when Terry sheepishly come round to show me his prize box of different bird eggs  laid out on straw with names on them all. He passed them across to me to hold and I purposely dropped them and bust quite a few! He said “don’t worry Bruce, it’s no big deal”, but I know it was. Unbelievably we are still friends after more than 65 years since that happened!

My brother Clove who is 85 now walked down to the power station at Skelton Grange with his mate Keith Hewett they decided to climb to the top of the ladder attached to the side of the chimney, they managed to get there and had a gander around and then decided to come down. Mistake! If you look at it, it bulges at the top. Up OK, down no way! They couldn’t get their feet onto the ladder rungs!  Eventually some workmen and the police had to help them down. 

Bruce read last month’s tale about the walk around Cross Green Richmond Hill and East End Park and made the following comment:

I bet you didn’t notice but I walked practically all the way round with you. Once you mentioned the Navvy. I recalled that up near George Sidebottom’s garage we built a cave in the side of the navvy and used to sit secretly in it. Once a bloke shouted ‘gerrata there’ we ignored him, he shouted again and reluctantly we climbed up. I shouted ‘bugger off’ as we scrambled up the hill. When we got to the top it was my dad, I got a good arse whipping for that.

I’m going to tell you how we, the geriatric four plus Madge and Bette, enjoyed our magical day offered by the magic cup.

Well as it transgressed the cup delivered its magic gift we did wake up in 1951 and we remembered we had to make our way to the Snake lane field by nine o’clock. And we all assembled there bright and shiny as 13/14 year olds bursting with energy we looked at each other in amazement, ‘Crikey,’ said Malcolm, ‘Madge and Bette you both look half pretty’

‘Pity we can’t say the same for you,’ was the girls reply.

Right we have got a lot to get through in our magic day,’ said Brian, always the one to take charge of the situation. ‘We are right on site for your sprint, Pete, I’ve got a watch with a second hand on it I’ll time you get to those goal post and I’ll start you off.’

‘I used to be able to do the hundred in eleven seconds,’ I said, ‘that’s the hundred yards of course not the hundred metres.’

I set myself by the top goal post and Brian said the old ’ready, steady, go.’ and I was off as fast as I could go I felt I had loads of energy but somehow I seemed to be treading water a bit, when I got to the other goal posts Brian checked his watch, ‘Thirteen seconds,’ he said.

‘Oh that’s a bit disappointing,’ I said, ‘I used to be able to do it in eleven.’

‘Go on then have another go,’ he said.

So I set myself again and off I sprinted, when I reach ether other end Brian checked his watch again.

‘Sorry mate,’ he said, ‘fourteen seconds this time.’

‘Oh, I’d better give it up,’ I said, ‘I’m getting worse. Perhaps I have been thinking I was faster than I really was and ‘bigging’ myself up when I didn’t deserve it.’

‘Right next it’s Bette and her jumps,’ said Brian, ‘Let’s get down to her field and set the jumps out we’re on a tight schedule.’ said Brian. So off we walked down to Bette’s old farm.

‘Oh goody,’ exclaimed Bette, ‘there’s Prince my old pony still there in the field.’

So we mended the round of jumps which were already laid out in the field, But the pony was skitish and it wouldn’ take the jumps ‘Oh hard luck Bette,’ we said and made off on our short walk to the navvy for Brain’s attempt on its depths. 

Brian had formally descended the navvy by the route we had named ‘the devil’s drop But on this occasion he had chosen to descend form the Copperfield’s side.

‘How are you going to make your descent Brian?’ we asked.

‘Well, I’ll go down via Ginner Rock and the Town Hall Steps and then finally the scree.’

We stood back and encouraged him on but somehow he didn’t seem very confident, he negotiated the Town hall Steps but seemed stuck on Ginner Rock he attempted a further descent a couple of times but he was obviously unhappy  and finally he started to back up he was white and shaking.

‘I’m sorry guys,’ he said, ‘I can’t seem to be able to see a safe way down and I’m windy. I can’t believe it I used to be able to do it easily but that which seemed exciting now seems dangerous, I’m really disappointed with myself.’

‘It’s not going as we expected is it?’ said Malcolm, ‘Pete couldn’t recapture his speed for the hundred yard sprint, Bette couldn’t get her pony to perform and

Now Brian has failed with the navvy. Come on let’s get on the number 61 bus and hope Madge has better luck at the Mecca,’ I said.

Madge had brought some dancing shoes with her and had managed to keep reasonably tidy but the rest of us were beginning to look a bit scruffy. I was sweaty after my attempt at sprinting; Brian was less than pristine after his battle with the navvy. In fact as we walked up the County Arcade to the Mecca we looked a bit of a motley bunch.

The doorman took one look at us and said, ‘You scruffy lot aren’t coming in here dressed like that.’ We argued with him for a bit and then he said, ‘The young ladies can come in but not the rest of you.’

‘Go on Madge you and Bette can go in and have a dance together we’ll wait for you out here.’ So they went in and we sat on the steps. They were only in there about twenty minutes and then they came out, they weren’t looking happy.

‘What’s up girls? ‘I said, ‘you weren’t in there very long.’

‘The lads were rude to us,’ said Madge, ‘and the disc jockey, a guy with tartan hair was getting familiar with us.’

I nudged Malcolm and said, ‘I bet that was Jimmy Saville.’

Even Malcolm was quiet and didn’t try to put Madge down for once.

‘So that leaves my tram ride and Bri’s swim.’ said Malcolm.  ‘I bet it will be a bit cold Bri, I hope you’ve brought your trunks and where’s you towel?’

Anyway we caught a tram in Briggate and went upstairs to the wooden slat seats, there was seemingly something wrong with the tram as they couldn’t seem to be able to get it moving.

