Saville Green, Torre Road and Leeds Fireclay Company

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

Another great tale by Eddie Blackwell

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

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

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23 Responses to “Saville Green, Torre Road and Leeds Fireclay Company”

  1. Dave Carncross Says:

    Another great tale Eddie. As always, I am amazed at the level of detail in all our various stories. We must all have had photographic memories but , even if that was the case, it is now a helluva long Time ago. Just think, if we could have applied that memorising ability as effortlessly to our school subjects, we would all have been rocket scientists or medical consultants.

  2. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Pleased you enjoyed the tale Dave, and your words are very true, but having been trained as a Draughtsman, It was essential to remember details, and write specifications, and I continued my working life in Technical Disciplines. I think my problem when I was young was nerves, if we had an exam to do or anything like that, I was a nervous wreck, and lost all my composure, and being left handed didn’t help my writting wasn’t very good, and it would degrade into acrawl, I remember one of our teachers in the early years saying it looked as though a spider had been crawling over the paper, (you never forget words like that) took years of practice to bring it up to standard and by then all those opportunities to progress at an early age had gone…..but what the heck at least we’re still here to tell Tales….LOL..

  3. peterwwood Says:

    Great tale, Eddie. It brings to mind what an important place York Road played in our lives. There was the library and the baths, the trams, the picture houses: Star and Shaftsbury, The Schools: Victoria and that huge York Road Board School lower down on the opposite side, The Shaftsbury playing fields and of course the pubs, starting from the top: The Dog and Gun, The Shaftsbury, The White Horse, The Victoria, The Hope Inn and one further down The Aberchrombie I believe? and then possibly another before The Woodpecker?. For the life of me I can’t remember The Glassmaker’s Arms that played such an important part in Eddies tale and I think there was possibly one other before The Woodpecker, perhaps someone can throw light on any more York Road pub?

  4. Eric Says:

    I think the other pub you may be thinking of Pete is The Providence which, like the Abercrombie which was close alongside it, was set back abt 50-100m from York Road itself. I also think there was yet another between the Hope Inn & the Woodpecker ,demolished long before our time & not sure of the name but The Shannon rings a bell.
    The Woodpecker was originally located on the other side of York Rd but later demolished to be rebuilt on the site we all remember.
    I remember the Glassmakers Eddie (which I recollect as a tiny pub) and also another pub, on York Rd & almost opposite the Baths which I think was called The Greyhound. Again, the original pub was on the opposite side of the road, just above the baths & in fact in front of what was later the bakery you refer to. I also seem to remember there was a “Horse & Jockey” pub nearby. Do you have any recollection of this?
    We used to cut through the area to get to the Regent Cinema at the bottom end of Torre Rd.
    Lots of interesting detail Eddie & amongst us, a prevailing myth I remember is that the denizens of Saville Green used to dispose of their enemies in the slimy green liquid covering the bottom of the steep sided quarry you mention, hence we always felt we were entering the Lions Den when passing through

  5. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Thanks for your kind comment Pete, if you can visualise the area where the Quarries were and the open cindered area adjacent to Torre Road, that we called the wreck, the Glassmakers Arms was on the edge of the wreck furthest away from Torre Road, they were all cobbled streets down there, I think it was on the corner of Greyhound place and Ironstone Place, one side was rendered and I seem to recall Dark Green Glazed brick around the entrance it was at the end of a row of terraced houses The otherside faced onto the cindered area and had a shallow bay window, hope that helps you place it. As for pubs on York Road there was the Melbourne Pub as I recall, and my Grandad would tell me tales about when he was a Barman at the Greyhound Inn, in York Road he said it was just up from the new Swimming Baths…that’s going back a bit…

  6. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    I remember the myth Eric, and there was a slimy green algae that covered the water in the bottom of the Quarry, we also gave it a wide berth. The Glassmakers Arms was a tiny Pub as you mention, at the end of a row of terraced houses which I think was called Greyhound place or Ironstone place. The Providence and the Shannon Pubs in York Road sound familiar, and the Horse and Jockey was also a pub my Granddad mentioned although he never said where in York Road it was, he used to relate to it in connection with a fish and Chip shop my Grandma and her Sister had, the pans were heated by coal fires, and apparently they had a disaster and it was burnt out, “and that was another fine kettle of fish” he would say, but the pun went over my head in those days, and then he would start laughing. Thank you for your kind comments Eric…

  7. aussiepom Says:

    I love your stories Eddie, you relate so many different interesting things into a small space. A very good story teller indeed. From small boys larking about, to young man’s first job and all the descriptions and directions of places from my outlook is great because I can never remember the name of streets but I was strolling along Torre Road and could place everything you mentioned. Another puzzle you have solved for me as well. I didn’t know there was a Leeds Pottery until I saw the english program called Bargain Hunt on T.V. here. The host of the show said the pottery dragon he held in his hand was from the Leeds Pottery factory in Burmantofts. There you go, I’m never too old to learn something. Thanks to you I now have a good idea where it used to be.
    Most of my memories of the streets opposite The Hope where Pontefract Lane met York Road was of half boomed out houses and lots of rubble. It was like that for years after the war ended and those flats opposite York Road baths where St. Patricks school used to be started to be built long after I started work at Burtons as lots of us used to walk through them and use the gate on Torre Road to walk to the factory a long, long time ago

  8. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Thank you aussiepom for your kind words. Leeds Pottery was very fomous in it’s day, the original works Hartley Greens and Co was in Hunslet on Jack Lane I believe, they were in competition with the Staffordshire potteries, and originally made pottery from eartherware, then the Quarries in Cheddar Gorge started to produce Ball Clay, which developed into vitrious china allowing much finner pottery to be made, unfortunately the extra shipping cost of the ball clay to Yorkshire, gave the commercial advantage to the potteries in Staffordshire, but in my opinion they never equalled the quality or the delicacy of The Leeds Potteries. We had all of the plaster moulds at Burmantofts Works, that were used to make the China Ware, and my Dad used to say the’re worth a fortune, but they were left there to weather and degrade to become a heap of rubble. I believe the old Creamware designs are making a comeback…
    You’ve just stired a memory when you mentioned the old houses around the Hope Inn, I seem to remember one of those old houses was a small pub, which faced onto Shannon Street… I remember the Young Ladies going to and coming from Burton’s Factory using the Torre Road entrance, if you recall there was a football pitch just inside the entrance I remember we were playing a Game of football on that pitch think it was a saturday, and it coincided with the girls coming out, we had to run for our lives there were hundreds of them and they all ran onto the pitch going wild, we managed to escape but only just…happy days…

  9. peterwwood Says:

    I recall two more pubs just off York Road on Accommodation Road that continued on both sides of York Road. The Accommodation Inn on our side of York Road and the Spinners Arms on the other side which sold OBJ ales. And lets not forget Edger Street Clinic and the Woodwork Department in Edger Street too where the Ellerby Lane kids did their joinery.

  10. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    OBJ Ales brings back a few memories Pete, and we had the Hemingways Brewery just up from the Pontefract Lane junction with York Road next to the Blacksmiths Workshop, where my sledge irons were made. I spent some time in the Edgar Street Clinic as well, always seemed to have cuts and bruises that needed attention. Never went to the woodwork department on Edgar Street, although I remember our Donald did, I have a story about that which I’ll save for another time…

  11. Jackie hainsworth Says:

    I’ve heard of Leeds Pottery from my Gran in fact I had a blue and white tea pot left to me from her which she said was from there unfortunately my daughter sold it a few years ago on a car boot sale I must add it was by mistake but I still feel upset that I lost it I also remember a lot of the pubs up York Road visited on Friday Saturday and Sunday nights such good times to recall my mam also told me of playing netball against Seville green school and afraid to win because the parents used to bully and chase them l don’t think that area was safe to outsiders!

  12. Doug Farnill Says:

    Sadly I left the area before I started drinking in pubs, and so I feel a bit out of it when it comes to knowing about pubs. Interesting too that my knowledge of the other side of York Road is so limited. Thanks Eddie for refreshing my memories of Torres Road, Burtons, and the Shaftsbury pictures. My most vivid recollections of “the other side of the road” are of the occasional feasts that were set up on a patch somewhere opposite the baths on York Road. They were occasions of great excitement, with candy floss, and tables where you could roll down your pennies – if you had any – in the hope of multiplying your fortunes.

  13. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Thank you for your comment Jackie, pity about the Teapot if it were an original Leeds Pottery one which your Gran left you it would have had a lot of sentimental and I can understand you feeling uoset about it’s loss, lets hope it’s gone to someone who appreciates it. As for your Mums netball experiences against Saville Green School, I don’t recall any of that aggression, and I also lived at the other side of York Road, but I’m sure there’s no smoke without fire, however I never experienced anything like that, and I had friends in the area so perhaps that made a difference.

