Archive for the ‘East Leeds’ Category

Craft Learning

June 1, 2017

Audrey Sanderson, our East Leeds lass in Australia, takes us on a journey from Australia back to Ellerby Lane School. Look out for Audrey’s dad’s white knuckle adventure in the lift at Hitchin’s Department Store.
Craft Learning
By Audrey Sanderson.

Don’t you just love the modern language used now for mundane jobs, basic equipment and a million other everyday chores as if it is new and exciting. Have you ever heard of a job called a Replenishing Supply Assembling Operative? My friend was excited as she told me someone she knew had finally got a job. I said it sounded most impressive but what did the job entail. She said she wasn’t quite sure but thought it could be something in an office as the young woman had been an accountant before getting married. Again I said Assembling seemed to indicate putting something together. I reminded her anything on an assembly line in the 50s was usually in a factory on a conveyor belt and covered heaps of jobs from engineering to putting chocolates into boxes. I asked where the place of employment was. She said it was an evening job at a supermarket. I debated whether to tell her what the job was. It’s a necessity but not a glamorous job. Thought I’d better put her straight before she started bragging to her other friends what the ladies job was.
It’s a person who restocks supermarket shelves after the store has closed. In Australia they used to be called Night Fillers and lots of people did it to earn extra cash. It got me thinking of new fancy names they now use. A garbologist – person who empties garbage bins. A Landscape Creator is a gardener most people pay to cut the lawn. A dustbuster is a vacuum cleaner. Every kind of mechanic and tradesman is called a technician. I had a cleaning business with many employees many years ago, I was a cleaner. Now I would advertise as a professional cleaning operative. I mentioned something about a Blue Collar worker to someone a while back. They actually thought it was a bunch of workers who wore blue collars on their uniforms.
Political correctness in all sorts of things has me baffled. A man hole in the road is still a man hole no matter what the new name for it is called. A chairman of a group is not a chair person. A prime minister is still a P.M. whether it be a man or a woman so why should other titles be altered because some nut can’t tell the difference between a man or a woman. Which brings me to what now in the 21st. century is classed as ancient.

