Archive for August, 2018

Vera’s Contribution to Eddie’s Tale

August 17, 2018

Contributions to Eddie’s tale by Vera Belshaw

I have Just Read yours and Eddies July and August contributions. They were brilliant for its put down just the way it was, Immediately transporting back in time recalling people and places of long ago.
I was born in Ascot Street in 1927, lived in The Bank from 1929 to 1936 then moved to Sussex Crescent till the 50s. Found this picture among some family photographs. It’s Ascot Street party celebrating King George the V Silver Jubilee in 1936. I thought it might be useful for the East Leeds Memories site. I know most of the people there, the lady with the teapot is my aunt…Annie Douglas (known locally as, Annie Sanders.)

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Thanks Vera for that lovely contribution to the site.

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Changes during my Eighty Years Living in East Leeds

August 1, 2018

Changes During My Eighty Years Living in East Leeds.
By Eddie Blackwell

It’s been a lifetime of changing and adapting to new things. When I think back over the years at the changes that have taken place, in both a physical and a social sense it’s amazing.
They say technology has moved things forward and of course that’s true. Communications for example, when I was a lad we had a Radio, with valves and condensers, one step on from a crystal set, it was the only thing in the house powered by electricity, that magical stuff that travelled along a wire, that you couldn’t see and didn’t really understand, until you experienced an electric shock, then comprehension suddenly dawned, it was powerful and sometime a dangerous thing, that must be respected.
The telephone was a red G.P.O. kiosk with a door, at the end of the street, it had a black box you put pennies in, then you Pressed A or B to speak or get your money back. There was very little vandalism in those days and a man from the G.P O. came around to collect the pennies from time to time, then another guy would clean the windows and sweep it out and sterilize the hand set, each kiosk had a telephone directory for local calls and intercity calls. If you couldn’t find the number you could dial the operator and speak to a lady, give her the Name and address you wanted to call, and she’d give you the area code and telephone number and ring the number for you if you wished, after you’d put the requisite amount of money in the box.
Suppose most communications were made by letter through the Royal Mail (or the G.P.O. as it was sometimes called) in those days, stamps were not expensive and you had two domestic postal deliveries each day Monday to Friday, one delivery Sat morning. Sunday was a day for rest and religion, except for essential services, hardly anything opened on Sundays. Shops and Cinemas were closed, Sunday newspapers were available and delivered, Public transport ran a limited service, and generally things happened at a more relaxed speed.
Today with mobile telephones people’s lives have changed completely, they even answer the telephone in the toilet, and they can’t leave the house or go anywhere without their mobile. I recall when car cell phones first came out, The Company I worked for installed a phone in my car, great I thought what a perk. How wrong could one be, I soon realised that I was now available 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year, there was no escape, if I didn’t answer they left a message. I was accessible 24 hours a day to the Company, the Customer and the men on site doing the work. Don’t get me wrong there were advantages that were good, and saved a lot of heart ache, and time, but at the end of the day working in Heavy Industrial Contracting, usually on a 24hr shift basis, the Company was the winner. I do have a mobile phone now, but it’s not in my pocket continuously, and I only use it for private communication, it’s not glued to my body 24hours a day.
Public transport whatever happened to that. Trams were the main form of transport when I was a lad, I think when they started in 1891 they were single deck Horse drawn carriages. Electrification was completed in Leeds in 1901 taking, advantage of Electricity produced at Whitehall Road Power Station which was located near the Leeds City Station just off Leeds City Square. Who makes these decisions to dispose of a network of trams that existed in Leeds, they were a cheap reliable environment friendly form of Public Transport, which fell victim to the smelly expensive diesel Buses, just think of the emissions that have been released into the atmosphere, since that one decision in 1959, do people ever think through the consequences of their actions. The world seems to revolve around eliminating jobs and saving money for short term profit and long-term disaster, all the money in the world can’t stop the Ice Caps from melting and the Seas from rising to consume the land, but reducing our toxic emissions into the atmosphere can.