‘This reminds me of a tale my dad used to tell,’ I began. ‘ My dad used to be a tram driver and this particular day the Leeds Corporation were unveiling a brand new type of tram that was supposed to be so easy to drive that anyone could drive it and the Lord Mayor had been invited to unveil  the tram and then be the first to drive it. Well just like this the blooming thing it wouldn’t move they tried all sorts and then they had the embarrassment of aborting the unveiling, as it turned out it seemed that my dad who had driven the tram to the place of the unveiling had left the brake on at the other end of the tram.’

They all had a little chuckle. Just then there was a jerk and our tram started off. It jumped and jerked up Roundhay Road and it had put the ticket collector in a bad mood when we tried to pay half fair because were under sixteen he became obnoxious with us it was altogether an unfortunate ride and not what Malcolm had hoped for, finally it gave up the ghost at Oakwood clock and we had to walk the rest of the way across the Soldier’s fields.

‘Another disappointment,’ said Malcolm. ‘You build things up into something they never were in the first place then you’re disappointed. I don’t suppose trams ever were ever as comfortable as a modern coach anyway.’

We walked down to the lake from the main gates; Bri had brought his trunks and he got changed behind a bush, he was already shivering.

‘Are you sure you want to try this?’ said Madge, ‘it looks awfully cold and an awfully long way across,’ 

‘And awfully dangerous too,’ said Bette.

‘I’ll be alright,’ said Bri, but he didn’t look alright he looked white and shivering.

‘We are not going to let you attempt to do it without an accompanying boat,’ we insisted. ‘Look someone has left a boat un-attended two of us will row across with you in case you get tired. The rest of us can have a rest on the grass.’

We stated rowing the boat with Bri swimming alongside, he started off strongly but after about 300 yards we could see he was starting to struggle his arm and leg coordination was out of sync and he was beginning to splutter. ‘Get in the boat, Bri,’ we said, ’you’ve given it a good crack.’  He complained but we grabbed him and pulled him in.

‘I don’t know why I thought I could do it all the way across, the last time I tried it I had to be pulled out too but you always think you can do better than you really can, don’t you?’

We got him to the bank and dried him off with some excess clothing we mustered between us.

Let’s get him to the café and get some hot Bovril down him we decided. He was still shivering

We sat there in the café drinking Bovril and all chastised.

‘I wasn’t up to the swim,’ said Bri.

‘And I was scared of the navvy,’ said Brian.

‘I couldn’t run for toffee,’ I said.

‘I didn’t enjoy the jumps,’ said Bette.

‘Nor me the tram,’ said Malcolm.

‘Nor me at the Mecca lunch- time dance,’ said Madge, ‘it was awful,’

‘Perhaps being young was not all we made it out to be,’ said Bri, ‘it was never plain sailing even as a teenager there were always challenges to be met and heartache.’

‘And look at us now; have we ever had such great mates or great adventures?’

There was a juke box playing in the corner, I went over and pulled the plug out and it stopped.

‘What did you do that for, Pete?’ said Malcolm.

‘Well, we’ve been disappointed with so many things today I’m not going to chance adding fifties music to the list,’ I said.

‘Good on ya,’ said Malcolm.

‘Have we got enough left in the kitty for fish and chips?’ Somebody said to Bette who the treasurer.

‘Ya, I think we can just manage it,’ replied Bette.

‘At least we’re lucky we’re still alive at our age,’ said Madge,

‘Ya, we can’t die as young folk anymore now, can we?’ said Brian

Let’s make the most of it and go fill our boots ’

We linked arms and set off for the park gates.

‘Step it gaily off we go,

Heel to heel and toe to toe………..’   

An imaginary walk around Cross Green,Richmond Hill,and East End Park with Old School Mates.

July 1, 2022 by

An Imaginary Walk Around Cross Green, Richmond Hill, and East End Park with Old School Mates.

Four of us old guys and two girls who had been at school together in the 1940s had recently met up at a reunion and shared nostalgic tales, here is one of an imaginary walk around our old locality.

The date that suited us all turned out to be the following Thursday and we decided we would finish up with a picnic on everyone’s favourite place: East End Park and duties were allocated for bringing the coffee, biscuits and the scones etc. Came the day for our local nostalgic adventure and we set off from Jimmy Goodall’s old off licence on Cross Green Lane and walked up Fewston Avenue. The first point of interest we came to was the railway bridge across the navvy, we noticed it was now closed to traffic and there had been an attempt to install some troughs filled with flowers to brighten the bridge up a bit. The ‘navvy’, as we called it, was an eighty foot deep railway cutting which had been cut in 1899 to allow goods trains to pass from the main line at Neville Hill to Hunslet Goods Yard and beyond

                                                The Navvy

‘Oh look they have put metal railings up so you cannot walk along the parapet.’ said Bette.

‘What do you mean to say you walked across the parapet? Bette, that was a bit dangerous, a gust of wind and you would have been in for an eighty foot fall.’

‘Yer, it was a regular thing for us,’ said Bette, ‘and we used to muscle across the Monkey Bridge a bit further up too.’

‘Well, I never walked the parapet,’ I said, ‘but I did climb down the vertical side.’

‘We all did that,’ said Bri, ‘you were a wimp if you didn’t at least once stand on the lines at the bottom of the navvy; it was a badge of courage.’

‘We had names for all the stations on the descent didn’t we, I recall there was; ‘Ginner Rock’ and the ‘Town Hall Steps’ and if you managed to get passed there the last thirty feet were easy you just slid down gravel scree. It was not so easy climbing back up again.’

‘That was on the Copperfield’s side,’ said Brian, ‘when I was a lad I lived in the Glencoe’s and we climbed down the other side of the navvy at a place we called ‘the Devil’s Drop’.

                              The Devil’s Drop

‘It was like that mountaineers call a ‘chimney’. There was the brickwork of the bridge on one side and the rock of the navvy on the other. You put your back to the wall and your feet to the rock and shuffled down.’

