Archive for July, 2018

I Fear Our Old East Leeds May be Unloved Today

July 1, 2018

I FEAR OUR OLD EAST LEEDS MAY BE UNLOVED TODAY.
Followed by a poem: A True Tyke by Eddie Blackwell

When I have a nostalgic wander around the old area (Cross Green, Richmond Hill and East End Park), that bit of terra firma that we old East Leedsers look back upon with great affection, I cannot help but think that the lifeblood has been drawn out of the area. These streets used to be alive with excited children on their way to and from school, usually tarrying to indulge in their children’s games. Now it would seem mams take they children to school, mostly in cars if they have them. I do not image the present incumbents will bother to take a trophy such as a street name plate, or as I have, secured a brick from the old demolished St Hilda’s School, to regale my back garden.

I do not blame the present custodians for the demise of the area, many do not have the East Leeds heritage and although the housing stock has been improved since our day and there are many satellite dishes adorning the walls, they have lost almost all their amenities. Motor cars or busses whisk them out of the area for shopping and pleasure whereas we, more or less a self contained society, lived cheek by jowl with each other and had most things at hand without having to leave the area. This resulted in the development of a good community spirit and a great street corner society. I do not traverse the area after dark but I cannot imagine, after taking in the metal grids on the doors and the large concrete semi-circular spheres blocking off our once friendly streets against ‘joy riders’, that they enjoy good natured banter under the street lamps.

They do not have any pubs, we had twelve or thirteen. They don’t have any cinemas; we had five within walking distance. Primary Schools: We had ten now they just have a new Richmond Hill School, A new All Saints School and a jumble of Porta Cabins.

Perhaps for those who wish to worship we have seen the biggest amenity loss of all. Here is a list of churches and chapels written down by an old Richmond Hill resident in the 1950s: Mount St Mary’s R.C. Church, St Saviours C of E Church, Richmond Hill Wesleyan Methodists Chapel, Bourne Chapel Primitive Methodists, All Saints Church of England, York Road Baptists, St Hilda’s Church of England, Bethel Mission Friends Adults, and Temple View Mission. Zion Clark Lane Chapel. Usually these institutions had Sunday morning service, Sunday school and sometimes even-song so we were kept busy on Sundays and pretty much in touch with community. They all had social attachments: clubs, Scouts, Guides, Boys Brigade, Parties, Jumble sales, outings, camps etc.
Today, St Hilda’s and St Savours survive with tiny congregations, Bourne Chapel, I think is the surviving chapel and Mount St Mary’s has removed to St Therese’s.
Shopping: Dial Street had as many shops in the 1950s as the whole area has today.

Perhaps the biggest difference of all between that which we had and that which is lost today is ADVENTURE! They can’t go for adventures down black Road – It’s a motorway, Red road it’s a grey footpath, Nozzy with its pond it’s an industrial estate. They can’t jump on the back of the paddy train for a ride home or down the navvy it’s all fenced in. They can’t even get chucked out of the Princess by Big Ernie or The Easy Road Bug Hutch by Abe, the local cinemas don’t exist anymore.
What they CAN do, that we could not, is sit inside on a sunny day with a lap top, a mobile phone, i pod, x-box, play station or tablet and while away the hours indoors.
Weren’t we the lucky ones?

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And now a poem by Eddie Blackwell
.A True Tyke.
When I was a young lad there were twelve of us in our family
Mam and Dad nine older sisters and me I was the youngest,
We lived in a hole in the Cemetery covered with asbestos sheets,
Dad was a grave digger so we lived on the job so to speak,
We were that poor that the Church Mice used to leave scraps for us to eat,
And in return we used to chase away the cats to keep them safe,
Well my big sister always said one good turn deserves another,
And she should know she works outside the Town Hall but she says,
Business is slow yet one day she earned £2 and that’s a lot of pennies,
Dad beats us all to sleep with his belt when he gets back from the pub,
And we have a big hole in one corner covered with a wooden pallet,
It acts as a drain when it rains but after a while it starts to smell,
Then Dad fills it in and digs a fresh hole in another corner,
He says we may have to move shortly because the floors a bit muddy,
He’s digging another hole for us to live in at the other side of the cemetery,
They’ll be new neighbours but their always very quiet and reserved,
My younger sisters work in’t Mill 18 hours a day seven days a week,
The pays not good but they say it’s better than’t Town Hall steps,
Well I’m in my late 70’s now and I’ve lived through WW 2 and the 60’s and the 70’s,
It’s been a hard life full of drama and tragedies scrimping and scraping,
I’ve just had a walk through the City Centre it’s changed a lot,
People begging and complaining about living in shop doors,
They don’t know their born these days living in a shop doorway,
It’s like Buckingham Palace they just don’t know when their well off,
Well T.T.F.N. keep smiling be happy and don’t let the bugs bite,
If they do bite ‘m back they go down well with salt and pepper.