Remembering our old East Leeds Schools

July 1, 2019 by

This is tale number 150 that WordPress have kindly archived for us on the East Leeds Memories site, why not have a re-look at some of the earlier ones?
Remembering Our Old East Leeds Schools
During the early years of the Second World War some of our old East Leeds Schools were closed for defensive fortification of the buildings I suspect this wasn’t only an East Leeds phenomenon. Air raid shelters were built in the school yards and shatter proofing defencing to the windows. Richmond Hill School had already been bombed on the night of the 14/15 of March 1941 and its pupils re housed in other local schools or evacuated to the country. Another problem was to find replacement teachers to replace those called up into the armed services. So, in many cases we had, either female teachers or older males called back from their retirement, the result was that we were generally taught either by teachers who were Victorians or Edwardians themselves, or had been taught by Victorians or Edwardian teachers, which made them immersed in discipline and very strict. They certainly were not pussy cats! So we were subjected that despised ordeal: ‘corporal punishment’, predominantly the cane. But you know it wasn’t so bad it stung for but a moment and then it was all over, most of us preferred the cane to the loss of a sports period or being made to ‘stay in at playtime’. Sometimes the teacher would congratulate a lad who took his punishment without rancour and he would become elevated in the eyes of his peers (girls didn’t get the cane). I have a notion that the up side of this was that we were used to being subjected to discipline and never got to the stage of having to be ‘excluded’ which seems to be of epidemic proportions today. Of course, I could be wrong?
So, which of the old East Leeds schools fall into the scope of this tale; Victoria, Ellerby Lane (later referred to as ‘Cross Green), St Hilda’s, St Saviour’s, Mount St Mary’s, Saville Green, St Charles’s, South Accommodation Road, Leeds Parish Church, All Saints, Richmond Hill and East End Park Special School. None of these old schools exist in their original buildings. Osmondthorpe and Corpus Christie were larger more modern schools and a bit out of the area. A new huge Cross Green School was erected on the rhubarb fields off Cross Green Lane appropriately called. ‘Cross Green Lane’ School, that morphed into Copperfield’s High School with the motto; ‘The Roots To grow – the Wings to fly’ but that has flown away and been pulled down already. There is a new Richmond Hill School, a new All Saint’s school and Mount St. Mary’s exists as a college. But this tale is about our original old schools. What did we get up to? As a former St Hilda’s School pupil that is where most of my memories lay but I imagine they were common to all the schools mentioned.
Your mam took you to school on the first morning then generally you were on your own, no cars to ferry us about but there were usually plenty of other kids to walk down to school with. We started at nine until four but we had an hour and a half for dinner as there were no school dinners until the 1950s and that gave us time to walk home and back for our dinner, not many mams worked in the 1940s. It also gave us plenty of time for school yard games.

school yard games
Before school started in the morning and at playtime the school yard game culture reigned. The staple diet in winter was always going to be football for the boys played twenty odd a side with a tennis ball and with coats for goal posts. In the summer cricket took over the wickets being chalk marks on the wall and with three or four balls on the go at once. The whistle for the end of playtime always seemed to blow when it was your turn for an innings.
I spoke to an old school mate at a reunion recently – he recalled playing football in that old school yard (we called it the field) and how workmen had been mending the road outside the railings at the time. He said this old road mender had been particularly watching the game with a whimsical look in his eye and had finally come over to the railings and said to him, very sincerely, ‘Do you know son, these are the happiest days of your life’. The old school mate said ‘I’ve remembered his words all these years and I think he was probably right.’