I loved the Trams you could go from one end of the City to the other for just a few pence, and they inter linked with Bradford and Wakefield, in fact my Dad would say you can get all the way to Manchester and back by Tram, not sure that was true, but it sounded possible. I suppose in those days the most important thing was were you giving a good service to the Public, as opposed to today with privatisation, it’s does it make a profit without any consideration to giving a service. A sad change in philosophy with the emphasis on commercialisation a step in the wrong direction in my opinion. I once saw an Architects plan of an underground tramways system which had its central station under City Square and linked all of the outlying districts, this idea was from early 1900’s. Just think of the benefits of that today, no traffic jams no expensive link roads or one-way systems and no pollution, a fantastic scheme and very forward thinking. Had it gone ahead it would have saved millions upon millions of pounds in to-days money. regrettably it was shelved and the drawings filed to gather dust in a drawer somewhere.
Over the years things other things have changed dramatically, as a boy one of my jobs was, to go for this, go for that, and usually to the local shop. We had the Co-op which was the largest store I can recall, but generally it was the Corner Shop the Butchers or the Greengrocers, sometimes it would be into town on the tram to go to Leeds Market. Never ever did I have to go to the Supermarket they didn’t exist thank goodness. We do go to the Supermarket today, there like the old corner shop almost one on every corner but I preferred the old system, can you really expect to get the best deal from a Supermarket it’s there to make money. They rate their customers on how quickly they can get your money in their till, It’s true. One store we go to say you can’t put your goods in the bags at the till it slows the process down, they provide a table after the till to do that, well I suppose times money.
There was nothing to equal looking the Fishmonger in the eye and saying my Dad says can we have four cod stakes cut from the neck please, and he’d look down at me and say, your Joe’s Lad aren’t you I know just how he likes them, and I’d put them in the shopping bag and be off home to later put them in a pan cover them with milk and water a pinch of salt and pepper then turn the heat down to low after it started boiling, and let them simmer till Dad got home from work about 15 mins later. Then we’d do Mashed Potatoes and Garden Peas and Dad would make a Parsley Sauce delicious.
It was amazing what those words could do in our local shops my Dad says, and they always knew who my Dad was, I think he must have gone to school with most of them. Then there was the one if he was skint, where I had to say my Dad says can we have a one and a half lbs of stewing steak and he’ll call in after work on Thursday and pay you, I was always a bit embarrassed when I had to say that, but those days we lived hand to mouth, and you never missed paying, because if you did your credit would be no good, and we all needed credit now and then in those days.
Does anyone remember the Club Cheques and Whitsuntide Clothes, I was eight years old in 1945 and I think it was early 1946 before my Dad was demobbed from WW 2. Every year in those days you got new clothes for Whitsuntide, and Mum had joined this Club Check syndicate where you paid so much money every week and then when it was your turn, you got a club check of several pounds to spend, but you could only spend them in certain shops. Whitsuntide was fast approaching and in York Road opposite the Butchers shop, near the Star Cinema was Adleman’s, they sold children’s clothing and school clothes. Armed with the club cheque Mum took me into the shop for a suit for Whitsuntide. Well the first thing Mum said when Mr Adleman came out to serves us was, do you take Club Cheques please. We do Madam he said what a relief, if he’d have said no I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself. He then proceeded to bring out a range of clothes to suit our price range, I was still in short trousers at that time, and the one we chose was made from that woolly Blue material that they made R.A.F uniforms from, the colour suited me and the size was right so we settled on that and bought it, I can still feel it itching when I remember it, It wasn’t top drawer, but it served its purpose and I was set up for another year. I have a photograph taken on Whitsunday of that year which shows me in my new suit, together with my older sister Sheila, and cousins Greta, Shirly and Charles, all of us resplendent in our Whitsuntide clothes, they lived at number 3, Kitchener Street which is off Harehills Lane, Leeds 9 district. It’s not a very good picture unfortunately, but remember cameras were few and far between in those far off days, and film and developing was very expensive, we were lucky to have any pictures to record events. Can you imagine buying clothes only once a year, today it’s a regular occurrence.

