Ramblings around East Leeds in the Early fifties

March 1, 2017 by

By Eddie Blackwell

We moved houses during late 1949. My Grandma had passed on and Granddad couldn’t cope on his own. We lived in a through Terraced House in Devon Street off Pontefract Lane, it was classed as a Red Area and due for demolition, we had a cold water tap, no bath or inside toilet, but we managed as people did in those days.
Granddad lived in Osmondthorpe in an end terrace of four houses, with Hot and Cold water on tap, and an inside toilet and bathroom, a garden front and back, opulence personified, luxury beyond our wildest dreams, to turn on the tap and hot water gush forth, after you’ve been used to boiling the kettle was almost beyond belief.
Granddad was 71 years old when we moved in with him, he was still quite fit an able, and had all of his faculties about him. I recall he would tell me stories about when he was serving in WW1, He was in the RAMC, (Royal Army Medical Corps) and he was at the front in Ypres and the Somme. They were gruesome tales he had to tell of how both Men and Animals were used as cannon fodder to further the ends of Bureaucrats and Politicians who claimed they’d gained 600 yards, but didn’t mention it had cost thousands of lives and animals to do so.
He had lots of sayings as well, things like, “if you do owt for nowt make sure you do it for the sen”, another one was “life is but a span enjoy it whilst you can”, and “don’t count your chickens before there hatched”, “home is where the heart is”, “Why did the chicken cross the road” and a host of others.
He liked his pint as well, his local was the Wykebeck Arms in Selby Road, He used to manage the football team that played out of there, so he was always well received. Come Sunday mornings about 11 am, he’d start to whistle a little tune to himself and rub the ends of his waistcoat between his forefinger and thumbs, he always wore a waist coat collar and tie and suit, in winter he’d put his overcoat over the top, come Ice, Snow, Hail, Rain or Gale, he’d not miss his Sunday Lunchtime session. I used to go and meet him at 2 pm, he was always a bit tipsy when he came out, so I’d put my arm in his to steady him up and we’d walk back home and have Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Beef, potatoes, two veg, and gravy, they were happy days that I shall always treasure and remember.
Granddad unfortunately had a stroke, I was about 14 years old, and they sent for me from school, which was at the end of the street, but we didn’t have telephones in those days, like we have today, it was down to the telephone box put your pennies in and press button “A”. So the Ambulance took ages to arrive and by that time a lot of damage had been done, they took him to Hospital he was in for about a week, but when he came out he couldn’t walk that well and he was never the same.
We’d been living there just over 3 years when Granddad passed on, and I was devastated. I think my Dad recognised this, of course he was also grieving the loss of Granddad. Dad was a Clubman, he loved the Osmondthorpe Club, we didn’t have transport, but it wasn’t far to walk through the Railway Bridge at the end of Wykebeck Avenue, up the path past the pit hills onto Osmondthorpe Lane and you were there. I remember a story from back then of how, Dad had one too many this night, and walking back from the Club with Mum, he fell through a hedge, Mum said she thought he’d got taken short, and proceeded on home and up to bed. The following morning Dad turned up banging on the door all of a fluster he’d fallen through the hedge and gone to asleep, and the following morning a dog had woken him licking his face, it took a long time for him to live that one down.
Although I always thought there was more to it than we were told. Mum had a terrible temper when she was angry especially if she’d had a drink, and she was pretty handy with her Hand Bags they were always large heavy ones, I thought they may have been arguing and she’d swung out with her hand bag and knocked Dad through the hedge and he’d gone out for the count, then he’d made up that story to cover things over. They were OK the following day arguments never lasted long at our house, Mum and Dad always used to say life’s too short to hold grudges, agree to differ if you must and move on, and we never discussed Politics or Religion, Mum was RC and Conservative, Dad was C of E and Labour just like chalk and cheese from that point of view.
When the Moon was full and shining bright Dad liked to go for a walk, he’d say, are you feeling tired…No, come on then let’s go for a walk, and off we we’d go across Halton Moore onto the bridle path up through the Golf Course and into Temple Newsam. We’d look through the windows of the Mansion expecting to see the Blue Lady but she never appeared, although we did have a scare once when someone shone a light inside, and we made off rather quickly, then it was back down Selby Road into the estate and home. I think Dad did this to try and make a bond, it was his way of compensating for the loss of Granddad.
Eventually we moved on as you have to do with life’s tragedies, but it hurt for a long time.
There was one occasion when the Moon was really big and full with a Yellow glow and a Halo, Dad said come on it’s a Harvest Moon, we can’t let this one go by, and off we went. We were following the beck on Halton Moor just the other side of the road from Corpus Christy Church when suddenly a Ladies voice cried out for help, Murder, murder she called. Well I was very quick in those days and I was off like a rocket along the side of the beck towards the hill from where we flew our model aeroplanes. There was a boggy patch just before the hill where water cress used to grow and I cleared that without breaking my stride, on up the hill and there was the lady sorting herself out, and a Guy much bigger and older than I they were having words. Are you OK I asked the lady, she said yes I am thanks I’m sorry for calling out like that but we were having a disagreement that’s all. Then the Guy said what do you think you were going to do about it anyway, by this time the artillery had arrived, and Dad said I think he’d have coped with the situation don’t you, the lady had sorted herself out, and said come on Fred I think it’s time we were going don’t you, thanks again young man, and off they went down onto Halton Moor Avenue.
Dad said to me they must have been having an argument about something, and how long have you been able to run that fast, just look at me, he’d fallen in the bog and was covered up to his middle in mud.
Then Dad told me if you ever have a situation like that again, make sure you come in with the light behind you and shinning on the other person, your less vulnerable that way. Then we put it all behind us and carried on with our walk, we always stopped on the path as we went through the golf course, the first hole was by the Lady Bower Woods. Dad always fancied himself as a Golfer even before I was born.
When I was little before he went into the RAF he’d carry me on his shoulders from where we lived in Devon Street down Pontefract lane towards East End Park, along Red Road onto the bridle path that leads to Temple Newsam then we’d stop to watch them playing Golf I used to be bored to tears watching fully grown men knocking a little ball into a hole, what’s so difficult about that I used to think.
Dad had never earnt enough money to be able to afford to play the game. It’s a rich man’s sport he always used to say, wish he was here now I’d buy him as many golf clubs as he wanted. Sometimes we’d curtail the walk up to Temple Newsam House, and cut down to Selby Road after the Golf course and this was one of those occasions.
I think this midnight walking must have had an effect on me in my later years. I recall after returning from National Service my Brother in law and I, going into the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District climbing the Three Peaks, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and many more all at Midnight, we’d set off to reached there at 12 Midnight in Roy’s little Mini. We had no walking or climbing gear, just strong shoes and warm clothing, and chocolate, we always had a bar of chocolate with us. I remember when we did Pen-y-gent, it was our first excursion, we left their new house just off Selby Road, it was a bad night very cold and when we got there it was blowing a Gale with Hailstones. Undaunted off we went, it’s not a very difficult climb (well not for us in those days we were very fit), but when we reached the summit, the weather conditions started to get worse, and I got the bonk we used to call it, when all of the energy drained out of your legs. So we sheltered ourselves from the weather and ate a bar of chocolate, that did the trick, after half an hour we proceeded down from the summit into the car and stopped at a transport café for a good breakfast on the way home. We always got a telling off from me Mum when we arrived home, I’ve been up all night worrying about you both, your old enough now to have some common sense, and leaving Sheila on her own, when she’s expecting it’s not right Roy. I’ll bet you two are hungry have you had some breakfast, you pair of juvenile delinquents.

I remember in the early 1950’s we’d moved from Devon street to go and live with my Granddad at 52, Wykebeck Street, Osmondthorpe Leeds 9. It’s strange how things stick in your mind. It was like stepping into another world to have hot and cold water on tap, and a bathroom with a toilet and a bath.
Granddad was in his early 70’s and had kept himself in good shape, but he always said to me, if you want to do things do them before your 70’s, because it all goes downhill from there. He’d worked hard all his life in the Clay Industry, producing Building Materials, Sanitary Ware and suchlike.
It was heavy manual work paid on a piecework basis, punching clay into moulds, then finishing and smoothing the products ready for drying, then glazing and firing. In his later years after he was 65 he had the Foreman’s job which was less physical, but more stressful, and he always said to me he wasn’t sure if it didn’t take more out of him than moulding the clay.
Granddad used to go to the Wykebeck Arms every weekend Sunday lunchtime was his favourite, he always wore a waistcoat and had a pocket watch, I could always tell when it was getting near his time to go, he’d look at his watch and whistle a little tune, rubbing the points of his waistcoat and looking out of the window down the street. Then suddenly he’d put on his jacket, and his overcoat if it was cold don his grey Trilby hat, and off he’d go.
He used to manage and train the football team that played out of there in his day, so he was well received, I’d walk down and meet him about 2 pm, he was always a bit tipsy and I’d put my arm in his to steady him as we walked home, and he’d tell me a tale or two about when he was on the Somme in WW1, and he always had a little story to pass on his experience and wisdom to me.
He was a Corporal in the Medical Corps and when he was on the Somme, he would take a Medical Squad out into No-Man’s-Land amongst all the barbed wire and mayhem, to try and help the injured and wounded, and he always said when it gets to that point in time all men are equal, there are no Officers and Gentlemen or other Ranks your all in it together and one man is same as the other, and anyone who says different was never there.
I played football for the School at that time and he always came to watch me play, and he would clean and dubbin my football boots and have my kit all laid out for me. I never ever played a bad game, but he would always have a bit of advice for me, along the lines if you trained a bit harder you could score a few goals as well. Regrettable he suffered a stroke from which he never really recovered, and I thought the bottom had fallen out of my world.
Dad seemed to sense my grief as you would expect, because he was also grieving, and we started going for long walks together at night when the Moon was full and shining. He would come home from the Club we’d have a fish and chip supper Mum and my Sister would go to bed. Then we’d set off over Halton Moor walking along the beck, cut up along the bridle path across the Golf course into Temple Newsome then back down Selby Road and home, this was usually a Saturday night so we could have a lay in on Sunday morning

We Had to Eat Gravel!

February 1, 2017 by

We Had to Eat Gravel

 

When you look back along a reasonably long life you see that so many things have changed, most of the local pubs, corner shops and cinemas have closed down, open fires, decent ballads and lavies down the street are a thing of the past, church attendances are down, the coal mines are closed. The simple things we used to do in life have been usurped by modern technology. I find it hard to believe these changes have happened in just one life time. Perhaps most of all I remember how happily primitive general living used to be.

Do you remember that great old Monty Python sketch where a group of well healed old farts are sitting around in leather arm chairs supping their whisky and purporting how hard it had been for them on the way up, each one trying to outdo the last on the depth of the depravity they had endured in their early lives until it got brilliantly silly and towards the end one old fart said after the previous one had made maniacal claims.

‘Right, well listen to this then. We lived in a shoe box and all we had to eat was gravel!’

Not to be outdone the final guy said, ‘Shoe box! That would have been a luxury for us, we would have loved to live in a shoe box we had to live in the canal and every night our dad came home from work and murdered us.’

***************************************

Well you know we East Leedsers who have been lucky enough to have had a reasonably long life can look back on times descending back to what now seems almost comic proportions of destitution. I’m going to put myself in the position of those old farts going back over my life. I’ll pretend to be different old farts getting more and more disadvantaged but really they will all be me and although it won’t be as exotic as Monty Python it will all be true.

Old fart number one. ‘When we were first married we never aspired to satellite television we just had a colour TV with the basic channels, no free view facility, just had an old dial  telephone on a land line, we were never  able to afford those magic mobile things that just about tell you what you had for breakfast.  And there were no ‘sat navs’ you had to know how to read a map. If your car wouldn’t start on a morning you had to swing it with a starting handle sometimes it kicked back and knocked your shoulder out Twenty pounds a week was a top wage – you could get a mortgage on twenty pounds a week we only had the one toilet of course and a galvanised dustbin.

Old fart number two. Colour television? You were lucky, we never dreamt of colour television. When I lived in Cross Green we had a 12 inch black and white TV which constantly rolled over and over and had one channel,  BBC one. We only had one electric plug to run everything off. We had no fridge or washing machine we had a keeping safe in the cellar to keep food going off and Mam washed our clothes in the sink.  If we wanted to telephone we had to go to the big red box up the road and I went to work for years on an old pushbike.

