My Early Life in East Leeds by Graham Hawkridge

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My Early Life in East Leed by Graham HawkridgeGraham Hawkridge relates his early life in East Leeds, especially remebering Snake Lane, the navvy paddy trains, Knostrop army camp, Waterloo Colliery, Ellerby Lane School and jam jar week. 

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

The Navvy is a railway cutting that runs from Neville Hill along the back of the Bridgefield Hotel across the top of the Cautley’s and above the St Hilda’s, finishing up in Hunslet. This line is still in operation  In the forties and fifties the line was a double track which ran on the same route the only difference being: it ran underneath the iron bridge that carried the ‘Paddy’ train over it. This bridge is no longer there.  The route finished up in the Hunslet Goods Yard, which is now occupied by industrial units, where in the past it was a very busy rail goods yard. Many an adventure was carried out along this track and many a duff was offered   (‘duff’ being another word for ‘dare’.)  On one occasion I witnessed some girls, older than myself but still at school, walk along the outside of the rail with their backs to the bridge. They took sideways steps going the full length of the bridge. They must have been either very brave or foolhardy for there was a forty foot drop onto the railway line

 

The bridge leading from the Copperfields to the Glencoe’s had an even greater drop, but this did not deter adventurous boys from walking across the wall, which was about three foot wide with a drop of about sixty-foot to the railway line.

 

There were various routes to get down to the railway line from the top, bearing in mind we must have been trespassing at the time, but we tended to ignore rules and the safety aspects. Some of the ways down had their own names, one was called ‘Ginger Rock’ for obvious reasons, and another was called ‘The Town Hall Steps’. There were other routes with varying degrees of danger. There were occasional miss-haps along the Navvy, on one occasion during one of our games one boy was being chased, to escape his captors he ran down one side of the Navvy, across the line and was halfway up the other side when a piece of rock came away in his hand resulting in him sliding down the shale and hurting his back. Fortunately there was no serious injury. Getting up the other side of the Navvy was a different story, this was a lot steeper and consisted of loos shale in parts which made it difficult and dangerous, not many attempted this climb.

 

On another occasion a boy slipped while trying to climb down, resulting in him breaking his arm.  He was at the bottom licking his wounds when his mother came looking for him and while all of us at the top kept quiet as to his whereabouts. He dare not reply to his mother’s shouts for fear of punishment as we were always being warned as to the dangers of playing along the navvy bank.

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

We spent the best part of our out-of schooldays on the Snake Lane playing fields. These consisted of two football pitches, a putting green, bowling green and tennis courts. Adjacent to the area was the ‘Paddy line’, which came to play a part in many of our games of football, which I will explain in another chapter.

The railway line ran from Waterloo Pit at Temple Newsam to the coal staith at the junction where Easy Road, Cross Green Lane and South Accommodation Road met. This area of land has now been developed into a housing estate. The line followed a route from the pit, in-between Black Road (Pontefract Lane), Taylor’s Farm, Pawson’s Farm, Snake Lane and the allotments, running parallel to the top of Black Road. It crossed over Cross Green Lane, in between the Bridgefield Hotel, Copperfield Grove and Copperfield Then over an iron bridge which spanned the Navvy. It then went alongside the Glencoes over a ginnel, which was a small tunnel that connected: the Copperfields, Glencoes and St Hildas to Easy Road. The Paddy train unloaded its cargo at the staith where it was put into sacks then collected by coal merchants, for delivery to local households. The Paddy train for most colliers was the only form of transport to and from work as a car was a rare commodity at the time.

On early mornings you could hear the echo of collier’s footsteps walking on the cobbled streets as they went to catch the train that would take them to the pit to do their shift. On return the train would stop adjacent to the top of Snake Lane where the colliers would jump off covered in coal dust and looking like the Black and White Minstrel Show.

There would not have been pithead baths At Waterloo Main Colliery at the time  There were four engines operating the line each engine was named independently they were: Jubilee, Kitchener, Dora and Antwerp.  These were small tank engines  Built by

A favourite trick of ours, disregarding any form of safety measure, was to place an old penny on the railway line, when the engine and carriages had passed over the penny it was flattened to a much larger size. Why we did this I’m unsure because the penny was probably no longer legal tender and a penny went a long way in those days.

