Archive for the ‘1940s’ Category

THE GOLDEN YEARS OF STEAM

October 20, 2014

 

THE GOLDEN YEARS OF STEAM

This month we have lovely little poem from old favourite, Roy Marriott, which allows us in to some footplate tales from Bill.

The Golden Years of Steam

By Roy Marriot

Rumbling, Clattering, pistons shattering

The intense silence of the night.

White steam billowing, in a long stream following

The engine speeding in its flight.

Carriages swaying, snake like shuddering

Staccato rhythms crossing metal points

Intensified screeching ear splitting hissing

Feels like the train is breaking at the joints.

 

Now through the tunnel, distant lights flickering

And the moon seems to be racing alongside

Passengers warm and sleeping, dreaming no doubt

Of adventures waiting at the end of the ride.

 

Rail travel was exciting, back in the old days

Before the airways were filled with jets and planes.

Train spotters in their hundreds crowded the stations

Marking down each peculiarity of the trains.

 

Being a child in the late forties

Often meant journeys to the seaside

With promise of rock and golden sands

Stopping at every station before reaching our destination

Then walking with my parents, hand in hand.

 

How I love to travel, brings back many memories

All the days seemed sunny, full of fun

No computer or television, making our own pleasures

And a bedtime story when the day was done.

 

Roy Marriott.

 

BILL’S FOOTPLATE TALES

Bill, alas no longer with us, was an old workmate of mine and he would regal us with tales of his life as a fireman and later as a driver on the footplate in the age of steam.

One tale I enjoyed in particular was of the time Bill was caught short on the engine. There were no toilets on the engine itself of course nor was provision to get through to the carriage toilets – so evidently the common practice to relieve oneself was out of the side of the engine while it was passing through a tunnel. On this particular day Bill had left it a bit late and he was still in action as the train emerged from the tunnel, resulting in him spraying a gang of platers who were working on the line and were happily standing back to allow the engine to pass safely. Can you imagine this scene from the plater’s point of view? There they were standing back and waving pleasantly to an engine exiting the mouth of the tunnel and then the amazement of coming to terms with the sight of this bloke standing on the footplate and p…..g all over you as it flew past.

Bill had the ability to tell a tale and make it live He described as how he had been a fireman on a train bringing a line of empty goods wagons over the Pennines from Lancashire into Yorkshire. It transpired that the driver, who Bill described as a little gnome like creature who smoked a clay pipe, had been a bit lazy and he had not bothered to couple up the brakes on the wagons as he believed, wrongly as it seems, that the brake on the engine would be enough to hold a train which was only pulling empty wagons. Bill said we came flying down the Yorkshire side of the Pennines and seemed to be gathering speed rather than slowing down. We would meet the main line at the bottom and if a red light was showing we would have to stop to allow the express to pass. Bill said, I said to the drier, ‘don’t you think you should put the brakes on Burt’ and when I turned round he was wedged in the corner bracing his foot against the brake pushing for all his might, his clay pipe dangling out of his mouth. ‘What do you think I’m doing I’ve had the b…..brake on for five minutes and we’re not slowing down’. We shot out onto the main line at the bottom like a cork out of a bottle and thank God there was nothing coming.

Another of his engine tales concerned a tunnel again – on this occasion Bill was the fireman and he became concerned that the train was travelling very fast considering it had to stop at a station which came immediately after the tunnel, ‘Don’t you think we are going a bit fast for such and such a station?’ Bill had said to the driver. Bloody Hell!’ had replied driver, ‘I’d forgotten we were stopping there today!’ With that he had banged on the anchors so hard that the wheels locked and the train slid out of the tunnel and passed the platform with sparks flying from the wheels. An old lady happened to be waiting for the train and unabashed the driver lifted his hat to her and said, ‘I’ll be with you in a minute madam’, as the train slid past. In fact, they had to get permission from the stationmaster to change the signals and allow the train to reverse back to the platform. But yet again it’s the concept from the lady’s point of view that is so funny – the idea of a train sliding out of a tunnel, wheels locked and sparks flying and the sight of the engine driver tipping his hat as it slid past.

 hopper at east end pard

Hopper at East End Park

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From Rags to Riches

April 1, 2012

                              FROM  RAGS  TO  RICHES

 

          Another great tale of East Leeds by Eric Sanderson

Did I say “ Riches “ ?.  Well hardly , that must have been a daydream – a “senior” moment.

When we were young, most things were scarce, especially money. So we had to find ways of trying to earn the odd shilling and these are just a few of the ways that some of my friends and I tried out.

The days I refer to are now over 60 years since so the memory might just be a little hazy – but never mind, a little inaccuracy can often save an awful lot of explanation

Sometime in the late 40’s , probably following the drain on resources of WW2, there was a shortage of most raw materials and people were encouraged to recycle, often by way of a financial incentive to do so.

The most obvious of these was the couple of coppers paid for the return of some types of bottle which for young people who were mostly skint , could be a useful way of garnering enough to fund a trip to the front end of the Princess Cinema, which at that time was six old pence,  two & a half pence in today’s money.

Trawling the neighbourhood for such bounty could only be done at infrequent intervals without making a nuisance of yourself and most people in any case wanted to take advantage of the benefit themselves. There was also a practical problem to overcome. Most shops would only accept returns if they were purchased originally from them, especially if they were being returned by an urchin who’d simply scavenged them, and so trying to sort the empties that way was a bit of a nightmare, but usually worthwhile

            Glass itself must have been in short supply because a small sum was also paid for a collection of clean jamjars which were much more plentiful as there was no refund for returning these to the shop. But, the returns were pitiful and often meant a nasty job of having to clean out unwashed jars so this was money spinning of last resort.

            Even wrought iron railings which normally surrounded schoolyards were in demand and were removed from many schoolyards, even those fronting onto busy roads, such was the need for iron & steel for the post war boom, but this was a job for the serious scrap dealer, not your common or garden youth opportunist.

            The best opportunities, we thought at the time, lay in the collection of waste paper and old clothes. Paper, usually old newspaper, was freely available but was a filthy activity and required a place to keep the paper dry and store the large quantities needed to justify the effort to generate even a modest return.

            Three of us decided one time that we’d try this out and worked our way round the area, knocking on doors for weeks on end , coaxing reluctant householders and storing the harvest in a disused garden air raid shelter. The day came when we decided we had a sufficient haul to cash in but the problem was, we had to get the stuff to a yard some way from where we lived. I seem to remember the depot was somewhere in Hunslet.

It was far too heavy and bulky to carry but we managed to salvage the sub frame from an old pram onto which we piled all the paper. The pram base wasn’t too sturdy to begin with and when we stacked it up to a height about up to our heads, it began to look distinctly creaky. What’s more, it was top heavy and difficult to maneouvre, having a mind of it’s own much like the nightmarish supermarket trolley we’ve all experienced.

Nonetheless, one of our crew , (JT), was of good Yeoman stock – very strong in the back , and put himself forward as driver whilst the other two of us would navigate.

            Off we set and the first part of our journey wasdown EastParkView, a not inconsiderable incline and the laden pram began take on a cussed life of it’s own, rocking and rolling almost to the point of instability on it’s way down the hill.

JT struggled manfully but even he couldn’t prevent the overladen wheels from starting to buckle and throw the whole carriage around , developing an alarming lurch as it began to run out of control down the hill.

Fortunately, the road levelled out towards East Park Parade and so the transport began to slow down much to our relief but, in the process of gathering speed, the stacked up newspapers had begun to blow off in increasing numbers. Whilst JT was wrestling with the control of the bogie, the other two of us were scrambling to retrieve the rapidly disappearing pile of newspaper, with only a limited amount of success.

Coming to rest near East Park Parade and having recovered as much of the newspaper we could (much of it was still blowing around in the wind several days later !), we had to take stock of our position. One solution, to sit on top of the paper pile was tried, but the wheels took on an even more threatening warp and bearing in mind we had some way to go, dispensed with this idea.

We finally settled for tying the paper bundles down with string and rigging up a set of “reins” so that we could all help control the downhill charge of our rickety old carriage.

            Eventually making it to our destination and weighing in our motherload , we came away with the princely sum of about 2 shillings, to be split three ways. Not much for all that effort. So we decided that would be the end of waste paper collection because one form of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and yet expecting a different outcome and the difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has it’s limits.

            Nevertheless, undeterred by our unprofitable wastepaper project, we thought collecting old clothes might work better. It would be much lighter work ,not so filthy and we’d learned a lot about securing the load and controlling the transport from our previous escapade.

            So off we set once again, all around the district, collecting discarded clothing and “rags”. Of course we didn’t have the faintest idea about sorting them into material types, they were all the same to us. This time, the depot was somewhere along Dewsbury Road, not too far from Leeds Bridge and the journey there went without too much mishap even though the pram was  decidedly on it’s last legs by now and only just made it before expiring beyond repair.

            On arrival at the depot, a stinking dark hole in the wall type of place, we had to “negotiate” with an ageing harridan weighing  at least 25stone and sporting a  moustache that any self respecting Mexican Bandit would have been proud of. She also had a fag with about 2 inches of drooping fag ash hanging from the corner of her mouth which was probably responsible for her hacking cough and deep baritone voice.

            Digressing slightly but on a similar theme, writing this reminded me of an occasion when , many years later, we were taking our 3 or 4 year old grandson for a bus ride. He was between us , kneeling on the seat and facing backwards. He was unusually silent, staring straight behind us for a while and then said in the loud voice young children use – “ Grandpa, why has this lady behind us got a moustache?”. I hastily tried to deflect attention away by saying “oh, do you mean that one on the pavement there?” . “No” he said, “this one right behind us”. I turned and sure enough, the lady in question did have a somewhat luxuriant upper lip growth . Apologies only seemed to make matters worse, drawing attention to the fact and so embarrassed were we that we dropped off at the next stop, miles from our destination to await the next bus home.

            Anyway, back to the rag merchant. She contemptuously tipped our cargo onto the floor, tossing aside much of it and growling that it was of no use. I think that she was interested in only woollen articles and much of ours was probably cotton, rayon and the like. Our haul was soon reduced to a fraction of what we’d collected and we were once again heading for a reality check, finishing up with even less the we’d coined from the wastepaper collection.