‘Now that was a really dangerous manoeuvre,’ I said, ’but do you remember David Wilson?  He went one even better; he jumped all the way down near the Bridgefield Pub for a bet, six pence and some comics.’

‘Yes and he broke his arm too,’ someone countered, ‘and he never got the six pence or the comics, of course he has become a legend for his daring deed. Health and Safety have stopped all that now with all those railings, you’d cause more harm to yourself trying to get over those spiked railings than climbing down the actual navvy.’

‘Do you know though,’ said Brian, ‘I’d still like another go at climbing down the old navvy,’

‘What, In the state you’re in now? You’d never make it in one piece,’ said Malcolm.

‘I know,’ said Brian, ‘but I’d just like to have a try. ‘

We did manage to have a peep through the fence to that Brian called ‘The Devil’s Drop before we moved on to ‘The Ginnel’.

‘Oh look the roof has gone from the ginnel,’ said Madge. ‘It’s open to the sky now that the paddy train doesn’t have cross over to the coal staithe, it used to be quite  a bit spooky,’ said Madge, not really frightening but you were always glad to get through it, but I don’t think there were the muggers around then that we have around today.’

Next up on our nostalgic ramble we came to the site of the old Easy Road Picture House. Now it was an improvised car wash where young guys were washing cars. ‘Oh I remember the old ‘Bug Hutch,’ piped up one of our voices.

‘You mean ‘The Picture House Easy Road,’ piped up another. ‘It was scruffy but allegedly had the best ‘talkie’ in Leeds’.

‘Do you remember Abe White the jovial Jewish proprietor? He used to stand at the door in his dress suit with a ‘Good evening I hope you enjoy the show’, to all his patrons. If you were not sixteen, which included most of us at the time, you had to buttonhole an adult and say, ‘will you tek us in missus’.

‘Yes, Abe’s sisters used to man or rather woman the pay box didn’t they.’

Abe used to turn a blind eye if you were about thirteen or fourteen, his cinema would have been half empty if he had kept strictly to the rules.

I once got clotched from the Easy Road,’ said Malcolm, ‘by Abe himself. I had been messing about and making too much noise down in the six pennies they were the wooden benches weren’t they, Abe came down and told me off, but I was still misbehaving and Abe came down a second time and pulled me out, as I was going out I grabbed hold of the bench and said can I have this for the bonfire, Right you’re clotched he said, you will not be allowed in here again. But it so happened that soon after that poor old Abe died and his sisters didn’t know I had been cotched so I was back in there like a shot.’

‘You were lucky to get back in then,’ said Bette, ‘if I remember though Abe was strict but fair.’ 

‘Do you remember the old Easy Road flicks had a balcony, it was a shilling to go up there you would only usually go up there if you were with your mam and dad we could never afford a shilling ourselves. When you think the prices were six old pence at the front (it was only five old pence at the Premier Cinema) nine old pence at the back down stairs at the Easy Road and a shilling in the balcony. Six pence in old money was only two and a half pence in new money and a shilling only five new pence and we thought things were expensive.

The front row of the balcony had an upholstered front rail and I thought it was referred to as the ‘A’ box as it was the first line but in actual fact it was really referred to as the ‘hay’ box as it appeared to be stuffed with hay which was starting to come out. But we had some great times at the Easy Road flicks, didn’t we life would have been poorer for us without the ‘flicks’. 

We moved off into Dial Street. ‘Where have all the shops gone?’ Someone asked. ‘There used to be dozens of shops starting on Easy Road from the ginnel exit and moving up Easy Road, then Dial Street and onto Accommodation Road.

Starting on Easy Road There was Alf Allen, the butcher, Nelson the barber, Hall’s chemist, Rocket’s and Louth green grocers, Pecks shopkeeper and father up Wall’s ice cream and the NAAFI bakery. On the other side there was Bill Benn’s bike shop The Porterprinter’s yard, Easy Laundry, Boxup’s, then after the Easy Road picture House there was East Leeds Working men’s club, Overend’s fish shop, and the Breeze Block concrete Company, They had an annexe at Knostrop too I believe. 

Madge was toting up all the different shops there used to be on the three streets: Easy Road, Dial Street, and Accommodation Road, ‘there were three chemists: Halls, Hutton’s and later Alexander’s and Timothy Whites up Dial Street. That was at least three and I’m not sure there wasn’t another up Dial Street and butchers, how many butchers were there? There was Alf Allen’s,  , Revel’s, Cardis, Dawson’s Frank Ward’s Beal’s, Quimby,s and then of course the Co-op had a butchery department.’

Yes, don’t forget the coop,’ said Brian, ’everybody had to remember their co-op number to get their ‘divi’ paid.’

‘And don’t let us forget the confectioners’, said Malcolm.

Mr Emmott was the newsagent he held we lads in the palm of his hand he had the the contract to distribute comics in the area, comics were on a permit in the area because of the war effort, it was a seller’s market he only let his favourites have them and if you stepped out of line, goodbye comic.   

‘I remember my mam shopped at the Thrift Stores,’ I said, ‘she used to drag me there by her hand, the shop was always full to the door with women and their babies, the bacon machine was always whirling away cutting rashers off the bacon and it had me in mind of that old music hall joke, ‘Please don’t sit your babies on the bacon machine, ladies we are getting a little behind with the orders.’ A little later I believe another of our old class mates, Glenny, served in the shop.’

Now we came to the streets called The Bertha’s, Those streets had women’s names didn’t they, Like The Bertha’s, the Nellie’s and the Elsie’s, probably the names of the builders daughters. Those streets were filled with our contemporary friends who attended: Mount St Mary’s, Ellerby Lane, All Saints and St Charles’s schools, you didn’t know them all to speak to but you knew most of them by sight as they tended to do the same things as we did.