Temple Newsam Colliery / Waterloo Main closed 1963.There were no baths until the early fifties, the colliers had to go home covered in coal dust before being able to wash. Most houses in the area had baths in the scullery (kitchen) which when not in use were covered by a large board.   When the bath was not in use most people kept various items on the top, which all had to be cleared away and stacked on the floor. This ritual must have been repeated every day.

The Paddy train left Cross Green Lane at 5.05 a.m. taking the daily shift to the pit, returning at 6.50 a.m. with the night shift. It left again at 1.30 p.m. taking the afternoon shift returning at 3.45 p.m. with the morning shift. It left again at 9.30 p.m.

Taking the night shift down and returned at 10.10 p.m. bringing home the afternoon shift.   Most of the miners would then have to walk the rest of the way home for they would not be allowed to use the bus covered in coal dust, bearing in mind some of the colliers might live as far away as York Road which would mean another two miles to walk home.  A ‘knocker-upper’ would probably have been used to wake up the early morning shift workers. This would normally be someone who lived in the area. He would carry a pole, perhaps a clothes prop, with this he would tap on the bedroom window until the light came on and the occupant drew back the curtains and showed his face.

 

Paddy Train drivers:

Leading up to the war four of the train drivers were brothers: Walter and George Riley. Charlie and Walter Wilcox. Shunters also accompanied the drivers: Percy Mathers, Tommy Hirst, and Bill Butterworth. The latter later moved to Skelton Grange Power Station. Teddy Horton and Herbert Whitaker were drivers before and after the war. Apart from taking the colliers to and from work the trains also carried coal to the staith in Easy Road. It had to cross Cross Green Lane near the Bridgefield Hotel. Alongside the last house in Cross green Lane there was a wooden hut where the level crossing flagman was based. On the arrival of the train he would stop the traffic to allow the train to cross over the road, bearing in mind there were no traffic lights or gates across and he only had a red flag to warn oncoming traffic only but traffic was infrequent in those days, mainly buses and the odd horse and cart.   Bus No 61 and 62. The flagman’s name was Sam Bowden who was a well know character in East Leeds. He was a very likable man and would pass the time of day with the locals. Sometimes he would invite them into his cosy shed in the winter, which would by warmed with a constantly fuelled stove. There was always the chance of a pot of tea to be had whilst having a chat.

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

These camps were situated down Pontefract Road, alongside Tillotson’s farm and Knostrop Wood. The army camp was manned by an Ack-Ack Division. Although Leeds did not suffer many air raids during the war this Division was ready for action when needed. As children we passed by the camp regularly on the way to play or go bird nesting in Knostrop Woods. To my recollection the camp never seemed to be heavily guarded. There was only one solitary barrage balloon to my knowledge, which always seemed to be a source of amusement while waiting for it to rise into the air. I seem to recollect it being struck by lightening on one occasion.  The Ack-Ack guns were put into operation on one memorable night. This was the night of the heaviest raid on Leeds. When the sirens sounded people retreated into their air raid shelters. In the Copperfield’s and the St. Hilda’s, coal cellars were converted into re-enforced shelters by placing iron girders just under the ceiling and covering them with sheets of corrugated iron. The wall along the cellar steps would be knocked through and lightly mortared back so that in the event of anyone being trapped in the cellar it would be easy to knock out the brickwork and crawl through to the house that backed on. When the sirens sounded my mother and I would race down the street to my grandmother’s house, which was twenty yards down the street and take shelter with them. My granddad had knocked a number of bricks out of the adjoining wall to the next-door neighbour’s house, giving enough room to pass cups of tea and cakes through and to converse with the neighbours. My granddad would call in now and again from the ARP (Air Raid Precaution Duty) to let us know what was happening outside and maybe grab a quick cup of tea before continuing to patrol the streets

Some Houses were issued with foot- pumps and sandbags. The night of the big raid was probably more hair rising for adults than I. Being only seven years old at the time I do not remember being frightened. You could hear the bombs dropping and the drone of the aircraft engines flying over and the Ack Ack guns firing whilst we all huddled together in our shelters. Those without shelters, or those who chose to stay in the house would probably hide beneath the dining table. The alterative was to run to the nearest purpose built shelter. There were three or four of such shelters on the spare land at the side of the Navvy, just off Cautley Road. They were brick built with re-enforced concrete roofs. Inside would be bunk beds, no mattresses of course and no lighting, the only lighting would be by torch or paraffin lamp. These shelters were usually locked by day but this did not deter us from entering. The entrance was just a wooden gate and there was just enough room to either crawl under or climb over the top if you were small enough. We spent many an hour using these shelters as dens. Some of the older boys probably had their first smoke in there.  