Richmond Hill School
As an alternative to football and cricket and to suit the seasons more individual games were played. Ice on the ground meant a giant slide with everyone having a go causing the road to becoming like glass endangering un-wary pedestrians.
These cold days would see us attired in our ‘our long/short’ trousers and long socks, which left only a couple of inches of knee on show to catch cold. I suppose it would have been preferable to go the whole hog and let us wear long trousers but lads rarely did, for mothers kept them in the long/shorts until about the age of twelve. I was even more unfortunate as my mother thought lads in long trousers looked like ‘little old men’ and made me wear shorts until I was a monster fourteen.
Schoolgirls were limited to dresses or skirts, trousers or jeans were never seen on schoolgirls, although the land girls did wear slacks with the zips at the side. To complete our somewhat bizarre appearance by modern standards our winter turn out included woollen Balaclava helmets that became shiny at the bottom from runny noses.
At Whitsuntide, mostly the girls, would play whip and top – colouring the top with chalks to make an attractive pattern. In the autumn it would be conkers and bruised knuckles each time you missed your opponent. Each player kept score of how many conkers his conker had broken, the way this worked was: if your conker broke another which had in turn already broken, say two conkers itself then you added those two to the score as well, so if you broke the conker in this case three was added to the score.
Lads would try to make conkers harder by baking or pickling in vinegar. Sometimes they had become tiny hard things like a walnut kernel but providing they had not broken away from the string hole they were still considered to be ‘alive’. When a crack occurred the shout was, ‘It’s laughing!’ Last year’s conkers were like iron and wouldn’t be played against if recognised. ‘It’s a ‘laggie’ I’m not playing that’ would be the cry.
Another game was played with cigarette cards or the big bus tickets of the day, which all had a sequential number on the back. In this game a lad would take a wadge of cards or tickets of roughly the same number in each hand and another lad would take a similar number in one hand and bank on one hand or the other – then the bottom ticket or card would be turned over in each hand. If he had banked on the hand bearing the larger number of the two then he would win the cards in that hand. If he had banked on the lower number then he would lose his cards to his opponent. As school bags were a ‘no – no’ in those Victorian schools a lad’s pockets would often be bulging obscenely with all his winnings. Marbles or ‘tors’ as we called them was another favourite game. There were several different types of marble: ‘allys’ (coloured marbles), ‘bottle-washers’ (clear glass), and ‘stonkers’, (made out of stone.) Some lads were real experts with calloused knuckles to prove it. These experts would have a favourite marble, which they always used when playing – normally it would not be a pretty one but rather a gnarled old thing, which would give a good grip. They would surrender any of their stock of marbles rather than their ‘player’ should they lose the game. The rules of the marbles game we played too were as follows: two lads would normally play with a marble each – more could play if required – a small hole was excavated in the earth and called the ‘knack’, the idea was for the lads to take it in turns to try and hit his opponent’s marble. After a ‘hit’ had been made it was still necessary to ensure the marble was not a ‘needer’. A ‘needer’ meant their opponents marble still ‘needed’ to be hit more than two shoe lengths away from the hole, big shoes were an advantage if you were the one wanting to be a ‘needer’ little shoes if you didn’t want him to be a ‘needer’. To win the game it was only then necessary to roll your own marble into the hole.
The girls had their own playground, a raised concrete affair higher than our dirt ‘field’. From this lofty perch they would carry out their skipping games: ‘pitch -. patch – pepper’ etc. Or dance around singing their traditional songs: ‘the wind, and the rain blow high, the snow comes scattering from the sky, she is handsome she is pretty she is the girl of the golden city. She goes a courting one, two three please can you tell me who it can be?’ Then they would shout some lad’s name, say ‘Tommy Johnson’ then continuing: ‘says he loves her’ then they would all let out a great scream (silly Beggars) – ‘All the boys are fighting for her’ and so on. The lad in question probably playing football in the field would blush to the roots of his hair but be secretly delighted – alas it was never me! Sometimes much to the annoyance of the girls we would sing along with a much ruder version.
Sport was always king, every year we would have the school sports incorporating track and field although the field sports were only the simple ones for which we had the equipment: long jump, high jump and throwing the cricket ball Winners at the school sports would represent the school at the District Sports, where more names of schools spring to mind: Prince’s Field, Green Lane, Primrose Hill, Harehills and Brownhill.
Those talented enough to win through at District Level earned the honour of competing at Roundhay Park on ‘Children’s Day’ This was a big day in the calendar and included the crowning of the Queen of Children’s Day’ who had been selected after elimination from the whole of the Leeds school areas. Those who won an event at Children’s Day proved to be the best in Leeds and earned cult status with their peers.
Football remained the jewel in the crown for us. Because schools were so much smaller then, perhaps only fifteen/twenty boys in each year and remembering too that the school life terminated at the end of the fourteenth year (it had only shortly risen from the end of the thirteenth year) – it was not unusual then for young footballing prodigies to be knocking on the door of the first team aged eleven or twelve, which was very exciting for them. To be able to ‘dribble’ well was the benchmark against which all these prodigies were measured: Kerrigan at Corpus Christie, Sedgewick and Whitehead at St Hilda’s and Monk at Ellerby Lane are just a few names which fall easily into this category.
Victoria had a boy’s own character who transcended all, not in the art of dribbling but in pure power. He was the amazing Willie Knott; best in Leeds at every sport he put his hand to. Already complete with a moustache and legs like tree trunks at age thirteen he could hit those size four balls the length of the field and woe betide any schoolboy goalie that tried to stop them. He was also king at cricket, swimming, sprinting, and fighting. When Willie walked by we would just stand aside and gawp.

Modern educational policy has seen a sweeping away of these small Victorian senior schools in favour of the huge comprehensives, so colossal that although probably educationally sound it is unlikely a twelve year old lad will ever again have the magical thrill of seeing his name on the first eleven team sheet.