Now we were coming to the Chapels, New Bourn, and Richmond Hill, sadly the chapels that flourished in the 19th and early 20th centuries were now badly depleted in the 21st century. Here too was the surgery of Doctor Devlin and Wade the dentist. ’I bet we’ve missed loads out.’ I said.

We were now at the site of the old Prospect Hotel. ‘I was in the prospect one night when the mother of all fights broke out,’ said Brian, ‘I was  in there having a quiet drink with a few maters in the singing room, there were two huge parties of lads in there, there must have been twenty lads in each party taking up a half a dozen tables up each. One group were easily identifiable as they were all decked out in string ties, You could see they didn’t like each other there had been a few curt words and a few drinks spilt. Towards the end of the night you sensed something was developing and it kicked off just before closing time all forty lads started fighting, we took to the walls to give ‘em room, Buffets were flying and there was blood and broken glass everywhere, guys were laid out on the floor. My mate, George, said, ’look they’re putting ‘em a fresh tie on and sending them out again.’ The room was completely trashed, there were no bouncers on hand to sort this sort of thing out in those days they relied on a tough landlord to quell such things but this was something else, I think they had to close the singing room down for a bit until they got it sorted out, we used to refer to it as ‘The Battle of the Prospect’.

We were now descending Richmond Hill towards York Road passing the site of our Iconic Richmond Hill School, which was bombed by the Germans on the 14th March 1941. It was through the night so there were no fatalities but the pupils were scattered around the area mostly to Ellerby Lane School or evacuated for safety completely out of the area. Richmond Hill School had a good football team, so did Mount St Mary’s it is said when they played each other on East End Park it attracted a four figure crowd.

The railway cutting was really deep at this point it had at one time in its early build been a tunnel and even now the bridge was about 100 yards long with buildings constructed upon it. There was another pub down Accommodation Road too before we reached The Hope in, That was the Accommodation Inn a grand little Melbourne pub opposite yet another fish and chip shop that you entered on a slant.

Madge pointed out to the left. ‘Oh look Edgar Street Clinic used to be there, didn’t it? Who remembers Edgar Street Clinic?’

Well, we all did, you went on your own, mams didn’t take kids to the dentists in those days. The waiting room was a place of purgatory, you slid along wooden benches waiting your turn and listening to the screams from the inner sanctum, kids often lost their nerve when it was their turn next and went to the back of the queue again. When you got into the surgery they would put a horrible green mask over your face and a metal clip into your mouth to hold it open. If you needed the drill it would be a foot drill affair. When they had finished with you, you passed into another room with a line of sinks where kids were spitting out blood everyone moved up a sink to accommodate the new arrival. Ellerby Lane School also had their woodwork department on Edgar Street.

We were now at the Hope Inn (still Standing). The trams ran past here on York Road and it was here the number 63 bus turned at right angles from York Road into Accommodation Road. Straight across used to be the huge multi story York Road Board School but it had been derelict as long as I could recall.

At the other side of York Road was the Saville Green district. We played football against their school but it was generally a bit out of our arear.

We turned right here and passed that which was formally the Hemmingway’s Brewery. It just struck me that If you had grown up in a close knit community like ours you became familiar with every stick of the area. Having said that the next up was the popular York Road Baths and Library and I had never been in there, that was because our school used Joseph St baths and at the weekends we tended to jump on the 61 bus and attend Union Street baths in Eastgate which was easier to get to. 

‘Oh! I used to go to the York Road baths and the Library,‘ said Brian, ‘the changing cubicles got so full we had to get changed on the balcony, I think they had other arrangements for the ladies. Some nutters used to jump into the baths from that balcony and when the guard wasn’t present they would muscle along the metal beam that crossed the bath and drop in in the middle. Ellerby Lane School used to have their swimming lessons there and they talked of a demon swimming instructor who was quite cruel to them he used to push them under with a long pole, some used to talk about dreading having to go to his swimming lessons but he must have had something about him as he trained Doris Story who went on to win the breaststroke at the then Empire Games and they say she would have won the Olympics if they hadn’t changed the technicalities of the breaststroke. She later went on to take over her parent’s fish and chip shop which was close to here.    Next up we came to Eveleigh Road. ‘Oh this is where we used to go dancing at the LUYMI.’ Said Madge, .

We continued to move further up York Road and the old Star Cinema came into view on the other side of the road, now advertising as a martial arts gym

Once cinemas began opening on Sundays in the mid-fifties the Star Cinema became a favourite venue for ‘boy meets girl’. ‘Do you remember the length the queue got to sometimes on a Sunday,’ said Malcolm ‘it wound right around the building and you feared there would not be enough room inside to get us all in.’

‘The thing was,’ I said, ‘the programme was continuous,  if it got full  they would wait till a couple came out then they let a couple more in so when you managed to get in the main picture might be half over, so you had to pick the film up and watch it to the end, sit through the interval, watch the shorts and the newsreel and then watch the main picture until you get to the part you had seen and that was when the old phrase developed, ‘this is where we came in’ and you left the cinema and allowed two more to come in, unless that was the last showing of course.’

‘Yes it wasn’t ideal but like everything else, you just got on with it. Anyway you didn’t just go there to see the film it was a social event as well wasn’t it?’

We now approached the site of the old Victoria School, it was now a single story nursery school but we all remembered when it was a huge multi story school.

‘They had a good football team here in the 40s and 50s, ‘I said, do you remember Willie Knott? He was a sporting legend the best at everything he attempted and do you remember that iconic Schools Cup final in 1951: Victoria v Ellerby Lane, which became known as the ‘lucky dressing room final’ The Ellerby Lane school team had sent a lad up to claim the ‘Lucky Dressing Room’ but the Victoria school team arriving later turfed him out and took over the lucky dressing room themselves and the luck of the dressing room held true, although Ellerby Lane were favourites to win Victoria won the match. Much bad blood followed between the two schools over that ‘turfing out’ incident for many years.’   