Old fart number three. ‘Television! We’d never heard of even black and white television. When I lived in Knostrop we didn’t even have electricity we had gas downstairs and nothing at all upstairs. You can’t run many appliances off gas so we had to make our own amusement. We had running water and a flush toilet but it was outside and froze up in winter. We had to sleep outside in an air raid shelter while the Germans rained bombs down on us. When it rained heavily, Knostrop being so low down in Leeds the water came out of the man holes instead of in and flooded us to the depth of about ten inches and floated everything about. Being a large old house I had a big bedroom but ivy grew on the inside as well as the outside walls, when I went to bed I climbed the stairs with a candle stick like Wee Willy Winky. The nearest telephone box was at the top of the hill so was school, where we always had to walk to on our own after the first day and where on a bad day we would expect to be smacked on our arms and legs by the women teachers and caned by the head master.

knostrop-right-way-up

Knostrop

Old fart number four. Flush toilets! We would have loved a flush toilet. When I was evacuated to Aunt Nellie’s at None-Go-Byes Farm Cottage all we had was a dry toilet round the back that smelt terrible and was only emptied now and then when the midden men came round. We had no gas or electricity only oil lamps that smoked smelt terribly too. The only water was iron water from a tap in the yard. We had two bedrooms but you had to pass through one to get

To the other

none-go-byes-cottage

 

there was no phone box at all you had to post a letter if you wanted to contact anyone and the post box was three miles away as was the nearest shop and bus stop. The Germans dropped flairs on us looking for the munitions factory. When the kids went to school they had to take their shoes off and walk in bare feet across the fields so they wouldn’t get their shoes muddy and be told off by the teachers.

Old fart number five. Two Bedrooms! We lived in The Humbug House, an old single story gatehouse. We never dreamt of having two bedrooms we had one room and one bedroom, neither gas nor electricity and it was so damp because it was below the water table that vegetation grew on the inside of the walls, I don’t remember what we did for a toilet perhaps we used a bucket?

*21-12-2016-005636

***********************************************

Every word is true, it’s been a long road, when I look back and sounds as if it could have been unhappy but it never was. I never felt disadvantaged at any of those places.  Folk were all in the same boat getting themselves through the war, Mam and Dad were alive and love abounded. If I could go back to any one of those times I’d be there in a trice because I’d be young again and nowt fazes you when you’re young does it?

************************************************************

Comments welcome

 

Miserable gits

January 1, 2017 by

MISERABLE “ GITS”

miserabl-gits-one

Another great tale from Eric Sanderson

As you meander through life, the rich pattern of different personalities cross your path in a continuous stream, some for a fleeting moment and yet others leave a lasting impression.
Sometimes it’s for the better, at other times it’s for the worse and I think it applies universally, whatever the community.
I suppose that this is one interpretation of eternal life, some of those characters of 60 years or so ago are still as vivid after all this time. In our minds eye, they still look and sound the same and so have lived on unchanged in our memories.

Many were bright, cheerful, friendly folk whom you were happy to know and enjoyed coming across :-

miserable-gits-two

But there were the perennial moaners, whingers and downright unpleasant characters – the “Miserable ’Gits’ “ who were never happy unless they were being miserable.

miserable-gits-three

These were the ones you tried to avoid at all costs , especially if some of the grubby rumours were to be given house room, but it wasn’t always possible.
Here’s a few I came across over the years in our area and without mentioning any names, the descriptions might just strike a chord.

The first are really a group rather than individuals. These were the folk who lived in end terrace houses and used to complain to us lads that thumped a football endlessly against their wall end
We just couldn’t understand their mean-ness and animosity towards this perfectly innocent pastime.
In a similar vein , one chap used to become really ratty when we used his garden path as the run up, bowling to the cricket stumps chalked on the opposite terrace end wall.
Some people are so unreasonable.

Then there was the cinema usher and attendant. He ran his fiefdom with a rod of iron and woe betide any miscreant who didn’t obey his strict rules. They would be thrown out, unceremoniously for the slightest infraction such as talking ,fidgeting or moving from your allocated seat. The youth of the day lived in fear of him but outside of the cinema, he was a quiet, unassuming man whose demeanor completely belied his reign of terror inside the cinema.
Trying to ingratiate yourself with him was a complete waste of time. In fact it seemed to have the opposite effect by making him suspicious of your motives, resulting in being kept under even closer scrutiny and at greater risk of forcible ejection.

A shopkeeper on Temple View Rd ranks near the top of the most miserable git list. His was a general grocery store and he would greet customers with a snarling demand of “what do you want “ ?.
With a trembling voice, meekly and respectfully stating your needs , he would mutter & sigh before slamming your purchase onto his wide counter. If you had the temerity to not offer the correct amount of money, he would roll his eyes and quite literally throw your change at you across the counter top. I dreaded going there and even my Mother, who could hold her own with most, was wary of him – that’s probably why she used to send me !.
Such behavior was/is completely inimical to running a service business where the vendor should surely go the extra mile to encourage his customers to come to him with repeat business.
Although this particular establishment was an extreme example, many corner shops were not known for their friendliness , seeming to think they were a cut above their customers – their vanity being the quicksands of their reason.

The Park Ranger at East End Park in the 40’s & 50’s could hold his own on the miserable git league. It must have been part of the job spec for all Park Rangers, for they all seemed to be the same, that a deep seated hatred of people, particularly young boys , came naturally to them.
This particular guy was a quite small and wiry which made him a formidable challenge because you couldn’t easily run away from him. He always carried a stout stick and he wasn’t averse, or even slow to give a swift whack to any errant youth.
At the time, it was forbidden to walk on the wide sweeps of grass (crazy or not ?) but it was a source of mischief to do so, calling to the “Parkie” to attract his attention and encourage a chase. Even if he didn’t manage to catch you, he had a good memory and would often extract his reprisal a few days later.
Another forbidden practice was riding your bike along Victoria Avenue , which went from one end of the Park to the other. Of course, this was another activity which the youth of the day just had to do. One time, a group kept sweeping up and down , dodging the Parkie who was obviously furious, shouting and waving his stick. His control finally left him and thrusting his stick into the spokes of one rider as they swept by once again, the unfortunate cyclist took a tumble and suffering a badly damaged wheel. But it brought the practice of the mickey taking cyclists to an abrupt halt.
Yes, “Parkies” were in the first division of miserable gits.

Schoolteachers had their champions in the miserable git stakes. I can only speak of Victoria but there was at least three there in my time who would quickly and readily administer corporal punishment at the earliest opportunity. Although some were good at actually teaching, there was often this underlying ,habitual code of strict discipline and little of the pastoral care prevalent in many schools today. But, every silver lining has a cloud, maybe the more “friendly” schoolteachers of today don’t gain the respect they once enjoyed and some people’s desire to do the right thing considerably exceeds their ability to discern just what the “right thing” is.

A nearby chippy was owned by a real grump. Fish and chip shops abounded in the area and everyone had their favourite. In those days, they would close for two or three weeks in the summer whilst the owners took their holidays so you had to switch allegiance for that period. This particular chippy knew you weren’t a regular and wouldn’t hesitate to let you know and disapproved of your using his establishment for convenience. On more than one occasion, I heard him tell customers to take their trade elsewhere. Unbelievable.

A well known barber on York Road, near Victoria school was the scourge of young boys. He would enforce silence whilst waiting your turn to have your haircut in the style he decided. He took no notice of your requests and would only condescend to let you in the chair when all the adults had been seen to first. I’ve even known lads, in mid haircut, to be removed from the chair to allow a later arriving adult take priority. Not only that, he was a nasty piece of work to boot and one to steer well clear of.

Another cinematic nightmare was the manager at the Star Cinema. In the fashion of the day, he always wore a tuxedo , sported brilliantined hair and a clipped moustache. But boy, was he a piece of work. He would fix you with a gimlet eye and if he didn’t like the cut of your jib, might not even let you in. To be fair, it was mainly teenagers in groups that attracted his wrath but it wasn’t always fairly administered and protest merely justified his draconian justice.

I had a friend whose Mum was not so much miserable but intensely house-proud. Our friend used to have piano lessons at home but to be truthful, anyone less musically talented would be difficult to imagine. However, when we called for him, he would sometimes be in the midst of his piano practice and although she invited us in, she would place a newspaper on the floor and insist we stand stock still, not move onto the sparkling lino floor or speak so as not to disturb the budding pianist whilst he practiced his ear offending scales. I’m no musician but my god, there are limits. Shoes were inspected prior to entry and naturally, sitting on the highly polished leather suite was strictly forbidden.

Some neighbours also figured on the miserable git list but they were far outweighed by the many friendly people who lived in the area ,who were kind and tried hard to make the lives of young people much better. And in the end, that’s what made the old East Leeds community the great place to grow up in that era – after all is said and done, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years and Old East Leeds was the place to do that.

Foul play at the Slip Inn

December 24, 2016 by

A TALE FOR CHRISTMAS

Foul Play at the Slip Inn – a fantasy tale of murder & mayhem
By Eric Sanderson

In the immediate post war years up into the ’60’s, the East End Park area of East Leeds was for the most part a comparatively tranquil place to live. However when the Slip Inn ( whose correct name was The New Regent but nobody called it any other than the “Slip”) opened it’s doors to the newly built concert room in the ’50’s & began staging live music, the area took on a livelier atmosphere & was a big attraction, drawing large, regular crowds of young people – many from outside the immediate area- & which inevitably turned rowdy at times.
One or two other establishments offered similar entertainment around the same time , notably The Prospect in Accommodation Rd & The White Horse in York Rd.

The following tale is one which to be truthful, is fictitious & which I had a bit of fun writing but why not put yourself in the front row & go along for the ride anyway ?. But a word of warning , every second you spend reading this piece of trivia may turn out to be
a second of your life totally wasted & wreck your sanity by reading such drivel.
I also know that there are a few historical timing conflicts but then, that’s the least of the nonsense.

Friday evening, which was probably the venue’s most popular time, always crowded, was buzzing as usual but one particular evening, just before Christmas and as the stage curtains were pulling back & the band were about to strike up, a gasp arose from the audience as the resident pianist – known as Light Fingers , for a good reason that didn’t include his piano playing abilities, was seen slumped over the keyboard with his face buried in a congealed, half eaten parcel of newspaper wrapped fish & chips. Oddly the other members of the troupe appeared not to have noticed, but were probably used to seeing him comatose as he only worked there to pay his bar bill. It brought a chill to the customers who were there expecting an evening of Christmas cheer & music amongst the brightly lit festive decorations.
The police were speedily summoned ,although their response was slow as the officers involved from Millgarth Police Station happened to be esconced in a nearby
bookies trying to recoup last weeks heavy losses . Reluctantly leaving the bookies as they were convinced they were onto a surefire winner to boost their Christmas backhanders, they jumped into their souped up Ford Granada & roared along Marsh Lane, up Shannon street past the coal staithe, tore into Lavender Walk & along Ascot terrace , fi- nally racing down Temple View Rd to screech to a tyre smoking halt outside the Slip. A little street furniture & a couple of dogs were the hapless victims of their reckless high speed journey, along with a few pedestrians diving for cover & needing rescucitation afterwards as well. Into the concert room strode sharp suited Det Sergeant Beauregard
Sidebottom, his immaculately tailored suit being marred only by the slight bulge from a couple of knuckledusters in his jacket pocket. He was accompanied by his assistant, Det Constable Euric Head who unsurprisingly appeared a little tipsy , having a legendary re- putation for imbibing copious quantities of Premium Bitter & claiming that his investi- gatory powers remained unaffected, even enhanced, except for his need for regular toilet breaks & for him to stick his head into the porcelain for a good barf . Both were well known to the local villainy, especially for their vigorous interrogation techniques so
there was an immediate scramble for the exits, many of East Leeds finest scattering in all directions , fleeing to the more remote regions of East End Park, Black Road or the dark alleyways & safe houses of Saville Green to lie low ‘til matters cooled down some- what.
A posse of bobbies tried to pursue them through the Glendsdales, Charltons & along Welbeck Rd but the pursued were fleet of foot & well used to outrunning the police foot- men .The unfit & mainly overweight rozzers were soon gasping for breath & quickly gave up the unequal struggle, repairing back to the Slip for the odd rejevenating pint of Hemingway’s Cloudfest Bitter to start their Christmas celebrations early.
On being briefed about the situation, D.S Sidebottom declared “I smell a rat”. Not so said several of the audience, it’s the miasma from a decomposing body. Some had spotted the pianist slump over the keyboard just as the stage curtains were closing at the conclusion of the previous friday night’s concert & just assumed he was in his usual drunken stupor. “That means the man must have been dead for almost exactly one week” ventured D.S. Sidebottom & glancing at his assistant murmured “that’s what makes a great detective – the ability to think on your feet & make complex deductions at the
crime scene”.
The D.S. immediately put those remaining or trapped in the room, around 150 or so, on lockdown & permitted nobody to leave, or even served with a drink ‘til someone had ‘fessed up. This brought howls of protest but unsurprisingly nobody owned up, so D.S Sidebottom placed all 150 in the room under arrest on suspicion of murder and/or complicity in the deed. Unfortunately, he had insufficient pairs of handcuffs to go
around so had to improvise by commandeering empty coal sacks from a nearby coalyard ( Wriggleworths – better known as “Lizzies” & just across the road from the Slip Inn) & placing them over the heads to blindfold the 150 suspects before frogmarching the lot down to Millgarth Police station .
There, devoid of any of the Christmas spirit goodwill towards all men, the interro- gation, conducted under the strictest human rights directives of course, commenced in due course but only after banging everyone up overnight, 25 to a cell on stale bread & water only and a prolonged waterboarding . As the suspects were gradually released, some appeared with bruised faces, black eyes & clutching bruised ribs – & that was only the women. Many of the men appeared with missing teeth & bandaged hands where fin- gernails had been ripped out. Not a great start to the festive season’s break.