Inter school football had generally been suspended during the war and even after the war non-essentials such as footballs and football kit could only be obtained on ‘permit’ and permits were as hard to land as rocking horse dung. This meant that unless footballs and football gear had been stored since before hostilities had begun then improvisation was a necessity.
Our improvisation was to elect to play in white. This allowed the lads to use their own white shirts when playing for the school team. Not all lads managed to get hold of a pair of proper football boots either and were forced to revert to playing in ordinary black working boots. In spite of this rag tag outfitting I recall with fondness those who formed that first post war school football team in their white shirts and sugar bag blue shorts.
Those lads were giants in our eyes. I don’t think they won many matches, we were a particularly small school even for the day, but it seemed their charisma as well as their boots were hard to fill. Should I meet any of that old team, now well into their eighties – I always try to mention how they were our heroes which invariably brings a glow of pride to their cheeks.
Eventually we did manage to obtain some proper football jerseys and treated them like gold. I think this was after a fund raising campaign. They were green with lace up fronts. The girls made it a project in their sewing class to sew a red ‘V’ onto each jersey accompanied by a monographic ‘SH’ for St Hilda’s
Because changing accommodation was almost universally un-available on school playing fields we were allowed to wear the football jerseys to school on the day of a match. Odd lads could be seen dotted around different classrooms proudly wearing the green jersey with the red ‘V’. Some seemed to drag it out to wearing the jersey to school for a week before the teacher had to tell them off. Visits to all away fixtures were undertaken by public transport. Few teachers aspired to cars before 1950. Once at the pitch we had to leave our togs on the grass, rain or shine and often had to travel home on the bus with clothes dripping wet.
It seems that schools traditionally kept the same style and colour jerseys year after year – perhaps this made more economical sense in that they could replace the odd worn jersey rather than replace a full set. It also had the effect of setting a tradition, an expectation of what was in store when you saw that particular jersey. For instance I recall St Mary’s played in all green, Coldcoates in green with red sleeves and Osmondthorpe in all red. Squares were very popular, Ellerby Lane played in red and white squares, Corpus Christie in light blue and dark blue squares and Victoria in blue and gold squares which were extra glamorous being near to the blue and gold halves sported by Leeds United at the time.
Numerous school football competitions were on going for Leeds schools at the time. Those that come to mind are: The Meadow Cup, the Teachers Shield, the Denmark trophy, the Daily Dispatch Shield and perhaps the most prestigious, The Schools Cup, the final of which was played at Elland Road, every lad’s dream. The Catholics had an additional competition: The Bishop’s Cup which produced many hard fought finals between St Mary’s and St Charles’
I recall Osmondthorpe winning, in addition to the Leeds schools trophies the Yorkshire Cup in the 1940s and understand that Stourton a tiny school just south of the river swept the field of all the Leeds school trophies year after year in the 1930s. Finally one year to become all England School Champions.
As the school years roll by a close knit relationship develops among the group of lads and lasses destined to spend their whole school life together from start to finish from (age five to age fifteen) without the hindrance of moves to middle, or senior schools etc. The girls develop from bairns to beauties and the lads gel together in a good climate of Esprit de corps.
At age eleven a loss is sustained to the whole as the brightest half dozen or so in each year is successful in passing their eleven plus examination and leave the comfort of those small Victorian schools to become elevated to the larger secondary or private schools. Alas I did not number among these successful students, but would have been proud to have sported the brown and gold blazer of Cockburn, the royal blue of the Central High, navy blue of West Leeds or the red and black of Leeds Modern at Lawnswood. Not to mention the green and black of Roundhay High School that seemed to be outside our catchment area and of course the numerous private schools. The girls of Ralph Thoresby (all girl’s school) looked good in their maroon.
No doubt the successful students who embarked on life in these schools of higher education have their own tales to tell. I can only relate the story of we who were left, generally destined to be the ‘factory fodder’ of the next generation, with no opportunity to take the School Certificate which was the then gateway to university. No chance to learn a foreign language, work out in a gym or compete in the ‘House’ teams of which they talked so enthusiastically.
There were compensations: no new big informal schools to break in with associated new smells and hundreds of new faces. No homework either – but not, thankfully, no hope!
In my personal opinion our teachers never gave up on us. They were a continuing inspiration for which I am eternally grateful. And I am only saddened by the fact that by the time I realised this they were all gone and I will never be able to thank them for igniting in me and I imagine many others, a love and thirst for knowledge.
There were other compensations too for staying on at those old Victorian schools, not least playing great inter schools football (many of the high schools played rugby union) and perhaps even trying out for Leeds City Boys. Better still the chance to spend a week at the Leeds schools camp at Langbar, near Ilkley. Where one could become a blue-eyed boy or a green-eyed boy at the dinner table, take your first girl to a dance (compulsory) and climb Beamsley Beacon, so becoming an honourable member of the League of Mountain Men.
Eventually like all golden ages school days trickle away and the close companionship of schoolmates has to end, only perhaps to be re-kindled again some three years later for National Service. Meetings now become rarer but a chance encounter with an old school mate or indeed any member of that old street corner society is a red-letter day for nostalgia.

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Eric Allen’s Tales

June 16, 2019 by

I’m sad to have to break the news that another of our old stalwarts has passed. Eric Allen died in St James’s Hospital today 16th June 2019. As is traditional here is are couple of tales he put on our site. He will be sadly missed:

Eric’s Tales
Delivering the meat to Knostrop
While still a schoolboy I would deliver the orders of meat for my dad, Alf Allen, who owned the butcher’s shop in Easy Road, down near the ginnel. We actually lived in St Hilda’s Mount and I had a mate who lived in the same street called Vic Wilson. Vic was a butcher’s boy too, but as he was a little older than I he was actually in employment at the Co-op butchers in Cross Green Lane. As it so happened we both had to make deliveries on the same day to the ABC Houses in Knostrop We would converge on the ABC Houses on our butcher’s bikes and after delivering the orders we would meet up at Winnie Jacob’s house; she was a good sport and would give us a cig each and we’d have smoke and a cal with her in her yard. Of course we were really too young to smoke officially so like all forbidden fruits it was an exciting interlude and one we always enjoyed.
One particular day it had been snowing quite heavily and we’d tarried with Winnie for quite a long time already before we decided to set off back up Knostrop, even then our illicit habits were not finished for we had a second stopping off point in Alec Grumwell’s pig sty for a second ‘ciggy’. Alec, as locals will probably recall, had the smallholding in the triangular shaped field between Knostrop Hill and the Long Causeway, where he grew vegetable produce for sale and kept pigs. Alec was a familiar local figure, regularly to be seen around the district gathering pigswill on his little horse and cart. Alec would perch on the front edge of the cart in his flat cap and his weight would bring that side of the cart down and being so tall his legs would dangle onto the road. Anyway, this particular day we spent longer than we should smoking with Alec and as we had spent all that time at Winnie’s too we were really late. At this point the realization of how the time had got away with us dawned upon Vic. I was OK – still a schoolboy but Vic was allegedly a workingman now and receiving enumeration for his labours: his time had to be accounted for and a delivery to Knostrop didn’t warrant all the time we had taken messing about and smoking cigarettes. Vic by this time had begun to anticipate a telling off from his boss, Frank Ghan: so, thinking on his feet he took his bike and bounced it on the road so hard that it became un-ridable, then he carried it the short distance back to the Co-op complaining that he’d come off the bike in the snow and had needed to carry the damn thing all the way back from the ABC Houses in its damaged state. And good old Vic – he managed to get away with it!
Working for my Dad in the Butcher’s Shop
My dad was a butcher and when I was a lad I used to help make the sausages. First I had to collect the ingredients. We hadn’t a car at the time so I had to take the butcher’s bike to Stoke and Daltons for the rusks, which went into the sausage meat. I’d have to collect a full sack and it was very large and heavy. I’d put the sack into the basket of the bike but it was so big and heavy I couldn’t then turn the handlebars properly. This of course made it dangerous to ride but then being stupid I always did try to ride – Well You never push a bike if there is chance to ride it do you? That bike was like a taxi. I’d regularly take our Brenda home to Knostop in the carrier; it was all down hill so we could make good progress. In actual fact, if just kids were involved I could get five on, three in the basket, one on the cross bar and myself.
When I had the ingredients back to the shop I’d begin to make the sausages proper. First I’d mix the ingredients, which made up the insides of the sausages (the sausage-meat), in a mixer. Then it was a matter of stretching the skin over the outlet of the mixer and turning a handle to force the sausage-meat into the skin. We used beast’s intestines for the skins in those days. The problem was they were not consistent in size. One day I got a really big skin – it was really huge. Undaunted I continued winding the handle to fill this huge skin until it had taken virtually the whole of the contents of the mixer, which was supposed to be enough to fill a whole batch of sausages and I just had this one giant sausage. When my dad saw it he went mad, ‘Silly b…..,’ he said, ‘who the b…. hell would want a sausage as big as that?
The Cricket Bag Gordon Brown and I were joint scores and bag carriers for East Leeds Cricket Club. The bag was a huge affair – it was bigger than us and heavy too being full of bats and pads and all the rest of gear wanted by the cricketers, it’s a good job it had two handles so that we could hold one handle each with both hands to get it off the ground. We had a real job manhandling it onto buses and trams for away matches, for this we would be paid two bob and our tram fare. We took it in turns to be scorer. Only one could be the scorer along with a scorer from the opposition. The beauty of being the scorer was you got a free tea. The one who was just the bag handler for the day had to ‘whistle’ for his tea or spend six pence of his bag money on a sandwich and a cup of tea. When East Leeds was playing at home it was always the highlight of the day for the scorer to have his tea in the pavilion along with the players.
My dad didn’t go into the army but he was drafted into the ARP (Air Raid Patrol)
I remember they had their headquarters in a shop in Easy Road, near the picture house. They would assemble there, sit around a while and then go out on patrol. If there was an alert on he could be out all night.

