Wandering Down from East Leeds to the City Centre Today


Wandering down from East Leeds to the city centre today
In the old days we would either walk down to Leeds City Centre from Cross Green lane or catch the 61 bus to town and the number 62 home from Eastgate. It was two old pence from St Hilda’s School or one and a half old pence if you walked down and caught it from the Cross Green Pub. The 62 bus still runs on Cross Green Lane today but it is usually a single decker I haven’t seen a number 61at all? Unless you were in a hurry you usually walked down as I am going to do today. I’m going to invite you old East Leeds exiles to walk with me. I’ll start at the point where the old St Hilda’s School used to be. The site is now under construction as a huge block of flats you wouldn’t have thought the site was big enough for flats this size

Just beyond there we come to St Hilda’s Vestry which now seems to be an oasis to help people in need

Next up is ‘The Navvy’ I know it was built in 1899 but I’d love to find out about more about the ‘navvies who built it, where they lived and how long it took to cut I don’t know if any trains still run on there but I bet it would be worth a fortune for landfill.

Next; we come to that which used to be the St Hilda’s Men’s Club. We played billiards down stairs and they had whist drives upstairs. Mr Fred Skerry, the Verger of St Hilda’s Church lived in a flat inside the club with his wife Florrie. They were a lovely couple, Fred was an old soldier. One of his jobs was to ring the church bell, three threes and a nine at seven thirty in the morning and at seven thirty on a night. The bell was a common denominator that all our mams used to tell us it was time to come home on an evening. The Cross Green Lane post office was directly opposite the church and when it got a new post master he was nearly blown out of bed the first time Fred rang the bell. It is said he stood it for a week and then he accosted Fred as he left the church one morning and said, ‘If that bell rings again tomorrow morning I’ll throttle you’, So Fred pulled himself to his full height, he was over six foot, and said, ‘Well you had better get on with it now sir for by hell or high water that bell will ring tomorrow.’ with that he saluted the post master and marched off. They don’t make ‘em like Fred anymore.
Now the club is just a dilapidated builder’s yard

Alongside the club were a row of about five or six shops The first was: Hick the cobbler, if you went to pick your footwear up even a couple of months after you had left them he would still say,’ they’re next job on love.’ Then there was Fletchers – the demon barber, Britton’s fish and chip shop – queues a mile long on Friday dinner but they couldn’t half move ‘em on not like today when it’ takes ten minutes to make you an expresso coffee. Then there was Newby’s later Oldcorne’s, newsagents, Mechem – a decorator. And if I recall correctly, Margery Naylor’s shop, she was a dressmaker. Now there are just a few new houses standing in their place.

Next, on the left side of the road we come to the previous site of Bridgewater Place, originally we knew it as the ‘Nurse’s Home but later it became colloquially known as ‘Mulligan’s Mansions’. Folklore had many a yarn to spin about the infamous Mulligan’s Mansions.


Next on the left is the Cross Green Pub now an American Diner

At the bottom of Easy Road, now houses, was the coal stathe.

And opposite ‘The Captain’s Table’ café used to be Bill Benn’s bike shop

Just a slight detour to take in that which used to be the ‘Ginnel’ but now without the necessity of having to allow the ‘Paddy Train’ to pass overhead is now open to the sky.

Continuing on East Street we now come to an old sewing shop now converted into a new non-conformist church which has sprung up called, ‘Love World’.

Then on To that which I call ‘The Grand Canyon,’ which are high blocks of flats which have grown up between The site of the Old Ellerby lane School and the site of the old Black Dog pub. The wind whistles through there on days that are not even windy. We’ll have to button our coats up while we walk through here which makes a warm day a cold day. Heaven help those who have a north facing flat.
The beautiful St Saviour’s Church can still be seen through the middle

Now, onto the old St Saviour’s School – now flats, and beyond was The Red House Nursery now demolished as are and the fondly remembered old, red brick, East Streets Flats. Even now when I turn the corner I expect to see them.

Further along East Street and looking to the right. Mount St Mary’s College comes into view across the old ‘Paddy’s Park’.


Remember the round tower of Robert Mart’s Printers. That is flats now too.

Here now is the old Northern Veneers building. Flats with a pent house on top

And onto Leeds Parish Church is now grandly named Leeds Minster

And just another little detour to take in Brussels Street and view the last resting place of our dear old iconic Market District Boys Club

Enter Leeds bus station now like an Airport concourse, Arrivals and departures flashing up in lights – I’m impressed, it’s fine.

Through Leeds Kirkgate Market – less stalls than before but still vibrant


Are we going to the Mecca Ballroom, in The County Arcade where Jimmy Saville held sway with his tartan hair?

Nah! Here’s Albion Place, we’ll go to the Scala Ballroom instead, it was always my favourite, anyway.

Now I’m going to have my flask of coffee in lovely Queens Square before I walk all the way back.

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;Click’ to enlarge


6 Responses to “Wandering Down from East Leeds to the City Centre Today”

  1. Elaine Beaumont Says:

    Hi Pete,
    That was brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed that walk. ( not that I ever did, walk that is) but I honestly don’t know how you remember so much detail.

  2. Edward Blackwell Says:

    Hiya Pete, thanks for that stroll down memory lane, I was staggered to see the Bus station, having not been into Leeds bus station for such a long time. There was no covered walkway or seats last time I was there, the toilets and Ladies Waiting Room were on a curved corner that led to the old open market. Quarry hill flats had disappeared and become a car park, and the roads were being modernised, all changed now to say the least, can’t remember when I last used a Bus. Traffic wise it’s an area I avoid, because I always seem to find I’m on a road that leads out of the city centre. When I was a Lad we used to go down lavender Walk onto Railway Street across Marsh lane, down through the arches, past the Abattoir, then into the Market. Times change and we have to change with them or get left behind, I still haven’t got a modern iphone and I now find more and more things that the old PC doesn’t do. Thanks again Pete for an informative update on the old stamping grounds..

  3. Doug Farnill Says:

    Thanks Pete,
    I must confess that I neither recognise nor remember much of what you pictured on your walk. How things have changed since 1952 when I last rode up and down that way in the number 61 or 62 bus from East End Park. In a philosophic vein it says something about the rate of change against the span of our human life. Some things change so slowly for us that we don’t notice them, and others (such as the changes of things on your walk over the 70 years of my leap of perception) gallop so rapidly. You do us all a great service in documenting these developments. Once again, a great interesting blog.

  4. peterwwood Says:

    Continuity and change,Doug. Things change all around us but there is a thread inside us that goes right back to our childhood. Now I’m being a philosopher.

  5. Doug Farnill Says:

    Continuing the philosophical discussion Peter. It is interesting how we continue to experience ourselves as the same entity even though there is probably not a single bit of us that remains the same. I wonder whether even a single cell of my body remains the same from the days when I went up and down the route of your walk, and yet I am the same person and something or some process has preserved the continuity and identity. Maybe someone who knows more about biology and anatomy can shed a bit of light on the process. I am the same me as I always was, and yet most of me or all of me has changed. It is a pretty important issue, for example am I at 88 the same person, who at 7 years old, stole a few pennies from the mantel shelf when my mother wasn’t keeping such a careful check, and therefore why should I still feel responsible? Do our dark deeds linger with us, or, like the new buildings that appear on your walk, do they get swept away and replaced with something new?

  6. peterwwood Says:

    How very profound, Doug. I’m sending you an advanced copy of April’s tale which sort of advances in the same vein. Please don’t comment on it until it appears on the April ‘blog’.

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