            Downcast, we trudged home with a few coppers in our pocket, not even enough to finance a visit to the Princess, which in itself would have been a disappointing return.

            Our spirits soon recovered though, as young people’s do, whilst we thought up our next moneymaking enterprise, which turned out to be offering ourselves as odd job boys , from shopping to garden tidying. Oddly enough, that didn’t work out either but, had we three failed entrepreneurs realised it, there was a valuable business lesson to be learned as a result of those escapades – never put more into a venture that you can reasonably expect to get in return, that is only a certain route to failure.

On the other hand, if you don’t succeed – you can always redefine success !.

What a great tale, Eric!

                                      Next month look out for another £10 Pom tale

When the War Was Over

July 31, 2010

WHEN THE WAR WAS OVER.
A night to remember was the night when the lights went on again in Leeds. We had never seen neon signs or shop windows brightly lit before. Thousands of people assembled in the centre of Leeds for the big turn on. Members of the family took me to witness the event first hand. We walked down into town and had been promised a lift back in a big car – it was to be a Humber, I was looking forward to having a ride in the Humber more than seeing the lights go on, of course I didn’t know what to expect never having seen lights on this scale before. In the event there were so many people milling about that wherever the car had been parked it was completely swamped by the crowd, we never found it. So we had to walk all the way home again but the night was indeed memorable: Vicar Lane and Briggate was so crammed with folk we never got as far as City Square and when the lights all went on together at a given signal it was certainly a sight to behold.

Petrol had been unavailable for private motoring during the war and in the immediate post-war period but their came a point when a very basic ration became available. It was an exciting time to see people bringing dusty old motorcars out of garages where they had been ‘moth balled’ for the duration of the War. Ford eights, Ford tens, Morrises, Standards, and Hillmans. It was brilliant to see them taken off bricks and polished up. My dad had a three-wheeler Morgan; he’d kept it in a garage in Yates’s yard. I’d never seen it before; it had two wheels at the front and one at the back and shaped like a boat. Some of the controls were on the steering column, doing away with some of the pedals. All in all it was a bit of a ‘boneshaker’ and I was disgusted that it could only do about fifty-five miles an hour flat out. In fact the fastest I ever saw it go was when my dad used to turn the engine off and let it free wheel down hill to save petrol, it once got up to sixty miles an hour coming down Garaby Hill in this manner, nearly bouncing itself off the road in the process. We kids believed a car’s top speed to be all-important. We would peep through car windows at the speedo and whatever was the top speed on the speedo we thought was the top speed achievable by the vehicle ‘Look at this car ’ we would whistle, ‘It can do a hundred miles an hour!’ of course that was only the clock the car itself might only be capable of half of that. At the time I wished we’d had a proper car, one with four wheels and that could do eighty miles an hour, but gosh, how I wish I had that old Morgan now it would be worth a fortune!

When the War was over the lads came home, everywhere seemed to be a hive of activity.
They were each issued with a ‘demob suit’ – usually black or blue pin stripe, a pair of black shoes and a trilby hat. You could spot demobbed lads a mile off; they still all looked the same even though they were now out of uniform. They were also given ‘demob pay’, although I would guess it would only be a pittance. The ones who had been prisoners of war though and had not been paid for a lengthy period were probably due a tidy sum. A few started up in their own enterprises by buying out army surplus goods with their lump sums, some of these eventually grew into successful business empires. It was the age of the ‘spiv’; some of these guys could put their hands on anything that was in demand at the time and turn it into a profit.

A few of the lads who had been prisoners of war had learned the doubtful art of making whisky stills – quite illegally of course. Nevertheless, we had one going in our washhouse. An uncle of mine and a lad newly demoded opened a garage in the grounds of the Old Hall. It smelled of oil and old leather and was filled with motorbikes with magical names like: Norton, Triumph, Ariel, AJS, Panther, Matchless, BSA and Velocette. After a night working on the bikes they would retire to ‘The Fish Hut’ pub or ‘The Black Dog’ and sink a few pints and I would think what a great life, I’m going to have a crack at that when I’m old enough. And so I did, but somehow those glamorous times of the 1940s could not be re-created.

Things gradually returned to normal after the War, eventually we kids just got beyond the stage of playing out, we were ready to ‘spread our wings’ and there didn’t seem to be another generation of kids coming along to take our place. In the 1960s the houses of Knostrop, which would have sold for telephone number prices in today’s housing market had their woodwork stripped out and burned, and the houses themselves, bulldozed into the ground in order to make way for a concrete industrial estate. Ironically the building, they erected on the very spot where they had torn down our yard went down to the ground itself in a fire estimated to have cost a million pounds. No! It wasn’t me – honest! But could we have ever imagined that our old yard could be the site of anything worth a million pounds?

Pauline as the last of the gang to leave the yard is honoured by having the last word.
‘I was the last of the gang to leave Knostrop; I was in my late twenties. We had to leave owing to re-development. I remember the day we left our lovely old cottage, the only home I knew and loved. I burst into tears I couldn’t help it, I was so unhappy to be leaving. It didn’t seem to matter that we were moving to a new home with hot and cold water, bathroom, indoor toilet, central heating and easy access to town and the shops. I had never been used to mod cons so I didn’t miss them.

The older inhabitants of Knostrop were turfed out of this semi-rural ideal to more modern urban living. But modern conveniences do not necessarily make up for a friendly rural community. ‘You could take the folk out of Knostrop but could you take Knostrop out of the folk!’ Some of the older ones found it difficult to settle and perhaps passed away earlier than they should. Such is evidently the price of progress – and Knostrop – like the War, lives on only in our memories. But when we are gone – who will remember Knostrop then?

Wartime in Knostrop

June 30, 2010

Blog Knostrop at war.Wartime in Knostrop (East Leeds) is the story for July – but before that I would like to bring to attention that the film: Brought to Justice – produced by the children of Ellerby Lane School (Cross Green) in 1953 and directed by Mary Miner, at the time a schoolgirl herself, has come to light. Anyone interested in receiving a copy,  now on DVD or who has any information regarding this film – would they please leave a comment on here.   Regarding Wartime in Knostrop these are my own memories of life in Knostrop during the Second World War. I was born in Knostrop in December 1937 and just about remember: the air raids, the black out, food deprivation, the battle of Britain and the ‘black market’.   

                                     WARTIME in KNOSTROP

                                                By Pete Wood

Folk would paint you pictures of the fruit we could expect when the war was over: bananas, oranges, grapes and pomegranates. Pomegranates turned out to be a great disappointment for me, they were built up to be something so special and yet when I finally got to try one it tasted of nothing – just a bit of red water and a seed, if you were unlucky enough to put the yellow part in your mouth it tasted really bitter.  A thriving ‘black market’ was alive and well during the War: it was considered to be antisocial of course but nevertheless like all forbidden fruits: exciting. I reckon most folk would take a chance of delving into the black market on a small scale if they thought they could get away with it.  I suppose it was a bit like being a bit ‘sparing’ with the truth on an income tax return, ‘nice work if you could get it!’ Most folk wouldn’t find it untoward to try for a bit of butter or sugar ‘under the counter’ if they could. People would be counted as lucky rather than as rogues if they had managed to hang a leg of pork up in their pantry (there were few fridges around for domestic use in the forties). Others might be a bit more daring and have a drum of petrol buried in the garden. Of course, there’d be a real flap on if police appeared on the scene but it was worth a bit of danger if you managed to get away with it and the blackout made it easier.

People who had not been called up into the armed forces for some reason or other, perhaps because they were too old or less than a hundred percent fit, would be called upon to do Civil Defence duties such as: fire watching or as air raid wardens.  Most of these old guys took their job real seriously and I’m convinced it gave them a new lease of life to know they were contributing to the war effort.  Every night they would be out in the yard or streets keeping watch; if you opened the door and let out the smallest chink of light you were likely to hear a resounding chorus of  ‘Put that light out!’ One of Knostrop’s mansions – ‘Knostrop House,’ better known to as; ‘Ryders’, the name of a former occupant – had a somewhat eccentric, foreign servant; the old fire watcher guys were convinced she was a German spy using a torch to signal to enemy aircraft. ‘There she goes again, the silly old b…’ would be the cry if they saw a torch flash in the vicinity of the mansion and off they would go to sort it out.

The blackout lasted for several years, during that time, we had no street lamps, and the car headlights were cut to mere slits so they could not be seen from the air. I had an uncle who had the job of masking out the traffic lights outside the Dyneley Arms at dusk on weekends. The Dyneley Arms being a pub located on the crossroads at the top of Pool bank. He had to walk many a mile to complete this task and then had to return across the fields in the dark having completed the job.

There was one particular period in the early 1940s when the wail of the sirens would wake us almost every night. It was the signal that an air raid was imminent.  Coats would go on over night attire: in fact there was a special all over garment produced just for this occasion: the ‘siren suite’. That’s where the name originated. If you were little you would be plucked up into the air and rushed to the air raid shelter. I can remember my father tripping and falling with me but he had me again before I even touched the ground. Some families had their cellars reinforced to act as a shelter, which may have protected the family from falling masonry but as was the case with almost any shelter; a direct hit and you’d had it!  Some others had communal shelters built of brick.

Our shelter was the ‘Anderson’ type made from corrugated iron with a semi-circular roof. The shelters came in kit form and had to be assembled by the householder with the aid of diagrams, spanners and numerous nuts and bolts. Then the shelter had to be sunk into the ground in a pre-prepared hole. Maximum protection was achieved by piling earth across the top, which would eventually sprout weeds and miscellaneous vegetation. As the floor of the shelter was now probably below the water table it would likely fill with water. ‘Duck boards’ were provided in order to keep feet off the damp ground but these tended to float on the top of the water.   On one occasion when my mother was showing our shelter off to a neighbour who hadn’t yet received hers she was too late to stop the neighbour stepping onto the floating boards and disappearing up to the waist in cold water. To offset the water problems families were issued with ‘stirrup pumps’ with which to pump out the shelters before darkness on a daily basis, the German bombers rarely came in daylight.    