I felt as old as Methuselah after reading an article on reviving ancient arts. Upon reading it found out it was the ancient practice of hand knitting articles you can actually wear.
It amused all the ladies of a Knit for Charity group I organise. US! Ancient! How dare they. Just because our oldest member is a lady approaching her 97 birthday and obvious to all she is more active than some women a fraction of her age belies the tag of ancient in any way shape or form.
Feathers were not ruffled as we all laughed at the notion of actually wearing something that had been hand knitted as the writer of the article suggested it was a novelty revived from a forgotten age.
At Ellerby Lane school knitting was taught to girls from the age of around 6-7 years old. Parents had to supply a pair of plastic knitting needles and a ball of wool for their daughter. Miss ????? taught the class I was in. It wouldn’t be fair to name the lady as my description of her to my Dad was from an innocent child who observed peoples mannerisms. She was a thin lady and to us young kids we thought she was as old as our grand mothers. On reflection she would probably have been in her 40s but she didn’t dress in the height of fashion or wear any makeup. In the course of the year I was in her class she asked various ones what their fathers did to earn a living. My Dad had been wounded in WW1 and was employed as a lift operator in Hitchin’s department store which was situated in Briggate opposite Marks and Spencers. He wore a uniform with brass buttons which he polished every night along with his black shiny surgical boots and was very proud of the job he did. He called out what each floor supplied as the lift transported customers up and down to each level. A prelude to the T.V. show ‘ Are you being served ‘ many years later.
He arrived home at his usual time of 6:30 p.m. one night and before taking his coat off said a lady had rode up and down in his lift several times before chatting to him. Instantly Mum wanted to know who the woman was, what she’d said and what did she look like.
He said she was an odd sort of lady and was probably younger than what she looked but she had been very nicely spoken and said all sorts of interesting things. He’d hung up his coat and sat at the table. Mum banged his dinner plate in front of him and demanded to know what the woman has said. He said he would finish his dinner and then he would tell us.
Dad didn’t usually act that way but it was plain to see he was enjoying every moment. He was smiling to himself all through the meal and mum was furious. My brothers and I ate up quicker than normal, all eager to hear about Dad’s secret woman. Mum had a face like thunder ” WELL ” she demanded as soon as Dad had eaten the last mouthful.
He made the tale spin out saying it was a day like any other. How the lady had rode up and down in the lift twice and not got out on any of the floors. No security guards back then and sometimes especially in the colder months now and again unfortunate members of the public who had a mental disorder would wander round large department stores where it was warm. They never bought anything nor did they try to steal anything they just wandered around looking at things. They were well know to the staff and so long as they didn’t annoy any of the shoppers they were free to move about the store. If they were the worse for drink or really did need a bath they were soon escorted out of the building and onto the pavement.
Dad described what the lady was wearing and how she kept taking off and putting back on her gloves before she spoke to him. My Dad was a perfect gentleman and always polite to everyone. He said he thought she might have been an old lady who was getting forgetful. We’d never heard the words Dementia or Alzheimer. If you had white hair, couldn’t remember certain things the rellies said you were getting senile. My Dad was more polite, he took everything in his stride and never got flustered about anything.
He asked Madam if she was looking for something special and maybe he could tell her which floor level it was on. She fidgeted some more with her gloves as people were leaving and entering the lift. This went on until there was only Dad and the mystery woman alone in the lift. To us kids the tension in the room was like listening to a radio play. The atmosphere to Mum was like a red rag to a bull, she was on the point of yelling her head off or smashing the table with her fist.
Dad said, ” You’ll never guess who it was ” he looked at us 3 kids. We thought it was somebody famous like Vera Lynn or Gracie Fields. ” NO,” he laughed ” It’s someone one of you three know very well ” We didn’t know anyone famous.
Mum started yelling ” For God’s sake who the hell was it?
Smugly Dad said, “It was one of your teachers”
Straight away Mum asked Alan, my eldest brother what he’d been up to at school. Standard reply from him ” Nuthinn ”
She started to rant ” If you’ve been getting up to no good you’ll be getting a what for I can tell you ” ‘A what for ‘ could mean anything from a clip round the ear, a thump from her fist or a belting with Dads razor strop.
As calm as anything Dad told her to leave him alone and why did she always think he was up to no good the minute he was out of her sight.
He said to Norman, the youngest one of us three ” What about you, have you been doing anything naughty?”
Immediately Mum jumped to his defence “It wasn’t him, leave him alone, he never does anything to be ashamed of, do you “she said as she faced Norman. He shook his curly head but looked apprehensive at Dad. A sort of look any young kid has if he thinks he’s been found out on some misdemeanour or lie he’s told. How much trouble can a five year old get into that would warrant a visit from the school teacher?
Dad looked at me. I was one of the quietest kids in the school what had I done wrong? Dad said it was my school teacher who had been to see him but he forgot what her name was.
Mum grabbed hold of my shoulder and started yelling asking what I’d done to bring shame on the family. The only thing I could remember getting wrong that day was spelling the word Tyres wrong in the spelling bee. My surname was Tyers and that’s how I’d spelt the word meaning car tyres. It was hardly bringing shame on the family when we all had the same surname. Dad told mum to sit down and WHY didn’t she shut up and listen for a change instead of thinking Alan and me were always doing things to annoy her. Always wanting the last word she said because we always did something we weren’t supposed to be doing. Looking back on it I think breathing must have been on the top of her list. It didn’t faze either of us as we grew up with the same sense of humour Dad had and we both found something to laugh at in most situations.
Dad asked the name of my teacher and what she looked like. In all my innocence I said she always wore a twin set and flared skirt. A twin set being a short sleeved jumper with a matching long sleeved cardigan of the same colour and design. She wore wedge heeled brown shoes and she didn’t wear lipstick. Her hair was grey and she combed it into a bun at the back of her neck and she wore glasses. Dad said it sounded a bit like the lady who had spoken to him.
Mum wanted to know what she’s said and why did she go to see him where he worked. He had a big smile on his face and said “She came to tell me I had a very intelligent daughter who was a pleasure to teach.”
Mum’s jaw dropped “What else did she say? There must have been something else or she wouldn’t have wasted her time searching you out to tell you that. Teachers only want to talk to parents if the child has done something wrong. ”
He said, “Well this one didn’t. She said our Audrey was eager to learn and quick at picking things up and she was far advanced than a lot of kids in her class. ”
Mum wasn’t convinced and asked me if there was another girl in my class called Audrey.
My Christian name wasn’t very popular back then, I don’t think there was any other girl in the school called Audrey. Plenty of Jean’s, Joan’s, Barbara, June, Brenda, Pauline’s. I think those names were also film stars names of the 30s and 40s.
Dad asked he if she wasn’t proud her daughter was doing well at school and pleased the teacher had taken the trouble to find out where he worked to tell him how clever I was.
My turn to be pounced again “Why did you tell her where your Dad worked? What did she want to know for? “I said she’d had asked plenty of the other kids as well. She asked if Miss???? had been to see the other kids’ fathers. I said I didn’t know. She told me to ask them.
Asking a quiet kid who never said boo to a goose to go around the class asking if Miss ??? had visited their fathers was asking to be singled out for all the kids in the school to want to know why. I said I wouldn’t do it. Pounce, Pounce again she yelled “You’ll do as I tell you or get a what for “I was close to tears at the thought of having to ask the other kids. I knew I’d have to do it or cop a belting from her.
Dad said quietly to mum “Why don’t you go and ask Miss whatever her name is why she came to tell me and at the same time you could ask if she’s been to see any of the other fathers. It might also be a good idea to thank her for taking so much interest in her pupils and telling parents how their child was doing at school.” Mum was good at giving looks that would freeze hell over but said nothing.
I’m sure Dad was also intrigued to know if other fathers had been contacted and if not why was he the only one.
He asked again if there was anything unusual about Miss ??? he should have noticed so he would be able to spot her if she ever came into his lift at the store again. I asked what sort of thing was unusual. He said some people do things when they are nervous and Miss ??? had taken off and put back on her gloves a dozen times before speaking to him. Had I seen Miss ??? do anything when she thought no one was looking.
I giggled. He waited and I giggled again. He asked again what she had done. I said some of the girls in the class said Miss ??? is always looking at herself when she thinks no one can see her. He said he didn’t know classrooms had mirrors in them. I said they didn’t and she looked down at herself. He asked a lot of questions, did she mumble to herself? Did she laugh out loud for no reason? Did she stare and look as if she was day dreaming? I said no she didn’t do anything like that but she knew what everyone in the class was doing even if she had her back to them.