                                                          Victoria School

‘But we St Hilda’s lads remember Victoria School for something entirely different, don’t we lads,’ said Malcolm.

‘Yes,’ we replied in unison, ‘Cleggy!’

We lads from St Hilda’s School attended the woodwork class at Victoria every Friday afternoon from the age of about eleven onwards.

‘Go on tell the tale about Cleggy Pete, ‘I’ve heard you tell of the infamous ‘Cleggy’ before but give us it again.’ said Malcolm.

‘OK here we go,’ I said, ‘Cleggy: Cleggy, the woodwork teacher at Victoria School was a legend. Victoria was a large school for its day and had its own woodworking department; our school didn’t, so we attended theirs every Friday afternoon from about the age of twelve or thirteen onwards.

Before you embarked upon this adventure for the first time you would be painted a picture of Cleggy by the lads who were already attending the woodwork class. ‘He’s about six feet four – with eyes like saucers,’ one would say. ‘He’s a little weedy bloke with hands like shovels,’ another would say. ‘He hits you across the head with pieces of  two by one,’ would say another. Each one altered the tale a bit so you didn’t know exactly what to expect – but you had an idea you weren’t going to like him.

Tales of him abounded, ‘If you spoil a piece of wood,’ they would say, ‘he’ll ask you what you want – the mallet or the chisel? If you say mallet he lays your head on the bench and whacks it with the mallet about an inch from your head so that your head bounces up and down on the boards, if you say chisel, he lays your hand on the bench and goes in and out of your fingers in quick succession with the chisel. If you move your hand you’ve lost a finger.’ You can image that with all this build-up we lined the stone steps up to the Victoria Woodworking Department on our first Friday, prim in our new white aprons but filled with trepidation.

‘Be quiet!’ boomed a voice from aloft.    You could have heard a pin drop.  After an eternity of complete silence came the order, ‘Come!’ We marched up in single file and lined up to attention in front of several rows of benches and there saw for ourselves the redoubtable ‘Cleggy’. He was a man in his sixties, not tall but barrel chested beneath a brown dustcoat, his bulging eyes had beady centres and nestled beneath huge bushy white eyebrows, which were by far his most prominent feature. So this was the famous ‘Cleggy’.

You could tell he was held in awe for some of the lads in attendance were absolute villains back at our school but here they weren’t making a whimper.  Proceedings began with a reading of the register. Cleggy would read out your name and you answered, ‘Here sir’, he’d make a stroke for ‘here’ and a naught for ‘absent’.    Woe betide anyone arriving this week who had a naught entered against his name last week – Cleggy would pause upon such an name for an inordinate period allowing tension to build up, then very slowly he would lift his head and scan the line beneath those bushy eyebrows – when he located the unfortunate culprit he’d rip him apart with verbal ridicule. This charade ensured that one turned up for woodwork by hook or by crook in order to avoid this public humiliation.  There was one lad however, Geoff Mellish, who had a long string of noughts after his name, he’d been off that long he daren’t come back.  When Cleggy reached his name in the register he’d just make rude noises with his mouth, ‘Mellish – braarp’ and move on.

Once this initial ordeal was out of the way we’d begin work on our particular pieces and Cleggy was OK – he’d persevere with you if he thought you were trying and there was no doubt that he really knew his stuff. If he thought you hadn’t tried though he’d call everyone round your bench with a piercing whistle, then he would put your piece in a vice and proceed to tighten it until the piece disintegrated and you were left red faced. 

If he caught your messing about or watching the girls playing netball out of the window – they had some big lasses at Victoria – then the pieces of 2” x 1” would fly, a  woodworking room is no place for larking around. Of course he never actually aimed to hit anyone.  I don’t think many of us lads minded so much being punished for a ‘clean cop’. Especially back at our school the cane was the natural order of the day. Corporal punishment is frowned upon today but for us it was no big thing, it stung for a moment then it was over, you bit your lip and showed the rest you weren’t hurt. If you managed to do that then you had taken another step on the road to manhood.  A teacher would often congratulate a lad who took his punishment without rancour. Now if the punishment was to miss a sports lesson, then that was really the bad news. (Girls didn’t have the cane).

About five minutes before home time Cleggy would give one of his famous whistles, when we heard this we had to stop dead in our tracks like statues. This was the signals that all tools had to be returned to their racks, we had one stand for pencils and another for rubbers – if a pencil or rubber was missing we stayed until it was found, sometimes we were still looking twenty minutes after we should have been going home but the item had to be found before we could go and always was, nothing went missing permanently.

The day came which is indelibly etched on my memory, out of the blue Melish turned up, some frightful consequence must have been threatened by the headmaster back at our school to warrant such a suicidal mission. We lined up in the usual fashion, Cleggy began to read out the register with his normal wry comments and rude noises for anyone who had been missing the previous week, we waited in electric anticipation for him to reach Mellish’s name. ‘Mellish – bruurp’. Cleggy prepared to move on as a matter of course when from somewhere in the line was heard a timorous ‘Here sir’.    The ensuing silence was the longest yet it seemed to go on forever. Finally the teacher’s head began to rise, ever so slowly – up came those bushy eyebrows, up came the bulging eyes with the beady centres and began to scan the line, he didn’t know all of us as individuals as we only came to Victoria for half a day a week and he had several other schools who came too. ‘Mellish’ he said again, in incredulous tone.  ‘Here sir’, answered Geoff, the tallest lad amongst us but now shrunk to half his size, ‘Here sir’.  Cleggy slowly rose to his feet and pointed towards the door, ‘Go back to your own school’ he said, ‘and ask them to give you some knitting to do.’

Geoff left the room and was never to be seen in Cleggy’s woodworking section again.