Before there were Clubs we had lively Pubs

June 1, 2019 by

Before there were Clubs we had Lively Pubs.
The first night club I recall in Leeds was The Ace of Clubs in Woodhouse; I would think that would have been in the late 1960s. But before then we had great lively pubs to keep us entertained. Pubs that were worth a good old distance of travel to reach.
The breathalyser did not appear until 1967 and no doubt stopping drink driving was the way to go but in the early stages it did not have an immediate impact. We were used to being able to travel to our favourite pubs have a few drinks and then carefully drive home but this was going to be a sea change event to our life styles. Traditional drinkers would say, ‘What’s this Micky Mouse law? It’s not going to stop me going to my favourite pub and having a few pints.’ And being creatures of our time, please forgive us, it didn’t.
50’s and 60’s pubs with live music drew us like magnets. I’m going to mention three of my favourites for a start I’m sure you will all have your own favourites. On Wednesday nights I loved to visit The Wakefield Arms near Kirkgate Station in Wakefield. Tony C the landlord was also a great pianist. It was worth the trip just to listen to him but there would be singers too, sometimes he would play in the small room just to the left of the entrance or on big nights the music room would be open and all manner of singers and instrumentalists would perform.
My second favourite was: The Royal at Boston Spa. That must have been before we had cars because we travelled there by bus and one Saturday night we missed the last bus and had to walk all the way home from Boston Spa to Leeds. Renee Johnson held court there sometimes augmented by her husband and her sister. Renee was a great act with her risqué little ditties: ‘Caviar comes from the virgin sturgeon The virgin sturgeon. is a very fine fish’. Later she regaled us again at the Crooked Billet in Stourton and even later I believe in Allerton by Water.
My third favourite was: The White Horse on York Road. They held weekly talent nights there and there was a cash prize for the winner. There was one guy who was on every week he sang ‘Dalila’ he would stab himself with an imaginary knife and then throw himself all over the stage in imaginary his death throes, we would cheer him and sing along with him but I don’t think he ever won the prize money.
Some pubs put on ‘turns’ of these there were many but I’ll just put on four who I particularly remember: The Johnson Brothers, Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee, Harry Benden and Jonny Joyce.
Apart from the pubs which attracted us for the music there were other pubs that just became popular, particularly on Thursday nights because they jammed both the sexes in together. A couple of these were: The Star and Garter in Kirkstall and particularly The Cherry Tree in Burmantofts. I remember one particular night in The Cherry Tree the place was heaving and the great Billy Bremner had got himself in a position where he was holding the toilet door open for a never ending flow of folk to get in and out he was stuck there and guys were cheering him on, he just took it all in good part laughing and saying it looks like I’m going to be stuck here all night.
I’ll just mention a few more of my favourite pubs I’m sure anyone who reads this will be able to add names, there were hundreds of them: The Slip, The Gardeners at Lofthouse, The Haddon Hall, The Beehive at Thorner, The Queens at Micklestown, The Malt Shovel at Armley, The FForde Greene, The Adelphi near Leeds Bridge, The Peacock at Horsforth (Wallace Family) The Stanhope, The Dynley arms on Pool Bank, The Cavalier on Richmond Hill a great pub for Irish songs and an old guy who used to get up every week and sing, ’The laughing Policeman’, he had us all in stitches: The Plasterers, The Skinners on Regent Street where old guys would get up and do Irish dancing with a straight face and arms by their sides. There was a pub half way up Meanwood Road, I can’t recall its name now but it had green tiles outside, we went in there one night and a guy was singing an Irish song it must have had a hundred verses he was singing it when we went in he was still singing the same song when we left. I made a joke to my mates that I went in a couple of nights later and he was still on with the same song. The Beckets Arms and the Meanwood were pubs we would visit as a prelude to the Capital Ballroom. The Bingley Arms claimed to be the oldest pub in England, The Arabian Horse and the Swan at Aberford, The Gascoigne at barwick, The New Inn, Scarcroft
Connoisseurs were prone to travelling to pubs who stocked their favourite beers: Tetley’s, John Smith’s, Sam Smith’s, Theakston’s, and before the amalgamation by the giant breweries: Bentley’s Hemmingway, and Melbourne’s etc. Tetley’s was supposed to be the Yorkshire man’s drink. In August when Leeds virtually encamped in Blackpool folk would say: ‘Meet you in the Huntsman, The Huntsman stocked Tetley’s.
Then there were the pubs which were just a nice little run out to on a summers evening: The Windmill at Linton. The Wellington at East Keswick, Boot and Shoe at Tadcaster, another Boot and Shoe on the Selby Road The Crooked Billet near the Lead Church, The Greyhound close to Tadcaster, The Kings Arms at Heath Common, The Scott’s Arms at Sicklinghall, Dick Hutson’s and The Royalty and The Sun up on the moors, Fenton Flier at Church Fenton, The New Inn near Eccup and The New in near Harrogate, The Harewood Arms, The Wild Man and The Buckles Inn on the Leeds /York Road, The Star at Collingham. The Chequers at Leadsham (no Sunday Licence) The White Horse at Ledston, The Fox and Hounds at Bramhope, The Anchor Inn at Whixley, The Queen of Old Thatch at South Milford, The Unicorn at Carlton, The New Inn now Squires (biker’s Café) near Sherbourne, The Anchor at Whixley, The Bull at Kirk Hammerton The Alice Hawthorne at Nun Moncton, The Beulah on Tong Road, I could go on forever, almost every village had a great pub, but now I fear that in the present day they survive more by the sale of food that that of beer.
And then of course there were ‘The runs: The Westgate run in Wakefield, the Tadcaster run, The Wetherby run, The Otley run, The Richmond Hill run and of course all the City Centre pubs. Apologies if I have left out your favourite pubs. Unfortunately for us oldies those pubs are passed their sell by date. How many are still left? It was a golden age and like all golden ages it was over before we knew it had begun. But ‘We supped some stuff’ didn’t we.
Now unfortunately if I ‘sup any stuff’ at all, I’m laid awake half the night! But we had our great times, didn’t we?