He asked me to show him how she looked when she was looking at herself. I felt silly having to show him in front of my mum and brothers. Never the less I stood up looked down at my chest, hitched some imaginary thing on both shoulders, looked at my chest again and smiled. Said “If you see somebody doing that Dad it will be her ” Alan let out a laugh that the whole street must have heard. Dad said not to let Miss ??? see us giggling and Mum said ” What do you expect, she’s a spinster. And you’d better tell me if she comes visiting you at work again and I’ll have something to say to her ” I never knew why Alan had laughed so loud and hoped Miss ??? never went into Hitchin’s store again because I didn’t want Mum to come to the school and shout at my teacher. I didn’t know what a spinster was either so looked it up in the dictionary. That’s what you do when you’re a quiet kid. Try to find out answers yourself before asking anyone and risk getting laughed at because you don’t know. So, Miss ??? Wasn’t married. I knew that because she was called Miss instead of Missus. Why did anyone laugh at the word spinster? It wasn’t until a few years later and Miss ??? had left the school I realised what she’d been hitching up and why she’d been looking at her chest and I felt sad for giggling at my spinster teacher who’d had a crush on my Dad.
Dad never mentioned the episode again but Mum asked frequently if anyone interesting had been in his lift. She got annoyed at him the day David Whitfield had been in the store. He’d been to the record shop to sign records of his latest hit. I can’t remember the name of the shop or the name of the street but it was off Briggate higher up than Hitchin’s, between Matthias Robinson’s and the Empire theatre. Every teenager knew it as they had little booths where you could hear the record played before you bought it. He’d also been into Hitchin’s store which was a surprise to all the staff. Dad was not pleased at all the girls stampeding through the place screaming their heads off and told mum she wouldn’t have liked it either. She said she thought David Whitfield was a lovely man and wished she could have seen him. Dad said she was crackers and not a teenager anymore.
Dad never did understand teenagers of any era and although Mum didn’t dress or act like one he didn’t like hearing her singing along with the radio to tunes she found entertaining. She thought Rock around the Clock was a catchy tune until she saw a photo of Bill Haley and wanted to know why an old man like him acted like a teenager.
Who said looks aren’t everything? To my Mum and Dad entertainers had to be perfect in every way. God knows what they would have thought with all the scandals that they reveal now, which everyone is bored with hearing. They do make a lot of money though by dressing up stupid and yelling out words to some sort of electric music.
Is it only me that is becoming like my parents condemning modern music that to me is only a thumping noise? Who cares I still have my old L.P. vinyl records of Count Basie, Sinatra, Tony Benet, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Coniff and heaps of others and an old stereo that plays them nice and loud when all my neighbours are at work.
Still a teenager of my era when it comes to ballads that meant something and you could hear every word….and still knitting items you can wear, only these days I give them to others in need.

Great tale Audrey

The Poltergeists of Old East Leeds

May 1, 2017

The Poltergeists of Old East Leeds
By Eric Sanderson

DON’T FORGET TO VISIT THE GREAT COMMENTS AT THE END

The very thought of the supernatural invites ridicule from most but for some, the spectre of an apparition from the dead appearing before the living , or unexplained noises & movement of objects is a credible concept or even a realistic experience.
The spiritual aspects of ghosts & poltergeists (noisy ghosts) derives from ancient religious be-
liefs but the paranormal has continued to be the hunting ground of the charlatans of the dark arts by the
Ouija Board exponents, Ectoplasmic illusionists, Hypnotic Seances , Satanic Rites events & the like.
Although apparently inexplicable events are reported, they almost always have a logical expla- nation such as unusual air currents, underground movement, mechanical vibration , geomagnetic activ- ity etc. Research in anamolistic psychology suggests poltergeist activity is most often explained by illusion, memory lapses, wishful thinking as well as delusion & deception.

I recall a few instances from my youth where those involved truly believed that they had wit- nessed an event that convinced them that an attempt had been made to contact them from the “other side”. It has to be said that those involved had a pronounced religious inclination and/or belief in the power of parapsychology. Rather than ghostly apparitions, most involved the belief in Poltergeists & their ability to create physical disturbance such as loud noises & objects being moved or destroyed.
Here are just a few & I also append my own , admittedly sceptical, opinion as to the probable
cause.

A friend whose mother had recently died, took to daily placing fresh flowers in a vase in memory of her mother. She claimed she would frequently hear a loud crash , finding the vase knocked over & the flowers strewn over the floor. Being possessed of a strongly evangelical character, she believed this was a signal from her recently deceased mother , displaying her displeasure at what had been a less than happy end to her life.
This continued for some time causing distress to the daughter, extending to increased religious fervour in order to seek atonement.
My own take was that it was the actions of her elderly , mangey tom cat Leonardo ( Fleonardo would have been a more apt name) who wandered off frequently , coming home battle scarred late at night & jumping onto the mantlepiece over the fireplace for warmth & comfort, knocking over the vase in the process. The cat died shortly afterwards & the vase ceased being knocked over but the friend be- lieved that this was because she had shown sufficient contrition & that her mother was now happy on the other side.
If such phenomena exists, I imagine Fleonardo is having a good old laugh at his owner’s expense.

Another example was a family who lived in one of the Railway Cottages on East Park Parade , next to the bridge crossing the railway.. They would claim that they regularly found ornaments , in par- ticular religious ones, had moved from their original placement . They were a family that practised try- ing to contact ancestors through the activities of seances & mediums & were convinced that these movements were attempts to contact them from the other side.
In all probability, it was the vibration & ground shake caused by the outward bound express trains from Leeds as they hurtled from the railway cutting between East Park Rd & Pontefract Lane.

My final example involved a middle aged widow who, late one evening on returning home, claimed that she had been physically picked up & thrown over a privet hedge into a neighbour’s gar- den, suffering a few scratches & bruises & having difficulty in an accurate recollection of the incident.
She publicly attributed this to the ghost of her recently deceased husband, expressing displea- sure at her post mortem lifestyle.
Given that she was a pretty hefty person & that it would have taken superhuman strength to accomplish what she claimed, the more likely explanation was her frequent visits to the Slip Inn Jug & Bottle out- sales being the culprit, inducing hallucinations of her dead husband & causing her to crash through the hedge in a drunken haze.
It may be cynical & I expect many of us have, on occasion, suffered hallucinations as a consequence of over indulgence of the demon drink & if I believed I had a ghost living on my street, then I would certainly try to stay alive & offer it exactly what it wants.
Nonetheless, there remains, over the years, many examples of unexplained events that defy rational explanation & baffling even experienced researchers. All philosophies are, to some extent, nonsense, but some are greater nonsense than others & although such superstitions are patently absurd, if we we’re to retain an open mind, we mustn’t be frightened by absurdities.