 

The Opening

The opening was a piece of spare land between 39 and 41 Copperfield Grove and Copperfield. This piece of land was used for both cricket and football games, marbles (tors) and all types of ball games we invented ourselves. This area was all soil with no grass on it at all; we used the whole area plus the cobbled road of Copperfield? with our goals up against the gable end wall of Copperfield Fortunately Peter and Eric Wolliter lived there with Jack Render living at number Copperfield and myself at 41 Copperfield Grove. We rarely had problems with neighbours. We could even play after dark because there was a gas lamp right in the middle adjoining Copperfield???? and the ‘opening’ We only ever played with a tennis ball, this lent to some becoming quite skilled at controlling the ball considering that the ball would bobble all over the cobbled street and causeway (causer edge). We had some ding-dong battles recreating football league games, there were no holds barred you could be sent crashing into the wall with a shoulder charge giving you a nasty jolt. Goalkeepers were fearless diving on the soil area in one goalmouth and the stone pavement in the other. There was always a steady stream of players from other streets wanting to join in. We even used to play on a dinnertime, rushing home from school, gulping down our dinner and then out to play for half an hour. Frank Shires who started work before some of us had left school, would dash home from work and grab a quick snack – this giving him time to join in one of our lunchtime games. It was even known for us to clear snow out of the opening so we could play. Cricket season was very popular too we could play until late at night because of the double British Summertime when the clocks went forward for two hours.

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

My school days were spent mainly at Ellerby Lane School except for a brief spell at St Saviour’s – a spell I can only vaguely remember. For some reason a few selected pupils were allocated to attend there after the war finished. My recollections are: that some of us ran home at lunchtime and never returned to the school. From this time on I attended Ellerby Lane School.  Schooldays were certainly different in many ways in those times than there are today. The main differences are probably concerning discipline and punishment. Some of the teachers were real characters in themselves. Mr Holmes; Chuck Holmes to the pupils was disabled but this didn’t stop him handing out his own brand of punishment. His right arm had a constant shake, when he gave you the cane he would raise his hand before bring it down across your fingers. It would shake for a while keeping you in limbo before the actual strike. Each teacher had his own brand of cane ‘Chuck’ had a bamboo cane, which had started to fray at the end, this caused further anguish with each ‘whack’. Another trait he had was that he would walk around the class looking at your schoolwork, if he saw anything wrong he would sit down besides you at your desk, and bearing in mind that we sat two to a desk, he would then nudge you with his shoulder like the old soccer shoulder charge but with so much force that after two or three of these nudges your innocent friend at the other side would end up on the floor. Mr Holmes father was landlord of the Black Dog pub.

We used to have a school fund where we would give a half penny? a week. On Fridays it was my job, whilst Mr Holmes was in the class, to take all the halfpennies to the Black Dog pub. I had to knock on the back door and wait for Mr Holmes’s father to change it into notes so that I could take it to the post office in Ellerby Lane. The post office was directly opposite the Spring Close pub but is no longer there. The post office was run by two sisters. Mr Holmes took us for cricket, and even though he was disabled he would join us in our cricket games in the school playground – which he seemed to enjoy just as much as we did.  Mr Consterdine was another feared teacher. When it was your year to go into his class you went there with trepidation. He never thought twice about throwing the chalk or the board duster at you, which was made out of a solid piece of wood much like a scrubbing brush with a piece of felt in place of the bristles. He must have been a good shot for I never remember anyone getting a serious injury, anyone being hit would have been dealt a nasty blow. He also took us for P.T. One of his favourites was, when we were all lined up in team formation, He would on command have you touching all four walls and the unfortunate to be last back to his place really suffered. We only wore shorts and plimsolls and your mates were instructed to slap the last one back on his bare back, he would finish up with red wheals all over hisbody. In another game two or three boys would be in a circle and the rest would try and hit them bellow the knees by kicking or throwing a football. Mr Consterdine took great delight in joining in and would kick the ball with great force, if you were unlucky enough to be hit by the ball you certainly knew about it. Mr Consterdine was a very strict disciplinarian he possessed a collection of canes made mainly of cut down billiard cues cut. When handing out punishment, you usually got caned three times with a ‘whack’ across the open palm leaving you with blue fingers.