My First Car and the Prang

May 15, 2019 by

MY FIRST CAR AND THE PRANG
It’s quite amazing how closely my life and the life of Eddie Blackwell, who wrote the last tale, duplicated each other. Not only did we clash on opposite sides in the 1954 Leeds Red Triangle under 17s football cup final but we were both conscripted into National Service in the late 1950s early 1960 we both learned to drive in the army and both got our own first own car in 1962.
I want to tell you about my first car but first about the ‘prang I had while learning to drive in the army

THE PRANG
We national service personnel worked alongside career regulars. I believe my regular colleagues were disadvantaged in comparison to normal civilians. In the army, it is so easy to fall foul of authority. A mistake committed even in an off duty period could result in a NCO being ‘busted’ down, which contrasts sharply with civilian life where a transgression committed outside the workplace does not normally instigate disciplinary action at work. An instance of how easy it was to transgress happened to me while at Detmold: I managed to find myself on three charges at the same time. The first charge was for innocently wandering across a football pitch, which was evidently out of bounds. The second was after being pulled for having my hair too long and the third for having a ‘prang’ in a one ton truck while under driving instruction. On the face of it I looked a real villain, three charges, but what great misdemeanours had I really been guilty of? Nevertheless, it was not good policy to keep being dragged up before the OC.
The ‘prang’ though is an incident worth recording. A few of us were learning to drive in a one ton truck under the instruction of a subaltern, who like all subalterns spoke very cut glass.
I

It was my turn to drive and the rest of the lads who were either waiting or had already had their turn were sat in the back where they couldn’t see forward. We were driving along, on the right of course, it being Germany. The officer ordered me to turn right into a minor road where a German civilian bus was waiting to get out. Being totally inexperienced, I was going far too fast to execute this manoeuvre. I was still in third gear when I tried to turn into the side road. I can still see the horror on the faces of those Germans when they realised I was not going to make it. I gave the bus a real crack amidships. The unseeing lads in the backs cheered: ‘Hey up, Woody ‘as ‘it somat’
‘Oh hard look Wood!’ said the officer admirably keeping his composure. ‘Right Wood, reverse out.’ He was using the theory: if they prang, dust ‘em off and send ‘em up again before they lose their confidence. Unfortunately, I selected the wrong gear; instead of reverse, I selected one of the forward gears and gave the bus another crack. The lads in the back cheered again: ‘Go on Woody – give ‘em some more!’
‘I think I’d better drive back,’ sighed the officer, his good intentions going out of the window.
So, I was on a charge for the driving offence: as they put it, ‘For causing damage to a War Department vehicle and a German civilian bus’. I was marched under guard to the OC’s office. ‘Left-right-left-right,’ screamed a sergeant, it was all very formal, normally he was an alright guy but he’d turned into monster for the day. ‘Left-turn-right turn, beret-off-left-turn, A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N!’ They had me so confused by all the shouting that I finished up with my backside to the OC. (Captain Juniper) ‘Oh turn him round, sergeant,’ said the OC. in exasperation, whereupon the sergeant took me by the shoulders and turned me through 180 degrees. As far as I can remember, I only received a balling out and never heard anything more about the other two charges at all.
So the result was I didn’t actually pass my driving test in the army. But I had put that right by 1962 when I passed my test in civilian life and got my first car.

My First Car
It was a Friday lunch time in 1962 and clutching my new driving licence I was dropped off by Dad outside Magnetic Motors in Water lane, there to pick up my very first car. It was a 1959, beige coloured, Ford Popular 100E three years old and cost me the £165 that I had managed to save up from my meagre army pays. It was standing there bright and shiny amongst all the other cars in the showroom. I asked the salesman to manoeuvre it out for me as I was afraid of scratching it, not to mention the other cars. He parked it across Water Lane, shook my hand and wishing me the best of luck departed. I sat in the driver’s seat, twiddled the wheel a bit and looked across to the passenger’s seat; for the first time I saw there was no one sitting there – it was all a bit scary!