So, if you die in a lift, don’t forget to push the “UP” button.

That’s given us food for thought, Eric. Comments on your own paranormal activities welcome

East Leeds to Orkney

April 1, 2017

East Leeds to Orkney
This month we are regaled by John’s tale. East Leeds lad now living in Orkney
Here are pictures of the Orkney shore line and John’s cottage in Stronsay The two views are taken from exactly the same spot on the drive ; one facing SE to the sea and the other NW to the house.
permission to drool

Remember to ‘click’ on pictures to enlarge.

‘Memories of East Leeds’ by John Holloway (72)

A year or so ago I stumbled upon a website whilst searching for some obscure information. ‘East Leeds’ suddenly came up, then St Hilda’s School…..The Copperfields…..Cross Green Lane. My eyes lit up. Blimey, I thought, that’s where I used to live over 60 years ago! And I’ve never been back. I read on.
There was more – East End Park, ‘the paddy’, the ‘bug hutch’, ‘the Navvy’ (with its ‘Town Hall Steps’), and Knostrop. That was it – I was hooked. My mind went back to the 1950s – whatever happened to all my mates?

My family lived at 10, Copperfield Avenue in East Leeds and I had a lovely childhood there with my sister Linda – 5 years older than me. Suddenly in the summer of 1954 we were moving – all the way down to Gillingham in Kent. First day at school and disaster struck. I proudly showed all the lads in my class my collection of Cigarette Packets (THE thing to collect in Leeds in those days). Puzzled faces and a distinct lack of interest followed – they all collected matchboxes! Worse was to follow. I took my bag of marbles (taws) to school and searched for the holes in the grassy playing-field – vital for the game. Absolute disaster – no skilful flicking of thumb and forefinger to propel the marbles down there in Kent – they just rolled them along the gutter trying to hit each other’s marble. No skill in that! Nobody had heard of ‘I’m a’needa’ and all the other fineries of the ‘real’ game. As for my much-covetted cigarette card collection – even worse – their game was to throw them down onto the ground one at a time, trying to land their own card on top of the opponents card. Sacrilege! Mine stayed firmly in their sets held together with rubber bands! I wasn’t going to let all those famous racehorses, railway engines, and footballers etc become soiled! Whatever next? Well yes – on top of all that, they called me ‘Scottie’! None of the children knew the Yorkshire accent down there in the ‘deep south’ but I soon succumbed and within a few months I was talking ‘Chathamese’ – the local dialect in that part of the world. I was quickly loosing my ‘Yorkshireness’ – no more ‘corser-edge’ for me! I had arrived in a very different ‘world’ – most of the kids hadn’t even heard of John Charles, and the nearest Town Hall Steps were in front of a big building in Chatham – not in the railway cutting near Copperfield Avenue! In Gillingham I soon discovered that there was a bewildering network of alleyways everywhere, between houses and houses, and gardens and gardens. All I remembered from East Leeds in this respect was the ‘ginnel’ on the way to the butchers shop!

*

On leaving school I joined the Civil Service as a cartographer but craved a more adventurous outdoor life and after three years took up a job as Lifeguard at the local Swiming Pool in Giilingham which I ran for several years until the threat of closure loomed in the mid-seventies. At 33 and still having a sense of adventure, my wife Sue and I, along with our children, moved to Scotland – one year in Orkney followed by 6 years on Britain’s most isolated populated island – Fair isle – where we ran the shop and had some great experiences – 130mph winds and all! With the closure of the island’s two Lighthouses the shop became unviable and in 1983 we were back in Kent and back at the Swimming Pool for a few years.
The yearning for adventure took over once more when our daughter fell in love with an Orcadian boy during a family holiday, and in 1987 we found ourselves heading back north to Stronsay in Orkney where we have lived ever since, our main source of income until retirement being from our Birdwatching Holiday business and writing & illustrating bird books. But every so often Leeds comes to mind – often precipitated by a good result for Leeds United or the mention of Beeston or the Neville Hill railway sheds.

*

Going back to Leeds – I just loved school, and one of my first recollections of life in East Leeds is of the small camp-beds we had for a ‘lie-down’ at St Hilda’s School and the ‘Music and Movement’ programme on the radio in the hall which accompanied our late-morning exercises. My class was in the same hall when the death of King George V1 was announced over the air-waves.
But what of the rest of my class? Since leaving Leeds at the age of ten I have heard very little. My parents kept in touch with several neighbours for many years and in my mid-teens they passed on the news that two of my class-mates – Paul Reaney and Peter Bradford – had been given trials with Leeds United FC. I had played goalkeeper for St Hilda’s and was the ‘reserve’ to Paul at the Yorkshire Schools Sports in Roundhay Park where he came 2nd in the sprint (100yds?) two years running. I had often wondered who on earth could possibly have beaten Paul – he was so fast – but many years later I learnt that the Yorkshire age-group champion for those two years was his future team-mate at Leeds Utd – Paul Madeley. (Not surprising they were both brilliant full-backs!).
Others – most of who appear in the class photo attached, were: Freddie Dubber, Ronnie Harvey, and Graham Clarkson who all lived in my street; Gary Foxcroft – who collected autographs and lived in St Hilda’s Place, and Stephen Smart, Wilfred Binns, Raymond Batley, and Peter Robinson who all lived nearby. Kathleen Gale was the ‘top’ girl, but (‘fortunately’ – so my wife Sue says!) I cannot remember the names of any of the other girl’s in the photo. Phew!