Inside the shelter we had a stove, which smoked badly and I can still smell and an oil lamp we had to provide minimum light.  There were things inside the shelter to keep me amused that were not allowed outside; no doubt the intention being to make the shelter like a treat for me and not as a place of fear. The first time I heard the guns go off; we had an ack ack battery nearby – we called them ‘pom poms’ I evidently said, ‘Who’s knocking at the door?’ Seemingly it gave the rest a laugh – but that’s one I can’t remember personally. The dog we had at the time though heard the guns and ‘took his hook’ we never saw him again.

Pauline has the following account of air raids at Knostrop: ‘I remember my mam waking me up and wrapping a blanket around me to carry me out to the air raid shelter while the sirens were going and the guns were firing. The artillery guns were quite close, I don’t know quite where, further down the lane, I think near the woods. It was very frightening the whole house was shaking. The tiny windows had been taped with brown sticky tape in a diamond pattern so they would not shatter into pieces. One particular night when mam was running to the shelter she went ‘smack’ into a black car, which had been parked outside the door. Being so dark (remember we could not show any kind of light during that which we called ‘the blackout’) anyway mam was heard to shout: ‘They’ve got me! They’ve got me!’ The shock was so great she thought she’d been shot.

When the aircraft came over you could distinguish the sound of our aircraft from the sound of the German bombers, theirs had a more irregular engine note than ours. People would ask, ‘Is it one of ours or one of theirs?’ and you would be able to tell them. The Germans had: Dorniers, Junkers and Heinkels, these were two engine bombers. We had the Lancaster and the Halifax bombers which both had four engines as well as several different types of two engine bombers. The Americans, who carried out their bombing raids by day, had ‘Flying Fortresses’, they were huge with four engines and gun blisters everywhere. They also had a plane called a ‘Dakota’, which had two engines and as the furthest engine away tended to be masked by the fuselage it always seemed to the eye that one of the engines was missing. We became familiar with the sight of our aircraft for we saw them in daytime; you began to recognize them by their shape, number of engines and tail fins etc. You could only become familiar and recognize the German aircraft by their engine note because coming only at night you never actually saw them, just heard them. The spitfire made the smoothest noise of all, it was a hero and the note of its Rolls Royce Merlin engine is still unmistakable to any who heard it.  In the mornings after a raid we would hunt ‘shrapnel’ which was the rusty metal from exploded shell casings. My mother would say, ’Don’t pick anything nasty up’. She was probably referring to the explosive anti-personnel devices that the German’s were dropping, but with her saying ‘something nasty’ I was expecting these items to look something like dog droppings. In actual fact, between August 1940 and August 1942 there were 87 alerts in Leeds, but only nine air raids. In this period 77 people were killed and 327 injured. 197 buildings were destroyed and 7,623 damaged

(Illustrated History of Leeds)

We’d listen expectantly to the news bulletins too. At the end of each bulletin the announcer would say; ‘Today the RAF shot down ……enemy aircraft for the loss of….. our own.’ This would probably been ‘Battle of Britain’ time? We’d seemingly always managed to shoot down more of theirs than they had done of ours. I suppose there was a bit of propaganda in there somewhere but we didn’t realize it at the time. If we’d had a good day we’d cheer just like for a good football result.

One night towards the end of the war I can recall my father coming to the door; we were all playing out in the yard as usual, and he shouted, ‘Italy has surrendered; you can play out for an extra half hour tonight!’  We all cheered, I don’t quite know whether it was because Italy had surrendered or because we could play out for the extra half hour, to be honest most of us were really too young to realise the full implication of it all. 

I can also recall a period when for three or four nights in a row the whole sky would be absolutely filled with our bombers. They would begin coming over around dusk, wave after wave of them, lights winking, engines droning, and hardly any space between them. We were used to seeing a lot of aircraft flying overhead but this was obviously something quite special. I have wondered since if they were part of the invasion build up? Or perhaps they were the ‘thousand bomber’ raids we were to learn of later?    I’ve tried to picture in which direction they passed over the yard, it was definitely a north/south axis but was it south or was it north?  I think it was north but I’m not quite sure – after all it was a long time ago!  

Some of the female residents of the Knostrop, as of course elsewhere, were called to employment on ‘war work’, more commonly referred to as ‘munitions’. Large factories were located at Thorpe Arch, Barnbow and the Giant AVRO factory at Yeadon. Shifts would commence at all sorts of unsocial hours but the ladies would be ferried to work by trains or buses, sometimes the transport would go right inside the buildings themselves so that they couldn’t be seen from the air. Evidently discipline was very strict, absence without a very good reason was looked upon as a criminal offence and those who spoiled work were rather unkindly branded as ‘saboteurs’. So frightened were workers that they would be punished for even inadvertently making a ‘spoil’ the offending piece would often be brought home and disposed of, perhaps into the river, although a few attractive bits and pieces manage to find their way into toy boxes. In spite of all this security, numerous cigarette lighters managed to be made out of aeroplane parts; in fact one quip was that they had started making aeroplanes that looked like cigarette lighters!

I recall one chap appearing on the scene, his name was Albert. I realise now he must have been a deserter on the run. He kept moving from house to house to keep one step ahead of the red caps. Even through he was letting the side down no one would give him away.

When folk came home on leave they seemed so very glamorous in their khaki, royal blue of the RAF or navy blue of the Navy itself. It was the fashion for the men to have slicked, parted hair and perhaps a pencil thin moustache. They were all seemingly so tall and plucked you up into the air. One particular lad, Denis, he was aircrew, they were enduring terrible losses but he didn’t let it show when he was home, he was the chirpiest guy I ever saw. The ladies were glamorous too; I see long rolled hair, high heels, big coats with high collars and tight-knotted belts and lots of bright red lipstick. Peroxide blond hair had just made an entry too; ‘catty’ folk might remark, ‘Ah, but it’s out of a bottle!’ Perhaps it was but the end result looked good to me nevertheless.

Dad was in the Home Guard; they drilled in the grounds of St Saviour’s Home, more commonly known as Mother Agnes’s (more of St Saviours Home later). It was just across the road from us and you could hear the sergeant shouting orders when they were drilling on Sunday mornings. Sometimes Dad brought his rifle home, I recall it being leaned up behind the settee. Mam didn’t like it but I’m sure it wouldn’t have been loaded.

The Sound of Music

May 1, 2010

The Sound of MusicThe Sound of Music is another of Eric Sanderson’s great tale0w of old East Leeds and how he, and his friends, decided to form a skiffle group.

                          THE  SOUND  OF  MUSIC

For our group, the mid fifties saw our interest in music begin to burgeon, starting with our regular Saturday night record session. One of our friend’s parents had acquired a magnificent Radiogram with a stackable autochange mechanism which would hold about ten or twelve singles, 78’s at that. It also had a stylus which lasted for hundreds of plays, saving the excruciating need to change the needle after each record. Real progress ,where a half hour of uninterrupted music could be enjoyed.

            In those days , just before the era of R&R burst onto the scene here, we used to listen to , and believe it or not, even like modern jazz, the likes of Humphrey Littleton, Stan Kenton, Dave Brubeck and Louis Armstrong as well as the big bands of the day such as Duke Ellington & Ted Heath.

            Many a Saturday night was enjoyed with endless repetitions of “Bad Penny Blues” ,“Peanut Vendor” and Eric Delaney’s “Oranges & Lemons” along with a shared bottle of beer between about 5 or 6 of us.

            Then came the explosion of R&R to be followed by an offshoot known as Skiffle, one of the characteristics of which was that to form a group, only basic instruments were needed along with some improvised equipment equipment in order to attain  the required sound .

            So, we decided to form our own Skiffle group with Dave Carncross on lead guitar, myself on rhythm, Bryan on Tea Chest Base , Tony  on Washboard and Ronnie  on Glockenspiel.

Our practice sessions took place in Dave’s basement which was a ideal, away from prying ears and complaining neighbours.

Only Dave had any musical nous , which I think he’d inherited from his father, and in addition to guitar, could also play the drums.

            Without having any musical talent or cadence whatsoever, I managed to master a few basic chords whilst Bryan & Tony  seemed to just do their own thing. And the Glockenspiel ?. This may have been ok for a Tyrolean Oompah band but didn’t fit too well with the sound we were hoping to achieve.

            Anyway, we practised most days during the school holidays and managed to achieve what to us sounded a like a half decent result – with the exception of the Glockenspiel. Unfortunately, we had to retire Ronnie, much to his chagrin. He would sit there muttering obscenities at his ill treatment until we hit upon the idea of letting Ronnie become our MC, introducing us to the public in glowing terms & providing him with an important place in the band.

            At first he wasn’t too keen on this but, finally relenting made his first introduction :-

“Ladeez and Genelmun, I would like to introduce to you, the worst ******* band your ever likely to here in the whole of your miserable ******* lives. If you’ve paid to listen to this load of ****, you must be out of your tiny ******* minds and my advice is to leave now, before you’re carried out screaming “ – or words to that effect.

            At this, we were all in stitches and thought that Ronnie had found his true vocation. In fact he took to the task with relish and developed ever more lurid  intros as the days went by. He must have devoted time to studying and rehearsing them because he became ever more imaginative and proficient and of course, we all enjoyed them immensely  .

There was only one occasion when we fell foul of our activities and this was when we’d overlooked that Dave’s father was upstairs sleeping , following his working a late shift on the buses.

Down he stormed into the basement , startling us with his wrath ,as he was invariably an easy going and friendly man. “What’s all this racket ( racket ?? – we thought it was sweet music) , pack up & get out, NOW.” This nearly put paid to our aspirations but , a few days later after having calmed down and true to form and his better nature, he encouraged us back into our “studio” provided we respect his sleeping pattern. I seem to remember that he actually joined in once or twice, playing the snare drum ,at which he seemed very adept.

            Came the day when we thought we might be ready to go public for the first time and decided the venue would be Dave’s basement, which was big enough to hold a decent sized audience.

We never dreamed of asking for Dave’s parent’s consent and what they would have made of strangers wandering through their home & down into the basement, goodness only knows.

            Undeterred, we concocted a few hand made posters, calling ourselves “The Easy Riders” ( long before Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper hit the scene) and placing them on the gable ends of nearby streets, confident that a free “concert” would bring the punters in.