drove gingerly back to McLaren’s Fabrications where I was employed at the time; I was as proud as Punch and eager to hit the open road but it was still only Friday lunch time there was the afternoon to get through first. I worked with my dad at the time and Dad’s mate was a guy called Cliff; he was a grand guy – the firm’s mechanic. He came over to take a look at the car standing there, still all bright and shiny and he said, ‘Well, it looks a million dollars.’
I had to park it overnight in our back street and in those days even in a back street a car had to have lights. Now, if you were to leave a car overnight with even the sidelights on the battery would be as flat as a pancake in the morning, so people had various devices to show a light. Some obtained road-mender’s lamps and placed them in the road alongside the car. I had a spare battery, which I positioned in the boot and ran a line to a tiny little light that fitted onto the top of the driver window and showed red at the back and white at the front. Well, as ‘Sod’s law’ would have it on that very first Friday night that I had the car we had one of the worst gales I can recall before or since. I lay in my little back bedroom hearing slates being blown off the house roofs and crashing down into the street all night long, crash after crash; all I could think about was my poor little car. In the morning there was a huge gash where a slate had sliced into the car roof.
The following night, Saturday, I proudly took my mates out for the night – we went to Harrogate and I was relieved when I managed to get the vehicle home without further damage. After the slate fiasco Dad had managed to negotiate with a neighbour to allow me to leave the car overnights in his large unused garden. This would save me from falling slates and absolve the need to put on any lights at all. Unfortunately, while attempting to manoeuvre the car into his garden the front wheel fell down a huge unseen hole and crumpled the front mudguard. I had to get Dad up to extract me from the hole as I was making an even greater mess of the car in my efforts to pull clear.
I drove it to work on the following Monday morning; Cliff the mechanic took another look at it – now with its gashed roof and crumpled mudguard. ‘Well.’ he said, ‘It looked a million dollars on Friday – but I wouldn’t give you tuppence for it now!’
The winter of 1962/63 was a bad ‘un; one Friday night (4th January 1963) I parked the car in the centre of Leeds and went dancing with my mate to the Majestic Ballroom. I met Brenda that night and gave her a lift home we got stuck in the snow on a hill between Harehills Road and Harehills Lane. The very first night we met. Brenda had to push me out of a snowdrift in her high heeled shoes – we never looked back and had our golden wedding in 2018

The Summer of 1962

May 1, 2019 by

THE SUMMER OF 62
By Eddie Blackwell
I’d just finished National Service in February of ’62, it was the annual Summer Holiday Weekend, and the weather was reasonable for the time of year, I was living at home with my Mum and Dad, I had nothing planned for the weekend. My Sister Sheila and my brother in law Roy had gone camping with Hazel their daughter who was two years old, to a place called Betws y Coed in North Wales.
Well Mum was fretting they’d been away almost a week, and there were no communications that we could afford, other than a letter or a card through the post. We’d received a post card saying they’d arrived OK and everything was fine, they were camping at a farm just off the main road, they had fantastic scenery all around, and they were having a good time. It was a sunny afternoon and we were sittinging in the front garden, I said to Mum and Dad why don’t we go down there and find them it’s a Bank Holiday Weekend we can stay over and come back on the Monday, ready for work on Tuesday morning. Without hesitation Mum said yes, I’ll get some things together. We had a Black 1953 Ford Consul with a I.5 litre engine, it was in reasonable condition apart from a couple of worn tyres. Mum was ready in about an hour, I had filled with petrol checked oil and water lights and tyre pressures, brake light and brakes and hand brake, windscreen wipers, a full first parade. I’d learnt to drive in the Army and followed the way I’d been instructed, be prepared and check everything (famous last words). I think dad was a bit apprehensive, he didn’t drive and either walked or used public transport to travel about, this was a new venture for him, yet he did seem excited to be going to North Wales a place he’d never been.
I’d worked out a route, which may not have been the shortest distance, but it followed the main roads and guaranteed that driving conditions would be reasonable, I estimated about 135 miles and it would take approximately three hours with a pit stop for refreshment. Huddersfield, Manchester, Chester, Mould, Ruthin, then turn right onto the A5 at Corwen past the Fairy Glen Gorge and we’re there. All was going well the traffic was light and we made excellent progress, just one stop for toilets at a garage, and we were turning on to the A5 two and a half hours, well on schedule, and then it happened, as we were going through the forest, the back end went funny, a puncture oh the joys of motoring. No problem I said we have a spare that I checked before we started, I was well trained at wheel changing, part of you driving test in the Army changing a wheel out with the spare wheel unscrewed the nuts with the wheel brace, pass the jack Dad……No jack what, can’t see the jack, oh no, I wonder how far away the nearest garage is, nothing shown on the map, the road was clear, what to do for the best. Then a car came slowly into view travelling at a reasonable speed, obviously the driver saw us and slowed down, wound down his window and said do you need any help (can you imagine that happening today, foot down and off), I explained the problem and within ten minutes we were fixed wheel changed nuts tightened and off we went.
Betws-y-Coed was a strange layout just a main road with small streets running off from side to side, there was a Big Hotel as I remember and then we saw a sign for a farm. We’ll try this one I said, no they didn’t do camping, but directed us to one that did at the other end of town. Spot on we’d found them, with a 6 ft 6 in white ridge tent, there was plenty of room alongside and I pulled the car in. We didn’t have a tent, but it was only for a couple of nights and we’d manage. Mum would sleep in the tent with Sheila and Hazel and Dad, Roy and I would manage in the cars, we called to see the farmer to explain that we were only there for two nights, and didn’t have a tent, that’s OK he said no tent no charge.
Dad had been a Cook in the RAF during WW2 and soon had the kitchen sorted, Mum Had brought food from home, and it was sausage mash and baked beans for tea, I couldn’t wait I was starving,
I could have eaten a Scabby Donkey between two slices of bread.
I think Sheila, Roy and Hazel were pleased to see us, Hazel was over the moon Mum had her on her knee and was reluctant to put her down, well she’d not seen her for a week, things were working out well. After we’d had tea and done the washing up. Dad Roy and I went to the local had a pint and got a few cans of beer to take back.
The following day was a Sunday, Dad had bacon and eggs on the go with tomato’s bread and butter and pots of tea, the sun was shining it was a good day. Greenery all around and the hills formed protection from the wind, Roy and I took off for a walk for an hour to get rid of the cobwebs from the night before, everyone was happy, and Dad was a good cook, and very well organised in the kitchen. That afternoon we decided to go for a walk in the village, and then came the shock in Wales they followed a religious Sunday, and the shops, and the Pubs were closed. A silly idea if you ask me Dad said, they’ll only serve you at the Hotel if you’re staying there, Dad liked a pint on Sunday lunchtime and played snooker in the Working Men’s Club, surely you can go without a pint for one day Mum said, look at the lovely scenery. Roy changed the subject quickly, I know we’ll go to the Fairy Glen Joe, there’s a waterfall there and it’s very picturesque, that sounds fine Roy Dad said is it very far, it’s near where we had the puncture Dad I said, and off we went. We parked in the Fairy glen hotel car park and it took about 20 mins along the path to reach the Glen itself it the Conway river that wanders down then a combination of rapids and cascades that are channelled through a narrow ravine it’s a very impressive sight. It’s one of the principle attractions of the village and where Wuhelmina Stitch waits to see the Fairy Men on Beaver Bridge. It turned out to be a very satisfying experience and you could imagine how it got its name there was a magical feel about the place, suddenly Dads craving for a pint disappeared he was enthralled with the place. When we got back to camp, Roy said you’ll be all right tonight Joe, this Sunday thing happened to us last week, and I decided to but some cans in the boot of the car we can share those between us later. Dads face broke out into a smile and he started whistling, Whistle whilst you work, da dee da ’da-da dee, the primus was being primed and the big frying pan was out. Pork chops with the big ones with a piece of the kidney in, chips and peas, Apple pie with cream, for afters if you could manage it the cream was fresh from the farm life didn’t get much better than this, fresh air sunshine good food and the company of your closest family, but reality was just around the corner work on Tuesday morning.
The following day was Bank Holiday Monday which was also classed as a Sunday in Wales, but to be fair we’d had a good couple of days, we had some fun, and a lot of laughs and Mum had seen Hazel. I was at work on the Tuesday morning, and it was decided that we would leave on Monday morning to avoid the holiday traffic rush, if we left at 10 am we’d be home for about 1pm and Dad could get his pint at the Club, he also pointed out that if his lucky numbers were drawn out and he wasn’t there, he would lose the prize money. The number of years he used that as an excuse for being at the Club on Sunday Lunchtime you would not believe bless him. Sheila and Roy and Hazel were staying on until the Friday to complete their holiday. That evening Roy broke out the cans of beer we had a couple of cans and decided it was time for bed.
The following morning we awoke refreshed, Dad was preparing breakfast, Mum was packing her bits and pieces, Sheila was bathing Hazel in a large plastic tub the kettle was merrily boiling and I was feeling a bit sad at having to leave that morning. Still we all had to work, you need money to do these things, and I did enjoy the work that I did. I was a draughtsman in the building industry and there was never a dull moment in a drawing office, with all the banter, and hilarity you never felt down. The homeward journey was uneventful we arrive home in time for to drop Dad off for his pint at the club. You’ve guessed Dads numbers didn’t come out but there was always next week, in over 25 years I never remember Dad’s numbers coming out, but that’s another story for another time. We’d had a good weekend and there were many more to come. Although I must say it was a joy to climb into bed that night, the car seats were bench type seats you were laid down, but nothing equals the comfort of your own bed, particularly when it’s work the following morning. Although it’s almost 57 years ago the memories are still very vivid, and it seems but a flash of time since we were sitting in the front garden of our old house in Osmondthorpe discussing what we should do for the Bank holiday weekend.
Just a short poem about the Fairy Glen to finish off, hope you enjoy it I