There were no Biro pens in those days; a pen was made with a wooden shaft, a metal pen nib and a metal holder. Some of the lads liked to chew the wooden end of the pen and many times were down to holding the pen by just the metal part to write. To stop this habit; when you requested a new pen the teacher would dip the pen in fish glue, which proved a deterrent due to the unpleasant taste. At the time we had inkwells that fitted into the desk corner. Sometimes pupils would put blotting paper into your ink well making the ink like mud, consequently when you dipped your pen nib in to replenish the ink you would end up with a big blot on your paper. To overcome this we started to water the ink to thin it down, but unfortunately on one occasion this

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

Besides our half penny donations to the school funds the school held a jam jar week every year, each student was obliged to go round knocking on doors asking the occupants if they had any jam or pickle jars. We would wander around the streets with a sack over our shoulder. Each class competed against one another to see who could collect the most jam jars; there was also an individual competition. You would bring the jam jars in and have them counted and logged before taking them into the school quadrangle where they would be placed on the ground. Eventually filling the whole area. The school made quite a bit of money in this way for the rag and bone men would pay for empty jam jars. The jam jars would be collected and taken away, I think by the Moorhouse Jam and the U-LI-KUM  Pickle companies. In East Leeds we had a couple of rag and bone men who came around the streets. One was called Tobins who had a yard in the Glencoes and I must admit that on occasions we managed to get into his yard and grab a few jars to add to our collection.  I believe the all time record number of jam jars collected by one person was held by one of the girls: Regina Wilson.

 

Graham Hawkridge

 

 

 

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

The Navvy is a railway cutting that runs from Neville Hill along the back of the Bridgefield Hotel across the top of the Cautley’s and above the St Hilda’s, finishing up in Hunslet. This line is still in operation  In the forties and fifties the line was a double track which ran on the same route the only difference being: it ran underneath the iron bridge that carried the ‘Paddy’ train over it. This bridge is no longer there.  The route finished up in the Hunslet Goods Yard, which is now occupied by industrial units, where in the past it was a very busy rail goods yard. Many an adventure was carried out along this track and many a duff was offered   (‘duff’ being another word for ‘dare’.)  On one occasion I witnessed some girls, older than myself but still at school, walk along the outside of the rail with their backs to the bridge. They took sideways steps going the full length of the bridge. They must have been either very brave or foolhardy for there was a forty foot drop onto the railway line

 

The bridge leading from the Copperfields to the Glencoe’s had an even greater drop, but this did not deter adventurous boys from walking across the wall, which was about three foot wide with a drop of about sixty-foot to the railway line.

 

There were various routes to get down to the railway line from the top, bearing in mind we must have been trespassing at the time, but we tended to ignore rules and the safety aspects. Some of the ways down had their own names, one was called ‘Ginger Rock’ for obvious reasons, and another was called ‘The Town Hall Steps’. There were other routes with varying degrees of danger. There were occasional miss-haps along the Navvy, on one occasion during one of our games one boy was being chased, to escape his captors he ran down one side of the Navvy, across the line and was halfway up the other side when a piece of rock came away in his hand resulting in him sliding down the shale and hurting his back. Fortunately there was no serious injury. Getting up the other side of the Navvy was a different story, this was a lot steeper and consisted of loos shale in parts which made it difficult and dangerous, not many attempted this climb.

 

On another occasion a boy slipped while trying to climb down, resulting in him breaking his arm.  He was at the bottom licking his wounds when his mother came looking for him and while all of us at the top kept quiet as to his whereabouts. He dare not reply to his mother’s shouts for fear of punishment as we were always being warned as to the dangers of playing along the navvy bank.