            As curtain up time approached, we waited nervously in our dressing room (the kitchen), wondering if this might be the start of something big.

            The clock ticked on, no sign of any takers and nor did any turn up, even though we waited patiently for what seemed an eternity. What more did people expect than the promise of a free concert and (possibly) light refreshment ( a glass of water was the plan). 

            It was at this point when I think the penny dropped that we really didn’t posses much talent and that our big break wasn’t going to happen.

            We reluctantly decided there and then to abandon our musical ambitions but, for a few weeks in the summer of ‘55, hope sprang eternal and we had lots of fun to boot.

Around this time, some of the local pubs began to employ live music which was, for young people , a welcome break away from the dead hand of the lone pianist and the WM Clubs which had little appeal for many. This was probably a result of changes in the licensing laws but local pubs such as the “Slip”, White Horse, The Shaftsbury, The Prospect etc all benefited from a huge surge in popularity with young people from miles around flocking to a night of cheap beer and free entertainment where early doors was essential if you were to get a good seat with room for a few friends.

Who knows, this may have been the dawn of “binge drinking”.

            One favoured Saturday night venue for us was the Beckett Arms at Meanwood, close by the Capitol Ballroom. This was one of the first pubs in Leeds to boast a live band ( and rotten beer) and was always full to the gunnels up until closing time, which in those days was 10pm within Leeds.

By this time, the buses had stopped running and so we had to walk all the back into town , calling at a couple of fish & chip shops en route, before heading home.

Towards the bottom end of Meanwood Rd was an area known as Camp Road which had a notorious reputation and through which we had to pass.

This was mostly uneventful as we used to give other groups a wide berth except on one occasion when we were stopped by a large group of “Teddy Boys”, resplendent in their knee length, velvet trimmed jackets and suede “brothel creepers”.

            Heavily outnumbered, we were held at knife point whilst they tried to relieve us of our meagre funds, there being not much left after a good Sat night. None of us were any means cowards but this was frightening experience and a refusal to submit was met by one of us being battered about the head with a heavy piece of timber, with much bloodshed resulting and threats of even worse unless we coughed up.

One weasel faced thug held a long, stiletto like blade close to my stomach whilst another searched my pockets. Strangely, they didn’t have the brains to remove anyone’s wrist watch which was probably the only things of any value most of us had on us.

At that time, the Public Dispensary on North Street was operative & so we promptly took our friend there who, by this time seemed to have lost a lot of blood , his clothing being soaked in it.

Several stitches later, he emerged with a huge head bandage and threatening retribution on the perpetrators.

Fortunately, he sensibly dropped the idea once he’d recovered but it put paid to our enjoyable Sat night sojourns at the Beckett Arms

Maud’s Tales

August 1, 2008

blog-maudMaud’s East Leeds tale is one of a series of delightful little tales uncovered in an attic clearance. Maud is no longer with us but she was a Richmond Hill lass and I’m sure she would have been happy for us to enjoy her little tales. Speciel thanks to that wise unknown who had the foresight to write down these little tales and preserve them for us to read in the present in that which was for them the future. They are reproduced here in her own words, to do otherwise would be a crime. 

Maud’s Tale

Maud’s East Leeds tale is one of a series of delightful little tales uncovered in an attic clearance. Maud is no longer with us but she was a Richmond Hill lass and I’m sure she would be happy for us to enjoy her little tales. Special thanks to that wise unknown who had the foresight to write down these little tales and preserve them for us to read in the present in that which for them was the future. They are reproduced here in her own words; it would be a crime to do otherwise. 

 

Maud’s Tales

Long ago there was a little girl and she lived in Ellerby Lane and down Ellerby Lane there used to be a passage, down the passage there were some more houses all choc-a-block with kids, old women and funny old men. And they all had long gardens and in one of these garden houses lived, Lizzie. Well Lizzie, she were a right cough drop. Oh she were a right cough drop! During World War One there were a little girl and she had to go and queue up at the Maypole for some butter, cos you see her mother had to get her father off to work, so you see that little girl – which were me – had to stand in a queue at the Maypole till it got to my turn. And at the back were Lizzie. This Lizzie were queer you know, telling tales of her life and all about it like and there were a policeman on. Now this policeman, I don’t know what nationality were yon but he didn’t understand Yorkshire, he never knew first thing about Yorkshire and he was keeping us all in order ya see. And we were moving up and moving up and butter’s getting scarcer and we were still moving when Lizzie shouts, ‘I’ve lost me snick!’ So the policeman says, ‘Thee snick?’ He didn’t say ‘thee’ because he wasn’t from Yorkshire. ‘Your snick, miss, what’s a snick?’

            ‘Now get away,’ she said. ‘Now doesn’t thee know what a snick is?’

            ‘No’ he said, ‘It isn’t your purse?’

            ‘No ‘t isn’t me purse, I can do nowt without me snick. Oohh! What am I gonna do?’ And I were next to ‘er and I were a right good Maud you know, we got down on our hands and knees in t’ snow, piled up with snow we were, to find t’ snick. So policeman comes back and he says, ‘Now then – now then,’ he said, right nice you know cos he didn’t belong to Yorkshire, ‘Now then – now then, what’s this snick?

            ‘Doesn’t thee know what a snick is?’ she says, ‘It’s a thing that pulls in, shoves up and pulls out, before thou can open door.’

And then there were another one in Ellerby Lane. She came a long while after this one. ‘im and ‘er and two kids. Never washed they were, black as ace of spades, both kids.  They’d nowt you know, right poor souls. Anyway she’d got a bit of money left, did wife. They hadn’t a bit of carpet at all and they went out and bought a blasted Hoover and they hadn’t a bit of carpet nowhere to be seen. And then he says, ‘I’ve bought her an evening dress. Well an evening dress, she never had a pinny on before. Well she put her evening dress on, all dressed up and her next door neighbour comes to me and she says,  ‘Well, what do you think Maud?’

            I says, ‘I don’t know.’

            She says, ‘ Bought her an evening dress.’

            I says, ‘Aye I, I reckon so.’

            And she says, ‘An she’s had to borrow a pair of knickers to go underneath it!’

We didn’t have washing machines then or spin driers you know. You took your clothes to the laundry and come home and hung em up to dry or had a bagwash – took ‘em to laundry and came and picked ‘em up afterwards. I got a lovely pair of curtains stolen. I never got them back, no. He swore I never sent ‘em. They were goodens an all. I never got nowt for ‘em. I had a larger or two that morning but I’m sure I wasn’t as bad as that?       

The best bit of fun were at pawn shop – top of Ellerby Lane. One poor women, she had nowt to take, see, but she’d been to butchers and got half a side of lamb. True tale this. It’s a long time ago but it’s true. She got this half side of lamb from the butchers and wrapped it up and the pawnbroker man was so used to seeing her he never used to examine her parcels. So he gave her the same as last week and put her parcel on the shelf. Well, weeks go on and all of a sudden the gasman comes up. Summat wrong with the drains. Well they had all the pavement up and everything. They were that bet with it. Then one day this pawnbroker, he was looking around and he says, ‘You know I think it’s coming from here, and it were lamb on top shelf. So she daren’t go there anymore and had to go to one up Richmond Hill.

            We always had tingalari man. Aye but I loves a bit of good music. We’d have a penneth of chips and be sitting outside singing Pasadena with the tingalari, up Ellerby lane, where the grass is greener. And there would always be a couple of lovers under the shop window. You know but we were lovely when we were young weren’t we? We didn’t have scraggy hair did we? And we didn’t wear breeches.

     *******************************************************

Maud is a star is she not? I have more East Leeds tales. I have even more of Maud’s tales, but is anybody interested? Is there anybody out there? Please giver me a sign!  

 

 

http:eastleedsmemories.wordpress.com/

is this site

(Don’t forget the back slash at the end – folk often do)

or

Peter_wood@talktalk.net

Would do fine

The Fifteen Steps

July 1, 2008

blog-15-stepsRoy Marriott relates the tale of a wartime adventure undertaken with a freind in the grounds of Temple Newsam Mansion, East Leeds. They thought they were on the trail of spies but if they had taken a sixteenth step it is unlikely they would be here today to tell us this tale. 

Ronald (Roy) Marriott & Burt Fawcett

The Fifteen Steps

(A True Adventure From 1943)

About half a mile from Morton Manor (Temple Newsam) is ‘ The Lost World of the Incas’, at least that’s what my pal Burt, and I called it. In actual fact it is an assortment of cinder rocks, piled in odd arrangements and scattered over an area of about one hundred square yards. Here and there were small groups of bushes and shrubs. In the center of our ‘Lost World’ was a grassy hillock, which had half buried rocks and odd slits covering most of this section. To add to the illusion there was a dry streambed that stretched and twisted from one end to the other. It was towards our haven that we made our way one warm and idyllic Saturday morning during the July school holidays of 1943. I was approaching the age of ten and my friend Burt was eleven almost twelve.

            The day seemed magical. The immense orange sun just resting momentarily 

on the horizon before making its majestic climb into the cloudless blue sky, appeared to gild the leaves of the nearby trees. Spears of golden light penetrated the denser areas where the trees thickened into woodland.

            A group of gypsies, busying themselves with early morning chores as we passed, reminded my of a poem we had to learn at school: ‘The gypsies lit their fires by the chalk pit gates anew, and the hobbled horses supped in early morning dew.’ Mind you. I never could remember the poet’s name.

            Once we had left the huddled figures of the gypsies we crossed a couple of fields and turned into the track that led virtually to our destination. We had often wondered about a rather large slit in the side of the center mound. For some unknown reason we decided to take a closer look. After removing the rubble and loose grass sods we realized that it wasn’t a slit but the upper edge of an archway of some sort. It took quite a while to remove enough of the loose earth to allow us to crawl through and drop onto what we discovered to be a stone floor.

            The light hardly managed to penetrate the dim interior. We decided to get our eyes used to the light before venturing further. We reckoned it must be a man made cave of some kind or even a tunnel built in case of an invasion, where secret messages could be taken from one place to another. Our imaginations seemed to be running away with us, but where did it go? We were both eager to find out as much as we could about the mystery.