Fairy Glen Betws-y-coed.
As the river Conway flows steadily towards the sea.
It passes by Fairy Glen a place you’d want to see,
Fast rapids and waterfalls are cascading along,
Down through the ravine the current is strong,
Then the river spreads and the waters are calmed,
With moss covered rocks the banks are adorned,
The woodland surrounds with a blanket of trees,
Light scent fills the air as if wanting to please,
A soothing ambience and you’re feeling at rest,
You were tired and weary now you’re at your best,
A magical place seeped in folk-law from long ago,
Wuhelmina Stitch “waits and Waits” to see the fairy men you know,
It’s a spiritual place filled with superstition spells and whims,
Where you want to say your prayers and sing a few hymns,
Toadstools moss with knurled and knotted roots litter the ground,
And you’ll search for the fairy men but their nowhere to be found,
Beavers bridge is there which allows you to across the river,
But when you reach the other side you’ll find your all a shiver,
Beautifully magical but spooky at times is how I’d describe it,
You’ll need good strong shoes and a waterproof cagoule,
It can be slippy underfoot don’t go acting like a fool,
There is a small charge for the upkeep of the paths,
Don’t know now how much it is I was never good at Maths
Stop off if your passing it’s a visit that you’ll treasure,
You’ll really enjoy and it will bring you lasting pleasure.

A Wonderful Night at Anfield

April 1, 2019 by

A Wonderful Night at Anfield

2019 marks fifty years since Leeds United were crowned Champions of the Football League for the first time. It happened on a wonderful night at Anfield, Home of Liverpool Football Club in 1969 and I was there.


