We Had Two Red Roads And a Black ‘un in Old East Leeds


    We Had Two Red Roads and a Black ‘un in old East Leeds.

In our magical East Leeds playground of the 40s and 50s we had two Red Roads and a Black ‘un. All were portals to adventure.

Click on picture map to enlarge

The one I have marked on the sketch as Red Road (one) slanted off from opposite the Briudgefield Pub and had a gate and a keeper’s cottage. In the early days the gate keeper was not always accommodating in letting us kids through – not sure why – but a gate couldn’t keep we kids out anyway there were loads of other places you could get through onto Red Road. The road was quite wide and hard cored in the red shale that originated as spoil from the numerous local mine shafts in the area. Its proper name was Halton Moor Road and as the name implies it led to Halton and Osmondthorpe. We had a couple of families of kids attending St Hilda’s School that lived at Osmondthorpe and they walked all the way from there to school down red Road and even went home for dinner as school dinners did not materialise until the 1950s. How did they manage that in the school dinner hour and a half?

That Red Road was one of the two arteries that allowed us old East Leedsers access to our favourite walk to Temple Newsam. You could go down either Red Road or Black Road, For the sake of this tale I will take you down Black Road We would set off with our bottle of water and a pinch of sugar in a twist of newspaper to eat with our stick of tuskey (rhubarb) that we would harvest on the way, wild rhubarb grew everywhere in the area. Our first stop was at the iconic Red Walls for a paddle in the Wyke Beck. Everybody knew Red Walls. Look out for glass in the feet. Then the left turn to Austin’s Farm with the duck pond and the resident flocks of ducks and geese. Then it was on to the cyclists delight ‘The Basins’ Old mining depressions in the ground which provided a ‘wall of death’ ride for cyclists to go up and down them or ride daringly around the edges. Woe betides you if you went down them without enough speed to get up the other side, then your bike would tipple back over the top of you. The great late Keith Waterhouse, who had once lived in Halton, would make nostalgic pilgrimages to ‘the basins’. Then it was through the blue bell woods and onto the delights of Temple Newsam itself. There was a tram terminus at Temple Newsam to ride home if you were tired but of course we never could afford the fare.

It was the other Red Road, the one I have marked Red Road (two)that had most of my attention as a child. My parents used to call it ‘The New Road’ so they must have seen its origin. I’m not sure what was its intended purpose, it was about 500yards long, only five or six yards wide and had stumps at the bottom and the Paddy lines at the top, so it was not open to vehicular traffic but it was a portal from Knostrop Lane to Black Road and that  too was hard cored in red shale.

Before I was old enough to face the rigors of traffic (which was not that much in the 40s and 50s anyway) Mam would allow me to walk up the little Red Road on Saturdays to watch the giant St Hilda’s football team in their claret and blue quarters and the Mount St Mary’s giants in their green and white quarters, they shared the bottom pitch of Snakey Lane weeks about.

I played for both these teams when I too was an adult but we never seemed such giants as those old guys. There were terra- cotta dressing rooms at the top and bottom of the playing pitches, grass tennis courts and a bowling green. There was also a drinking fountain with a chained up iron cup. Amazingly we never poisoned each other! In summer it would be up the same little Red Road to watch east Leeds Cricket Club. Happily one of the few east Leeds institutions that have stood the test of time, they are still with us, well done East Leeds CC.

I had an ulterior motive for watching East Leeds play cricket, In addition to watching the cricket I would smuggle my railway stock book out with me, I was not allowed to go to Neville Hill to collect train numbers but I could manage to collect them as they passed behind the cricket field, of course the trees that mask the railway today were not so high and my eyesight was better.

On November the 5th we would have our bon fires on little Red Road. We were allowed to have them on there as it did not damage  the Tar Mac of a normal road. There were grassy banks a third of the way up that provided seating accommodation for all the families that made it an annual event where all the neighbourhood met up it and we had parkin and toffee apples, it was a big night for us as we had been collecting ‘chumps’ since the August School holidays.  We managed to keep that fire going for about three nights before it gave out. Of course in 1945 we had three bon fire nights one for VE day one or VJ day and the proper Guy Folks night. That year chumps were getting a bit scarce.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is molly-in-rhubarb-sheds.jpg

Half way up little Red Road, on the left was the rhubarb sheds, where cultivated rhubarb was forced to grow in the dark. These were sinister places where we were not supposed to go but of course we got in everywhere that’s a kid’s vocation. They were low, dark spooky places and large vats were let into the ground where liquid manure was stored to feed to plants, I don’t know

how you would have got out if you had fallen in? Although sometimes older members were allowed to help the farmer officially see picture.