Cleggy retired during our stint in his class, which would have been around 1950, so we can assume he was born in Victoria’s reign, his values were those of the ‘old school’ he demanded respect and he got it and I bet you couldn’t count the number of craftsmen joiners and carpenters he’d turned out during his long teaching career. He lived in hope of receiving a decent delivery of timber for us to work upon, but with the war recently over materials still was scarce, timber was needed for post-war recovery and our stools, teapot stands and bathroom cabinets had a low priority.  The timber we did have through was pine and pine gives off the sweetest of scents when worked, even today when I catch the sweet smell of pine I’m pleasantly transported back to Cleggy’s woodwork room and reminded of the ever absent Mellish.’   

‘We had cookery classes here too didn’t we Madge in a class room underneath the woodworking room but it was not as seemingly traumatic as your woodworking class,’ said Bette. The old school friends discussed the cookery classes as we progressed further up York Road.

Almost all the shops were closed and shuttered now we noticed on a road which once had been as lively as the town centre, much of that was obviously due to the fact that York Road, once a single carriageway with tram lines down the centre and even cobbled in places was now a busy dual carriageway with fly overs and cars travelling at manic speed, you couldn’t have crossed the road now if you had wanted to apart from the new subways, which didn’t lend itself to friendly local shopping.

When we finally reached Victoria Avenue, which is the street that runs down from York Road to East End Park and then on through the park itself, it became more as we remembered it. The avenue had been blocked off at the top where it once exited into York Road and was still a pleasant tree lined avenue and the houses had retained their little front gardens. It encouraged us to link arms across the street and burst into our signature tune: Off to Marie’s Wedding: Step it gaily off we go heel to heel and toe to toe, our spirits were lifted after the disappointment of York Road.

We were now at the former gates to East End Park, there were just the pillars remaining now and a low metal security barrier all the way around the park baring access to wheeled vehicles.

‘Oh, the park used to be so fine didn’t it? ’ said Brian.

‘Yes, and it still is nice and tidy now’ said Bri ‘and there is still a children’s playground.’

‘But there’s no paddling pool or sandpit,’ someone added.

‘The trouble with paddling pools and sandpits is that broken glass invariably finds its way into then and kids get their feet cut.’

‘Do you remember,’ said Malcolm, ‘we used to assemble in the kids playground on our way up to woodwork on a Friday afternoon?’

‘I do and do you remember the longboat,’ said Bri, ‘and that maniac lass – the demon long-boater – you were brave if you dared get on when she was controlling it, she would set it swinging far higher than it was supposed to go and it used to go into that we called ‘the locks’ where it would come to a dead stop and if you weren’t prepared it would throw you right off.’

‘Happy days,’ said Brian, ‘and do you remember the band stand? It’s  gone now it was a gazebo type thing but look the foundation stones are still there we can sit on those to have our picnic.’

Seated on the stones we dished our picnic out overlooking the engine sheds and the football pitches, each of us delving into or own personal memories of the park.

The Engine sheds were still there Neville Hill is still a major railway hut but the big hopper has gone the one we called ‘the coal cracker’ it used to be one of the focal points in old East Leeds.

The conversation returned to memories of the old band stand. ‘Sunday afternoon’s used to be the time when the band stand was at its height the brass or silver band would set its stall out on the bandstand and play genteel songs of the moment, Gilbert and Sullivan, the Merry Widow, the Maid of the Mountain that type of thing. I’m told between the wars guys would parade in blazers and straw Benjie’s and the ladies in skirts or dresses, no slacks or trousers then for the ladies.   The yob culture was a distant nightmare of the future.’

We finished up the picnic and tidied up. ’That’s about it then isn’t it ‘said Madge ’we’ve done the full circle.’

‘Not quite, ‘I said, ‘what about our most local site: our school playing fields. Snake Lane or St Hilda’s field as it used to be called when it was owned by the church.’

‘Yes, we’ve got to give good old Snakey a visit before we finish,’ was the consensus.  So we made our way out of the bottom gates of the park which were now two just a couple of pillars too.

‘The parkie used to lock the gates up at dusk, didn’t he,’ said Brian, ‘he was very strict’.

‘Yes, he did,’ replied Malcolm, ‘he was a demon but there  were railings all the way round then to lock up, they took them away for the war effort.’

We crossed back over the bridge across the railway close to where Doctor  Holliday had his surgery and passed by the railway cottages with their plaque ‘1934’, passed the site of the former Bridgefield pub, that used to be a fine building cut down in its prime. We passed over the place on Cross Green Lane where the old paddy train crossed taking its coal from Waterloo Colliery to the staithe the bottom of Easy Road.

‘Do you remember there was an old guy who sat in a little hut across the road  and he came out a couple of times a day with a red flag to stop the traffic on Cross Green Lane to allow the train to pass,’ said Malcolm.

‘What a job that was,’ said Bri, ‘the train only crossed a couple of times a day, I suppose he was just a retired miner or someone who had been injured in the mine ’

‘Can you remember the names of those paddy engines?’ said Brian, ‘I can, there was Kitchener, which had four wheels, Jubilee and Dora which had six wheels each, later there was Antwerp and Sylvia.’

‘They were grand old engines,’ I said, ’built in the Victorian era. When we were playing our impromptu games of football on old Snakey we never had a watch and we always argued when we should finish those losing wanted the game to go on so they could level and those winning wanted it to end so they would be winners so we used to say we’ll finish when the paddy engine passes the top goal post. The paddy train also used to pick miners up at the Bridgefield and take them to the mine and back again at the end of the shift, it was a long walk to work if they missed the one and only train, no busses down Black Road in those days.’

We entered our good old Snakey sports field some new children’s playground equipment had appeared at the top and the old top pitch had been completely re-laid and a retaining fence erected to stop supporters encroaching onto the field of play and so allowing the team to compete in a higher class of the game but it was now a rugby pitch and the bottom pitch which used to be our pitch for school matches had gone completely and was now a builder’s car park.

