Archive for June, 2019

Eric Allen’s Tales

June 16, 2019

I’m sad to have to break the news that another of our old stalwarts has passed. Eric Allen died in St James’s Hospital today 16th June 2019. As is traditional here is are couple of tales he put on our site. He will be sadly missed:

Eric’s Tales
Delivering the meat to Knostrop
While still a schoolboy I would deliver the orders of meat for my dad, Alf Allen, who owned the butcher’s shop in Easy Road, down near the ginnel. We actually lived in St Hilda’s Mount and I had a mate who lived in the same street called Vic Wilson. Vic was a butcher’s boy too, but as he was a little older than I he was actually in employment at the Co-op butchers in Cross Green Lane. As it so happened we both had to make deliveries on the same day to the ABC Houses in Knostrop We would converge on the ABC Houses on our butcher’s bikes and after delivering the orders we would meet up at Winnie Jacob’s house; she was a good sport and would give us a cig each and we’d have smoke and a cal with her in her yard. Of course we were really too young to smoke officially so like all forbidden fruits it was an exciting interlude and one we always enjoyed.
One particular day it had been snowing quite heavily and we’d tarried with Winnie for quite a long time already before we decided to set off back up Knostrop, even then our illicit habits were not finished for we had a second stopping off point in Alec Grumwell’s pig sty for a second ‘ciggy’. Alec, as locals will probably recall, had the smallholding in the triangular shaped field between Knostrop Hill and the Long Causeway, where he grew vegetable produce for sale and kept pigs. Alec was a familiar local figure, regularly to be seen around the district gathering pigswill on his little horse and cart. Alec would perch on the front edge of the cart in his flat cap and his weight would bring that side of the cart down and being so tall his legs would dangle onto the road. Anyway, this particular day we spent longer than we should smoking with Alec and as we had spent all that time at Winnie’s too we were really late. At this point the realization of how the time had got away with us dawned upon Vic. I was OK – still a schoolboy but Vic was allegedly a workingman now and receiving enumeration for his labours: his time had to be accounted for and a delivery to Knostrop didn’t warrant all the time we had taken messing about and smoking cigarettes. Vic by this time had begun to anticipate a telling off from his boss, Frank Ghan: so, thinking on his feet he took his bike and bounced it on the road so hard that it became un-ridable, then he carried it the short distance back to the Co-op complaining that he’d come off the bike in the snow and had needed to carry the damn thing all the way back from the ABC Houses in its damaged state. And good old Vic – he managed to get away with it!
Working for my Dad in the Butcher’s Shop
My dad was a butcher and when I was a lad I used to help make the sausages. First I had to collect the ingredients. We hadn’t a car at the time so I had to take the butcher’s bike to Stoke and Daltons for the rusks, which went into the sausage meat. I’d have to collect a full sack and it was very large and heavy. I’d put the sack into the basket of the bike but it was so big and heavy I couldn’t then turn the handlebars properly. This of course made it dangerous to ride but then being stupid I always did try to ride – Well You never push a bike if there is chance to ride it do you? That bike was like a taxi. I’d regularly take our Brenda home to Knostop in the carrier; it was all down hill so we could make good progress. In actual fact, if just kids were involved I could get five on, three in the basket, one on the cross bar and myself.
When I had the ingredients back to the shop I’d begin to make the sausages proper. First I’d mix the ingredients, which made up the insides of the sausages (the sausage-meat), in a mixer. Then it was a matter of stretching the skin over the outlet of the mixer and turning a handle to force the sausage-meat into the skin. We used beast’s intestines for the skins in those days. The problem was they were not consistent in size. One day I got a really big skin – it was really huge. Undaunted I continued winding the handle to fill this huge skin until it had taken virtually the whole of the contents of the mixer, which was supposed to be enough to fill a whole batch of sausages and I just had this one giant sausage. When my dad saw it he went mad, ‘Silly b…..,’ he said, ‘who the b…. hell would want a sausage as big as that?
The Cricket Bag Gordon Brown and I were joint scores and bag carriers for East Leeds Cricket Club. The bag was a huge affair – it was bigger than us and heavy too being full of bats and pads and all the rest of gear wanted by the cricketers, it’s a good job it had two handles so that we could hold one handle each with both hands to get it off the ground. We had a real job manhandling it onto buses and trams for away matches, for this we would be paid two bob and our tram fare. We took it in turns to be scorer. Only one could be the scorer along with a scorer from the opposition. The beauty of being the scorer was you got a free tea. The one who was just the bag handler for the day had to ‘whistle’ for his tea or spend six pence of his bag money on a sandwich and a cup of tea. When East Leeds was playing at home it was always the highlight of the day for the scorer to have his tea in the pavilion along with the players.
My dad didn’t go into the army but he was drafted into the ARP (Air Raid Patrol)
I remember they had their headquarters in a shop in Easy Road, near the picture house. They would assemble there, sit around a while and then go out on patrol. If there was an alert on he could be out all night.