Remember those great open backed happy buses? Anyone recognise themselves?

A good part of my out-of-school time was taken up with train-spotting – sitting atop the substantial stone-wall which ran along the railway at East End Park, and occasionally – on Sunday afternoons – sneaking into the Neville Hill shed to admire the engines around the turn-table. We were never sent out! ‘Health and Safety’ was not yet born! I can remember many of the regular engines which went by – Captain Cuttle, Ocean Swell, Geoffrey H Kitson etc. etc., and if the engine was too ‘regular’ we would shout ‘scrap it’ to the driver. The pullman train ‘The Queen of Scots’ was one of our favourites. Two of my pals – Dennis Garside and elder brother John (lived in a shop in ‘the St Hilda’s’) preferred the LMS engines to the LNER engines of Neville Hill, and occasionally we would go across Leeds to Ninevah (?) engine shed to collect train numbers of the LMS region. (Personally, I felt a bit of a traitor!).
Bobby Taylor was a good pal and lived at the farm in Black Road where I spent even more time than at East End Park. When we were not helping on the farm we would hunt for caterpillars among the rhubarb fields and fish in the small ponds nearby. The coaches to the ‘paddy’ railway were parked alongside the farm on Sundays and we would often climb up and sit in the small coaches which took the miners to work during the week. The only engine I can remember was called ‘Dora’ – a small saddle-tank. One of our favourite ‘games’ was to wait outside the farm – where the dustcarts heading for the rubbish tip slowed down – then jump onto the small platform at the back, and jump off again as the cart slowed down to go through the tip gates several hundred yards away! (Health and Safety again!!!). We then had the long walk back to the farm! One day Bobby and I were in one of his fields, messing about at one of the water troughs, I pulled the arm of the float up to let more water into the trough and I must have bent it a bit as when it went back down the water kept on coming into the tank and pretty soon it was flooding over the edges and running down onto the grass. ‘You’ve flooded the world,’ Bobby shouted out and I ran off home as fast as I could as he went back off to his farm. I lay in bed the night worried sick , Bobby’s words kept ringing in my ears – at nine years old I had no idea how the water was going to be stopped, it just kept coming, I really thought ‘I had flooded the world’. First thing next morning I dashed out into the street in panic and looked right, straight down to the field the trough was in (the one further away from Cross Green Lane then the rhubarb field) what a relief all was dry as a bone, although I could not see the trough of course; it was too far away. I had expected the water to be a least up to Cross Green Lane and everywhere eastwards to be underwater, what a relief!
Nearby we often went to watch East Leeds at the cricket ground, and on one occasion, one of my uncles visiting us from London claimed (and did so for many years!) to have caught out the ‘up and coming star’ we had all been told would be opening the batting that day. Well my uncle did catch the ball on the full – but he was well over the boundary among the crowd at the time! It was a six. And the batsman? The future Yorkshire and England star Brian Bolus!

It was almost mandatory to visit the ‘pictures’ at least once a week and I remember the wooden benches in the ‘Bug Hutch’ (in Easy Road?) where it was easy to squeeze in a pal who turned up late, but far more important than watching the ‘flicks’ – as we called them – was our regular Sunday morning trips to the Star Cinema on York Road where there would be a pile of empty cigarette packets from the night before, swept out into the yard. Perfect for us collectors, and we would sometimes find a rare brand – Sobranie, Camel, Lucky Strike etc. etc. which we gathered up eagerly for our collections. The tall padlocked gates to the yard were no obstacle for us!
On Sunday mornings my dad often took me fishing in the ponds (reservoirs?) at Cross Gates – the end of the tram-line, and my mother would take us for walks along the river at Wetherby in the holidays. Temple Newsam was an absolute must for all of the family, especially to see the flowers in Spring. The only other times I ventured out of Leeds – other than holidays and the occasional bus outing – was to go to Aberford with the Cubs for a week-end camp. We all went off – gear and all the boys – in the back of a small open lorry. It was great fun, with one of the lads telling us a short story every evening which always ended in his inimitable phrase – ‘Carbolic Soap to cool you down’. There were the ruins of a stately home close to our camp and it was a big ‘dare’ to go in to see if we could see the Barn Owls said to live in the chimney. Very ‘spooky’! One particular incident which still shines bright and clear in my memory regarding the camps is the time we found a baby Jackdaw which was clearly too young to be out of the nest. It seemed to have no fear of us and I put it on my shoulder (pirate fashion) and proudly marched back to camp to show Akela (the troup leader). Everyone gathered round to look at the bird which promptly turned its back towards my head and relieved itself right into my left ear! I can feel that strange ‘liquid warmth’ to this day!
Back home in Copperfield Avenue – and perhaps the highlight of the year – was the bonfire in the middle of the road on 5th November. Wood was collected for several days beforehand (chumping) and stored in people’s gardens and garden sheds, and the night before the fire (‘MIckey Night’) it had to be guarded throughout the night to prevent it being ‘moved off’ to another bonfire nearby!
Looking back, it is hard to believe that the streets were still lit by Gaslight at the time – and one of our favourite tricks was to kick the cast-iron ‘post’ – opposite No 10 – in order to get the light to come on a few minutes early. It always worked. Weren’t we naughty! Perhaps – but we were certainly happy.

