Vera’s Memories







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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vera Belshaw

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

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

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


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


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

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

But I digress.

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

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

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

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


22 Responses to “Vera’s Memories”

  1. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Thanks for your memories Vera, I was born in Devon Street, which was adjacent to Ascot Street, my Gran lived in Ascot Street, opposite Old Mr Quarmby’s Fish and Chip Shop, I also went to All Saint School in my early years Mr Hope was Headmaster at that time, I have an older sister who you may recall, Sheila Blackwell must be about the same time as you were there, great memories thanks for sharing them with us…

  2. Doug Farnill Says:

    Vera, what a delight it was to read your reminiscences and to be brought back in memory to the Yorkshire Penny Bank and Hutton’s chemist shop where Eddie Blair and I tried to buy the ingredients of gunpowder. I think the wily old Mr Hutton fobbed us off with white, yellow, and black powders but they must have been something innocuous because we were never able to make them bang at the touch of a flame. I seem to recall there were two newsagents shops, one on Dial St, close to where the Aylesfords were on the other side, and one next to a butchers opposite the Co-op. Eddie Blair, my mate circa 1941, had a job at the one opposite the Co-op. He delivered some papers, and also he “chopped chips” in the cellar. These were little bundles of firewood that he chopped off a block and bound them up with a twisted piece of iron wire. I think the bundles sold for about threepence, and with newspaper were all that was required to get a coal fire started. That was until the advent of the gas poker in our house, which was about 3 yards of rubber tubing that could be connected to the gas stove, with a metal pipe with holes in it that could be lit and stuck under the coal. How I am alive today, instead of being gassed to death, or blown up in Glensdale Terrace continues to amaze me. Now, Vera, see what you have done, you have released a flood of memories of the good old days. Doug

  3. Barry Tebb Says:

    Totally fascinating!I remembered all the shops but not the names!my memories plus much fiction is in my novel ‘Pitfall Street’ which is a penny plus postage on Amazon or 99p on Kindle-two readers have given it 5 stars.I am bringing out a second revised edition this winter and my autobiography ‘The fiddler and his bow’ will be out in an extended version next year.The 3 new books I published this year are under my name on Ebay as book distribution is complex and expensive.Liviing in the south and being disabled makes trips to Leeds pretty near impossible.I do think the best material from this site should be published in a print book-printing has become very cheap-£3 for a 300 page book.

  4. Jackie hainsworth Says:

    I also remember our local shops we had Eddie Purdys on the corner of one of the Clark’s he sold everything from vinegar in your own jug to veg cakes bread anything very handy l lived in Clarke Avenue we had an electrical shop on our corner Gledhills I believe and of course the chippy Robinson’s a little lower down when I left school in 1957 I started work at Chorley &Pickersgill the printers in Cookridge Street I wasn’t there long when we went on strike so I had a little job at the chippy partime to help as I didn’t get strike pay l enjoyed my time in the chippy there was also a dry cleaners pet shop newsagents and a bakers all on the corner of Clarke’s Street and off Pontefract Lane happy times and lovely to recall and remember the good old days I went to Ellerby Lane School one of my friends Betty Ruston lived at the top of Ellerby Lane her Mum &Dad had the fish&chip shop there. Vera certainly has got the old grey matter fired up.

  5. Jackie hainsworth Says:


  6. Jackie hainsworth Says:


  7. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Wow Dough, the old gas polker to light the fire, you’ve brought back a few memories there, they could be dangerous things, if you didn’t light it quickly enough whooosh, and you didn’t need the Chimney Sweep. My Dad used to call it the Pig Singer, after he burnt his eyebrows with it one time…and today the Grandkids would look at you daft if asked them to go and get a bundle of chips from the corner shop…

  8. peterwwood Says:

    We all like your memories, Very. let’s hope for more. I surf the old area still regularly and almost all the shops are gone especially the fish and chip shops. I think there may still be one in the Vinaries. But there is a new one it is located in Hall’s old chemist shop in Easy Road. Do you remember Mr Hall, he was quite a severe looking guy, remember he always wore a dark Homburg hat, even in the shop. But it just so happened that a few of us used to haunt The Vine pub in The Headrow on Saturday nights before going to the Scala and Mr Hall used come into the snug there with three of his old mates and we saw a different side of him and I always thought ‘good on yer, Mr Hall.’ I never did know his first name. .