The grass tennis courts the bowling green and the terra cotta dressing rooms were also gone. We were standing on the rubble which had once been the largest of the terra cotta dressing rooms.

‘Do you remember there used to be a metal drinking bowl attached to the wall here with a tap above it,’ said Brian.

‘Yes, I remembered, ‘It had an iron cup held by a chain so no one could nick it , Amazing we all drank from it but we never seemed to poison each other, did we?’

Malcolm had gone a bit glassy eyed he seemed to be thinking deeply and then he began to speak. ‘Do you know I was up here on my own one day, it was early evening and there was an old guy standing alone he must have been about the age we are now, he seemed to be out of it a bit and he was chuntering to himself, “It only does it for you once, It only does it for you once” I remember saying to him It only does what for you once, old love.  “It only takes you back one time” he said. It only takes you back where? I asked him, I thought he was just an old eccentric and I was trying to placate him a bit but he seemed quite coherent, “It’s the cup” he said, “it has magic properties because hundreds of only young folk have drunk out of it over the years it has  built up an overfill of youth and if an old person drinks out of it, say like me, an eighty year old, some of the overfill of youth spills into him, but it will only do it for you once.” I didn’t believe him of course but I was intrigued, How does it work then, “Well if you drink out of the cup it will allow you to have one day at an age seventy years younger I woke up the following morning and had shed seventy years, I was twelve years old again and I lived out the day as a twelve year old, it was wonderful but I’ve been back here numerous times trying to buy another day as a twelve year old but it has only allowed me that once.” With that he shuffled sadly away and I never saw him again. I never thought anything about it at the time and it went out of my head. But just think we are at that age he was now, think how we would benefit from having a day seventy years younger – we’d be about thirteen/ fourteen years old wouldn’t we it would be 1951 what a time we could have!’

‘Well, it sounds like a tall tale,’ said Madge, ‘but look, the cup has gone anyway.’

‘Yes, sadly it has,’ said Bri, ‘but look there’s quite a bit of old rubble strewn  around you never know the cup might still be here amongst this lot.’

So we searched through all the bits of terra cotta and general rubbish most had been thrown into the site of the old allotments that had formally been alongside the sports-field but now themselves overgrown. We were almost on the point of giving it up as a bad job when Bette who had been searching a little further afield walked back to join us she was smiling and holding something behind her back, she walked right up to the main body of us who were just standing talking with our hands behind our backs  ready to pack up, she waited until she go right up to us and then with a triumphant ‘Da-Da’ she produced from behind her back the iron cup still swinging on  its metal chain.

We looked it over it was dirty and rusty but there was no doubting it was the original cup for it was familiar to all of us, every one of us had drunk from it at one time or another.

‘Shall we give it a try,’ I said.

‘Well the original tap has gone so we don’t have the water,’ said Brian.

‘But is it the water or just the cup?’ I offered.

‘Well the old guy who talked to Malcolm said it was the cup, didn’t he,’ said Bri. ‘Have we any water left from the picnic?’

Madge had a look in her bag and said, ’I think there’s just enough for one gulp each if we fancy it.’

‘Who’s game?’ I said and nobody declined.

‘It’s all full of compounded muck,’ wailed Madge.

‘We can use a bit of the water to clean most of the muck out of it then fill it up with what we have left and just have a drink out of the top,’ I said.

So with the cup full we prepared to drink.

‘Just a minute let’s think this through,’ said Malcolm, ‘For a start it’s probably just a tall tale but if it does work will we be transported back seventy years to say 1951, we were all in the same class so we are all roughly the same age we will be just ready to leave school, will we be transported from here or will we wake up in the morning and be young again at home?’

‘And will we be as we were then or will we know what we know now?’ said Brian.

‘That old guy said he woke up in his bed at home and had a full day seventy years younger and lived out his wonderful day until bedtime just as he wished.’

‘Well, let’s consider if we did wake up in bed and we were 13/14 years old what would each of us like to do, what would you like to do? Pete,’ asked Bri.

‘I thought for a minute and then I said, ‘Presumable if we went back 70 years things would be as they were 70 years ago the bottom pitch would still be here, I used to be a decent runner but I daren’t even try to run flat out now for fear of doing myself and mischief, I’d like to set off from the top goal post and run flat out to the bottom goal post without fear of having a heart attack.’

‘Good choice,’ said Brian, ‘and what would you like to do, Bette?’

‘Well, Iused to love riding my Pony particularly in Gym Kharnas, I’d like to make a ring of jumps down Black Road on my old farm and ride him round the jumps.’

‘How about you Bri what would be your wish?’

‘Well,’ said Bri, ‘I was a decent swimmer I once swam across Roundhay Park Lake; I’d like to do it again.’

‘That’s a bit dangerous,’ complained Madge, ‘Roundhay Park Lake is supposed to be bottomless a few have drowned in there,’

‘Well I’d like to give it another go,’ said Bri. ‘How about you, Brian, what would you like to do ?’

Brian had obviously been thinking about it, ‘Well ever since we just looked down the navvy I’ve had a yearning to climb down it again for old time’s sake, obviously I couldn’t attempt it in this useless old body but if I were young again I could give it a go.’

‘What about you, Madge?’ 

‘Well, as you know I always liked to go dancing, I’d like to go dancing to one of those lunch time sessions they used to hold at the Mecca in the County Arcade, In the Leeds City Centre.’

‘Well, that just leaves you, Malcolm, if we manage to get back in time what would you like to do?’

‘Well mine is a simple request, I always lamented the passing of the tramcars in 1959, I really had a thing for the old trams, I’d like a ride on an old tram.’