Thanks John and Sue for your great contribution to our East Leeds Memories
Hope to hear from you again soon

John Holloway ‘Castle’ Stronsay Orkney KW172AG Scotland

I would love to hear from any old class-mates from St Hilda’s School

Ramblings around East Leeds in the Early fifties

March 1, 2017

By Eddie Blackwell

We moved houses during late 1949. My Grandma had passed on and Granddad couldn’t cope on his own. We lived in a through Terraced House in Devon Street off Pontefract Lane, it was classed as a Red Area and due for demolition, we had a cold water tap, no bath or inside toilet, but we managed as people did in those days.
Granddad lived in Osmondthorpe in an end terrace of four houses, with Hot and Cold water on tap, and an inside toilet and bathroom, a garden front and back, opulence personified, luxury beyond our wildest dreams, to turn on the tap and hot water gush forth, after you’ve been used to boiling the kettle was almost beyond belief.
Granddad was 71 years old when we moved in with him, he was still quite fit an able, and had all of his faculties about him. I recall he would tell me stories about when he was serving in WW1, He was in the RAMC, (Royal Army Medical Corps) and he was at the front in Ypres and the Somme. They were gruesome tales he had to tell of how both Men and Animals were used as cannon fodder to further the ends of Bureaucrats and Politicians who claimed they’d gained 600 yards, but didn’t mention it had cost thousands of lives and animals to do so.
He had lots of sayings as well, things like, “if you do owt for nowt make sure you do it for the sen”, another one was “life is but a span enjoy it whilst you can”, and “don’t count your chickens before there hatched”, “home is where the heart is”, “Why did the chicken cross the road” and a host of others.
He liked his pint as well, his local was the Wykebeck Arms in Selby Road, He used to manage the football team that played out of there, so he was always well received. Come Sunday mornings about 11 am, he’d start to whistle a little tune to himself and rub the ends of his waistcoat between his forefinger and thumbs, he always wore a waist coat collar and tie and suit, in winter he’d put his overcoat over the top, come Ice, Snow, Hail, Rain or Gale, he’d not miss his Sunday Lunchtime session. I used to go and meet him at 2 pm, he was always a bit tipsy when he came out, so I’d put my arm in his to steady him up and we’d walk back home and have Yorkshire Puddings, Roast Beef, potatoes, two veg, and gravy, they were happy days that I shall always treasure and remember.
Granddad unfortunately had a stroke, I was about 14 years old, and they sent for me from school, which was at the end of the street, but we didn’t have telephones in those days, like we have today, it was down to the telephone box put your pennies in and press button “A”. So the Ambulance took ages to arrive and by that time a lot of damage had been done, they took him to Hospital he was in for about a week, but when he came out he couldn’t walk that well and he was never the same.
We’d been living there just over 3 years when Granddad passed on, and I was devastated. I think my Dad recognised this, of course he was also grieving the loss of Granddad. Dad was a Clubman, he loved the Osmondthorpe Club, we didn’t have transport, but it wasn’t far to walk through the Railway Bridge at the end of Wykebeck Avenue, up the path past the pit hills onto Osmondthorpe Lane and you were there. I remember a story from back then of how, Dad had one too many this night, and walking back from the Club with Mum, he fell through a hedge, Mum said she thought he’d got taken short, and proceeded on home and up to bed. The following morning Dad turned up banging on the door all of a fluster he’d fallen through the hedge and gone to asleep, and the following morning a dog had woken him licking his face, it took a long time for him to live that one down.
Although I always thought there was more to it than we were told. Mum had a terrible temper when she was angry especially if she’d had a drink, and she was pretty handy with her Hand Bags they were always large heavy ones, I thought they may have been arguing and she’d swung out with her hand bag and knocked Dad through the hedge and he’d gone out for the count, then he’d made up that story to cover things over. They were OK the following day arguments never lasted long at our house, Mum and Dad always used to say life’s too short to hold grudges, agree to differ if you must and move on, and we never discussed Politics or Religion, Mum was RC and Conservative, Dad was C of E and Labour just like chalk and cheese from that point of view.
When the Moon was full and shining bright Dad liked to go for a walk, he’d say, are you feeling tired…No, come on then let’s go for a walk, and off we we’d go across Halton Moore onto the bridle path up through the Golf Course and into Temple Newsam. We’d look through the windows of the Mansion expecting to see the Blue Lady but she never appeared, although we did have a scare once when someone shone a light inside, and we made off rather quickly, then it was back down Selby Road into the estate and home. I think Dad did this to try and make a bond, it was his way of compensating for the loss of Granddad.
Eventually we moved on as you have to do with life’s tragedies, but it hurt for a long time.
There was one occasion when the Moon was really big and full with a Yellow glow and a Halo, Dad said come on it’s a Harvest Moon, we can’t let this one go by, and off we went. We were following the beck on Halton Moor just the other side of the road from Corpus Christy Church when suddenly a Ladies voice cried out for help, Murder, murder she called. Well I was very quick in those days and I was off like a rocket along the side of the beck towards the hill from where we flew our model aeroplanes. There was a boggy patch just before the hill where water cress used to grow and I cleared that without breaking my stride, on up the hill and there was the lady sorting herself out, and a Guy much bigger and older than I they were having words. Are you OK I asked the lady, she said yes I am thanks I’m sorry for calling out like that but we were having a disagreement that’s all. Then the Guy said what do you think you were going to do about it anyway, by this time the artillery had arrived, and Dad said I think he’d have coped with the situation don’t you, the lady had sorted herself out, and said come on Fred I think it’s time we were going don’t you, thanks again young man, and off they went down onto Halton Moor Avenue.
Dad said to me they must have been having an argument about something, and how long have you been able to run that fast, just look at me, he’d fallen in the bog and was covered up to his middle in mud.
Then Dad told me if you ever have a situation like that again, make sure you come in with the light behind you and shinning on the other person, your less vulnerable that way. Then we put it all behind us and carried on with our walk, we always stopped on the path as we went through the golf course, the first hole was by the Lady Bower Woods. Dad always fancied himself as a Golfer even before I was born.
When I was little before he went into the RAF he’d carry me on his shoulders from where we lived in Devon Street down Pontefract lane towards East End Park, along Red Road onto the bridle path that leads to Temple Newsam then we’d stop to watch them playing Golf I used to be bored to tears watching fully grown men knocking a little ball into a hole, what’s so difficult about that I used to think.
Dad had never earnt enough money to be able to afford to play the game. It’s a rich man’s sport he always used to say, wish he was here now I’d buy him as many golf clubs as he wanted. Sometimes we’d curtail the walk up to Temple Newsam House, and cut down to Selby Road after the Golf course and this was one of those occasions.
I think this midnight walking must have had an effect on me in my later years. I recall after returning from National Service my Brother in law and I, going into the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District climbing the Three Peaks, Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and many more all at Midnight, we’d set off to reached there at 12 Midnight in Roy’s little Mini. We had no walking or climbing gear, just strong shoes and warm clothing, and chocolate, we always had a bar of chocolate with us. I remember when we did Pen-y-gent, it was our first excursion, we left their new house just off Selby Road, it was a bad night very cold and when we got there it was blowing a Gale with Hailstones. Undaunted off we went, it’s not a very difficult climb (well not for us in those days we were very fit), but when we reached the summit, the weather conditions started to get worse, and I got the bonk we used to call it, when all of the energy drained out of your legs. So we sheltered ourselves from the weather and ate a bar of chocolate, that did the trick, after half an hour we proceeded down from the summit into the car and stopped at a transport café for a good breakfast on the way home. We always got a telling off from me Mum when we arrived home, I’ve been up all night worrying about you both, your old enough now to have some common sense, and leaving Sheila on her own, when she’s expecting it’s not right Roy. I’ll bet you two are hungry have you had some breakfast, you pair of juvenile delinquents.