            The width of the entrance was twenty-four footsteps; toe to heel and the walls were slightly concave. Eventually the time came for further investigation. We carefully inched forward into the darker depths of the tunnel, another interesting fact we found, was that there was a curving of the tunnel. As we crept forward we were looking back every few steps and after a while we noticed that the faint glimmer from the opening was disappearing sideways.

            Suddenly we stumbled and we both caught our breath, it was only a step across the floor of the tunnel but in the velvet darkness it felt as though we had fallen over the edge of a cliff. Burt and I held on to each other, deciding there and then to proceed only a little further. With our heels to the step we counted out the steps, slowly advancing into the void – thirteen, fourteen, fifteen…We both suddenly stopped, there was a sound and it seemed to be below us but so far away – and there was also a change in the air, a definite chillier feel to it. Burt, being older than me, told me to back up, ‘We’ll get back to the step, turn round and go back out of the tunnel,’ which is exactly what we did.

            Once out into the warmth of the daylight a plan of action was worked out. We decide to return at a later date with matches, candles and a drop of paraffin (my dad used this last item in a lamp in the outside toilet). We thought if necessary we could soak some dried twiggy branches in paraffin it would illuminate a larger area should we need to.

            For some reason or other we did not go back to our ‘Lost World’ for several weeks. In fact there was very little of the holiday left by the time we embarked on our ‘Journey into the Unknown’ as we had named our trip. We talked about what we might find at the end of the passage or tunnel or whatever it turned out to be. We though it might even be a secret agent’s escape route.

            The journey seemed to take twice as long as usual, but once there, no time was lost in sorting out the items, gathering some dry branches and dropping them through the enlarged entrance. Our first task was to get some light, so we lit some candles and placed them about on the floor. Then we lit two more candles and proceeded down the tunnel for several yards and repeated the process, realizing that the floor had a slight gradient. We hadn’t realised just how far we had covered on our first initial venture but after the fourth set of candles had been lit, just a few steps further brought us to the step, some eight inches deep. We placed these two candles on the step, lit our last two and made our way slowly forward.

            The light from the candles seemed to bounce back at us – there was a deeper impenetrable blackness immediately in front of us – and that sound again. ‘Don’t move!’ screamed Burt. I realized why a moment later when the truth dawned. We had come to the very edge of the passageway, where for some reason it had collapsed. We could feel a draught of cold air and the sound we had heard before was below us, running water, an underground waterway probably. We carefully gathered the branches together and splashed paraffin all over. Holding the bundle over the abyss we held the flame to one end and dropped it into the void.

The flames, fierce at first, died out well before we heard the faint splash as the bundle reached the water. It must have been hundreds of feet down. We both felt quite shaken as we gathered up the matches and the other remaining bits we had placed on the floor while we had looked over the edge. We counted the steps we had taken back to the eight-inch step across the tunnel floor. We counted just fifteen.

Memories of Brian Conoby

June 1, 2008

blog-brian-conoby Brian relates his early life in East Leeds, particularly: air raids, trips down Black Road to Red Walls, the Princess cinema and the local pubs. And local characters: Charlie Athe and his bike shop and Bog Earnie ‘chucker out’ at the Princess Cinema. 

The East Leeds Memories of Brian Conoby

I was brought up at 65, Charlton Road from the age of two years until we left in 1950. My grandma Mrs Bridget Conoby lived at 3, East Park View. Near to the ‘Slip Inn’. Near to my grandma’s house was a flat roofed house on the corner of Temple View and the Grove. It was more like a farm than a house, a Mr Sowery kept hens and there were some stables too. There were some flat roofed houses in Temple View known as the ‘Sharp and Thornton’s’. Times laundry was just across the way in Glensdale Mount, next was Wrigglesworth’s shop, which sold bags of coal. At the junction of Glensdale Road and East Park Road near to the railway there was a vinegar works called U.L.Y.C.U.M.

East End Park before the war had a small lake where the playground is now and there was a café near to the bowling green. The park was locked up on a night. The park ranger also looked after the ‘Rec’ located near Welbeck Road.

Black Road 

I fished at ‘Red Walls’ in the Wykebeck. Black Road was a good road in the 50s. I achieved 75 mph on a 350cc BSA down there! During the war, the army camp was equipped with big guns and searchlights. On a moonlit night, ‘Jerry’ would follow the river Aire up to bomb Leeds. Then the guns would start up. In the 60s, the TA used the camp for a few years.             You could sit out at the back of the Bridgefield pub on summer evenings. Opposite the Bridgefield, miners would catch the train down to the Waterloo Pit. The track followed Black Road past the Red Walls.

            I recall prisoners of war clearing the snow on East Park Parade. They had a big patch on their overalls. This would have been the very bad winter of 1947 when 12 inches of snow fell.

 

 

 

Charlie Atha

Charlie Atha had a cycle shop at the junction of Pontefract Lane and Lavender Walk. He lived in a house next door to the shop. He would build cycle wheels in the window of the shop on a jig – he could do anything with a bike! When I left St Charles’s School I started work at Bellow Machine Tool Company in Ellerby Lane, as an electrician’s mate. On one occasion a sewing mechanic who worked at the firm came off his bike in the wet tramlines, he was OK but the tram went over the back end of his bike and tore the backstays to bits. He gave the bike to Charlie who fitted new stays and re-sprayed it; it finished up ‘just like new’.  I have often gone to his shop about 2.00 p.m. and there would be a note on the door: ‘Gone to the Shepherd pub, back at 3.00p.m!  Before he moved to Pontefract Lane I was told he had a shop on ‘The Bank’ where he would hire out cycles.

            Bellow Machine Tool Company made sewing machines and steam presses for clothing firms. When I worked there, Ronnie Hilton, the singer worked there too before he made singing a full time career.

            For many years there was a small engineering firm at the junction of East Park View and Charlton Street we called ‘Tippingsis’ I still have some tools from there, a spanner bears the name ‘Tipco’ on its side.

           Mr. Jim Stanton lived next door in Charlton Road. He was just too old for service so he became our local ARP man. I remember him coming round with small incendiary bombs, lighting them against the toilet walls and then showing folk how to put them out with the aid of sand and a stirrup pump. I often wondered how we would put them out if they became wedged in a gutter?  I had been told that in time they could burn right through slates. At the end of many streets there was a square, brick water tank. One was at the end of Charlton Road and another across from the Bridgefield pub – a steel one, which remained long after the war had finished. Houses with gardens were usually issued with ‘Anderson’ type shelters, which had to be sunk half way into the soil, with the extracted earth heaped on top.  My uncle, Mr Frank Muntage, an Irish Man, was a foreman for Mary Harrison, the building company. As Harrisons were extending the munitions factory at Barnbow he was exempt from front line service: he drove a Harrison’s lorry (which were always red). One Saturday morning he arrived with four other Irish men and dug out the Anderson shelter and built a proper bunker below ground level placing the actual Anderson shelter at the back. I don’t know where they got all the sand and cement from but they were at it all day Saturday and Sunday and the next weekend too. It was so strong other folk preferred to use it as being safer than their own shelters. Later my uncle had to work up the East Coast, near to Hartlepool, where Harrisons were building the Mulberry Harbours ready for the invasion. After the war my dad put two feet of soil on top of the shelter and grew vegetables on it. As far as I know the shelter may still be there!

Big Ernie, commissionaire at the Princess cinema, lived three doors up from the junction of Welbeck Road and Everleigh Street, facing the Rec. When I visited my grandma at number 3 East Park View I would see him about to go on duty at the Princess.   When he was on duty he would sit on a chair at the front, near to the screen. If you went more than once to the toilet he would shout: ‘that’s twice you have been to the toilet. If you go again I will throw you out!’ I recall there was a passageway down the side of the Shepherd pub, where you would queue for the cheapest seats.

                                                                                                Brian Conoby

 

Memories of war time life in knostrop east leeds and my mothers washing days air raids and carrying the shopping

May 1, 2008

blog-no-mod-cons-at-knostrop 

No Mod Cons in Knostrop             

      (Pete Wood)

The houses of Knostrop were all bereft of electricity. The ones like ours would have gas downstairs and upstairs, nothing. When you went to bed you took a candlestick with you like ‘Wee Willie Winky’. The gaslight went up and down; sometimes it would be a bright greeny white at other times a sickly yellow, which made reading difficult. People would remark, ‘The pressure’s down tonight!’ Tall people who visited and were unused to the problems of gas would be forever knocking the mantels off with their heads; this would spark off much light-hearted hissing and booing at the culprit. Should you not have a spare mantle on hand the rest of the night would be spent in candlelight.

We didn’t have TV yet but without electricity even the radio; or rather the ‘wireless’ as we called it, still needed a source of power – to achieve this we used a system of batteries, a wet battery known as ‘the accumulator’ and another huge battery about a foot square which we referred to as, the ‘dry battery’. People would try to have two accumulators on the go if they could so that while one battery was working the set they could have another on charge. There was a shop at the top of Knostrop Hill that specialised in the charging up ‘flat’ accumulators (Burley’s).  The makeup of an accumulator was: a glass outer casing, with acid covered electrodes inside. When taking them to be charged you had to carry them with a flimsy detachable handle that located in a couple of half moon ridges moulded into the glass. One day while taking an accumulator for charging I was swinging it a bit too violently and I swung the handle right out of the half moon sockets and the thing crashed down onto the road smashing into a dozen pieces. Replacements were quite expensive so I thought I’d be ‘in for it’ but evidently I must have looked so scared I was let off lightly.     

With such a wide choice of entertainment available today those who did not experience wireless first hand would no doubt have believed it to have been, music apart, a most primitive form of entertainment but in the days before TV we would look forward to listening to plays and comedy programmes as well as music. For the older folk even wireless was a luxury for they had only just moved on from the scratchy crystal sets, commonly known as the ‘cat’s whisker’. A couple of my favourite programmes, which I couldn’t wait to come around each week, were: ITMA, (It’s That Man Again) staring the comedian Tommy Handley. This programme brimmed with early catch phrases like: ‘Can I do you now sir?’ spoken by the charlady, Mrs Mop, ‘Don’t forget the diver’ and ‘I don’t mind if I do’ by old Colonel Chinstrap bumming another drink. Appointment With Fear, a weekly horror story read by Valentine Dial – ‘the man in black’, had me gripping the chair, ‘what delicious fright’. TV has, not in my opinion bettered the pictures one conjured up in the imagination while listening to those weird stories. And those images didn’t seem to fade so fast either when the programme ended.

