My First Car and the Prang

May 15, 2019 by

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

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

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

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

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

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The Summer of 1962

May 1, 2019 by

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

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

A Wonderful Night at Anfield

April 1, 2019 by

A Wonderful Night at Anfield

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


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

Sights, Smells and Sounds: Memories are made of these

March 1, 2019 by

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

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

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

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

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

The Night they Bombed our old Richmond Hill School Down

February 1, 2019 by

THE NIGHT THEY BOMBED OLD RICHMOND HILL SCHOOL DOWN

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 23, 2018 by

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

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

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

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

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

A BUSY LIFE

December 1, 2018 by

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

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

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

LOOK OUT FOR A CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Gothic Horror Delicous Fright

November 1, 2018 by

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

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

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

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

Back in leeds for the First Time in 63 years

October 1, 2018 by

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

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

By John Holloway

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

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

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

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

2 photos to accompany text (at bottom?)

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

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

Great tale John Thank you

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

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

Great tale John Thank

Waterlooville the Lost Village

September 1, 2018 by

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

REMEMBER TO CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE

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

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

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

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