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Before there were Clubs we had lively Pubs

June 1, 2019

Before there were Clubs we had Lively Pubs.
The first night club I recall in Leeds was The Ace of Clubs in Woodhouse; I would think that would have been in the late 1960s. But before then we had great lively pubs to keep us entertained. Pubs that were worth a good old distance of travel to reach.
The breathalyser did not appear until 1967 and no doubt stopping drink driving was the way to go but in the early stages it did not have an immediate impact. We were used to being able to travel to our favourite pubs have a few drinks and then carefully drive home but this was going to be a sea change event to our life styles. Traditional drinkers would say, ‘What’s this Micky Mouse law? It’s not going to stop me going to my favourite pub and having a few pints.’ And being creatures of our time, please forgive us, it didn’t.
50’s and 60’s pubs with live music drew us like magnets. I’m going to mention three of my favourites for a start I’m sure you will all have your own favourites. On Wednesday nights I loved to visit The Wakefield Arms near Kirkgate Station in Wakefield. Tony C the landlord was also a great pianist. It was worth the trip just to listen to him but there would be singers too, sometimes he would play in the small room just to the left of the entrance or on big nights the music room would be open and all manner of singers and instrumentalists would perform.
My second favourite was: The Royal at Boston Spa. That must have been before we had cars because we travelled there by bus and one Saturday night we missed the last bus and had to walk all the way home from Boston Spa to Leeds. Renee Johnson held court there sometimes augmented by her husband and her sister. Renee was a great act with her risqué little ditties: ‘Caviar comes from the virgin sturgeon The virgin sturgeon. is a very fine fish’. Later she regaled us again at the Crooked Billet in Stourton and even later I believe in Allerton by Water.
My third favourite was: The White Horse on York Road. They held weekly talent nights there and there was a cash prize for the winner. There was one guy who was on every week he sang ‘Dalila’ he would stab himself with an imaginary knife and then throw himself all over the stage in imaginary his death throes, we would cheer him and sing along with him but I don’t think he ever won the prize money.
Some pubs put on ‘turns’ of these there were many but I’ll just put on four who I particularly remember: The Johnson Brothers, Ronnie Dukes and Ricky Lee, Harry Benden and Jonny Joyce.
Apart from the pubs which attracted us for the music there were other pubs that just became popular, particularly on Thursday nights because they jammed both the sexes in together. A couple of these were: The Star and Garter in Kirkstall and particularly The Cherry Tree in Burmantofts. I remember one particular night in The Cherry Tree the place was heaving and the great Billy Bremner had got himself in a position where he was holding the toilet door open for a never ending flow of folk to get in and out he was stuck there and guys were cheering him on, he just took it all in good part laughing and saying it looks like I’m going to be stuck here all night.
I’ll just mention a few more of my favourite pubs I’m sure anyone who reads this will be able to add names, there were hundreds of them: The Slip, The Gardeners at Lofthouse, The Haddon Hall, The Beehive at Thorner, The Queens at Micklestown, The Malt Shovel at Armley, The FForde Greene, The Adelphi near Leeds Bridge, The Peacock at Horsforth (Wallace Family) The Stanhope, The Dynley arms on Pool Bank, The Cavalier on Richmond Hill a great pub for Irish songs and an old guy who used to get up every week and sing, ’The laughing Policeman’, he had us all in stitches: The Plasterers, The Skinners on Regent Street where old guys would get up and do Irish dancing with a straight face and arms by their sides. There was a pub half way up Meanwood Road, I can’t recall its name now but it had green tiles outside, we went in there one night and a guy was singing an Irish song it must have had a hundred verses he was singing it when we went in he was still singing the same song when we left. I made a joke to my mates that I went in a couple of nights later and he was still on with the same song. The Beckets Arms and the Meanwood were pubs we would visit as a prelude to the Capital Ballroom. The Bingley Arms claimed to be the oldest pub in England, The Arabian Horse and the Swan at Aberford, The Gascoigne at barwick, The New Inn, Scarcroft
Connoisseurs were prone to travelling to pubs who stocked their favourite beers: Tetley’s, John Smith’s, Sam Smith’s, Theakston’s, and before the amalgamation by the giant breweries: Bentley’s Hemmingway, and Melbourne’s etc. Tetley’s was supposed to be the Yorkshire man’s drink. In August when Leeds virtually encamped in Blackpool folk would say: ‘Meet you in the Huntsman, The Huntsman stocked Tetley’s.
Then there were the pubs which were just a nice little run out to on a summers evening: The Windmill at Linton. The Wellington at East Keswick, Boot and Shoe at Tadcaster, another Boot and Shoe on the Selby Road The Crooked Billet near the Lead Church, The Greyhound close to Tadcaster, The Kings Arms at Heath Common, The Scott’s Arms at Sicklinghall, Dick Hutson’s and The Royalty and The Sun up on the moors, Fenton Flier at Church Fenton, The New Inn near Eccup and The New in near Harrogate, The Harewood Arms, The Wild Man and The Buckles Inn on the Leeds /York Road, The Star at Collingham. The Chequers at Leadsham (no Sunday Licence) The White Horse at Ledston, The Fox and Hounds at Bramhope, The Anchor Inn at Whixley, The Queen of Old Thatch at South Milford, The Unicorn at Carlton, The New Inn now Squires (biker’s Café) near Sherbourne, The Anchor at Whixley, The Bull at Kirk Hammerton The Alice Hawthorne at Nun Moncton, The Beulah on Tong Road, I could go on forever, almost every village had a great pub, but now I fear that in the present day they survive more by the sale of food that that of beer.
And then of course there were ‘The runs: The Westgate run in Wakefield, the Tadcaster run, The Wetherby run, The Otley run, The Richmond Hill run and of course all the City Centre pubs. Apologies if I have left out your favourite pubs. Unfortunately for us oldies those pubs are passed their sell by date. How many are still left? It was a golden age and like all golden ages it was over before we knew it had begun. But ‘We supped some stuff’ didn’t we.
Now unfortunately if I ‘sup any stuff’ at all, I’m laid awake half the night! But we had our great times, didn’t we?