After listening to ‘An Appointment of Fear’ it became ‘an appointment of fear’ in actuality if one found it necessary to use the outside toilet in the middle of the night.

Every household will no doubt have evolved its own particular arrangement to deal with this event.  The rigmarole in our house was: first you had to feel your way downstairs, in pitch blackness (I wasn’t allowed to light a candle) and into the kitchen where you would try, if you could, to coax the dog out of his nice warm corner in order to accompany you. He wouldn’t be well pleased at this. Then you had to proceed through a stone pantry, up three steps and outside into the garden – all in complete darkness. By this time you felt a long way from the safety of civilisation. The toilet itself was a large brick affair in the garden, built in a veritable tunnel where the wind would whistle through the trees on a winter’s night. On one occasion I can remember the dog, which I’d managed to cajole along with me that time and was sat by my side, suddenly leaping up with his hair bristling and howling at something I couldn’t see. I thought Dracula and all his mates were after me.    

In winter the toilets, being outside, would likely freeze up and you had to take a bucket of water with you to compensate for the lack of a flush. In cold weathers an oil lamp would be placed alongside the pipes in an effort to offset this problem, usually without a great deal of success. ‘Its an ill wind that blows nobody any good’, goes the old saying however and being wartime there was little proper toilet paper around so you would find newspaper cut into squares in its place providing many a good read. I didn’t like it on two accounts though when it was The Woman’s Own; first the texture was dodgy and secondly, the stories were not for me     

 

My Early Life in East Leeds by Graham Hawkridge

February 1, 2008

My Early Life in East Leed by Graham HawkridgeGraham Hawkridge relates his early life in East Leeds, especially remebering Snake Lane, the navvy paddy trains, Knostrop army camp, Waterloo Colliery, Ellerby Lane School and jam jar week. 

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

The Navvy is a railway cutting that runs from Neville Hill along the back of the Bridgefield Hotel across the top of the Cautley’s and above the St Hilda’s, finishing up in Hunslet. This line is still in operation  In the forties and fifties the line was a double track which ran on the same route the only difference being: it ran underneath the iron bridge that carried the ‘Paddy’ train over it. This bridge is no longer there.  The route finished up in the Hunslet Goods Yard, which is now occupied by industrial units, where in the past it was a very busy rail goods yard. Many an adventure was carried out along this track and many a duff was offered   (‘duff’ being another word for ‘dare’.)  On one occasion I witnessed some girls, older than myself but still at school, walk along the outside of the rail with their backs to the bridge. They took sideways steps going the full length of the bridge. They must have been either very brave or foolhardy for there was a forty foot drop onto the railway line

 

The bridge leading from the Copperfields to the Glencoe’s had an even greater drop, but this did not deter adventurous boys from walking across the wall, which was about three foot wide with a drop of about sixty-foot to the railway line.

 

There were various routes to get down to the railway line from the top, bearing in mind we must have been trespassing at the time, but we tended to ignore rules and the safety aspects. Some of the ways down had their own names, one was called ‘Ginger Rock’ for obvious reasons, and another was called ‘The Town Hall Steps’. There were other routes with varying degrees of danger. There were occasional miss-haps along the Navvy, on one occasion during one of our games one boy was being chased, to escape his captors he ran down one side of the Navvy, across the line and was halfway up the other side when a piece of rock came away in his hand resulting in him sliding down the shale and hurting his back. Fortunately there was no serious injury. Getting up the other side of the Navvy was a different story, this was a lot steeper and consisted of loos shale in parts which made it difficult and dangerous, not many attempted this climb.

 

On another occasion a boy slipped while trying to climb down, resulting in him breaking his arm.  He was at the bottom licking his wounds when his mother came looking for him and while all of us at the top kept quiet as to his whereabouts. He dare not reply to his mother’s shouts for fear of punishment as we were always being warned as to the dangers of playing along the navvy bank.

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

We spent the best part of our out-of schooldays on the Snake Lane playing fields. These consisted of two football pitches, a putting green, bowling green and tennis courts. Adjacent to the area was the ‘Paddy line’, which came to play a part in many of our games of football, which I will explain in another chapter.

The railway line ran from Waterloo Pit at Temple Newsam to the coal staith at the junction where Easy Road, Cross Green Lane and South Accommodation Road met. This area of land has now been developed into a housing estate. The line followed a route from the pit, in-between Black Road (Pontefract Lane), Taylor’s Farm, Pawson’s Farm, Snake Lane and the allotments, running parallel to the top of Black Road. It crossed over Cross Green Lane, in between the Bridgefield Hotel, Copperfield Grove and Copperfield Then over an iron bridge which spanned the Navvy. It then went alongside the Glencoes over a ginnel, which was a small tunnel that connected: the Copperfields, Glencoes and St Hildas to Easy Road. The Paddy train unloaded its cargo at the staith where it was put into sacks then collected by coal merchants, for delivery to local households. The Paddy train for most colliers was the only form of transport to and from work as a car was a rare commodity at the time.

On early mornings you could hear the echo of collier’s footsteps walking on the cobbled streets as they went to catch the train that would take them to the pit to do their shift. On return the train would stop adjacent to the top of Snake Lane where the colliers would jump off covered in coal dust and looking like the Black and White Minstrel Show.

There would not have been pithead baths At Waterloo Main Colliery at the time  There were four engines operating the line each engine was named independently they were: Jubilee, Kitchener, Dora and Antwerp.  These were small tank engines  Built by

A favourite trick of ours, disregarding any form of safety measure, was to place an old penny on the railway line, when the engine and carriages had passed over the penny it was flattened to a much larger size. Why we did this I’m unsure because the penny was probably no longer legal tender and a penny went a long way in those days.

Temple Newsam Colliery / Waterloo Main closed 1963.There were no baths until the early fifties, the colliers had to go home covered in coal dust before being able to wash. Most houses in the area had baths in the scullery (kitchen) which when not in use were covered by a large board.   When the bath was not in use most people kept various items on the top, which all had to be cleared away and stacked on the floor. This ritual must have been repeated every day.

The Paddy train left Cross Green Lane at 5.05 a.m. taking the daily shift to the pit, returning at 6.50 a.m. with the night shift. It left again at 1.30 p.m. taking the afternoon shift returning at 3.45 p.m. with the morning shift. It left again at 9.30 p.m.

Taking the night shift down and returned at 10.10 p.m. bringing home the afternoon shift.   Most of the miners would then have to walk the rest of the way home for they would not be allowed to use the bus covered in coal dust, bearing in mind some of the colliers might live as far away as York Road which would mean another two miles to walk home.  A ‘knocker-upper’ would probably have been used to wake up the early morning shift workers. This would normally be someone who lived in the area. He would carry a pole, perhaps a clothes prop, with this he would tap on the bedroom window until the light came on and the occupant drew back the curtains and showed his face.

 

Paddy Train drivers:

Leading up to the war four of the train drivers were brothers: Walter and George Riley. Charlie and Walter Wilcox. Shunters also accompanied the drivers: Percy Mathers, Tommy Hirst, and Bill Butterworth. The latter later moved to Skelton Grange Power Station. Teddy Horton and Herbert Whitaker were drivers before and after the war. Apart from taking the colliers to and from work the trains also carried coal to the staith in Easy Road. It had to cross Cross Green Lane near the Bridgefield Hotel. Alongside the last house in Cross green Lane there was a wooden hut where the level crossing flagman was based. On the arrival of the train he would stop the traffic to allow the train to cross over the road, bearing in mind there were no traffic lights or gates across and he only had a red flag to warn oncoming traffic only but traffic was infrequent in those days, mainly buses and the odd horse and cart.   Bus No 61 and 62. The flagman’s name was Sam Bowden who was a well know character in East Leeds. He was a very likable man and would pass the time of day with the locals. Sometimes he would invite them into his cosy shed in the winter, which would by warmed with a constantly fuelled stove. There was always the chance of a pot of tea to be had whilst having a chat.

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

These camps were situated down Pontefract Road, alongside Tillotson’s farm and Knostrop Wood. The army camp was manned by an Ack-Ack Division. Although Leeds did not suffer many air raids during the war this Division was ready for action when needed. As children we passed by the camp regularly on the way to play or go bird nesting in Knostrop Woods. To my recollection the camp never seemed to be heavily guarded. There was only one solitary barrage balloon to my knowledge, which always seemed to be a source of amusement while waiting for it to rise into the air. I seem to recollect it being struck by lightening on one occasion.  The Ack-Ack guns were put into operation on one memorable night. This was the night of the heaviest raid on Leeds. When the sirens sounded people retreated into their air raid shelters. In the Copperfield’s and the St. Hilda’s, coal cellars were converted into re-enforced shelters by placing iron girders just under the ceiling and covering them with sheets of corrugated iron. The wall along the cellar steps would be knocked through and lightly mortared back so that in the event of anyone being trapped in the cellar it would be easy to knock out the brickwork and crawl through to the house that backed on. When the sirens sounded my mother and I would race down the street to my grandmother’s house, which was twenty yards down the street and take shelter with them. My granddad had knocked a number of bricks out of the adjoining wall to the next-door neighbour’s house, giving enough room to pass cups of tea and cakes through and to converse with the neighbours. My granddad would call in now and again from the ARP (Air Raid Precaution Duty) to let us know what was happening outside and maybe grab a quick cup of tea before continuing to patrol the streets

Some Houses were issued with foot- pumps and sandbags. The night of the big raid was probably more hair rising for adults than I. Being only seven years old at the time I do not remember being frightened. You could hear the bombs dropping and the drone of the aircraft engines flying over and the Ack Ack guns firing whilst we all huddled together in our shelters. Those without shelters, or those who chose to stay in the house would probably hide beneath the dining table. The alterative was to run to the nearest purpose built shelter. There were three or four of such shelters on the spare land at the side of the Navvy, just off Cautley Road. They were brick built with re-enforced concrete roofs. Inside would be bunk beds, no mattresses of course and no lighting, the only lighting would be by torch or paraffin lamp. These shelters were usually locked by day but this did not deter us from entering. The entrance was just a wooden gate and there was just enough room to either crawl under or climb over the top if you were small enough. We spent many an hour using these shelters as dens. Some of the older boys probably had their first smoke in there.  