The police pathologist, Dr Hugo Ruff-Trayd, was beginning to sober up when he
commenced the autopsy & apart from his badly trembling hands resulting in a few mis- placed slashes from his scalpel, managed to complete the autopsy without once falling over or throwing up onto the cadaver.
His alcohol blurred vision proved unable to discover any obvious clinical impedi- ment, declaring it was “death from natural causes, that is until it was pointed out by his recently released assistant, Dr Garth Vayder – “that is a load of old b******s there’s a b******g deep penetration wound between his f******g shoulder blades”.
Unable to control himself because of some genetic predisposition , his language skills unfortunately suffered & were often the cause of conflict between himself & their clients.
Aha, declared Dr Ruff-Trayd, this means a criminal offence has taken place & I’ll be required as an expert witness.
This finding unleashed the constabulary to widen their searches far& wide amongst local hostelries , the railway cuttings between Pontefract Lane, East Park Rd & all other
known refuges in the search for potential fugitives ,those with information which might lead to an arrest ( i.e. -a stool pidgeon) or the finding of a weapon. Not unaturally for the force in question, a few beatings, threats & late night forced entries were employed to speed matters along. Finally, the list of suspects was narrowed down to 24 but this was such a bonanza arrest list for the beleaguered W.Y. Police Force , that D.S. Sidebot- tom was assured of promotion at the earliest opportunity.
The main suspect was the 94 year old , tiny & frail widow Lawless solely on the grounds that she had not answered a single question put to her. The reason for that being because the interrrogation team had simply failed to realise she was stone deaf &
couldn’t hear a word said to her.
Meanwhile, the SlipInn Concert Room was declared a crime scene & closed for a full half hour whilst the forensic team did their work before packing up for a complimentary liquid lunch with pork pies from a nearby shop run by a zit faced youth who, unknown to his clientele, because of his inattention to the job & his total uselessness, used to end up doing disgusting things with the pies & sausage rolls. Dropping them onto the floor
& wiping them clean with his filthy , chest cold filled hankerchief was one of his more hygenic procedures, often resulting in his customers projectile vomiting liquids from both ends of their torso . Some said this was deliberate on his part.

The trial date duly arrived & the accused, all 24 of them charged with joint
& several responsibility, were to appear at Leeds Crown Court, before High Court
Judge, his Lordship Theopholus. P. Bulstrode – a man of jurisprudence known chiefly for his illiberal opinions, robust court discipline & harsh sentencing. He announced that
there was to be no time wasting, wanting the matter cleared up quickly so that he could get into the season of good will a.s.a.p.
Dr Ruff-Trayd was due to be first up to provide the court with his autopsy findings but was found asleep in the witness waiting room, clutching an empty absinthe bottle & requiring several bucket of cold water to be thrown over him and a gallon of strong
black coffee poured down his throat before he was deemed fit, although looking some- what dishevelled, to enter the witness box, much to the relief of his deputy who, suffer- ing from an almighty hangover , believed his inability to speak in any other than the most offensive expletives may have got him into troublewith the judge.
Naturally, His Honor was furious at the delay which meant his lunch break would be curtailed to a mere 2 hours & a measly half bottle of Navy Rum. His fury was plain to see with bulging eyes, neck veins standing out & his alcoholic red nose glowing like a rear stop light.
“You sir, are an incompetent, unprofessional fool & a drunkard to boot” bellowed the judge.
M’Lud enquired Ruff-Trayd’s counsel, “why so aggressive & insulting towards the ve- nerable Dr.”
“Because it takes one to know one” thundered the judge.

Newly promoted Det Superintendant Sidebottom – who now styled himself
Siddybotham as more befitting his new, higher rank and had taken to wearing even sharper suits along with equally lurid hand painted kipper ties , proceeded to out- line the evidence against the suspects , i.e. that they were present when the body was discovered & that they were all from East Leeds – Q.E.D. ,in particular the damning evi- dence against the incommunicative 94 yr old widow main suspect.
This was followed by defence “ counsel ” ( a self educated ex con & AA attendee who’d recently bought a second hand copy of “Idiots Guide to Litigation”) presenting witnesses to attest to the character & somewhat dodgy alibis of the 24 in the dock.
The judge quickly became bored & fell asleep to be awoken only by his own thun- derous double bass snoring. He immediately & grumpily declared he was suspending proceedings & would find all the accused guilty as charged on the basis of an ancient le- gal tenet of Common Law known as Excreta Taurus, because none had proven their in- nocence to his satisfaction & he was therefore redacting all defence testimony & pro- ceeding straight to sentencing.

However, before he could do so, the huge Cuban cigar he’d been secretly puffing behind the bench before he’d dropped off & was still burning, made contact with his vo- luminous scarlet robes which he’d only recently purchased cheaply on EBay . Unfortu- nately for him, they’d been manufactured in Hong Kong from a highly flammable mate- rial, soaked in Saltpetre to preserve their lurid colour and on which he’d spilled a large
tumbler of cognac as he fell asleep ,very quickly caught fire becoming a blazing inferno within seconds. The self immolation became complete within minutes & all that re- mained was a bareboned skeleton, slumped in the judges high chair but still clutching the Smouldering Cuban Cohiba with a cheap & nasty nylon Judges wig askew on the skeleton’s skull. Along with the tempting aroma of roast pork. Bang went his Yuletide orgy plans.

During the ensuing chaos, all the 24 accused managed to escape , the chief sus- pect, 94 yr old widow Lawless overcoming her burly minder by head butting him fol- lowed by a hefty kick to his groin & escaping the building by clambering through the high level lavatory window. Still dressed in her Santa Claus costume & jumping onto a high powered police motorbike she raced off heading South on the motorway but in the Northbound carriageway, creating havoc & multiple pile ups & so preventing the police from pursuing her .(they never thought about using the Southbound carriageway), reach- ing Southampton in record time where she managed to smuggle herself onto a tramp steamer heading for S.America. Hiding in the ships hold , she managed to find a few pal- lets of convenience food but was troubled by a horde of black rats which tried to share her food & gnaw at her ankles. She was able to keep them at bay however by a few well aimed shots from a Kalashnikov AK47 she discovered in a secret arms cache in the same hold & which the ships captain obviously intended smuggling into Mexico.
Once in Mexico,& after enjoying her brief period of notoriety, she decided to con- tinue her criminal career & ultimately became the dominatrix of a leading drugs cartel , striking up a relationship with a 23 year old Mexican drug smuggler toy boy & reaching a notoriety & villainy matched only in later years by Hillary Clinton.
All the other escapees, having fled the country quickly & so having little or no as- sets, developed successful careers as arms dealers, drug smugglers, timeshare salesmen
, unauthorised plastic surgery clinicians & illegal moonshine production. A few how- ever had to revert to type & resorted to the less savoury activities in which they were well versed .So far, all have managed to avoid extradition & subsequent jail sentences but
Chief Constable Siddybotham, now styling himself “Sidboam” continued to keep the case open.
The understudy pianist who stepped in immediately following Light Fingers demise was said by some to to have a knowing smirk on his face and curiously, had blood like stains on the lapels of his white Tuxedo jacket which proved to be resistant even to liberal ap- plications of “Vanish”. Nonetheless, Ch Cons Sidboam refused to investigate his fellow Freemason, even though he’d been a member of a notorious biker gang & covered in af- filiation tattoos before his damascene conversion to Freemasonry.
Bizarrly, shortly afterward he too disappeared suddenly to be replaced by a highly ac- claimed classical pianist – a strange choice & yet another mystery.
Nonetheless being a classical musician, he was a stickler for detail & perfection and con- cerned that his grand piano appeared to miss a few notes & seem out of tune. On raising
the lid, he discovered to his horror, a discarded white Tuxedo jacket & several half ea- ten, heavily tattoo’ed body parts.
The gruesome discovery, on the eve of Christmas, increased the tempo of the investiga- tion resulting in ever more officers being pulled away from the vital & pressing activites of parking tickets & raiding pubs that stayed open 5 minutes later than thy should have, unleashing them yet again to practice their ferocious intimidation on the locals.

Metropolitan Chief Commissioner Sidboam was determined to see a conclusion to his most famous case but, getting no result other than multiple claims for compensation for wrongful arrest & extreme brutality, meant that suspicion fell , & remains upon all the community, especially by association ,those who frequented the Slip Inn concert room. However, some believe that those who have no vices , often have very few virtues.
Lord Si’Bome subsequently lobbied for a judicial enquiry & felt the £20million spent was fully justified though has yet to reveal a culprit & conviction, the 120 year old widow Lawless still being his main suspect & remaining at large even though a 12
strong team of West Yorkshire’s finest spent 3 weeks at the 5 star Shangri La in Acapul- co , making searching enquiries as to her whereabouts. But they did come back with su- perb all round tan and a pretty hefty expense account bar bill.

The tragic loss of life of talented, hard working musicians, the spectacular demise of the illustrious Judge Bulstrode & the consequences of 24 escapees to ply their illegal trades in the seedier parts of the world’s stage is one thing but the frightening thought re- mains that a cannibal killer could still be stalking the highways & byways of East Leeds. Alas the Slip Inn no longer exists (as a pub) , it’s former glory long past &it’s ignomi- nious existence as a convenience store hiding the history of many a good night for lots
of us to remember. But I wonder how many would be happy to shop there for their Christmas turkey knowing the grisly acts which took place where the frozen food cabi- nets now stand ?
Rest easy but take care out there.

The Magic of Aeroplanes

December 1, 2016 by

This month’s tale is about aeroplanes but there will be special Christmas tale by Eric Sanderson concerning dastardly deeds at the Slip Inn .

Look out for it on Christmas Eve

THE MAGIC OF AEROPLANES
We have all spent our lives under the sounds of aeroplanes and I Say ‘aeroplanes’ not aircraft for that is what we called them in the 1940s and they landed on ‘aerodromes’ not ‘airports’, ‘Yeadon Aerodrome’ not ‘Leeds Bradford Airport’. Somehow the name ‘aeroplane’ seems to carry the magic better.
When we were young, in the 1940s, the air would be full of piston engine aeroplanes droning above us, there were so many and we were so used to seeing them we hardly bothered to look up. If we did look up we would see, Spitfires and hear their beautiful Rolls Royce Merlin engine note, Hurricanes, Mosquitoes with their snub noses, Blenheim’s, Lancaster’s, Halifax’s, Sterling’s, Wellington’s the American ‘Flying Fortress’s with its many gun blisters and the work horse Dakotas’ with one engine hidden behind the fuselage so it looked as though it had and engine missing. These were to name but a few. We recognised them by their wing tip arrangement some clipped some curved and by their tail fins. We were spoilt, we observed these beautiful aeroplanes oblivious that this was a unique experience which would not be repeated for future generations.  The German planes only came by night but you could recognise them by their sinister, irregular engine note. When an air raid was on and we were in the shelter and the drone of a plane could be heard overhead someone would say, ‘Is it one of ours or one of theirs’ even as a child I could always tell them.
There was an ack ack battery further down Knostrop in the middle of the woods. When they opened up they made a ‘pom pom’ sound so we called them the ‘pom poms’ the night sky would be filled with searchlights trying to light up the intruders. The raid would begin with the wail of the sirens and the boats on the river would blow their hooters too. My dad would say, ‘the mussel boats are going off it’s time to go to the shelter!’ When the guns went off they would rattle the door of the shelter and I, being child, was once heard to say, ‘Someone’s knocking at the door.’ Seemingly that lightened the situation but the dog we had, Bobby, ‘took his hook, and we never saw him again. When the ‘all clear’ sounded it was welcome and had a far pleasanter note, then we could return to the houses and bed.
In the mornings after a raid we kids would hunt for shrapnel for souvenirs. The Germans were dropping anti-personnel mines so Mam would say, ‘Don’t pick anything nasty up’; with her saying ‘something nasty’ I expected the mines would look something like dog droppings. A sea change event occurred on Friday night the 14th of March 1941 when a German Bomb hit Richmond Hill School. As it was at night no one was injured but the pupils of Richmond Hill School were scattered among the other local schools in the area or in some cases evacuated to places like Ackworth and to Lincolnshire. Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins) in her tale on this site, see Aug 2007, tells of how next morning she could see her poor little knitting on pins (the girls were knitting socks, gloves and Balaclavas for our soldiers) among the debris.