I remember in the early 1950’s we’d moved from Devon street to go and live with my Granddad at 52, Wykebeck Street, Osmondthorpe Leeds 9. It’s strange how things stick in your mind. It was like stepping into another world to have hot and cold water on tap, and a bathroom with a toilet and a bath.
Granddad was in his early 70’s and had kept himself in good shape, but he always said to me, if you want to do things do them before your 70’s, because it all goes downhill from there. He’d worked hard all his life in the Clay Industry, producing Building Materials, Sanitary Ware and suchlike.
It was heavy manual work paid on a piecework basis, punching clay into moulds, then finishing and smoothing the products ready for drying, then glazing and firing. In his later years after he was 65 he had the Foreman’s job which was less physical, but more stressful, and he always said to me he wasn’t sure if it didn’t take more out of him than moulding the clay.
Granddad used to go to the Wykebeck Arms every weekend Sunday lunchtime was his favourite, he always wore a waistcoat and had a pocket watch, I could always tell when it was getting near his time to go, he’d look at his watch and whistle a little tune, rubbing the points of his waistcoat and looking out of the window down the street. Then suddenly he’d put on his jacket, and his overcoat if it was cold don his grey Trilby hat, and off he’d go.
He used to manage and train the football team that played out of there in his day, so he was well received, I’d walk down and meet him about 2 pm, he was always a bit tipsy and I’d put my arm in his to steady him as we walked home, and he’d tell me a tale or two about when he was on the Somme in WW1, and he always had a little story to pass on his experience and wisdom to me.
He was a Corporal in the Medical Corps and when he was on the Somme, he would take a Medical Squad out into No-Man’s-Land amongst all the barbed wire and mayhem, to try and help the injured and wounded, and he always said when it gets to that point in time all men are equal, there are no Officers and Gentlemen or other Ranks your all in it together and one man is same as the other, and anyone who says different was never there.
I played football for the School at that time and he always came to watch me play, and he would clean and dubbin my football boots and have my kit all laid out for me. I never ever played a bad game, but he would always have a bit of advice for me, along the lines if you trained a bit harder you could score a few goals as well. Regrettable he suffered a stroke from which he never really recovered, and I thought the bottom had fallen out of my world.
Dad seemed to sense my grief as you would expect, because he was also grieving, and we started going for long walks together at night when the Moon was full and shining. He would come home from the Club we’d have a fish and chip supper Mum and my Sister would go to bed. Then we’d set off over Halton Moor walking along the beck, cut up along the bridle path across the Golf course into Temple Newsome then back down Selby Road and home, this was usually a Saturday night so we could have a lay in on Sunday morning

We Had to Eat Gravel!

February 1, 2017

We Had to Eat Gravel

 

When you look back along a reasonably long life you see that so many things have changed, most of the local pubs, corner shops and cinemas have closed down, open fires, decent ballads and lavies down the street are a thing of the past, church attendances are down, the coal mines are closed. The simple things we used to do in life have been usurped by modern technology. I find it hard to believe these changes have happened in just one life time. Perhaps most of all I remember how happily primitive general living used to be.

Do you remember that great old Monty Python sketch where a group of well healed old farts are sitting around in leather arm chairs supping their whisky and purporting how hard it had been for them on the way up, each one trying to outdo the last on the depth of the depravity they had endured in their early lives until it got brilliantly silly and towards the end one old fart said after the previous one had made maniacal claims.

‘Right, well listen to this then. We lived in a shoe box and all we had to eat was gravel!’

Not to be outdone the final guy said, ‘Shoe box! That would have been a luxury for us, we would have loved to live in a shoe box we had to live in the canal and every night our dad came home from work and murdered us.’