 

The Opening

The opening was a piece of spare land between 39 and 41 Copperfield Grove and Copperfield. This piece of land was used for both cricket and football games, marbles (tors) and all types of ball games we invented ourselves. This area was all soil with no grass on it at all; we used the whole area plus the cobbled road of Copperfield? with our goals up against the gable end wall of Copperfield Fortunately Peter and Eric Wolliter lived there with Jack Render living at number Copperfield and myself at 41 Copperfield Grove. We rarely had problems with neighbours. We could even play after dark because there was a gas lamp right in the middle adjoining Copperfield???? and the ‘opening’ We only ever played with a tennis ball, this lent to some becoming quite skilled at controlling the ball considering that the ball would bobble all over the cobbled street and causeway (causer edge). We had some ding-dong battles recreating football league games, there were no holds barred you could be sent crashing into the wall with a shoulder charge giving you a nasty jolt. Goalkeepers were fearless diving on the soil area in one goalmouth and the stone pavement in the other. There was always a steady stream of players from other streets wanting to join in. We even used to play on a dinnertime, rushing home from school, gulping down our dinner and then out to play for half an hour. Frank Shires who started work before some of us had left school, would dash home from work and grab a quick snack – this giving him time to join in one of our lunchtime games. It was even known for us to clear snow out of the opening so we could play. Cricket season was very popular too we could play until late at night because of the double British Summertime when the clocks went forward for two hours.

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

My school days were spent mainly at Ellerby Lane School except for a brief spell at St Saviour’s – a spell I can only vaguely remember. For some reason a few selected pupils were allocated to attend there after the war finished. My recollections are: that some of us ran home at lunchtime and never returned to the school. From this time on I attended Ellerby Lane School.  Schooldays were certainly different in many ways in those times than there are today. The main differences are probably concerning discipline and punishment. Some of the teachers were real characters in themselves. Mr Holmes; Chuck Holmes to the pupils was disabled but this didn’t stop him handing out his own brand of punishment. His right arm had a constant shake, when he gave you the cane he would raise his hand before bring it down across your fingers. It would shake for a while keeping you in limbo before the actual strike. Each teacher had his own brand of cane ‘Chuck’ had a bamboo cane, which had started to fray at the end, this caused further anguish with each ‘whack’. Another trait he had was that he would walk around the class looking at your schoolwork, if he saw anything wrong he would sit down besides you at your desk, and bearing in mind that we sat two to a desk, he would then nudge you with his shoulder like the old soccer shoulder charge but with so much force that after two or three of these nudges your innocent friend at the other side would end up on the floor. Mr Holmes father was landlord of the Black Dog pub.

We used to have a school fund where we would give a half penny? a week. On Fridays it was my job, whilst Mr Holmes was in the class, to take all the halfpennies to the Black Dog pub. I had to knock on the back door and wait for Mr Holmes’s father to change it into notes so that I could take it to the post office in Ellerby Lane. The post office was directly opposite the Spring Close pub but is no longer there. The post office was run by two sisters. Mr Holmes took us for cricket, and even though he was disabled he would join us in our cricket games in the school playground – which he seemed to enjoy just as much as we did.  Mr Consterdine was another feared teacher. When it was your year to go into his class you went there with trepidation. He never thought twice about throwing the chalk or the board duster at you, which was made out of a solid piece of wood much like a scrubbing brush with a piece of felt in place of the bristles. He must have been a good shot for I never remember anyone getting a serious injury, anyone being hit would have been dealt a nasty blow. He also took us for P.T. One of his favourites was, when we were all lined up in team formation, He would on command have you touching all four walls and the unfortunate to be last back to his place really suffered. We only wore shorts and plimsolls and your mates were instructed to slap the last one back on his bare back, he would finish up with red wheals all over hisbody. In another game two or three boys would be in a circle and the rest would try and hit them bellow the knees by kicking or throwing a football. Mr Consterdine took great delight in joining in and would kick the ball with great force, if you were unlucky enough to be hit by the ball you certainly knew about it. Mr Consterdine was a very strict disciplinarian he possessed a collection of canes made mainly of cut down billiard cues cut. When handing out punishment, you usually got caned three times with a ‘whack’ across the open palm leaving you with blue fingers.

There were no Biro pens in those days; a pen was made with a wooden shaft, a metal pen nib and a metal holder. Some of the lads liked to chew the wooden end of the pen and many times were down to holding the pen by just the metal part to write. To stop this habit; when you requested a new pen the teacher would dip the pen in fish glue, which proved a deterrent due to the unpleasant taste. At the time we had inkwells that fitted into the desk corner. Sometimes pupils would put blotting paper into your ink well making the ink like mud, consequently when you dipped your pen nib in to replenish the ink you would end up with a big blot on your paper. To overcome this we started to water the ink to thin it down, but unfortunately on one occasion this

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

Besides our half penny donations to the school funds the school held a jam jar week every year, each student was obliged to go round knocking on doors asking the occupants if they had any jam or pickle jars. We would wander around the streets with a sack over our shoulder. Each class competed against one another to see who could collect the most jam jars; there was also an individual competition. You would bring the jam jars in and have them counted and logged before taking them into the school quadrangle where they would be placed on the ground. Eventually filling the whole area. The school made quite a bit of money in this way for the rag and bone men would pay for empty jam jars. The jam jars would be collected and taken away, I think by the Moorhouse Jam and the U-LI-KUM  Pickle companies. In East Leeds we had a couple of rag and bone men who came around the streets. One was called Tobins who had a yard in the Glencoes and I must admit that on occasions we managed to get into his yard and grab a few jars to add to our collection.  I believe the all time record number of jam jars collected by one person was held by one of the girls: Regina Wilson.

 

Graham Hawkridge

 

 

 

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

The Navvy is a railway cutting that runs from Neville Hill along the back of the Bridgefield Hotel across the top of the Cautley’s and above the St Hilda’s, finishing up in Hunslet. This line is still in operation  In the forties and fifties the line was a double track which ran on the same route the only difference being: it ran underneath the iron bridge that carried the ‘Paddy’ train over it. This bridge is no longer there.  The route finished up in the Hunslet Goods Yard, which is now occupied by industrial units, where in the past it was a very busy rail goods yard. Many an adventure was carried out along this track and many a duff was offered   (‘duff’ being another word for ‘dare’.)  On one occasion I witnessed some girls, older than myself but still at school, walk along the outside of the rail with their backs to the bridge. They took sideways steps going the full length of the bridge. They must have been either very brave or foolhardy for there was a forty foot drop onto the railway line

 

The bridge leading from the Copperfields to the Glencoe’s had an even greater drop, but this did not deter adventurous boys from walking across the wall, which was about three foot wide with a drop of about sixty-foot to the railway line.

 

There were various routes to get down to the railway line from the top, bearing in mind we must have been trespassing at the time, but we tended to ignore rules and the safety aspects. Some of the ways down had their own names, one was called ‘Ginger Rock’ for obvious reasons, and another was called ‘The Town Hall Steps’. There were other routes with varying degrees of danger. There were occasional miss-haps along the Navvy, on one occasion during one of our games one boy was being chased, to escape his captors he ran down one side of the Navvy, across the line and was halfway up the other side when a piece of rock came away in his hand resulting in him sliding down the shale and hurting his back. Fortunately there was no serious injury. Getting up the other side of the Navvy was a different story, this was a lot steeper and consisted of loos shale in parts which made it difficult and dangerous, not many attempted this climb.

 

On another occasion a boy slipped while trying to climb down, resulting in him breaking his arm.  He was at the bottom licking his wounds when his mother came looking for him and while all of us at the top kept quiet as to his whereabouts. He dare not reply to his mother’s shouts for fear of punishment as we were always being warned as to the dangers of playing along the navvy bank.

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

We spent the best part of our out-of schooldays on the Snake Lane playing fields. These consisted of two football pitches, a putting green, bowling green and tennis courts. Adjacent to the area was the ‘Paddy line’, which came to play a part in many of our games of football, which I will explain in another chapter.

The railway line ran from Waterloo Pit at Temple Newsam to the coal staith at the junction where Easy Road, Cross Green Lane and South Accommodation Road met. This area of land has now been developed into a housing estate. The line followed a route from the pit, in-between Black Road (Pontefract Lane), Taylor’s Farm, Pawson’s Farm, Snake Lane and the allotments, running parallel to the top of Black Road. It crossed over Cross Green Lane, in between the Bridgefield Hotel, Copperfield Grove and Copperfield Then over an iron bridge which spanned the Navvy. It then went alongside the Glencoes over a ginnel, which was a small tunnel that connected: the Copperfields, Glencoes and St Hildas to Easy Road. The Paddy train unloaded its cargo at the staith where it was put into sacks then collected by coal merchants, for delivery to local households. The Paddy train for most colliers was the only form of transport to and from work as a car was a rare commodity at the time.

On early mornings you could hear the echo of collier’s footsteps walking on the cobbled streets as they went to catch the train that would take them to the pit to do their shift. On return the train would stop adjacent to the top of Snake Lane where the colliers would jump off covered in coal dust and looking like the Black and White Minstrel Show.

There would not have been pithead baths At Waterloo Main Colliery at the time  There were four engines operating the line each engine was named independently they were: Jubilee, Kitchener, Dora and Antwerp.  These were small tank engines  Built by

A favourite trick of ours, disregarding any form of safety measure, was to place an old penny on the railway line, when the engine and carriages had passed over the penny it was flattened to a much larger size. Why we did this I’m unsure because the penny was probably no longer legal tender and a penny went a long way in those days.