  9. Jackie hainsworth Says:

    Well this is my second attempt! I went to Ellerby Lane School and one of my friends was Betty Ruston and her Mam&Dad had the chippy at the top of Ellerby Lane.Do you remember the pork butcher with their own pork pies dripping and polony we used to go at dinner time bread cakes with dripping had to have lots of brown deliciousness so many good memories thanks Vera!😂

    • marlene Egan Says:

      Hi Jackie l went to ellerby lane school Elsie Ruston was in my year l think Betty was her older sister l then went on to crossgreen school.we left the area when just after l left school at 15,l seem to recognize your name l lived at Easy Grove my single name was Marlene Howard

      • Jackie hainsworth Says:

        Hi Marlene yes Elsie was Betty’s younger sister their was Brenda older than Betty Keith younger and then an older brother can’t recall his name don’t seem to remember you l think I am a couple of years older than you so you will have had a different set of friends mine were Marlene Senior Jean McConnal Jean Fawcett Ann Joy Joan Read and of course Betty l left in 1957 it was then Cross Green Secondary Modern not Ellerby Lane l lived in Clarke Avenue.

    • marlene Egan Says:

      Hi Jackie yes you are a couple of years older l just recognized your name l remember Marlene senior and Jean Fawcett,my friends were Linda Ellis Brenda howey Irene Hodgson l think you may have been in the same year as the twins Margaret and Marjorie Gelder,they lived behind us lm still in touch with Linda Ellis . They were happy days

  10. aussiepom Says:

    This site is very addictive isn’t it Vera? Every story jogs readers memories of other incidents and you have reminded me and lots of others of getting the dratted fire in the old black fireplace to ignite. Remember the cigarette lighters that had to be filled and replacing the flints as well. I had another use for the lighter fuel. I was an impatient fire maker when I was about 14 and used lighter fuel to get the fire started. I squirted the can over the coal, threw a lighted match and jumped back quick. We had a neighbour who lived at the back of our house in Charlton Place who chopped chips in the cellar every night at around 11 p.m. My Dad called him the midnight joiner.
    Along with memories of schools, pubs and shops that are sadly not there anymore you’ve certainly awaked lots of the small incidental memories of gas pokers and chopping chips. Thank you for giving us more things to remember

  11. Dave Carncross Says:

    Vera, you awoke a few long gone memories there for me. Precious’s shop for example.also i was a bit alarmed to realise that you could be fined for picking bluebells. Was really worried when your last paragraph began ” when we moved to Sussex” – I thought whatever possessed them to do that and then realised the next word was street. Hope the writing process stirred further memories.

  12. Eric Says:

    Enjoyed your reminiscences Vera. It’s good to revive thoughts of events & places so much in our everyday lives of those times. My mother spent much of her younger life living in Ascot Terrace before moving to Crossgates , then back to East End Park area when she married & up to the late fifties , so she may even have known your family.
    Pete’s contribution also adds to the theme.
    Dave, I believe picking any wild flower is against the law but I’ve never heard of anyone being fined , and I must admit, I’ve picked a few in my time

  13. peterwwood Says:

    Vera, Are you seeing these great comments? Please give us a sign, put a comment on yourself so we know you are receiving us!

  14. marlene Egan Says:

    All these stories bring back fond memories

  15. peterwwood Says:

    Reminder: The Old East Leedser’s reunion is at the Edmund House Club from Noon onward on Tuesday 1st Nov 2016. You Ellerby Lane lasses, please make yourselves known this year!.

  16. peterwwood Says:

    Vera wishes me to thank, on her behalf, all those who commented on her memories in October..

  17. aussiepom Says:

    Loved your story Vera and would love to hear more as i’m sure everyone else would too

  18. peterwwood Says:

    More comments from Vera: In reply to Eddie’s comments: I was a pupil; at All Saint’s School from 1931 to 41. I remember Mr Hope’s arrival very well. Prior to this the headmaster had been a quiet elderly man from Jersey. Then this tall stern faced steely eyed man arrived. What a shock, he was so different no smiles, no recognition and in class he used to wander around with a metre ruler in his hand. You never knew if it was to attract attention or to rap your knuckles for day dreaming. Those first years he put the fear of God into us. Fortunately by the time I was in the senior girls class and taught by Miss Child he taught the senior boys. I can only hope he mellowed as he got older . I remember Quarrmby’s too and Ascot Street chippy. Mr granddad, Sanders lived at 53 in the top half of Ascot Street only a stones throw away from a lovely feast. I believe Mr Quarmby’s son Norman married Doris Storey. East Leeds own champion swimmer.

  19. peterwwood Says:

    Vera’s comment on Jackie Hansworth’s comments: I certainly remember Rushton’s at the end of Ellerby Lane for when we used to go there when I was a little girl Mr Rushton used to give me a large chip wrapped in paper so as not to burn my fingers. Also at the end at the time was a pawn brokers shop on the other side of the road and Joe Hunt’s fruit and veg shop before he moved up to Richmond Hill. :

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