richmond-hill-bomb-damagen

At one point I was sent off to stay with my aunt in the country as seemingly being safer than Leeds but the first night there the Germans dropped a flare right outside her cottage, evidently searching for the massive Avro munitions factory
Towards the end of the war I recall a full week when nearing dusk the sky would be filled from northern horizon to southern horizon with endless formations of bombers their red and green lights winking. We were used to seeing a lot of aircraft but this was obviously something quite special. I wonder now, looking back if they were the 1,000 bomber raids or perhaps the build up to the invasion. It was such a sight I have never forgotten it. When the RAF lads came home on leave in their blue uniforms they were the celebrities, especially if they had wings above their left breast pocket, one wing for aircrew and a double wing for a pilot and a god.
Sometimes there would be an exhibition on a spare space in the centre of Leeds and there might be a Lancaster bomber and you would be allowed, as a child, to clamber in and wonder at how tight the space was inside and the marvellous array of dials and gadgetry and the smell that went with them, there seemed to be so much that could go wrong.
After the war we saw the first of the jets: the Gloster Meteor, De Havilland Vampire, with its twin fuselage, The Hawker Hunter and the English Electric lightening. All were beautiful aeroplanes getting faster and faster – the goal was to break the ‘sound barrier’ which at the time appeared to be some sort of a mysterious barrier where the plane would be buffeted about, some thought bizarrely that the controls would become reversed. We went to the cinema to see films such as Test Pilot and The Sound Barrier. 762 mph at sea level was the sound barrier but I remember 606 mph being the record at one time. Test pilots were now the new heroes; it was a dangerous job De Havilland lost three of their family testing planes
I would regularly take on the congested traffic around tiny roads to watch the air shows at Church Fenton. There’s a pub there still, The Fenton Flier, filled with photos of wartime aircrew and general memorabilia you can get the feel of the RAF guys piling into there for a few pints after sorties, having survived another day in the skies. On one occasion there was a Harrier vertical take of plane practicing the day before the show, it hovered about for a bit then it put on full power and climbed nose first vertically the back draught from its engines was so powerful caused huge mature trees to bow as if they were twigs.
Along came national service for me in 1959, I was drafted into the REME attached the Army Air Corps The Army Air Corps function was primarily to act as eyes for the Royal Artillery to help them target their guns but we also had a liaison duty, which entailed ferrying VIPs around. It did get a bit over the top on occasions. For instance, sometimes we would pick up a general and fly him for hundreds of miles to attend a meeting but then we would have to drive a petrol-tanker to the same destination to ensure the helicopter could be filled up with the correct fuel for the journey home. I recall going along for a ride with the bowser driver all the way from Detmold, in Germany all the way into France to complete such an operation.
At 652 Squadron we had fixed wing aircraft: Austers and Chipmunks and rotary wing aircraft in the form of the tiny Skeeter helicopter which could just hold the pilot and one passenger; later we acquired the larger French Allouette helicopter. The Auster actually had its tail wheel attached by means of a thick rubber band – this was the correct monoculture for the job but it enabled the RAF lads to have a laugh at us and our ‘toy planes’. In theory, the lightweight Austers could actually fly backwards. It is air passing over the wings of an aircraft, which actually keeps it in the air. So if the if the wind speed is 50 knots per hour and the engine is only making 40 knots per hour, then the plane is losing distance at the rate of 10 knots per hour but can still stay in the air. The advantage of the Auster, was it could land on a sixpence. When we went on schemes, any old field could present a landing strip. One had to take care around aircraft: if a plane came into contact with a solid object there was hell to play. Everything had then to be checked out with a fine toothcomb before it could fly again. There was danger too. The main rotors blades of the tiny helicopters dropped to below head high as they were slowing down so you had to keep well clear and the tail rotors were lethal, they revolved so fast that you didn’t actually notice they were there at all. On one occasion, walking blindly into a spinning tail rotor decapitated an unfortunate Alsatian. The method of starting the light aircraft was to ‘swing the prop’ but you had to make sure you arm was out of the way before the engine fired or there was a danger of losing it. That was not a job trusted to a humble clerk.
After a major servicing had been carried out on an aircraft the mechanic who had been responsible for the servicing was supposed to make the first flight with the pilot. This was a safety precaution to encourage him to carry out the job correctly but as long as someone went up with the pilot they were not too fussy as to whom it was. The safety procedure was quite rigorous though, loads of forms had to be signed and counter signed before the aircraft was released back into service. If the mechanic didn’t feel like flying I would often volunteer to take his place, I loved flying; couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes they wouldn’t have even have bothered putting the doors back on yet, when the pilot banked you were looking out into nothingness but we were strapped in and somehow looking out of an aircraft is not so frightening as looking down from a high tower or a bridge. Once in the air the noise from the engine was terrific, you were sat next to the pilot but you could only speak to him over the radio.
Flying was so exhilarating, especial when you went above the clouds after a dreary period of weather and saw the sun which might have had been missing for days: the sun always shines above the clouds in daytime of course. The servicing would likely have been carried out by one of my airframe, engine or electronic fitter mates from the billet, who might well be complete ‘nutters’ in their off duty periods but I never worried, I knew they would be spot on when aircraft safety was at stake.
Helicopter rides were my favourite, I recall a particular helicopter flight when the pilot followed a herd of deer running through the fire breaks of a forest at tree top height, and it was a sight you don’t easily forget. Helicopters sometimes have to encounter a phenomenon known as a ‘vortex ring’; these are pockets in the sky where the air will not support a helicopter. Apparently there is no warning when you are about hit one of these things

allouette-helicopter

and the ‘copter drops like a stone. The pilot would practice the procedure for dealing with a vortex ring or indeed for engine failure should it ever arise: you cannot glide down a plane without wings. The method employed to prevent a helicopter from actually hitting the ground was to disengage the rotor blades and let the machine fall. The action of falling through the air causes the blades to rotate faster and faster, and then just before the ground arrived the pilot would re-engage the clutch that would alter the pitch of the blades, which hopefully would be just enough to hold the machine for a soft landing. Of course, when carrying out these exercises, it was the pilot’s game was not to warn you what he was about to do in advance, so when the plane dropped you turned green and left your stomach a few hundred feet above. The lads always had a laugh at my expense when I took a helicopter flight in the tiny Skeeters. These small aircraft were not advised to take off vertically, except in emergency when carrying more than twenty-five stone. As few pilots were under ten stones, our flights fell into such a category, to compensate for the extra weight the helicopter would take off along the runway like a normal aircraft, generating much laughter from the lads. We didn’t get much pay on national Service, If I recall it was about £2 10 shilling per week but the c/o helped us out by giving us an extra 7 shillings and six pence a week if we could become ‘observers’ for this we had to be able to recognise aircraft silhouettes from a card, which was a ‘piece of cake’.
Originally I had been posted to a small airfield in Detmold, West Germany but eventually I was posted with our flight to RAF Wildenrath, still in Germany. Here we were part of a huge RAF station. It stretched for three or four miles in every direction. One would have been talking about ten miles plus, to walk around the perimeter fence. It seemed a bit of an extravagance that our little Austers, which only needed thirty yards to take off, used their giant runway. The fact that the RAF did all the guards was a bonus too, as it meant we did not have to do any ourselves. The station was equipped with Canberra bombers they were bombers but handled like fighters and were flying somewhere in the world for almost fifty years.

v-bomber
All the three ‘V’ bombers: The Avro Vulcan, Handley Page Victor and The Vickers Valiant, would drop in from time to time. It was the time of The Cold war and all three aircraft producing companies had been commissioned to come up with a plane that had the ability to carry a nuclear bomb to Russia and return. It was a marvellous sight to see them landing and taking off. In my spare time, I would enjoy just sitting on the grass and watching them: there is an exciting smell and a sort of magic just to be around aeroplanes. There were regular open days at the station, when all sorts of exotic aircraft would arrive to take part and we saw it all for free. I recall one day prior to an open day air show two jets arrived one coming from the east and the other from the west and they crossed right over my head it was a memorable occasion another memorable sight and one I have never forgotten to this day because the odds against it happening were so great happened a night with a lovely silver full moon,

I looked up and a Vulcan bomber passed exactly over the moon and for a brief second its delta wins and the moon fitted perfectly together.
On one of these open day occasions I remember having the doubtful pleasure of sitting astride a nuclear bomb. From time to time, the RAF had to practice night flying, which could be quite noisy. It kept you awake the first few times then you got used to it and never seemed to hear it at all.
I would have loved to win a flight in a Canberra sometimes as a money raising effort the RAF would raffle a flight in the nose of a Canberra bomber they would whisk you out across the North Sea and back. Alas I was never lucky enough to win a ticket. That would have been something special for me.
The mighty Vulcan bomber made its finest and farewell flight – in fact its only flight in anger – in 1982 when it was already out of service making its daring flight from Ascension Island to the Falkland island to put the airstrip at Port Stanley, held by the Argentineans, out of commission. The flight was far beyond its range but a planned series of thirteen Victor Tankers continually refuelled it and had to be refuelled themselves to achieve the objective. It must have been a morale lifting sight for the subjected Falklanders to hear the mighty roar of the Vulcan delivering its pay load over runway and know that although Britain was 8,000 miles away they were not abandoned. After being refuelled by the last Victor it became apparent to the crew of the Vulcan the fuel load to complete the mission was inadequate they could carry on and complete the mission but not have enough fuel to return or they could abort the mission altogether. They decided to a man to complete the mission whatever. Only one bomb hit the runway, the first, but it was enough it put the airstrip out of action and could not be used for the duration of the war by the Argentineans. On the way back they met our fleet on the way out to the Falklands who thought the Vulcan to be an enemy aircraft and nearly shot it down. It would seem the Vulcan was out of fuel and out of tankers and they were preparing to ditch in the sea, then in the nick of time a Victor turned up out of the clouds to refuel the Vulcan and save the day. What a welcome sight it must have been for the brave crew of the Vulcan; surely a tale fit for a ‘Biggles’ adventure.

Today, faced with the enormous cost of producing a new plane from scratch it is beyond the scope of individual companies to produce their own new aircraft, it’s even beyond most countries and the European countries pitch in to produce a new plane between them. We have The Typhoon and The tornado fighters but you hardly ever see them in the sky and unless you are taking a trip on a faceless commercial airliner plane spotters are restricted to watching vapour trails in the sky and wondering how the bodies of tiny sea creatures produced so much oil to fuel them all.

Saville Green, Torre Road and Leeds Fireclay Company

November 1, 2016 by

Saville Green… Torre Road and The Leeds Fireclay Company Ltd.

Another great tale by Eddie Blackwell

Anyone remember the Quarries in Saville Green area, where the old Boyles Brickworks used to be, as lads we played for hours around there. I had a school boy friend called Kenny Walker, I’ve mentioned him before in my tale about East end Park, he lived in Bickerdike Street which was off York Road and ran right the way down to the wreck area and Torre Road. The quarries were originally owned by Boyles Brick Yard, and then bought out by Leeds Pottery later taken over by The Leeds Fireclay Company Ltd, who had a works which overlooked the wreck and quarries.
There was a pub called the “Glassmakers Arms” in the area, where my Mum and Dad spent many happy hours. Dad worked at the Leeds Fireclay Works in Torre Road, and although we lived the other side of York Road it wasn’t that far to walk, in those days we couldn’t afford a car and Dad never had any desire to drive. There were two Quarries one still had the remains of a railed track that had been used to haul the clay corves from the Quarry, the other one always seemed to hold water and we tended not to play in that area because the sides were too steep and it was too dangerous if you fell in it was unlikely you would get out on your own.
There was a grassed flat area opposite Bickerdike Road, which was adjacent to where Kenny lived, with pig sties on the edge of the quarry, and a container with feed collected from the waste that people in the area discarded, there was always an old man with his clay pipe who fed the fire and tended the stock, we asked him one day why he boiled the pig feed and he said, the pigs are fed with waste food we collect that people don’t want, and germs can breed in the waste food, which if fed to the pigs would make them poorly, then if we ate that meat it would make us poorly as well, so we always boil the feed for at least two hours to kill the germs before it’s fed to the pigs and then the meat is safe for us to eat. I seem to remember he was called Old Mr Emit, and some of the lads and lasses we played with in the area were called Emit, so it all seems to fit in.
I recall some of the games we played were quite dangerous, for one of them we would set three 50 gallon oil drums on their side one on top of two, and the competitors in the game had to lay side by side at far side of the drums, then the player who had been lucky enough to be dipped out (one potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato six potato seven potato more.) had to run and jump the barrels and the players laid on the other side, if he or she cleared them then that was OK and he or she went again, but if they landed on the group then they formed the end of line and the first in line had a go, both lads and lasses took part, sometimes you suffered a few bruises but never anything serious. I was quite athletic in those days so I was OK but Kenny always hit the barrels and landed in a heap, old Mr Emit used to look on with a smile on his face, and say get out and find some firewood the stocks getting low.
Boyles had been a brick yard and there was an area where all the rejects had been dumped so we devised a game not unlike conkers, where you selected a brick and your opponent selected a brick and then when it was your turn you slammed your brick down holding it edge on, into your opponent’s brick, if it broke the other brick then your opponent chose another brick and tried to break yours, and on and on it went, the winner was the one who’s brick lasted the most number of hits, There were plenty of bricks to go at and some of the bricks had a black core which meant they were not dry in the centre when they had been fired, oddly enough they seemed to be the strongest.
We got up to all kinds of fun and mischief in that area, but never anything of a serious nature, because the watchful eye of old Mr Emit was always upon us, and kept us in check, and he never missed much of what we were getting up to.
Glassmakers Arms.
I mentioned earlier that Mum and Dad spent many happy hours in the Glass Makers arms, well I must tell you this, they had a Ladies Trip, where all the Ladies went to the seaside in a hired coach, as you will have already gathered I was quite a live wire and one of my objectives was to reclaim materials that I could make into things, to this end I would get wooden boxes from Mrs Fenton’s knock them apart and reclaim the nails and wood for my projects on this particular occasion I had knocked the nails into a piece of wood to use at a later date and left this on the Chamber steps, Mum was going on the Ladies Trip that Saturday morning so she was up early and went down the stairs, suddenly we heard her shouting Joe come and help me, and Dad jumped out of bed only to find that Mum had stepped on the piece of wood that I’d knocked the nails into, Dad pulled it off and Mum shed a few tears, but it didn’t deter her she went on the trip and enjoyed it, and brought some rock back for us all to share, but that incident had a dramatic effect on me and I never knocked nails in wood again for a long time.
Dad was a good dart player and played for Glassmakers Arms team, he used to make Dart boards from wood, wire and staples, they were singles and doubles boards, as was the custom in those days, no trebles like there are today.
As you would expect I used to help him, we had an old zinc washing tub in the back yard, in which the boards were soaked for a few days until they were saturated, then Dad would mark the board out using an adjustable steel divider that had a screw so that you could fix the distance set, and he would then set out the bulls eye and the doubles rings working the segments from the centre of the board, my job was to make the numbers from wire. He had a clever way of fixing them by turning down the starting point and finishing point about five eighths an inch, this enabled the numbers to be fixed using the turndown as a nail and lightly hammering it into the perimeter of the board. But before I could do any serious work, I had to memorise the sequence of the numbers I did it by remembering the top bottom and quadrants then filled them in from there, it took a while but I got there in the end. Then Dads arm went he couldn’t let the darts fly, he held the dart between his thumb and forefinger with the point on his forth finger the keeping his elbow as still as possible he threw from the elbow, spinning the dart as it went into flight, he was very accurate, but suddenly he just couldn’t release the dart, he was devastated. Eventually he developed an under arm release it looked odd but he could still play better than me.