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

We spent the best part of our out-of schooldays on the Snake Lane playing fields. These consisted of two football pitches, a putting green, bowling green and tennis courts. Adjacent to the area was the ‘Paddy line’, which came to play a part in many of our games of football, which I will explain in another chapter.

The railway line ran from Waterloo Pit at Temple Newsam to the coal staith at the junction where Easy Road, Cross Green Lane and South Accommodation Road met. This area of land has now been developed into a housing estate. The line followed a route from the pit, in-between Black Road (Pontefract Lane), Taylor’s Farm, Pawson’s Farm, Snake Lane and the allotments, running parallel to the top of Black Road. It crossed over Cross Green Lane, in between the Bridgefield Hotel, Copperfield Grove and Copperfield Then over an iron bridge which spanned the Navvy. It then went alongside the Glencoes over a ginnel, which was a small tunnel that connected: the Copperfields, Glencoes and St Hildas to Easy Road. The Paddy train unloaded its cargo at the staith where it was put into sacks then collected by coal merchants, for delivery to local households. The Paddy train for most colliers was the only form of transport to and from work as a car was a rare commodity at the time.

On early mornings you could hear the echo of collier’s footsteps walking on the cobbled streets as they went to catch the train that would take them to the pit to do their shift. On return the train would stop adjacent to the top of Snake Lane where the colliers would jump off covered in coal dust and looking like the Black and White Minstrel Show.

There would not have been pithead baths At Waterloo Main Colliery at the time  There were four engines operating the line each engine was named independently they were: Jubilee, Kitchener, Dora and Antwerp.  These were small tank engines  Built by

A favourite trick of ours, disregarding any form of safety measure, was to place an old penny on the railway line, when the engine and carriages had passed over the penny it was flattened to a much larger size. Why we did this I’m unsure because the penny was probably no longer legal tender and a penny went a long way in those days.

Temple Newsam Colliery / Waterloo Main closed 1963.There were no baths until the early fifties, the colliers had to go home covered in coal dust before being able to wash. Most houses in the area had baths in the scullery (kitchen) which when not in use were covered by a large board.   When the bath was not in use most people kept various items on the top, which all had to be cleared away and stacked on the floor. This ritual must have been repeated every day.

The Paddy train left Cross Green Lane at 5.05 a.m. taking the daily shift to the pit, returning at 6.50 a.m. with the night shift. It left again at 1.30 p.m. taking the afternoon shift returning at 3.45 p.m. with the morning shift. It left again at 9.30 p.m.

Taking the night shift down and returned at 10.10 p.m. bringing home the afternoon shift.   Most of the miners would then have to walk the rest of the way home for they would not be allowed to use the bus covered in coal dust, bearing in mind some of the colliers might live as far away as York Road which would mean another two miles to walk home.  A ‘knocker-upper’ would probably have been used to wake up the early morning shift workers. This would normally be someone who lived in the area. He would carry a pole, perhaps a clothes prop, with this he would tap on the bedroom window until the light came on and the occupant drew back the curtains and showed his face.

 

Paddy Train drivers:

Leading up to the war four of the train drivers were brothers: Walter and George Riley. Charlie and Walter Wilcox. Shunters also accompanied the drivers: Percy Mathers, Tommy Hirst, and Bill Butterworth. The latter later moved to Skelton Grange Power Station. Teddy Horton and Herbert Whitaker were drivers before and after the war. Apart from taking the colliers to and from work the trains also carried coal to the staith in Easy Road. It had to cross Cross Green Lane near the Bridgefield Hotel. Alongside the last house in Cross green Lane there was a wooden hut where the level crossing flagman was based. On the arrival of the train he would stop the traffic to allow the train to cross over the road, bearing in mind there were no traffic lights or gates across and he only had a red flag to warn oncoming traffic only but traffic was infrequent in those days, mainly buses and the odd horse and cart.   Bus No 61 and 62. The flagman’s name was Sam Bowden who was a well know character in East Leeds. He was a very likable man and would pass the time of day with the locals. Sometimes he would invite them into his cosy shed in the winter, which would by warmed with a constantly fuelled stove. There was always the chance of a pot of tea to be had whilst having a chat.

