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?


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.


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14 Responses to “I Fear Our Old East Leeds May be Unloved Today”

  1. Doug Farnill Says:

    Eddie, what a great poem. But, ee-bah-gum lad, tha was lucky. No noisy neighbours, fresh flowers brought to your place every weekend, and especially on Mothers’ Day. Luxury, luxury lad! Now we had to live under t’railway bridge on Pontefract Lane, just opposite t”Coop. The bridge kept us dry, but sides were so steep we had to sleep on t’tracks. Mum and Dad had to stay up all night to get us out of bed every time a North-bound train went through. We had it tough, young people these days wouldn’t believe us.
    And Peter, so sad the old community has gone, My now departed cousin, Paul Farnill once told me that my old house in the railway end of Glensdale Terrace had been demolished for new housing, and that it had been used in a pilot program for a TV series on IRA terrorism, and had been blown up.
    And back to Eddie, yes lad you had it tough, but my house got blown up.

  2. Michael Stark Says:

    Thanks for the nostalgia, former LS9er living in USA

  3. Julie Ekberg Says:

    I really enjoyed reading this but it made me sad as well. I was brought up in LS9 but now live in London. I always refer to Leeds as ‘home’ even tho I’ve been in London for 28 years. I used to go home at least 7-8 times a year until my Mum and Dad died and loved those times back in Leeds, it always gave me a thrill when I saw the Leeds skyline appearing as I drove up the motorway.
    Now I hardly ever go home and I miss it so much but the last time I barely recognised Leeds city centre. I like doing my family history and we have been in Yorkshire for at least 500 years and in Leeds for well over 200. My ancestors lived in Hunslet, Holbeck and the city centre, they worked in the mills and the iron works and some in Leeds market so I am proud to say that my ancestors helped to build Leeds and make it into a thriving city.

    • peterwwood Says:

      Hi Julie, Thanks for your comment. I hope you have read other of the tales on the East Leeds Memories site especially the one about Hunslet. if you lived there. Did you attend one of the Leeds 9 primary schools? Love to hear more of your story – this is what the site is all about. Best regards Pete Wood.

      • Julie Ekberg Says:

        Hi Pete.
        I do read the East Leeds tales. I save them too, don’t delete any 😃 I went to Wykebeck primary school then passed my 11 plus and went to Parklands High School in Seacroft.
        My dad moved with his family to Oak Tree Grove in Gipton from Holbeck when he was 4 years old in 1938, my grandparents lived there until they both died, my grandad being the last one in 1984. We (my parents and me) lived in Brander Road until 1981, then I left home and my mum and dad moved to Wykebeck Valley Road, they lived there until my mum died in 2000 and my dad in 2012. My dad, his 2 brothers and his sister went to Coldcotes school. One of his brothers and his sister met their future spouses at school and they are still married to this day, his sister and her husband received a telegram from the Queen when they had been married for 60 years.
        My mum was from Hunslet, so it was a big change when she married my dad and moved away, it was a journey on at least 2 buses😃 to visit her family.
        I was born in Hunslet in my nana’s house, my aunt lived next door so she was there too. My cousin (who was about 7-8 at the time] says that she had to sit on the doorstep all day waiting for me to be born, she still complains that she didn’t get any tea….almost 60 years later. My dad waited next door in my aunts house. My cousin apparently was sent to the shops and she was shouting “it’s a boy, it’s a boy” one of the neighbours said “she’s had it then?” And my cousin said “no, I just couldn’t think oh owt else to say”, needless to say I turned out to be a girl.

  4. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Enjoyed the tale Pete, it’s a little bit sad to think back to those wonderful times we had. A couple of years since I’ve been back there, but I recall standing outside the old Shepherd Pub, and looking towards Temple View, trying to visualise where I was born, Devon Street no longer exists, and as you mentioned television aerials and satellite dishes, bars on windows, metal grids on doors, as I recall when I was a lad living in that area you cold knock on any door and ask for a drink of water and you’d never be refused. It hasn’t got the same atmosphere and the people seemed surly and discontented, “unloved” is a good way to describe it Pete.
    Doug how very fortunate you were to live under’t railway bridge near’t co-op in Pontefract Lane, I know it well. You may have been inconvenience by the the North Bound going through, but you lived in a Trainspotters paradise, not many people were that fortunate, we had to sit out in all weathers straddling that triangular pointed coping stone on the railway wall, waiting for the trains to go by. It’s a wonder we didn’t do permanent damage to our undercarriage the stones were that sharp. Happy Days non-the-less.

  5. peterwwood Says:

    Thanks for that great update Julie. I wish everyone wold leave an update like that

  6. Mr E Sanderson Says:

    A good theme, well told Pete. I no longer visit the area as I prefer to remember it as it was & not the crime ridden , run down place it now is. You’ve nicely summed up what made the community “tick” & formed the glue which makes the people who lived there in those times, even now, like to relive those memories
    Great comments too from Doug & Eddie

  7. Eric Says:

    Just noticed my post. “Mr E Sanderson” sounds somewhat formal , don’t know how that got there.

  8. Edward Blackwell Says:

    I thought it was unusual Eric……Sir…..You must have your collar and tie on. I agree with your comments Eric it is disheartening to see the old stamping grounds now, when you’ve experience the days when the community spirit was strong in that area. We didn’t have a lot of money, but you could borrow a bucket of coal if you needed one, and you’d run to the shops for those that couldn’t get there and not expect to be payed….Then queue up to watch “Bring em Back Alive” at the Bug Hutch and finish up with a stink bomb down your neck. Then you were in trouble when you got home, but very happy days they were, wish we could do it all again. It took ages to get rid of that bad eggs smell….

  9. Eric Says:

    You’ve rumbled me Eddie, I was sat there in my top at & tails waiting for the butler to bring my full English along with the ironed flat FT & just forgot where I was at the moment.

  10. Doug Farnill Says:

    Dear Mr E Sanderson, Sir, out of your vast store of memory, of truly archival proportions, if you please, after you have read the contents of the neatly ironed Financial Times,do you recall the name of that picture house, even more buggy than the reputed Bug House, I mean the one just down over the Aire Bridge into Hunslet. I think it was called The Alhambra. The memory was stirred whilst I was watching a travelogue of Spain and its wonderful Islamic architecture. I thought,”I’ve travelled far from East Leeds into Hunslet, and visited a place called Alhambra”. Please favour me with a response kind Sir. Yours sincerely, Mr D. Farnill, esquire.

  11. peterwwood Says:

    Dear Doug I think the name of the bug hutch to which you refer was ‘THE PREMIER ‘.

  12. Eric Says:

    Hi Doug (esq),

    Thank you for your felicitations . I’m well into today’s FT , checking my property & shares portfolios before spending the weekend on my superyacht.
    I feel sure Pete is correct about the cinema you mention (i.e. The Premier) although I don’t ever remember going there.
    There was (may be still is) an Alhambra cinema in Bradford & that’s the only one of that name in the area that I can recollect.



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