The Leeds Fireclay Co. Ltd.
Burmantofts Works.
Leeds 9.
I started my working life at LFC, in the early 1950’s as an apprentice draughtsman, at the Burmantofts Works, we specialised it making Faience and Terra Cotta for the building industry and I was to train as an Architectural Draughtsman. The drawing department was on the first floor of the office block which faced onto Torre Road, and I had a drawing board by a window that looked out over Saville Green Wreck, Boyles’s old brickworks and the Quarries where we had played as children, I could see York Road and the Trams dashing up and down either going into town or out to Gipton , Crossgates, Halton or Temple Newsome, and some of them would terminate at the Lupton Avenue Depot. We lived in Osmondthorpe at this time. I used to walk to and from work every day, up the pathway that started the other side of the little Railway Bridge at the end of Wykebeck Avenue on past the pit hills to Osmondthorpe Lane over the road and down through the ginnel by the UMI football pitch onto Skelton Road then passed the White Horse Pub across York Road onto Lupton Avenue passing the Spread Eagle, down Torre Road and into work. It’s strange that this particular area of Leeds seemed to play such an important role in your everyday life, but things were about to change, plans were announced to demolish much of the area and redevelop it for housing. the Quarries were to be filled with domestic waste, and the old houses including the much loved Glassmakers Arms would to be pulled down. Things didn’t happen overnight of course I was 16 years old and deferred from National service until I was 21 and in that 5 years no new housing was anywhere near being ready to be occupied, although the Quarries had been filled in there was no way that area could be built on, or so we thought, domestic waste tips usually stand for a number of years to allow densification to take place and the Methane gas generated by rotting vegetation is usually burnt off. However a number of incidents did occur whilst these changes were developing, one in particular that I recall which could have been quite serious was, as the houses were knocked down and families left the area a lot of the pets were just left behind, in particular dogs, being pack animals they followed their instincts and banded into groups, and would roam the area looking for food well on one particular afternoon about 2 pm, Mrs William’s the works Managers wife, who lived in a house on the works had been to town shopping, got off the tram in York Road and decided to walk down across Saville Green Wreck and to her home at the end of the works, we had a good view of her from the Offices. Well I don’t know what was in her shopping bag but the smell of whatever it was attracted the attention of one of these roaming packs of dogs and they came charging after her, she began running but she was no match for them and they started nipping at her heals, fortunately enough of us saw what was happening and went racing across to her aid, this slowed them down but they weren’t afraid, until we were joined by some people who were walking down Torre Road, then they backed off and Mrs Williams fainted.
The police and an Ambulance were quickly on the scene to sort things out and a team of dog catchers from the RSPCA arrive to round the animals up before it got dark, they said that once they had gone wild enough to attack an adult, a child would have very little chance, eventually all of the dogs were caught, about twelve in all were carted off and presumably destroyed, but the incident made the local papers and people were warned to avoid the area if on their own, until it was deemed officially safe.
Shortly after this incident, groundworks for the development were started, foundation were excavated and long strips of deep reinforced concrete foundations were cast. We were all staggered at the size and depth of the foundations, which were literally just a couple of hundred feet away on the other side of the road. Mr Mowthorpe our Chief Draughtsman, said there’s something wrong here, you can’t put foundation blocks down that size for houses, and he had his plumb bob out sizing things up through his window which faced onto the workings, and there’s one of those blocks that’s not plumb it’s all skew whiff, we were all doubtful of the purpose of these large blocks of reinforced concrete. The sight surveyor turned up with his Dumpy Level, and sure enough a couple of days later a breaker and machine arrived and started breaking out the block of concrete that Mr Mowthorpe had said was not plumb, I told you something was wrong with that he reiterated, and we all said yes Mr Mowthorpe you were right. It was unfortunately my time to go and do National Service so I had to leave it all behind and get on with other things.
Some years later I revisited the area where the old L.F.C. offices had been, and found huge multi-storey Blocks of flats had been erected, in the area we had known as Saville Green Wreck, which is now Ebor Gardens, the area that was the old quarries was never built on and forms a green area in the centre of the estate.
*******************************************
Thanks for another great tale, Eddie

Vera’s Memories

October 1, 2016 by

 

 

 

THE MEMORIES OF VERA BELSHAW

 

Vera is a first time contributor to the East Leeds memories site and we thank her for her contribution 

I am new to East Leeds Memories and didn’t think there was anyone left who would remember seeing all the old names of places. I know most of them are no longer there. Even the old Bug Hutch (The Easy Road Cinema) was a real trip down memory lane.

I was born in Ascot Street, went to All Saints School and lived in Sussex Crescent behind the Yorkshire Penny Bank. Looking back at that part of Upper Accommodation Rd, we had everything, shops at the end of the streets from Hutton’s Chemist where it joined Easy Road right up to the “Prossy” (The Prospect pub) near Richmond Hill school. There was no need to go into town; if you did you took the short cut, down over the Irish Park into East Street and on to the Parish Church and you were there.

We had four Fish and Chip shops and four or five Cinema’s were within easy walking distance. You could see a different film every night of the week if you had the brass. Our nearest Chippy was Scots at the top of the Hampton street where you could get a meal for three for less than a bob: a four penny tail, two tuppenny middles and three penny worth of chips. Desert was usually three trifles from Precious’s up near the Bertha’s. For anyone who liked a pint there were five good hostelries: The Prospect (Prossy), Hampton, Yew Tree, Spring Close and the Cross Green plus the Conservative Club when it was above the Yorkshire Penny Bank.

The Army Camp down Black Rd. I don’t remember until the war started. Our Sunday walk was down Red Rd. to pick Blue Bells at the far end and in spite of the notice’s that there was a fine of 10 shillings if caught.

Sometimes we would catch the tram home at Halton terminus; more often than not we would walk back the same way as we came.

The Army Camp was down a turn off from Black Road, where my late Father-in-law, Charlie Belshaw of Easy Road was maintenance man for the duration of the war and afterwards when it was a P.O.W. Camp.

His son Stan, my late husband was a St Hilda’s pupil and was one of the evacuee’s sent to Ackworth where he stayed for three years.

approaching my four score years and ten next year, it’s been great reading your contributors stories and brought back a load of memories and a few familiar names so hope you don’t mind me putting my twopeneth in to say thank you for them telling it the way it was.

I’m doing nicely with the reading the East Leeds Memories site and have reached back to the year 2009. They are great tales and bring back so many memories. Edmund House Club I remember very well though at that time I knew it as the Railway Club. Between the two wars the W.M. Clubs became very popular and looking round we had quite a few in the area. I understand my Dad was one of the very early members of the East End Park W.M. Club in the Vinery’s, though they didn’t’ allow children. That’s how I know Edmund House Club, they did. And being an ‘only one’ I was able to accompany my parents on Saturday nights there. Of course in those days kids had to be seen and not heard so pencil and paper was taken with you. I might have been occupied but I didn’t miss much. Looking back I think I can say I enjoyed growing up in East Leeds.

Prior to moving to Sussex Cr. we lived in one of the many streets of tiny Terrace houses that stretched from Ellerby Lane right up to Sussex St. and on  to Mount St. Mary’s which I think was the top edge of what was known as The Bank. Sadly years later this area was always looked down on but it wasn’t like that then. They may have been gas lit, have an open fire range, only had cold water and a set pot in the cellar but there were people even in those days that were house proud. Flags swilled every week, windows cleaned inside and out and you had to have the right colour Donkey Stone on your doorstep and even the Brass Sneck on the door had to be polished. Dustbins set in a neat line against the wall at the end of the street. One of our neighbours at that time was a Mr Huntington and his family. He later became very well known as the large man with the very loud voice who kept law and order in the Princess Cinema every night. {Sounds like ‘big Ernie?’}He also worked for the Council cleansing Dept. before it was mechanised and did his rounds with a very large Horse and Cart. We left there about 1936 for the Council houses on offer at that time were at Belle Isle and Middleton and my parents didn’t want to leave the area.

Vera Belshaw

 Thanks for your great memories, Vera. I hope we can coax you to into telling us more?

In the meantime here are a few more of our old East Leeds shopsA few of our old East Leeds Shops:

Cobblers: Mr. Hick was our local cobbler; he had a shop on Cross Green Lane. When you entered you were treated to the fine aroma of worked leather. Mr. Hick had the type of old dry humour, prevalent among masculine shop proprietors of the day. In the 1940s, before rubber stick on soles ruined the cobbler’s trade, folk would try to breathe life into their footwear by having them soled and heeled in leather – often more than once – before they finally gave up the ghost on them. This meant that the cobbler’s shop would often be quite full on your visits. While you waited you were able to observe the cobbler at his trade. He would put the boot onto his last, throw a handful of tacks into his mouth and commence the operation. He could transfer those tacks from mouth to leather and hammer them home with the blade of a huge rough tooth file as fast as a machine gun and he never seemed to hit his thumb. When the leather sole was in position he would then pull the boot into his stomach and cut away with a wicked little curved knife, paring dangerously towards his own body. No wonder his leather apron and protective wristbands bore the scars of many a slip. Being so busy Mr. Hick was always behind with his orders so invariably he’d not have your shoes ready on the promised date for collection. He was always fighting a losing battle of trying to keep everyone happy. When you called to collect your footwear he would try to placate you with his standard retort: ‘Yours are just t’next job on love.’ A mate once took his football boots to be repaired after the season’s last match in April, when he went to collect them in September – at the start of the next season, it was still: ‘Yours are just ‘t next job on love!’

 

Grocers: There were shops, which sold groceries at the end of almost every street but the Coop probably held prominence with its ‘divis’. Folk could remember their Coop dividend number like some of us remember our army numbers. Mother shopped for her general groceries at the Thrift Stores half way up Dial Street. Everything had to be weighed up and bagged and the bacon machine was constantly whirling slices of bacon off a huge joint. The place was always full of Mam’s and their babies, which had me in mind of the old music hall joke: ‘Please don’t sit your babies on the bacon machine ladies, we’re getting a little behind with the orders!

 

Newsagents: Our newsagent was Mr. Emmett. His shop was in Dial Street too. Mr. Emmett missed out on the stereotype of having dry humour. He didn’t seem to laugh much at all, which was quite surprising for being in the seller’s market for The Beano and The Dandy, he could execute great power over the young lads of the day. Wartime priorities meant that comics were scarce commodities. Mr. Emmett was rationed as to how many copies he could have from the wholesaler. If you wanted to order a comic you had first to go on his waiting list and hope that one of the lads presently receiving the Beano or Dandy: either reneged on his payment, fell out with Mr. Emmett or moved up to the Wizard, Hotspur, Rover or Adventure. It was like waiting for ‘dead men’s shoes’. When you finally reached the top of the list and a comic became available, Mr. Emmett would make it seem as though he was doing you a great favour by putting you on his comic delivery list.

Sooner or later it would be your turn to move into the bigger lad’s fantasy world of the written story comics: Wilson, of the Wizard, has remained my lifelong hero.  Wilson could bowl out the Australians before lunch and then climb Everest in his old black running costume, When asked if he’d reached the summit he would say something like: ‘That’s something between me and the lady.’ He was such an athlete! Such a gentleman!