Off to the right were a couple of old mine shafts, they intrigued me, I have always been interested in industrial architecture, bits of old masonry, old disused rail lines wat did that used to be where was that line going? I have looked on old maps to try and find the names for those old shafts but never been successful. They has not been filed in so they, like all danger, drew us to look into their depths they both had crumbling brickwork headings you climb them and look down to the level of the water down below. One was circular the other was square at the top but tuned circular part way down. On one the brickwork was broken away at the side allowing folk to get rid of unwanted rubbish down there. The thing was: there was only a deeply rutted cart track leading away from the shafts to Cross Green lane, no sign that there had ever been a metalled road to transport the coal away, so I came to the conclusion they were probably old Victorian coal mines particularly as the Victorians were notoriously reckless with making pit shafts safe, and the cart track indicated that it was probably horse drawn transport that took the coal away.

The whole area was first savaged by open cast mining in the 1960s and then concreated over for the Cross Green Industrial Estate. Anyone arriving newly into the area today would never know of the provenance of the area as a childhood paradise.

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5 Responses to “We Had Two Red Roads And a Black ‘un in Old East Leeds”

  1. Douglas Farnill Says:

    Thanks Peter, and especially for that informative map which helped me connect with my visual memories of the area from the late 30s to 40s. I remember Red Walls and taking jam jars down there to bring home sticklebacks which never lived more that a few hours after we got them home even though they were well fed with breadcrumbs. I have a vague memory of a large diameter pipeline that crossed somewhere near Red Walls that we used to climb and walk on. Happy days, tusky, jam jars, fishing, and the occasional going into the cricket ground to see a few overs bowled – though didn’t it cost 6 pence? Or did we sneak in free? Peter, thank you for running this blog. It is very pleasant, each month, to be reminded of a few things of yore.

  2. Bruce Brewer Says:

    We used to trawl in the pond down Red Road. 2 of us walked in up to our knees and dragged a sack between us and then looked to see how many sticklebacks and newts we’d caught!

    On Fri, Jan 1, 2021, 12:15 AM East Leeds Memories wrote:

    > peterwwood posted: ” We Had Two Red Roads and a Black ‘un in old East > Leeds. In our magical East Leeds playground of the 40s and 50s we had two > Red Roads and a Black ‘un. All were portals to adventure. Click on picture > map to enlarge The one ” >

  3. beauair Says:

    Happy New Year Peter.
    Thank you for this months memories. Our Office girl used to walk from the bottom of Halton Moor estate to work down (I think) the Red Road. What a magical childhood we had in the 30’s 40’s and 50’s.
    Didn’t see any danger and nor did we fear anything. Keep the tales coming of a paradise lost.
    Girl in the Green Mac.

  4. Eric Says:

    Very true Pete that new arrivals would have no idea of what the area used to be like with it’s myriad opportunities for sport & pleasure.
    Your recollections encapsulate very well the character of that era & has revived pleasant memories . I can picture in my mind’s eye those places you describe .The only part I don’t remember is the cart track running from Red Road 2 to Cross Green Lane & as you know, I used to traverse RR2 regularly on my way to the Snake Lane farm as part of my Sunday paper round. Mind you, by the time I got there, it was near the end of my round & all I was focused on was getting home for a full English

  5. Jacqueline Grace Hainsworth Says:

    My recollections of Black Road was going with a neighbour with her home made wheelbarrow a wooden box on wheels,we would go down and pick up coal bits that had fallen from the wagons that went up and down,it was such fun,didnt understand that it needed to be done so we could keep warm in winter.I loved my life and growing up in the East End Park.Lived there from birth 1942 to 1966 when I got married,such happy times.

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