Coming into final stages of the season we had only seen defeat twice: once at Manchester City two nil and a surprising five one defeat at Burnley which we avenged six one at home. Liverpool led the league all through the season but we had matches in hand – dare we say it – it looked as though we might make the coveted championship at last! One mighty barrier had to be breached first and that was Liverpool themselves at Anfield. This was to be the big one, the match that I shall remember when all others fade. I want to take you with me on that trip to Anfield on that wonderful April night.
We left work early that April night and slogged it across the Pennines, and it was a slog in the days before the M62 Motorway was constructed. There was going to be a capacity crowd in Anfield that night, a draw would do for us to lift the Champions crown but if we lost then Liverpool themselves would likely keep the trophy they already held.
We called at a shop for the traditional meat pie on the road that leads past Stanley Park; when the lad behind the counter heard our accents he wished us good luck, ‘Can’t have that lot up there getting too cocky’, he said. Obviously he was a staunch Evertonian. We were already in the ground by five thirty, it was like a great empty cathedral, in fact there was so much space and so long to wait before the kick-off that the four of us who made the trip drifted apart and were not united until the end of the game. One of our number, was a girl called Irene, she was the most fervent supporter of us all, she had been in Hungary for the Ferenvaros match the year before. So keen was Irene that she had written into her contract of employment that she could have time off to watch Leeds United and to have her office painted blue white and gold. She was later to fall foul with the authorities at Elland Road for allowing her banner to fall across the advertising boards. To return to Anfield: it was smaller than I had imagined it would be; the field seemed toy like and even the Kop directly across from us did not seem as immense as I had been led to believe. It was a spring evening which allowed the sun to shine directly into our eyes; it was so brilliant we could hardly see a thing. Perhaps we would be so blinded we would not be able to see the game. Anfield at that time was modern on three sides; the fourth side looked strangely quaint with its rounded timber fascia painted in red with the white letters: Liverpool FC. What an aura of tradition abounded the place. Leeds players came out to inspect the pitch in their lounge suits. In the streaming sunlight on that small elevated pitch even Billy Bremner looked tall; how giant size would the Liverpool players look when they appeared?
Leeds had a good following that night, with the chance of history being made and Leeds lifting their first major trophy what Leeds fan would want to miss out on a night like that? Almost all our end belonged to the Leeds support but somehow I had managed to become surrounded by Liverpool fans and what a great lot they turned out to be! They were a little shocked to hear our lot chanting the songs, they themselves, had made famous but with an added sprinkling of our own obscenities.
The match progressed as I had expected – Leeds had come for a point and played seventy five percent defensively. It was about quarter time before I announced my presence in the midst of a little pocket of Liverpool regulars; they seemed a little surprised to find a Leeds fan amongst their ranks, especially as I was shouting for the removal of a certain Liverpool player who had fouled. ‘Gerr ‘im off!’ but as I stated before, they were a great bunch; as they saw me sweating for the one point we needed for the championship they consoled me by comforting: ‘Only forty minutes to go lad’ – then, ‘Only thirty minutes now.’ It takes greatness to bestow such comfort, especially as our success would mean their failure but then Liverpool were well versed in success, and this was only our ‘maiden voyage’. As the time became shorter our fans shouted madly, ’Liverpool – Liverpool – runners up!’ It was so unnecessary, so pretentious a single Liverpool score even at that late stage and the dream would be over. I remember little of those final few minutes the tension was making it all a blur. But I do recall that the lads were dribbling the ball off our very goal-line, they did not resort to belting it up field, I would have been happy if they had put the ball into row ‘Z’. Then Alun Evens was through with only Sprake to beat, the goal seemed as wide as a field he couldn’t miss but miss he did. I daren’t look at my watch I knew if I did that would surely put the mockers on it. But for once the gods were with us – they didn’t pass that night. When the whistle did sound it was a little unexpected and a little unbelievable: our little team from Elland Road that I had supported from a lad, all those ordinary years in the second division were champions of the Football League!
The Leeds players congratulated each other and were congratulated by the Liverpool team, and then they ran to our end to be treated to hysterical applause. That done they started back to the tunnel; Mr Revie was on his feet and waved them away to the Liverpool Kop; the lads made their way, almost shyly to the famous Kop, hallway across they stopped and waved at the massed ranks of Liverpool fans. That which happened next was the highlight of the whole season and as it seems to have turned out, the highlight of my whole lifetime of watching Leeds United. The Kop arose in a mighty salute of red and white with the thunderous acclaim: ‘Leeds – Leeds – Leeds’. The Kop, which had seemed smaller than expected when entering the stadium, was now a colossal cathedral filling the whole panorama; the crescendo was a magnificent sight, enough to take the breath away. Any Leeds fan who remained dry eyed that night had to be a hard hearted beggar! We left Anfield treading air, the pubs and fish and chip shops all the way from Liverpool; to Leeds (remember there was no motorway) were filled with delirious Leeds fans.
Many of the travellers had their banners already made. I always thought it was tempting providence a bit but what a great sight to see them flying from cars, vans, buses ‘Champions’ when I arrived home it was late but Brenda was still awake and I couldn’t wait to speak those coveted words. ‘This was our night. We are the champions!’ I watched the lads for over sixty years but there was never another night like that night at Anfield
Date April 28th 1969.
Venue Anfield
Att: 53,750.Score Liverpool nil – Leeds United nil.
Teams:
Leeds: Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, O’Grady, Madeley, Giles, E, Gray.
Liverpool: Lawrence, Lawler, Strong, Smith, Yeats, Hughes, Callighan, Graham, Evens, St John, Thompson.
We had the championship with sixty-five points and there was still one match to play. The record points total at that time (and remembering it was only two points for a win) stood at sixty six points, we needed a win to beat it. The last match was to be against Nottingham forest at home. Even though they occupied a lowly position in the league they were not going to make it easy for us that night, although their goal was under perpetual siege they fought for every ball. ‘We want the record’, chanted the crowd but it was beginning to look as though Forest would hold out. It was beginning to be that sort of a night when there had been so many near misses you begin to think that fate has it we would not score but 1969 was our year we squeezed one in near the end; Giles I believe was the scorer. We had the championship and we had the record

Sights, Smells and Sounds: Memories are made of these

March 1, 2019 by

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

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

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

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

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

The Night they Bombed our old Richmond Hill School Down

February 1, 2019 by

THE NIGHT THEY BOMBED OLD RICHMOND HILL SCHOOL DOWN

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 23, 2018 by

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

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

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

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

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

A BUSY LIFE

December 1, 2018 by

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

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

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

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