But I digress.

Fish and chip shops: reigned supreme as purveyors of fast food. They were our staple diet. Fish at five pence and chips at two pence made a great meal for less than three of today’s new pence and sometimes, if you were lucky, you got a ‘jockey’ fish too. We had three fish shops on our side of ‘the ginnel’: The Cross Green Lane Fisheries, The Fewstons and the Copperfields. At different times each had hegemony for being the current provider of the biggest fish, the best quality fish, or perhaps giving you the most chips for your money. Particularly on occasions such as Friday dinnertimes, queues would wind out of the shop and down the street you could regularly expect to wait half an hour to be served. When it got near to your turn you would look at number of fish in the pan and the number folk in front of you to be served and hope you didn’t have to wait for another frying.

There were many more fish shops on the other side of the ‘ginnel’: Clark Lane, Easy Road, the Hampton, the Berthas, Cosy Corner, there were a couple more fish shops in the Charltons and in the Vineries. I’m sure old East Leedsers can think of many more. When we were likely lads and really could eat it was not unknown for us to have one lot of fish and chips on the way home from the Star cinema and when they were finished call in another fish shop and have another helping before we reached home. A fellow gannet assures me that on at least one occasion we managed a third fish shop. While my stomach might have been able to manage it then my memory fails me on that one now.

Ellerby Lane Fisheries happened to be our schoolteachers’ favourite. A boy or girl would be sent out at ten minutes to twelve to fetch the teachers’ dinners and possibly something from the confectioners. On one occasion a poor lass (who shall be nameless) caused a nine-day wonder at school when she could not resist having a bite out of the teacher’s tart on the way back to school.

Say bye bye to the old Yew Tree Pub. First they had it fire, now it’s down

yew-tree

the Grey Nomads (part two)

September 15, 2016 by

THE GREY NOMADS (PART TWO)
By Audrey Sanderson
As Promised

Quickly trying to quieten everyone down for fear of waking the entire site up I opened the door to reassure the dog everything was fine and stop him from barking. He was on a longish length of plastic rope so he could move round the ground under the van but not stray onto the adjoining sites. As soon as the door was opened, quick as a flash he jumped inside and shook himself. It had been raining and he was wet through. He jumped on top of Annie’s bed trying to get to my son. My daughter at the other end asked why sooty was wet. He heard her voice and tried getting to her. Annie started screaming she was in a mad house, John still trying to untangle himself from sheets and the table top and chaos reigned. I felt sure the manager would be along any minute to evict us. I told the kids to stay where they were, told Annie to stop yelling and told John to stop messing about on the floor. Once more our bed was remade with instruction for John not to move once he was in the bed. Annie said the dog had to be put outside. Cries from both kids he had to stay inside because it was raining. I pulled the covers over my head and pretended I was at home in my own bed.
The next morning full of aches and pains from resting on a hard makeshift bed I cooked breakfast. Told everyone to go outside while I cleaned the dishes and made the beds. I needed housework to be on my own and try to get some sanity back in my life. Making the kids beds I found out the canvas extensions of the van that covered their beds were full of pinholes and all the bedding was wet. Dear God, I could not face another day like yesterday. I went to the office and asked the manager if we could stay an extra day and night as the caravan had leaked rain water over the kids beds and I had to dry all the bedding. He said sure we could, no problem. I asked if there had been any complaints about the noise we made. He said there was no one occupying the adjacent sites to us and he’d vaguely heard the dog bark a couple of times during the night. So back to the van and stripped beds and hung everything on the clothes lines including the thin mattresses. The family came back with John eager to get on the road again. Wasn’t thrilled when I informed him we’d be staying an extra day. I told him he and his mother could sleep in the kids wet beds and the kids could sleep with me on the floor if he insisted on moving that day. That problem soon solved. We went to an animal sanctuary for the day. Not many tourists and plenty of room to walk around and they hadn’t objected to the dog so long as he was kept on the lead. No worries I held onto the lead all the time we were there. Annie was delighted with seeing kangaroos for the first time, lots of photographs taken with the parakeets and lorakeets feeding from the kids hands. The first time since leaving home no mumbling and grumbling and the kids as happy as larry. The dog pulled on the lead all the time. Too bad sooty, you’re going where I go. Annie didn’t object when we unpacked the picnic box as there was no other people around as we sat and ate lunch. The contented feel didn’t last into the afternoon. I wasn’t taking a real lot of notice why Annie had gone quiet. I was just glad she wasn’t criticising anything. Only when the kids came running back did I realise why she was quiet. Both excited and grabbing my hand urging me to come and look at the donkeys giving each other piggy back rides did it dawn on me why she was mumbling to herself and tut tutting. It was spring and animals were doing what animals do in spring. I told the kids not to go near the donkeys because they could get annoyed and we’d move further round the park to see other things. It must have been happy hour for the entire animal kingdom, everywhere we looked they were all at it. I saw the funny side of it, Annie didn’t. She even told John to go and get the keepers and make the animals stop what they were doing. At least she didn’t blame me for their antics. Of course she wanted to leave immediately so we made our way towards the exit. It wasn’t a zoo with concrete paths and animals in cages. The animals were fairly tame and used to tourists and the park was on about 10 acres. It was a long steady walk to the exit with Annie tutting and saying everything was disgusting and she wished she’d stayed at the caravan. I wished she had too. The rest of the day and evening passed without incident. The next day we would be facing another long day on the road. Inwardly I groaned at the thought of it. The next morning we packed everything away. Only got to disconnect the power and switch off the gas bottle before closing down the pop up van. That van had a mind of it’s own. God knows how long it had been sitting in a shed waiting for some idiot to come along and hire it but once it was opened up it refused to be closed down again. It was well into the afternoon before another R.A.C.Q. man fixed it. He replaced things and said they were rusted. He’d send the bill to the hire company with a strong letter telling the owner to overhaul his vans before hiring them out again. So another night spent at Hervey Bay. I tuned out to Annie’s whinging and moaning and cooked the evening meal. The next day dawned and with it the forecast of storms for the next 2 days.
That’s it, I’d had enough. While the kids were playing in the kids playground area and Annie writing more letters I said it would be foolish to stay in a caravan with the type of storms we get and either he could take us home or me and the kids would catch a train or bus back to Brisbane. He didn’t want to be in a van through any vicious storms so agreed we’d head off back home after lunch. We set off in bright sunshine. We hadn’t told Annie we were going back home either and she didn’t realise we were going south instead of north. No short cuts we stuck to the highway and followed the signs to Brisbane. Thunderous black clouds loomed on the horizon as we drove towards them.
The weather forecaster wasn’t wrong when he said a big storm was imminent. The storm was coming in fast with the wind blowing leaves off the trees and swirling round the car. We were heading straight towards it. Master brain said we’d drive through it and we’d be right. I said the weather report was for storms not A storm. Being practically alongside the Pacific Ocean anything could happen in a storm….usually bad things. I told him to turn off the highway pretty damn quick and get somewhere we could get the caravan tethered down securely. We got it into a caravan park somewhere between Moroochydore and Caloundra. Both great holiday resorts but not that day as the wind grew stronger and dust, leaves swirled all round us. This storm is going to be a bad one. The wind swirls in cyclones and God Help us if this developers into one. Only two other caravans in the park, they were both firmly tied down with thick ropes and chains. He stopped the car outside the managers office and I dived out of it and rushed inside. The manager asked no questions, told me to get in the car and follow him, he’d show us where to park. He set off in a cloud of dust and we followed. Only a short distance and we were alongside the shower block. He was dragging ropes and chains out of his vehicle and yelled at my husband to pop the van up before it was too late to get organised. The van obeyed first time. The kids stayed inside the car with the dog. Annie got out saying she wanted to help. I told her to checkout the shower block. I didn’t have a clue how to tie down a van and did what the manager told us to do. He, of course had done it many times and knew exactly what needed doing. He barked orders, we jumped to it. The car was unhitched, the van levelled and not only tied to a big metal ring in the ground it had chains and ropes thrown over the top and tied to other big metal rings in the ground. When all was secured he asked if we had anything to eat in the van and had we plenty of water. I said we had enough food for a couple of days. He grinned, told us to get everyone inside the van and to hold on tight. He wished us the best of luck and said ” See you in the morning ” and off he went in another cloud of dust just as the first big fat drops of rain started to fall. I opened the car door, grabbed the dog in my arms and told the kids to run inside the caravan because we were going to have another adventure. Of course the husband was first inside the van. Gee, he didn’t want to get wet. In the space of 2 minutes the rain was pouring down. I told the kids to get up on one of the beds and hold on to the dog. Very exciting. WOW mum’s letting us have Sooty the dog in bed with us. Sooty had his ears flattened to his head and didn’t look as happy as the kids. Couldn’t fool Sooty with tales of an adventure. It was obvious to me too the next few hours were not going to be pleasant. The Lord and master had sat down and asked what I was going to make for dinner seeing as we’d be there all night. Before I could give him a sarcastic reply one of the kids asked why Grandma wasn’t inside the van with us. O Dear God she must still be in the shower block. I told him he’d better go and get her before the thunder and lightening started as she’d be frightened out of her wits. He just sat there. I yelled ” Go and get her NOW before you have to swim to get her ” He stood up and asked where a raincoat was. I snapped my fingers ” Sorry, my magic powers have deserted me. Along with my patiences it’s disappeared. I wouldn’t wait any longer if I was you.” He opened the door as the first flash of lightening crackled over head. Straight after the thunder banged and clanged. I heard a scream, pushed him out the door and closed it before he could turn and come back in. I heard them both yelling minutes later and opened the door again. Both absolutely dripping wet and Annie as mad as a hornet. She demanded to know why I hadn’t gone and got her before it started to rain. Why I had taken so long to fix the caravan. And why had I left her outside all on her own. I said I was sorry I didn’t realise she thought she needed a written invitation. I sure as hell didn’t send her one to come to Australia. I nearly laughed as well. Her thin hair was plastered to her head and dripping down her face. A puddle had formed on the floor where she stood and she had on her superior luck as she always did when she listed all my faults. Her magnificent son was also dripping water onto the floor and asked again what was for the evening meal. I said sweetly we would be having delicious ham sandwiches and cold water. To rub salt in the wounds I said Sooty would be having steak as he didn’t mind eating it raw. It was the first time I felt like smiling on that very long day. Annie said she wanted privacy while she changed out of her wet clothes. Her son said he also was going to change before he caught pneumonia.
My ex-husband never had a cold or a headache. If he sneezed twice he was on the verge of pneumonia and a headache could be the start of tumour of the brain. I told him to turn off the flash light to save his mother’s modesty. She said should wouldn’t be able to see anything. I said the alternative was to brave the storm and get changed in the shower block. She turned her back and started stripping off. He did the same as he did at home ” Audrey, where’s my clean shirt and socks ” I told him they were in the suitcase in the car alongside his mothers suitcase. While this exchange of words was going on the caravan was swaying, thunder and lightening going off every 5 minutes and you couldn’t hear yourself think for the noise of the wind and rain pounding down.
The kids said the rain was making them wet and could they climb down from the bed. They’d been so quiet I’d forgotten their bed was under the canvas end of the caravan. The bed hadn’t been made up so who cared if the mattress got wet again. We were all huddled in the only dry spot in the middle of the van. Time to reorganise. Sheets and blankets were folded inside the bench seat. At least we would have something to keep us warm and dry for the rest of the night. Gave Annie a blanket first to cover her modesty. Handed one to the shivering husband. Told the kids to eat their sandwiches and then wrap a blanket round themselves and lay down on the bench seats because thats where they were sleeping that night. In unison Mother and Son ” Where am I sleeping?” A short reply ” We won’t be sleeping at all ”
The wind started roaring, the van swayed more and the dog started howling. Mother and Son were staunch catholics I told them they’d better start praying. I was scared enough for the 5 of us without the dog howling. I sat on the floor with the dog in my arms. Thank God my kids could sleep through anything and anywhere. Holding onto Sooty at least stopped him from howling. Annie started writing another letter. The van was like being on a roller coaster. When I said the person she was writing to wouldn’t be able to read it as the van was rocking from side to side and her hand writing wasn’t the best at any time. She said we were being stupid, a bit of rain never hurt anyone and she’d been in worse storms than the one outside. I said I’d lived in England for 27 years and never heard of anyone being in a cyclone. She’d never been anywhere farther than Blackpool.
I fully expected her to whinge all night but she was very quiet. Normally I’m not scared of tropical storms but I’d never had to spend a night outside in any and I was terrified of what might happen if the ropes and chains didn’t hold the van down. The husband kept whinging he was hungry. I said if he ate what food we had everyone would be hungry the next morning. Keeping my fingers well and truly crossed we lived to see the next morning. Thank God the manager had placed us near the solid concrete building of the shower block. All through the night I could hear branches snapping off trees and crashing onto the ground. I tried to remember how close we were to the trees. Must have been sheer exhaustion I dozed off around 4 a.m. The dog woke me up around 6 a.m. licking my face. He started wriggling and obviously wanted to be let outside. The van wasn’t rocking and rolling and was still upright. I cautiously opened the door and let him out. Talk about lucky! All around us massive branches on the ground, mountains of leaves stuck to everything, the ground like a paddling pool. Sooty didn’t like getting his paws wet and stood sniffing the air and looking at me. ” You can behave yourself too. If you want to go have a wee you’re on your own ” and nudged him out the door. Two minutes later he’s back inside the van. I was ready for him and grabbed him with a cloth before he jumped on the kids. I wasn’t until I put him on the floor I realised I’d used Annie’s dress to wipe his paws. Thankfully she was still asleep and I wasn’t threatened with the firing squad.
The weather here is extreme, no half measures. It’s either a drought or a flood, monsoon rains or a bush fire, scorching heat in summer with the occasional cyclone thrown in now and again. When the drama of a cyclone is over it feels like the weather is making a mockery as it is nice and calm, the sun is shining and the sky a beautiful blue with not a cloud in sight.
We found out later just how lucky we had been. We were between two cyclones (only small ones) and they didn’t merge.
The manager of the caravan park wouldn’t take any money for letting us use the park overnight and asked where we we going to next. It hadn’t dawned on me he thought we were all tourists travelling round in a shaky caravan. I handed him a few dollars and told him to have a drink on me and said we were going back to Brisbane and giving the guy who’d hired the van to us a roasting and get our money back. He grinned and asked if the old lady lived with us. I said she was the one on holiday, I was just the servant. He laughed and said his mother-in-law had been the same and he’d moved from Sydney to Caloundra to get away from her. I said we’d emigrated 12,000 miles and she still followed us. He stopped laughing ” Is she staying?” I wasn’t laughing either ” One of us is going to use the return ticket. Either she goes or I do ” He said I’d better make sure she got on the plane or take the kids with me if I left. I asked what made him think the kids didn’t like her.
While we were packing up the van he said the kids asked him how he was going to remove all the tree branches all over the place. He’d told them a mate was coming over with his truck and going to help him. Then he’d asked my son why he wasn’t at school. Friendly as kids were back then he’d said Grandma was staying with them. The little girl had said she didn’t like Grandma anymore because she wouldn’t let them do anything. He asked why. She’d said she didn’t know but she kept tut tutting all the time. He didn’t understand and asked what she meant by tutting. She made the noise and the little boy explained ” You know, just like Skippy does ” and he tut tutted as well. The man was laughing as he told me the young fella had said not to tell mum but when Grandma couldn’t hear them they called her Skippy the english kangaroo. I said my kids were very polite because I felt like calling her a lot worse than Skippy.
After Annie returned to England we had letters from some of the rellies she’d wrote to while she was here. They thought it was hilarious I was scared of a bit of thunder and lightening. Annie had thought she would have seen more kangaroos than she did. She’d missed not having a fish’n’chip shop near where I lived. She’d liked the house we live in but it would have been so much better with a tennis court in the back garden and why wouldn’t I allow John to have one? I laughed out loud when I read that. He didn’t know how to play tennis and his idea of exercise was getting up to switch the T.V. channel. If we’d have had one she’d probably have expected me to serve cucumber sandwiches with the crusts removed of course and me dressed up in a flouncy hat. long gloves and a flowing silk dress.