‘Right what have we got?’ said Brian, ‘sprint, horse jump. Navvy, dance, tram ride, swim.   So if we manage to get back to 1951, meet up here at nine o’clock, Pete can have his sprint here between the posts, then we go down to Bette’s field set up a jump course, back for my attempt on the navvy, a bus ride in to town on the old 61 bus, up the arcade for Madge’s dance at the Mecca, and then a tram ride to Roundhay Park for Malcolm and finally it’s Bri’s  swim across Roundhay Park Lake.’

‘You seem to have got it all sorted, Brian,’ I said, ‘it sounds like a plan.’

‘Well that ties it up nicely, ‘said Bri, ‘but what if it’s a school day and what if we can’t remember what we decided to do.’

‘Oh that’s a lot of if’s and but’s let’s play it by ear, but remember to find some old money to put in your pockets we might have to spend a bit. Right if all goes well we meet here at nine o’clock.’

We all took a swig from the iron cup.


Do you want to know if they had a magic day? Leave a comment if you do.

Surprisingly Extended Generations.

June 1, 2022 by

Surprisingly Extended Generations
My maternal grandparents: Lenard Knowles and Polly Harland were born in 1868 and 1867 respectively, at the time of writing 155 years ago, why am I still here?

Lenard and Poly Knowles and family
My wife Brenda’s father (not grandfather), Lenard Martin was born in 1895 he was at school in Castleford with the famous sculptor Henry Moore and a combatant in the first (not second) World War; thankfully, she is still here too.

Lenard and Lily Martin
My paternal grandfather: Lenard Wood (that’s a lot of Lenards). Unfortunately I don’t have a photograph of him, not only fought in the First World War he fought in the Boer war too; I know that because I have his medals. As can be seen our generations were quite extended. I wish I had been able to ask them more about their lives they would have been able to regale this site about memories but the latter, Len Wood my paternal grandfather was really the only one I was old enough to ask him about his life, I wish I had known him better but there was some sort of rift between him and his son, my father, so I was not encouraged to be close to him.
It is difficult for an immature child to strike out and do anything other than follow Father’s line. The result was: that I recall my paternal grandfather as a rather frightening old guy with a gruff voice who lived in a tiny house full of Victorian clutter.
It never even occurred to me to explore for myself the reasons behind this family rift but thinking about it now – with the benefit of 90 years of hindsight – it is easy to consider the plausible scenario: Grandfather (Len) returns home, in-jured and brutalised by his First Word War experiences, to a world that seems to be doing nothing for returning heroes and to a young teenage son – my father – who probably resented his own life being turned upside down by the return of a strict Victorian father and showed it. Hence a bad relationship is formed. Dad told how his father was very strict and in addition made him sell fruit from a handcart around the streets; a job he came to hate. In the end Dad ran off to join the Royal Navy himself at the age of seventeen (originally without parental con-sent) in order to get away. Of course I may never know the full truth of it all but naturally, being as I was a child, I never questioned Dad’s interpretation of this unhappy family schism.
Sometime after Grandfather’s passing the current occupier of Len’s old house presented me with two medals complete with tattered ribbons; they had been about to be thrown out with a load of other rubbish and the person kindly wondered if I would like to have them. It was a kind consideration for which I am truly grateful. Those medals have lain in a drawer for a long time; occasion-ally I have come across them when rummaging for something else and passed over them. But the other day I held them in my hand and it struck me how little I knew of the man to whom I owe my very existence.
One of the medals is part of the ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ trio, which were issued to First World War veterans. Grandfather served in the Royal Artil-lery in that war. My estranged grandfather was a genuine ‘Tommy Atkins’! Perhaps he actually survived the battles of: Ypres, Passchendaele or even the Somme where the flower of Britain’s youth died together on that infamous date: July the first, 1916? Could it be that even his gruff voice was a result of a gas attack?
The other medal was awarded for his service in the Imperial Yeomanry, fought out against the Boers in South Africa. This medal bears two clasps: one inscribed: South Africa and the other Cape Colony. Perhaps he saw service at theatres with such iconic tags as: Ladysmith and Kimberley. Who is to know now? Maybe he witnessed the lifting of the ‘Siege of Mafeking’ in 1900,

giving rise to the famous cry: ‘Mafeking has been relieved’ and allowing those super staid Victorian to have a day off and let their hair down in 21st century style. As volunteers fought out both the South African and the First World War it follows that Grandfather had volunteered to serve his country on two separate occasions.
Surely this warrants that I make a more positive assessment of the man. ‘Among my souvenirs’ there is another reminder of those distant conflicts. It is a lapel badge bearing the words for ‘King and Country’. These pieces, I believe, were issued to combatants invalided out of World War One, to be worn as a testimony that they had already done their bit for ‘King and Country’. Hence, giving them space from the so-called ‘shirkers’ so vehemently despised at the time. I cannot vouch that this badge did in fact belong to my grandfather. It just seems to have been around as long as I can remember. Inscribed upon it is a number that I must check out someday
Unfortunately, it is unlikely that I will ever find answers to these ques-tions now, of that stern old disciplinarian who lived his declining years amongst his Victorian clutter but I have come appreciate that his eyes witnessed events, which makes him still the grandfather and me the grandchild. I will not question my father’s actions, of course.
(Dad must have somewhat relented anyway, for I am told my name was going to be ‘Len’ after his father (yet another Lenard in prospect) this was headed off by Mother). But in retrospect I have revised my own assessment of Grandfather Leonard Wood. I can perceive a positive side to a guy, who volunteered to serve ‘King and Country’ in those two separate and diabolical conflicts. I know what I’m going to do now: I’ve sent off for a mug painted with the ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ medals and inscribed ‘Cheers 1551 Wood L’. I’ll not put it on a shelf, I’ll just drink my tea out and when it breaks I’ll get another. And sometimes when I drink I hope I will remember to say: ‘Cheers Len Wood – Granddad,’ I’m proud of you; I wish I had been of an age to know you a little better!

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.