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

These camps were situated down Pontefract Road, alongside Tillotson’s farm and Knostrop Wood. The army camp was manned by an Ack-Ack Division. Although Leeds did not suffer many air raids during the war this Division was ready for action when needed. As children we passed by the camp regularly on the way to play or go bird nesting in Knostrop Woods. To my recollection the camp never seemed to be heavily guarded. There was only one solitary barrage balloon to my knowledge, which always seemed to be a source of amusement while waiting for it to rise into the air. I seem to recollect it being struck by lightening on one occasion.  The Ack-Ack guns were put into operation on one memorable night. This was the night of the heaviest raid on Leeds. When the sirens sounded people retreated into their air raid shelters. In the Copperfield’s and the St. Hilda’s, coal cellars were converted into re-enforced shelters by placing iron girders just under the ceiling and covering them with sheets of corrugated iron. The wall along the cellar steps would be knocked through and lightly mortared back so that in the event of anyone being trapped in the cellar it would be easy to knock out the brickwork and crawl through to the house that backed on. When the sirens sounded my mother and I would race down the street to my grandmother’s house, which was twenty yards down the street and take shelter with them. My granddad had knocked a number of bricks out of the adjoining wall to the next-door neighbour’s house, giving enough room to pass cups of tea and cakes through and to converse with the neighbours. My granddad would call in now and again from the ARP (Air Raid Precaution Duty) to let us know what was happening outside and maybe grab a quick cup of tea before continuing to patrol the streets

Some Houses were issued with foot- pumps and sandbags. The night of the big raid was probably more hair rising for adults than I. Being only seven years old at the time I do not remember being frightened. You could hear the bombs dropping and the drone of the aircraft engines flying over and the Ack Ack guns firing whilst we all huddled together in our shelters. Those without shelters, or those who chose to stay in the house would probably hide beneath the dining table. The alterative was to run to the nearest purpose built shelter. There were three or four of such shelters on the spare land at the side of the Navvy, just off Cautley Road. They were brick built with re-enforced concrete roofs. Inside would be bunk beds, no mattresses of course and no lighting, the only lighting would be by torch or paraffin lamp. These shelters were usually locked by day but this did not deter us from entering. The entrance was just a wooden gate and there was just enough room to either crawl under or climb over the top if you were small enough. We spent many an hour using these shelters as dens. Some of the older boys probably had their first smoke in there.  

 

The Opening

The opening was a piece of spare land between 39 and 41 Copperfield Grove and Copperfield. This piece of land was used for both cricket and football games, marbles (tors) and all types of ball games we invented ourselves. This area was all soil with no grass on it at all; we used the whole area plus the cobbled road of Copperfield? with our goals up against the gable end wall of Copperfield Fortunately Peter and Eric Wolliter lived there with Jack Render living at number Copperfield and myself at 41 Copperfield Grove. We rarely had problems with neighbours. We could even play after dark because there was a gas lamp right in the middle adjoining Copperfield???? and the ‘opening’ We only ever played with a tennis ball, this lent to some becoming quite skilled at controlling the ball considering that the ball would bobble all over the cobbled street and causeway (causer edge). We had some ding-dong battles recreating football league games, there were no holds barred you could be sent crashing into the wall with a shoulder charge giving you a nasty jolt. Goalkeepers were fearless diving on the soil area in one goalmouth and the stone pavement in the other. There was always a steady stream of players from other streets wanting to join in. We even used to play on a dinnertime, rushing home from school, gulping down our dinner and then out to play for half an hour. Frank Shires who started work before some of us had left school, would dash home from work and grab a quick snack – this giving him time to join in one of our lunchtime games. It was even known for us to clear snow out of the opening so we could play. Cricket season was very popular too we could play until late at night because of the double British Summertime when the clocks went forward for two hours.