Friends of ours invited us to their place for a party. They thought their elderly father who lived with them would have more in common with Annie as all our friends were the same age as us and all had young kids. Pop was a great guy and we all got on with him terrifically. His three grand children were teenagers and it was always lively at their house.
At the airport on her departure she said she was glad she had seen the house her son lived in. Turned to me and said ” You needn’t think introducing me to Geoff’s father was going to influence me into staying here. No one could every replace my husband. He was a saint.” He must have been to put up with her. I wouldn’t have inflicted her on anyone, least of all ‘ Pop ‘ He had heaps of friends and sure wasn’t looking for a wife. I said it was all in her mind Pop didn’t need a wife. I got a scathing look and the kids started laughing because she started tutting and they both said ” Good bye Granny Skippy ” as she went through the boarding gate. She hated to be called Granny and coupled with Skippy as well I bet it really made her day.
John went off the idea of buying our own caravan so we could have leisurely trips away each weekend. Leisure!!! A year later he had another idea of buying a boat ” We could cruise round all the small islands near Brisbane each weekend ” The kids wanted to know who Walter Mitty was when I said that’s what I’d name the boat if he bought one and i hoped he’d enjoy his solo voyages down the Brisbane river.

The Grey Nomads (part one)

September 1, 2016 by

THE GREY NOMADS (PART ONE)
BY AUDREY SANDERSON
(OUR EAST LEEDS LASS IN AUSTRALI)

As Audrey’s tale is lovely and long and we do not wish to exceed our wordage levels this will be part one and part two will appear on the 15th of this month. I hope you can wait.

As the northern hemisphere is getting ready for winter we in the southern part of the world are looking forward to spring. Time to start thinking of holidays away from home. Many people have mobile homes, a far cry from the caravans of the 60s and 70s. Lots of retired people have mobile homes and spend their time leisurely travelling round Australia all year. They have a nickname; The Grey Nomads. All jokes aside, lots of them love travelling to a new place every week. I don’t happen to be one of them. I don’t enjoy camping of any kind. Packing bed linen, cooking utensils, crockery and everything else one has to take on these trips is too much hassle for me. Towing all this stuff to a camp site and having to erect tents or stabilising a caravan, then having to cook meals on a dolls house size stove in a tiny space is not my idea of having a good time.
The first and last time we towed a caravan was when my mother-in-law came to visit us 3 years after we had emigrated to Brisbane.
My children were still young and were over the moon that Grandma was coming to stay with us. At long last they had a grandma of their own they could show off to the neighbourhood kids.

Annie was the type of mother-in-law comedians get plenty of mileage from. Her son was the apple of her eye and could do no wrong. I, the daughter-in-law could do nothing right. It was nothing personal, whoever had married him would have been in the same category.
Out to impress his mother my husband said we would take her to Cairns and show her the Great Barrier Reef. No money to splash out on five star hotels he said we would hire a caravan and could stop at various places on our journey north.
He made enquiries about caravan hire and chose a pop up one. It was like a large tin box that folded out into a caravan suitable for 6 people. The first thing we needed was a tow bar on the car. No problem getting one fixed, plenty of problems later.
A week after she arrived we went to pick up the hired van. The man assured us our car would be able to pull it without any problems. No problem at all pulling it, the problem started as soon as John tried reversing it into the back yard. He’d never towed anything before and couldn’t understand why the van turned in the opposite direction to which way he turned the steering wheel. I moved everyone inside the house as he vainly tried many times reversing, getting more frustrated and angrier by the minute. There was a vacant lot at the side of our house and eventually the car and van was parked at a peculiar angle and we had lunch. The plan was I would pack the van with all we were taking with us on the 2 week holiday ready for departing early the next morning. John was a shift worker and would be home around 11 p.m. that night.
Problem No. 2 & 3. It took him ages to disengage the van from the car and of course made him late for work. When he tried starting the car he got no response at all. With all the revving of engine and attempts at reversing I was surprised there was any rubber left on the tyres. After much ripping and cursing he phoned the auto club and the R.A.C.Q. man told him the clutch was burnt out. He called a cab and went to work.
My evening was spent with 2 tearful kids and a mother-in-law who kept repeating it wasn’t John’s fault. After the kids were finally asleep Annie asked why the couch was still piled high with bed linen, a box of crockery and a large box of groceries on the dining table and hoped it was all going to be cleared away before John arrived home from work. In a semi quiet tone that I could muster at that time of the night I asked where she thought I should put everything. She critized everything I did and I was in no mood for it after all the happenings of the day. She turned the full glare on me and said John works very hard the least I could do was to make sure the house was tidy and a meal waiting for him when he came home from work. And then the smirk,” I always had a meal ready for him before he got married.” Resisting the urge to strangle her I quietly said ” The kitchens over there, go for it. I’m going to bed. Let me know where you shove all the stuff on the couch because it’s all got to come out again in the morning.” She had been in Australia a week…..only another 5 and a half weeks left before she went home.
Being a Friday when the drama happened no work on the car could be started until the following Monday. I did move the pile of bed linen etc. from the lounge into our bedroom where John complained about living in a second hand shop. After a new clutch was fitted and a lesson in reversing a caravan from the guy at the garage we left home at 6:30 Friday morning. Only a week later than planned but never mind everything was neatly packed in the tin box, luggage in the boot, grandma and two kids in the back, expert at nothing behind the steering wheel and me and the small dog in the passenger seat. Yes,we took the dog with us as well.
The first place we stopped was Gympie. The expert at nothing’s idea to stop there.