  14. Edward Blackwell.. Says:

    Hiya Doug,
    I was also too young to drink in those days, so I never went inside these Pubs, just knew them from the outside. I recall the excitment you mention when the feasts were visiting, there was a patch of open land on Torre Road, just down from the Star Cinema adjacent to the Tram Depot in Lupton Avenue, and I remember that’s one of the spots where the Feast would set up. There was the Shamrock, the Old Steam Organ, the Catapiller etc. and it was all run on power genrated from a coal fired Traction Engine, then as you said numerous table games, and you could win a goldfish in a glass bowl if you were very lucky, I must have been quite small in those days because my Dad would carry me on his shoulders, just trying to remember the tune that the Organ was playing, there was a steel wheel with metal pins sticking out that slowly turned and sequenced the the opening and closing of the valves, the only thing that springs to mind is a tune like Carousel..Thanks for your kind words Doug it’s good to share a few memories with you…

  15. Dave Carncross Says:

    I don’t recall ever feeling that there were dangerous areas of East Leeds. Anywhere you could walk to was OK with me. I do remember that subdued feeling of excitement as we got nearer to the various feasts wherever they were. Same feeling as I used to get when going up the steps into the ballroom at the Scala on a Saturday night wondering whether I would get to try to persuade one of the young ladies of the health giving benefits of taking all their clothes off. In Peter Woods case it was probably wondering whether he might actually have a fight free night for once. A bit of a loose cannon was Our Leader. Once won a set of salad servers on a coconut shy,stall but can’t remember them ever being used in our house.

  16. peterwwood Says:

    It was a long time ago Dave, I couldn’t knock the skin of a rice pudding now.,

  17. Gloria Blakey Says:

    I remember Edgar Street clinic. I had to go there to have a tooth out, and whilst I was there some other kid trapped my fingers in the door so not only did I have a bloody tooth and also bleeding fingers as well. Good old days!!!!!

  18. Dave Carncross Says:

    God, I had forgotten that clinic. Once went with a dental problem and this huge dentist who was just like a stage German even down to his accent said ” well, I vill try to fill it but if it hurts too much, I villhave to take it out” . Just what a nine year old wanted to hear. Bloody sadist. Anyway, they made me another appointment and I immediately set about twisting and levering the offending tooth until I finally got it out. Took me three days as I recall. Never ever went back there though. My sister registered me at her dentist in town and it was like another world

  19. peterwwood Says:

    You used to sit on long wooden benches in the waiting room and you would slide along one place as a kid went into the surgery. You could hear ’em screaming from inside so that when some got to the front and it was their turn next they’d get up and go to the back of the queue again

  20. Eric Says:

    The Edgar St Clinic nightmare that so many experienced remains deeply embedded in our youthful memories, as attested to on here. I believe it was largely responsible for the subsequent poor dental health of many by indiscriminate extraction & lack of corrective treatment. I recollect enduring a filling session done with something like a clapped out Black & Decker with an unsharpened drill & with nothing to dull the pain.
    Another factor in the dread of going there was that much of the surrounding property had been demolished & the Clinic stood out on the skyline like something from a Gothic Horror Movie ,managing to scare the wits from you long before you got there.

  21. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    I remember the long wooden benches in the waiting room of the Edgar Street Clinic, I was bitten on the leg by a stray Dog in the school playground during playtime, and had to make several visits for treatment of the wound, which turned quite nasty as I recall, and I did on several occasions go back to the end of the queue as my turn to go in approached. I remember in those days there was a morning sick parade at school, attended by the Headmaster, cod liver oil and malt was dispensed on a daily basis to some children, and he inspected every child that needed to go to the Edgar Street Clinic for treatment, no chance of skiving off. Some of the kids, presumably with a fungal type skin infection, had all their hair shaved off and that purple gentian violet painted on the infected areas……Thank goodness I didn’t have to go for any Dental treatment Eric, it sounds like a nightmare scenario out of an Alfred Hitchcock film, although I do recall the similarity of the old dental equipment to a clapped out Black and Decker I think that’s a very appropriate description…lol..

  22. Dave Carncross Says:

    Edward. The purple kids would most likely have had impetigo. That’s what my Mam always said. I remember being painted with it when I had been playing rugby – we had a trainer who thought it was a sovereign remedy for grazed or broken skin. I was always uncomfortable about that cos I didn’t want anybody to think I had got impetigo ( whatever that was).

  23. Edward Blackwell... Says:

    Your right Dave, it was usually Impetigo, I think it’s a skin infection of blisters and sores, and to treat it effectively when it infects the scalp they shaved their hair off, and of course in those days we only had the simple but effective old remedies to treat these things. I think your trainer was probably using gentian violet as a preventive treatment, a lot of these skin infections can enter through a cut or a graze on the skin..Happy Days.

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