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

My school days were spent mainly at Ellerby Lane School except for a brief spell at St Saviour’s – a spell I can only vaguely remember. For some reason a few selected pupils were allocated to attend there after the war finished. My recollections are: that some of us ran home at lunchtime and never returned to the school. From this time on I attended Ellerby Lane School.  Schooldays were certainly different in many ways in those times than there are today. The main differences are probably concerning discipline and punishment. Some of the teachers were real characters in themselves. Mr Holmes; Chuck Holmes to the pupils was disabled but this didn’t stop him handing out his own brand of punishment. His right arm had a constant shake, when he gave you the cane he would raise his hand before bring it down across your fingers. It would shake for a while keeping you in limbo before the actual strike. Each teacher had his own brand of cane ‘Chuck’ had a bamboo cane, which had started to fray at the end, this caused further anguish with each ‘whack’. Another trait he had was that he would walk around the class looking at your schoolwork, if he saw anything wrong he would sit down besides you at your desk, and bearing in mind that we sat two to a desk, he would then nudge you with his shoulder like the old soccer shoulder charge but with so much force that after two or three of these nudges your innocent friend at the other side would end up on the floor. Mr Holmes father was landlord of the Black Dog pub.

We used to have a school fund where we would give a half penny? a week. On Fridays it was my job, whilst Mr Holmes was in the class, to take all the halfpennies to the Black Dog pub. I had to knock on the back door and wait for Mr Holmes’s father to change it into notes so that I could take it to the post office in Ellerby Lane. The post office was directly opposite the Spring Close pub but is no longer there. The post office was run by two sisters. Mr Holmes took us for cricket, and even though he was disabled he would join us in our cricket games in the school playground – which he seemed to enjoy just as much as we did.  Mr Consterdine was another feared teacher. When it was your year to go into his class you went there with trepidation. He never thought twice about throwing the chalk or the board duster at you, which was made out of a solid piece of wood much like a scrubbing brush with a piece of felt in place of the bristles. He must have been a good shot for I never remember anyone getting a serious injury, anyone being hit would have been dealt a nasty blow. He also took us for P.T. One of his favourites was, when we were all lined up in team formation, He would on command have you touching all four walls and the unfortunate to be last back to his place really suffered. We only wore shorts and plimsolls and your mates were instructed to slap the last one back on his bare back, he would finish up with red wheals all over hisbody. In another game two or three boys would be in a circle and the rest would try and hit them bellow the knees by kicking or throwing a football. Mr Consterdine took great delight in joining in and would kick the ball with great force, if you were unlucky enough to be hit by the ball you certainly knew about it. Mr Consterdine was a very strict disciplinarian he possessed a collection of canes made mainly of cut down billiard cues cut. When handing out punishment, you usually got caned three times with a ‘whack’ across the open palm leaving you with blue fingers.

There were no Biro pens in those days; a pen was made with a wooden shaft, a metal pen nib and a metal holder. Some of the lads liked to chew the wooden end of the pen and many times were down to holding the pen by just the metal part to write. To stop this habit; when you requested a new pen the teacher would dip the pen in fish glue, which proved a deterrent due to the unpleasant taste. At the time we had inkwells that fitted into the desk corner. Sometimes pupils would put blotting paper into your ink well making the ink like mud, consequently when you dipped your pen nib in to replenish the ink you would end up with a big blot on your paper. To overcome this we started to water the ink to thin it down, but unfortunately on one occasion this

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

Besides our half penny donations to the school funds the school held a jam jar week every year, each student was obliged to go round knocking on doors asking the occupants if they had any jam or pickle jars. We would wander around the streets with a sack over our shoulder. Each class competed against one another to see who could collect the most jam jars; there was also an individual competition. You would bring the jam jars in and have them counted and logged before taking them into the school quadrangle where they would be placed on the ground. Eventually filling the whole area. The school made quite a bit of money in this way for the rag and bone men would pay for empty jam jars. The jam jars would be collected and taken away, I think by the Moorhouse Jam and the U-LI-KUM  Pickle companies. In East Leeds we had a couple of rag and bone men who came around the streets. One was called Tobins who had a yard in the Glencoes and I must admit that on occasions we managed to get into his yard and grab a few jars to add to our collection.  I believe the all time record number of jam jars collected by one person was held by one of the girls: Regina Wilson.

 

Graham Hawkridge

 

 

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One Response to “My Early Life in East Leeds by Graham Hawkridge”

  1. junefox Says:

    Itooremember the jam jar collections at ellerby lane schoolsnake lane and the red hills.ilived at knostropallmy childhood daysat skelton grange cottages .which were situated opposite the power station when it was built.there was a farm there befor the power station.my dad worked for the farmer his name was a mr jamieson, and he had 3 sons.it was a happy time there, thecottages were knocked downa few years ago .

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