Show his mother what used to be a small gold mining town looked liked and he didn’t want to overheat the car either. At that stage I didn’t know anything about cars. We had a walk round the town and Annie like most pommie tourists was only interested in the shops and comparing prices to english ones. Everyone had a visit to the toilets including the dog and back into the car and on our way again. I can’t remember where we were on the highway when every car who passed us tooted the horn and waved. The kids thought it was great and waved back. Half a dozen cars must have passed and then a small van pulled in front of us and stopped. He slammed on the brakes and missed crashing into them. Two young women climbed out laughing their heads off. I thought he was going to explode. He wrenched open the door and started yelling at them. The girls were holding each other up laughing and pointing at the van. He took no notice and asked what the hell did they think they were doing demanding an explanation. Annie sitting in the back doing her Queen Mother impersonation, the kids asking why the ladies had stopped us and why were they laughing so much. I got out to find out what it was all about. One girl turned me round facing the way we had come from and between gales of laughter spluttered ” All your sheets and pillows are on the roadside down the highway ” As I focused I could see white material fluttering at the side of the road. The other girl between fits of laughter said ” Every time you went over a bump the lid of the van popped up and something fell out.” They collapsed in each others arms as they screamed laughing. I told John we’d have to go back and pick everything up. He said he couldn’t turn the car and van round. I yelled at him I didn’t want him to I wanted him to walk back and help me. He couldn’t leave the car unattended with his mother, the kids and the dog inside so I gathered all our belongings up and staggered back with dusty sheets and pillows and the accompaniment of tooting horns from passing motorists. The laughing girls had departed and I could see the funny side from their perspective. Was not laughing when I reached our car and no one got out to help me. I dumped everything on the bonnet and climbed into the passenger seat. Annie asked what was going to happen now. I said I neither knew nor cared but it would be a good idea if we went back home and dumped the caravan back at the hire place. She jumped to John’s defence before I said another word ” It wasn’t John’s fault Audrey. It could happen to anyone.” I’d already had a week of her snipping and sniping at me and me holding back smart replies today was not the day to imply it was my fault. ” Correct me if I’m wrong but did you do the final check of the van to make sure everything was locked down tight? I have been too busy packing, switching off electric and water, locking up the house, making sure everyone had everything and sorting the dog out too and HE was making sure the van was locked as I didn’t know what I was doing because the guy had shown him, not me how to sort the van out. Well now’s your chance super brain organise that lot on the bonnet because I’m not moving.” She told me I was being childish. I turned to face her ” You can help him. You’re good at telling people how things should be done. Now’s YOUR chance to shine.” She pushed the kids out of the way and climbed out, the dog tried to follow her so I smacked him on the head and shoved him between my feet. That would be all we needed, the dog getting run over. John was still sitting behind the wheel. I shoved him as well ” Are you going to sit there all day or do you think the fairy with the magic wand is going to drive up and make it all disappear?” He got out. I wound up the windows so they couldn’t hear me laughing. John wanted to open up the caravan and bundle it all inside. Annie said the damn caravan had caused enough problems and to shove it all in the boot. No room inside the boot. The pair of them started arguing.
The kids were getting to the teary stage again ” Are we really going to go back home? We wanted to see all the fishes in a ride on a boat with a glass bottom.” I said we’d get there eventually and just think of all these mishaps as an adventure and all the stories they would be able to tell the neighbourhood kids when we got back.
Annie rapped on the car window ” Are you just going to sit there. Get out here and help.” I wound down the window ” I can’t make anymore space where there is none to be had ” and wound up the window. John came to the drivers side and wrenched open the door, the dog made a dive for it. I yelled at him to close the door before the dog got run over. He slammed it shut and started yelling. With the dog in my arms I climbed out. ” The only solution is to put the pillows on the back shelf and the sheets on your lap.” He threw pillows into the back of the car telling the kids to put them on the back shelf and closed the door. The sheets were still in a bundle so I said they had to be folded if they were going to have them on their laps. I climbed back inside the car while mother and son looked at each other. They folded them in a fashion and once more we were on the road again. Much complaining from Annie and the word ridicules frequently mentioned. The kids started giggling saying we were camping inside the car and all their friends would think it funny when they told them. I looked over my shoulder to see how everyone was coping. All I saw was white sheets not very neatly folded. I asked where the pale blue ones were. Annie snarled ” They’re on the floor. I’ll be damned if I’m travelling hundreds of miles holding them.” Sweetly I said ” That’s all right then so long as you haven’t left them behind because the pale blue ones are what’s going on your bed.”
We travelled for almost an hour with no one speaking. It was slow going as this happened long before freeways were built and it was only a dual road highway. Annie asked when we were stopping for a cup of tea. I said we needed to travel as far as we could as Cairns was about a 3000 mile trip. Parking with towing a caravan in a town would be a problem and no cafes along the highway like there was in England. Super brain said no problem at all. We had our own supplies with us, he’d pull off the road and I could make lunch for us all. We pulled into a clearing with council picnic tables and with the dog on his lead the kids took him for a walk. Annie fussing round unclipping the locks on the tin box, John winding the handle to pop up the top. I told him not to bother pulling the side bits out. All I needed was room to make sandwiches as we wouldn’t be staying long. He said he would connect the gas bottles and we could have a proper lunch. What he called a proper lunch was something cooked. I was fighting a losing battle. I refused to cook steak or chops and said it would be something on toast. Not very happy as I foraged through boxes looking for cans of baked beans and eggs, the fry pan and cooking utensils. I told Annie to set out cutlery on one of the picnic tables in the park. She refused ” There’s a perfectly good table inside the van. I’m not eating in the open air with all those other people watching.” Couldn’t have his mother upset so he said he might as well open up the rest of the van and we’d eat in comfort. Annie had a smug look, I had a face like thunder. Everyone had been fed, cups of tea swallowed, time to pack up and get on the move again. Annie, kids and dog inside the car, super brain started winding the handle to collapse the roof. Clunk, clunk ground the machinery. Only one side went down. He wound it up again. No problem winding it up. Still only one side would fold down. Like it or not Annie we sure have an audience now. The other families in the park called out advice. My suggestion to give it a good thump went unheeded. The protruding side was shook, checked for obstructions and still refused to budge. The other families after having a look too went on their way as it was plain to see we wasn’t going to solve the predicament we were in. Miles from anywhere, no public phones, mobile phones hadn’t been invented at that stage. Got everyone out of the car again, it was going to be a long afternoon. Annie didn’t help matters by continually saying she was having a nice time and it was very peaceful in the park in the sunshine. After lots of yelling from John and statements of not his fault he said he would unhitch the car and try to find a garage. He told me to stay with the van and he wouldn’t be long. Not on your life. He’d probably forget where he’d left us and I wasn’t going to spend the night out there with two little kids and a small dog. Annie had volunteered to go with him so he wouldn’t be on his own. Much as I would have liked having a couple of hours without her company I wasn’t going to do it in the middle of nowhere. We found a garage eventually. They man in charge had no idea how to fix an uncooperative caravan and suggested calling the R.A.C.Q. once more. The auto club man told him to stay at the garage and he would join us there and all drive back to the park. When he arrived he asked if our membership covered us for towing either a boat, trailer or caravan. Of course it didn’t, we’d never towed anything before. He said he couldn’t help us unless we paid the extra. Blood out of a stone comes to mind whenever money was mentioned to John. He argued with the man. The man got back in his breakdown truck and switched on the engine. He then saw the two kids holding the dogs lead. He leant out of the window ” Lady, do you need me to give you a ride to the train station or are you going to tell your husband to pay up if not you’re going to be here on the garage forecourt all night.” Annie said the man was extremely rude and he couldn’t leave us there all night. I told her to shut up or we wouldn’t be going anywhere. I hissed at John ” Pay the man NOW before I accept his offer of a ride to the train station.”
The man got the tin box repaired and on our travels we went once more. I said no more stopping for snacks and the next time we stopped would be at a caravan park for the evening. The expert at nothing said to make up the lost time we would take a short cut. He’d looked at the road map and said we would cut across country and join the coast road. We did that at the next right hand turn. The bitumen road soon turned into a dusty track with many potholes, tree roots and was one of the most terrifying drives I had ever been on. It would have been pretty bad in a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We had an ordinary sedan towing a large tin box. The track was narrow and steep and any minute I thought we’d go over the edge with the weight of the tin box. We survived and once again on a bitumen road I said we would be stopping at the first caravan site we came to for I had had enough for one day. We arrived at Hervey Bay caravan site around 4:30 in the afternoon. Super brain said there was plenty of daylight left and we should push on. I told him he would be going without me and the kids if he did. The manager of the site helped us get settled, connected us to the power and I faced having to get the evening meal on the table. After we’d eaten I left mother and son washing dishes while I took the kids to the shower block. Kids dressed in pyjamas we came back to our temporary home on wheels to find mother-in-law writing a letter, husband laid on one of the beds reading a book. How cozy. I told them both they would have to move as the kids were going to bed. Protests from the expert caravan due, they were relaxing after a very fraughtful day. I said they’d have to get rid of their fraught feelings somewhere else as the beds needed making up and there wasn’t room to swing a cat inside the van. The two kids were sleeping on the extension bits either end of the van when it was opened up, Annie on a bench seat made up into a bed and Mum and Dad had to convert two bench seats and the top of the table into a double bed. Lots of giggling from both kids after they were in bed. The other beds made up and as it was black as pitch outside I said everyone go to sleep we would be up early next morning. My husband was a heavy built man and couldn’t get comfortable in the makeshift bed. Tossing and turning he dislodged the table top and we went crashing to the floor tangled up in sheets and blankets. The kids woke up screaming, Annie yelling ‘ What’s up now ‘ in her thick yorkshire accent and the dog barking his head off outside under the van. We should have taken that caravan back the day we picked it up and couldn’t reverse it. So far it had cost us around $600 in garage repairs and R.A.C.Q. membership fees. God knows how much in petrol. And we were only at Hervey Bay, about a 2½ journey from where we lived!
*********************************************************
Look forward to part two of the grey nomads on the fifteenth of this month. Can you wait?

Getting older in East Leeds

August 1, 2016 by

Getting older in East Leeds.

By Eddie Blackwell

Wally Dunn the Bespoke Tailor’s.

My Aunty Alice and her son Donald Anderson lived with my Granny in Ascot Street. Our Donald left school at 14 years old, and decided to become a Plumber, and he started his apprenticeship in 1947. Aunty Alice worked at Wilsons Mills, and used to get remnants of cloth, I was still in short trousers at that time, and Mum took me to Wally Dunn’s, at the bottom of the Street to be measured and have two pairs of short trousers made from the remnants of cloth bought from Aunty Alice.
Well I felt like Royalty being measured up for made to measure trousers. Mr Dunn took the cloth, and said do you want them lined? Mum said yes please, it will take about two weeks, but they will ready in time for Whitsuntide. In due course we went to collect the short trousers, which fit me a treat and Mum paid as required. Mr Dunn said I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’m looking for an errand boy to help me in the shop, and I wondered if young Edward would be interested. I don’t know about that Mum said, it depends on what his Dad says, we’ll ask him and get back to you. It would be half a crown a week Wally said. He had been injured during the war by Machine gun fire, and had to wear a metal belt to hold his stomach in. Well when we got home Mum related the story to my Dad, and Dad said what do you feel about it son, I thought 2/6d was a lot of money, and it would finance my model aeroplane building, so I took the job…
I was a quick learner at that age and the measuring and marking out of the cloth was complimentary to the drawings I made for my models. I was interested, soon I was chopping out which was using the shears to cut the cloth, cutting was drawing the patterns terns with chalk to the measurements of the Client, I remember one of the most important things when chopping out was to snip the cloth at intervals along the seams in order that the ladies who were sewing the garment together had markers to keep the profile. Wally said always use the tip of the shears to do this so you don’t make a kill. A kill was when you cut into the fabric of the garment and ruin the cloth, and have to start again.
The things I had to do was to attend the shop when a customer called, and help in all aspects of the sale, flapped or jetted pockets Sir, one vent or two vents, single or double breasted style, help choose the cloth, and the lining for the suit or suits, record the measurements and details and generally become involved in all aspects of the buisiness, it was something that I enjoyed doing, and there was much more to come..
Wally loved Motorbikes, and cars I remember we went down to a garage where his Mum lived, and there was an old Lanchester Car it was a straight four cylinder engine as I recall, and Wally said it probably wont start, but we fiddled about with it and borrowed a spare Battery connected it up, switch on the ignition pressed the starter button and brum, brum, it was away huge clouds of oily smelling blue/black exhaust smoke which cleared after a while, so we took it out for a spin down York Road and along Burmantofts Street then back on up York Road returning to the garage. We shouldn’t have done that said Wally because we were not taxed or insured, but it was fun wasn’t it. I’d never been that close to a motor car before, and to ride in one exceeded my wildest dreams, and yes it was great fun…
Then he got a Triumph Motor cycle this is about 1947/48 think it was called the Grand Prix it was his pride and joy, and he and his wife had the leather gear of the day that bikers wore, there were no safety helmets required in those days, and he would take me for a spin and we’d go and watch a Hill Climb or go to Odsal and the Speedway…Put another Nickle in in the Nickelodeon all I want is loving you and music, music, music, closer my dear come closer, was the hit song of the day, we had some great times.. There was one occasion when we went by Bus because three of us could not ride the Bike, Wally’s wife Mary a lovely lady blond hair and looked like a Film Star was with us, and after the speedway finished we went to take the bus back home.. Well there was Lady on the bus who got on after we did, and as I had always been taught, I stood up to allow her to sit down, then the Conductor came and said I’m sorry but you lot will have to get off which included me, well the Lady that I had given my seat to made no move to get off, I had no money and I didn’t really know the area we were in, so Wally said this Bus is not moving until that Lady gives up her seat, my lad gave her his seat as a courtesy, showing good manners we didn’t expect that he would be thrown off the bus for it, so the bus Conductor said, is this true Madam, yes she replied, then it’s you that will have to get off, take that seat young man.. I was so embarrassed, but I would have been lost had it not worked out that way.
After the garments had been, chopped out, they had to go for making up, and there were several Ladies in the area who worked for themselves, one lady who made trousers up, lived the other side of Upper Accommodation road, not far from Mount St Mary’s Church and I had to take the cloth with the pockets, waistband and buttons etc. for her to make up, she worked at home in a tiny front room, with a sewing machine and all the bits and pieces she needed, she didn’t do the pressing we did that back at the shop, and Wally would give me the money to pay for the work, it was very much a cash in hand situation, without any paperwork involved, and a few days later I would go back to collect the Items and return them to the shop, we had sewing machines and steam Irons ( not like the ones today powered by electricity, these used gas to generate the steam and heat the soleplate they were made of cast iron, and very heavy), so in an emergency we could do things to overcome any hickups..
When it came to suits and jackets, there was only one place for those to be made and that was Spielman Brothers, they had a workshop which you entered by climbing some steps accessed from Hirst’s Yard where the Whip Pub is located, and the premises were above Watson & Cairns, on the corner of Duncan Street and Lower Briggate, at that time W&C sold Motor Bikes, and I would call in there and have a look at the gleaming motor bikes that were on display, Norton and B.S.A. as I recall stretched the imagination.
The workshop above was quite large, it had a long table running alongside Lower Briggate, with sewing machines a Hofman pressing machine, racks with facings canvases, rolls of silk lining, cloth of every description, it was an Aladins cave of delight and interest.. Often one of the Brothers would be sat crossed legged on the table hand stitching the lapels of a Jacket. Come in he would say, I work like this because the light is so much better and my eyes grow dim with old age, but look at you your growing fast, Abe look at the boy how quickly he is growing, they were two of kindest most generous people you could ever wish to meet, I never left without some small token of my visit, be it an apple an orange, or some chocolate, and they would always say thank you for calling you have brightened up our day, please come and see us anytime you are passing..
I had a birthday coming up and Wally said I’m going to make you a Sports Coat for your birthday, he always attached a note to tell them his requirements, well they made me a sports coat it was like a coat of armour it would stand up on it’s own without me in it, my Dad could not believe it, he’d never seen a coat like it, and when I collected it they had a Birthday Cake for me, and said tell Wally there is no charge for the coat, it is our birthday present for you. They were happy days but they were about to come to an abrupt ending for me. Dads Mum my Grandma had died a few months ago and Granddad was finding it difficult to cope living on his own, so it had been decided that we would move to Osmondthorpe and live with Granddad. In view of this Dad said it would be better if I stopped working for Wally, it’s to far for you to travel after school, so we went down and saw Wally explained the situation to him, and we moved that weekend…
I did call back occasionally, but it was never the same as when we lived down at No 29 Devon Street, the house in which I was born, on a sunny morning on the 21st of July in 1938.
Wally kept the shop going for a couple of years but with demolition looming, and business not all that good, he closed the shop down and started work for one of the major tailoring company’s in town, in the North Street area, and moved to live in the Oakwood. I saw him once after that, near his Mums house but he had put a lot of weight on, his wife Mary still looked like a Film Star, they were in a grey Triumph Roadster Sports Car, it was a two seater with the big rounded front mudguards and chromium grill, headlamps and bumpers, I think it had what was called a dicky seat in the boot.. They seemed happy enough, but that was the last time I saw them it would be about 1950’s…
……………..