Temple Newsam Colliery / Waterloo Main closed 1963.There were no baths until the early fifties, the colliers had to go home covered in coal dust before being able to wash. Most houses in the area had baths in the scullery (kitchen) which when not in use were covered by a large board.   When the bath was not in use most people kept various items on the top, which all had to be cleared away and stacked on the floor. This ritual must have been repeated every day.

The Paddy train left Cross Green Lane at 5.05 a.m. taking the daily shift to the pit, returning at 6.50 a.m. with the night shift. It left again at 1.30 p.m. taking the afternoon shift returning at 3.45 p.m. with the morning shift. It left again at 9.30 p.m.

Taking the night shift down and returned at 10.10 p.m. bringing home the afternoon shift.   Most of the miners would then have to walk the rest of the way home for they would not be allowed to use the bus covered in coal dust, bearing in mind some of the colliers might live as far away as York Road which would mean another two miles to walk home.  A ‘knocker-upper’ would probably have been used to wake up the early morning shift workers. This would normally be someone who lived in the area. He would carry a pole, perhaps a clothes prop, with this he would tap on the bedroom window until the light came on and the occupant drew back the curtains and showed his face.

 

Paddy Train drivers:

Leading up to the war four of the train drivers were brothers: Walter and George Riley. Charlie and Walter Wilcox. Shunters also accompanied the drivers: Percy Mathers, Tommy Hirst, and Bill Butterworth. The latter later moved to Skelton Grange Power Station. Teddy Horton and Herbert Whitaker were drivers before and after the war. Apart from taking the colliers to and from work the trains also carried coal to the staith in Easy Road. It had to cross Cross Green Lane near the Bridgefield Hotel. Alongside the last house in Cross green Lane there was a wooden hut where the level crossing flagman was based. On the arrival of the train he would stop the traffic to allow the train to cross over the road, bearing in mind there were no traffic lights or gates across and he only had a red flag to warn oncoming traffic only but traffic was infrequent in those days, mainly buses and the odd horse and cart.   Bus No 61 and 62. The flagman’s name was Sam Bowden who was a well know character in East Leeds. He was a very likable man and would pass the time of day with the locals. Sometimes he would invite them into his cosy shed in the winter, which would by warmed with a constantly fuelled stove. There was always the chance of a pot of tea to be had whilst having a chat.

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

These camps were situated down Pontefract Road, alongside Tillotson’s farm and Knostrop Wood. The army camp was manned by an Ack-Ack Division. Although Leeds did not suffer many air raids during the war this Division was ready for action when needed. As children we passed by the camp regularly on the way to play or go bird nesting in Knostrop Woods. To my recollection the camp never seemed to be heavily guarded. There was only one solitary barrage balloon to my knowledge, which always seemed to be a source of amusement while waiting for it to rise into the air. I seem to recollect it being struck by lightening on one occasion.  The Ack-Ack guns were put into operation on one memorable night. This was the night of the heaviest raid on Leeds. When the sirens sounded people retreated into their air raid shelters. In the Copperfield’s and the St. Hilda’s, coal cellars were converted into re-enforced shelters by placing iron girders just under the ceiling and covering them with sheets of corrugated iron. The wall along the cellar steps would be knocked through and lightly mortared back so that in the event of anyone being trapped in the cellar it would be easy to knock out the brickwork and crawl through to the house that backed on. When the sirens sounded my mother and I would race down the street to my grandmother’s house, which was twenty yards down the street and take shelter with them. My granddad had knocked a number of bricks out of the adjoining wall to the next-door neighbour’s house, giving enough room to pass cups of tea and cakes through and to converse with the neighbours. My granddad would call in now and again from the ARP (Air Raid Precaution Duty) to let us know what was happening outside and maybe grab a quick cup of tea before continuing to patrol the streets

Some Houses were issued with foot- pumps and sandbags. The night of the big raid was probably more hair rising for adults than I. Being only seven years old at the time I do not remember being frightened. You could hear the bombs dropping and the drone of the aircraft engines flying over and the Ack Ack guns firing whilst we all huddled together in our shelters. Those without shelters, or those who chose to stay in the house would probably hide beneath the dining table. The alterative was to run to the nearest purpose built shelter. There were three or four of such shelters on the spare land at the side of the Navvy, just off Cautley Road. They were brick built with re-enforced concrete roofs. Inside would be bunk beds, no mattresses of course and no lighting, the only lighting would be by torch or paraffin lamp. These shelters were usually locked by day but this did not deter us from entering. The entrance was just a wooden gate and there was just enough room to either crawl under or climb over the top if you were small enough. We spent many an hour using these shelters as dens. Some of the older boys probably had their first smoke in there.  

 

The Opening

The opening was a piece of spare land between 39 and 41 Copperfield Grove and Copperfield. This piece of land was used for both cricket and football games, marbles (tors) and all types of ball games we invented ourselves. This area was all soil with no grass on it at all; we used the whole area plus the cobbled road of Copperfield? with our goals up against the gable end wall of Copperfield Fortunately Peter and Eric Wolliter lived there with Jack Render living at number Copperfield and myself at 41 Copperfield Grove. We rarely had problems with neighbours. We could even play after dark because there was a gas lamp right in the middle adjoining Copperfield???? and the ‘opening’ We only ever played with a tennis ball, this lent to some becoming quite skilled at controlling the ball considering that the ball would bobble all over the cobbled street and causeway (causer edge). We had some ding-dong battles recreating football league games, there were no holds barred you could be sent crashing into the wall with a shoulder charge giving you a nasty jolt. Goalkeepers were fearless diving on the soil area in one goalmouth and the stone pavement in the other. There was always a steady stream of players from other streets wanting to join in. We even used to play on a dinnertime, rushing home from school, gulping down our dinner and then out to play for half an hour. Frank Shires who started work before some of us had left school, would dash home from work and grab a quick snack – this giving him time to join in one of our lunchtime games. It was even known for us to clear snow out of the opening so we could play. Cricket season was very popular too we could play until late at night because of the double British Summertime when the clocks went forward for two hours.

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

My school days were spent mainly at Ellerby Lane School except for a brief spell at St Saviour’s – a spell I can only vaguely remember. For some reason a few selected pupils were allocated to attend there after the war finished. My recollections are: that some of us ran home at lunchtime and never returned to the school. From this time on I attended Ellerby Lane School.  Schooldays were certainly different in many ways in those times than there are today. The main differences are probably concerning discipline and punishment. Some of the teachers were real characters in themselves. Mr Holmes; Chuck Holmes to the pupils was disabled but this didn’t stop him handing out his own brand of punishment. His right arm had a constant shake, when he gave you the cane he would raise his hand before bring it down across your fingers. It would shake for a while keeping you in limbo before the actual strike. Each teacher had his own brand of cane ‘Chuck’ had a bamboo cane, which had started to fray at the end, this caused further anguish with each ‘whack’. Another trait he had was that he would walk around the class looking at your schoolwork, if he saw anything wrong he would sit down besides you at your desk, and bearing in mind that we sat two to a desk, he would then nudge you with his shoulder like the old soccer shoulder charge but with so much force that after two or three of these nudges your innocent friend at the other side would end up on the floor. Mr Holmes father was landlord of the Black Dog pub.

We used to have a school fund where we would give a half penny? a week. On Fridays it was my job, whilst Mr Holmes was in the class, to take all the halfpennies to the Black Dog pub. I had to knock on the back door and wait for Mr Holmes’s father to change it into notes so that I could take it to the post office in Ellerby Lane. The post office was directly opposite the Spring Close pub but is no longer there. The post office was run by two sisters. Mr Holmes took us for cricket, and even though he was disabled he would join us in our cricket games in the school playground – which he seemed to enjoy just as much as we did.  Mr Consterdine was another feared teacher. When it was your year to go into his class you went there with trepidation. He never thought twice about throwing the chalk or the board duster at you, which was made out of a solid piece of wood much like a scrubbing brush with a piece of felt in place of the bristles. He must have been a good shot for I never remember anyone getting a serious injury, anyone being hit would have been dealt a nasty blow. He also took us for P.T. One of his favourites was, when we were all lined up in team formation, He would on command have you touching all four walls and the unfortunate to be last back to his place really suffered. We only wore shorts and plimsolls and your mates were instructed to slap the last one back on his bare back, he would finish up with red wheals all over hisbody. In another game two or three boys would be in a circle and the rest would try and hit them bellow the knees by kicking or throwing a football. Mr Consterdine took great delight in joining in and would kick the ball with great force, if you were unlucky enough to be hit by the ball you certainly knew about it. Mr Consterdine was a very strict disciplinarian he possessed a collection of canes made mainly of cut down billiard cues cut. When handing out punishment, you usually got caned three times with a ‘whack’ across the open palm leaving you with blue fingers.

There were no Biro pens in those days; a pen was made with a wooden shaft, a metal pen nib and a metal holder. Some of the lads liked to chew the wooden end of the pen and many times were down to holding the pen by just the metal part to write. To stop this habit; when you requested a new pen the teacher would dip the pen in fish glue, which proved a deterrent due to the unpleasant taste. At the time we had inkwells that fitted into the desk corner. Sometimes pupils would put blotting paper into your ink well making the ink like mud, consequently when you dipped your pen nib in to replenish the ink you would end up with a big blot on your paper. To overcome this we started to water the ink to thin it down, but unfortunately on one occasion this

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

Besides our half penny donations to the school funds the school held a jam jar week every year, each student was obliged to go round knocking on doors asking the occupants if they had any jam or pickle jars. We would wander around the streets with a sack over our shoulder. Each class competed against one another to see who could collect the most jam jars; there was also an individual competition. You would bring the jam jars in and have them counted and logged before taking them into the school quadrangle where they would be placed on the ground. Eventually filling the whole area. The school made quite a bit of money in this way for the rag and bone men would pay for empty jam jars. The jam jars would be collected and taken away, I think by the Moorhouse Jam and the U-LI-KUM  Pickle companies. In East Leeds we had a couple of rag and bone men who came around the streets. One was called Tobins who had a yard in the Glencoes and I must admit that on occasions we managed to get into his yard and grab a few jars to add to our collection.  I believe the all time record number of jam jars collected by one person was held by one of the girls: Regina Wilson.

 

Graham Hawkridge