When you consider the machine’s we use these days that were never there when we were young, and if they were there we couldn’t afford them, Vacuum Cleaners we used a brush and shovel, Washing Machine and Spinner, we used a tub and a poser, rubbing board and then the mangle, Steam cleaner, we used a mop with disinfectant in the water, Central heating and hot water, we had a coal fire with set pot for hot water, bath and shower, we had a galvanized tin bath that we filled with kettles of hot water, and went to the swimming baths for a shower, Fridge and freezer, we had a larder which was a small well ventilated room with a thick stone slab on which you put your food containers if it looked all right, and the smell was OK, tasted right then you ate it, always remember my Grandad would say, there’s nowt wrong with that lad get it eaten. No use by sell by best before dates just plain ordinary common sense.
We used carbolic soap for most things washing and suchlike we didn’t have a soap for your face, a soap for your hands, a shampoo for your hair, soap for your body, there are more products now for cosmetic purposes it’s commercialisation gone mad, a Marketing mania, just think of the number of different shampoo’s there are on sale, I think they’ve even got one for if you don’t want to wash your hair, if you consider the money that’s been spent on developing these products it must be ginormous, and you’re paying for it all when you buy the goods.
Then there’s the fast foods, in my early days we had Pork Pies (growlers we called them), Sausage Rolls, Cornish Pasties, Fish and Chips, and that was about your lot, I remember in 1956/57 when the first Chinese Restaurant opened in Boar Lane then it wasn’t long before the takeaways started to appear, now there’s a takeaway for almost every nationality you can think of Italian, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, Tia Land, Indian, U S of A, Turkish Moroccan, the choice is endless, and there must be a demand for these foods otherwise they wouldn’t be in business for very long. I must say I’ve always enjoyed my Fish and Chips, I can remember going to the original Quarmby’s Fish and Chip Shop that old Mr Quarmby ran, it was in Ascot Street on the corner with Cross Ascot Street opposite where my Grandma lived. One and a halfpenny worth of chips in a little triangular bag, lashed with salt and vinegar, and the vinegar running down your arm I can feel it now after seventy odd years, it’s amazing how a little thing like that never fades from your memory, and is treasured for ever.
I suppose your falling asleep by now thinking we’ve heard it all before, what’s he going on about. Well wake up now I’m about to take you on a ride on a magic carpet. “On wings of song for sailing to distant lands we’ll go”. Air travel has opened the four corners of the World, North, East, South and West, anywhere in the World you can go and rest. The speed at which we travel now it’s difficult to comprehend, before air travel became affordable to the majorities it took days to travel distance we do in hours now. There is a downside of course, each Jumbo Jet you see as a vapour trail in the sky burns one gallon of fuel per second to maintain its flight, that’s a lot of pollution every day seven days a week.
My dad joined the R.A.F in 1941, and he left a book at home called the History of the Aeroplane, I was only just three years old at that time, but it was the only physical thing that I could latch onto that my Dad had, and I looked at the pictures and I tried to understand the words. Then as the years passed and I could read what the book was about, I became fascinated by Aircraft and flying, and the early attempts that were made, I know that we accredit the Wright brothers with the first successful controllable flying machine, and rightly so, but there were others before them, some who gave their lives in a valiant attempt to imitate the flight of the bird. There was a picture in the book of Otto Liliethal flying his glider down a hill on 29th May 1894, I still have that picture imprinted in my memory from all those years ago. It’s a fascinating subject and I started designing and flying model Aeroplanes at a very early age, and I still do, but I only try and simulate natural flight using air and gravity, Gliders. Before I finish I must tell you this, Dad and I used to dream of manpowered flight and we’d design wings and things to try and achieve this, but we never had any money to build anything. One of the things we designed we called Mothman,

I’ve still got the drawings somewhere I’ll post them if I can find them, a couple of years ago I did look them out, and I said I was looking for a volunteer to fly the machine, and my Great grandson said I’ll do it Granddad, how cool was that.
Finally the motor car, I learnt to drive in 1960, I was doing my National Service which was two years of your life wasted, and I thought, I may as well do something that will be of benefit to me when I get out. In those days the mechanics of the engine were easy to understand, and most owners could do their own minor repairs and servicing. Over the years the access to the engine has been made more and more difficult until now without special tools and instruments it’s no longer possible to perform anything other than a water oil lights and tyre check, if you look under the bonnet it’s just all boxed in with no access at all to the engine. It’s just unbelievable that they would go to so much trouble to prevent you from accessing the engine, today without a diagnostic machine for your model it’s almost impossible to do anything at all, and then every activity needs a special tool unbelievable each vehicle is now a captive maintenance market for the manufacturer.
I know I’ve rambled on a bit but I’m putting that down to my age. Peter wrote a story in December 2016, the Magic of Aeroplanes which inspired me in 2017 to build a model Handley Page Victor, I’ll try and include some pictures of it which may be of interest. I know I’ve not covered everything that’s changed in the last eighty years in this tale, perhaps that’s fuel for another story sometime in the future.