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Well you know we East Leedsers who have been lucky enough to have had a reasonably long life can look back on times descending back to what now seems almost comic proportions of destitution. I’m going to put myself in the position of those old farts going back over my life. I’ll pretend to be different old farts getting more and more disadvantaged but really they will all be me and although it won’t be as exotic as Monty Python it will all be true.

Old fart number one. ‘When we were first married we never aspired to satellite television we just had a colour TV with the basic channels, no free view facility, just had an old dial  telephone on a land line, we were never  able to afford those magic mobile things that just about tell you what you had for breakfast.  And there were no ‘sat navs’ you had to know how to read a map. If your car wouldn’t start on a morning you had to swing it with a starting handle sometimes it kicked back and knocked your shoulder out Twenty pounds a week was a top wage – you could get a mortgage on twenty pounds a week we only had the one toilet of course and a galvanised dustbin.

Old fart number two. Colour television? You were lucky, we never dreamt of colour television. When I lived in Cross Green we had a 12 inch black and white TV which constantly rolled over and over and had one channel,  BBC one. We only had one electric plug to run everything off. We had no fridge or washing machine we had a keeping safe in the cellar to keep food going off and Mam washed our clothes in the sink.  If we wanted to telephone we had to go to the big red box up the road and I went to work for years on an old pushbike.

Old fart number three. ‘Television! We’d never heard of even black and white television. When I lived in Knostrop we didn’t even have electricity we had gas downstairs and nothing at all upstairs. You can’t run many appliances off gas so we had to make our own amusement. We had running water and a flush toilet but it was outside and froze up in winter. We had to sleep outside in an air raid shelter while the Germans rained bombs down on us. When it rained heavily, Knostrop being so low down in Leeds the water came out of the man holes instead of in and flooded us to the depth of about ten inches and floated everything about. Being a large old house I had a big bedroom but ivy grew on the inside as well as the outside walls, when I went to bed I climbed the stairs with a candle stick like Wee Willy Winky. The nearest telephone box was at the top of the hill so was school, where we always had to walk to on our own after the first day and where on a bad day we would expect to be smacked on our arms and legs by the women teachers and caned by the head master.

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Knostrop

Old fart number four. Flush toilets! We would have loved a flush toilet. When I was evacuated to Aunt Nellie’s at None-Go-Byes Farm Cottage all we had was a dry toilet round the back that smelt terrible and was only emptied now and then when the midden men came round. We had no gas or electricity only oil lamps that smoked smelt terribly too. The only water was iron water from a tap in the yard. We had two bedrooms but you had to pass through one to get

To the other

none-go-byes-cottage

 

there was no phone box at all you had to post a letter if you wanted to contact anyone and the post box was three miles away as was the nearest shop and bus stop. The Germans dropped flairs on us looking for the munitions factory. When the kids went to school they had to take their shoes off and walk in bare feet across the fields so they wouldn’t get their shoes muddy and be told off by the teachers.

Old fart number five. Two Bedrooms! We lived in The Humbug House, an old single story gatehouse. We never dreamt of having two bedrooms we had one room and one bedroom, neither gas nor electricity and it was so damp because it was below the water table that vegetation grew on the inside of the walls, I don’t remember what we did for a toilet perhaps we used a bucket?

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Every word is true, it’s been a long road, when I look back and sounds as if it could have been unhappy but it never was. I never felt disadvantaged at any of those places.  Folk were all in the same boat getting themselves through the war, Mam and Dad were alive and love abounded. If I could go back to any one of those times I’d be there in a trice because I’d be young again and nowt fazes you when you’re young does it?

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Comments welcome

 

Miserable gits

January 1, 2017

MISERABLE “ GITS”

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Another great tale from Eric Sanderson

As you meander through life, the rich pattern of different personalities cross your path in a continuous stream, some for a fleeting moment and yet others leave a lasting impression.
Sometimes it’s for the better, at other times it’s for the worse and I think it applies universally, whatever the community.
I suppose that this is one interpretation of eternal life, some of those characters of 60 years or so ago are still as vivid after all this time. In our minds eye, they still look and sound the same and so have lived on unchanged in our memories.

Many were bright, cheerful, friendly folk whom you were happy to know and enjoyed coming across :-

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But there were the perennial moaners, whingers and downright unpleasant characters – the “Miserable ’Gits’ “ who were never happy unless they were being miserable.

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These were the ones you tried to avoid at all costs , especially if some of the grubby rumours were to be given house room, but it wasn’t always possible.
Here’s a few I came across over the years in our area and without mentioning any names, the descriptions might just strike a chord.

The first are really a group rather than individuals. These were the folk who lived in end terrace houses and used to complain to us lads that thumped a football endlessly against their wall end
We just couldn’t understand their mean-ness and animosity towards this perfectly innocent pastime.
In a similar vein , one chap used to become really ratty when we used his garden path as the run up, bowling to the cricket stumps chalked on the opposite terrace end wall.
Some people are so unreasonable.

Then there was the cinema usher and attendant. He ran his fiefdom with a rod of iron and woe betide any miscreant who didn’t obey his strict rules. They would be thrown out, unceremoniously for the slightest infraction such as talking ,fidgeting or moving from your allocated seat. The youth of the day lived in fear of him but outside of the cinema, he was a quiet, unassuming man whose demeanor completely belied his reign of terror inside the cinema.
Trying to ingratiate yourself with him was a complete waste of time. In fact it seemed to have the opposite effect by making him suspicious of your motives, resulting in being kept under even closer scrutiny and at greater risk of forcible ejection.

A shopkeeper on Temple View Rd ranks near the top of the most miserable git list. His was a general grocery store and he would greet customers with a snarling demand of “what do you want “ ?.
With a trembling voice, meekly and respectfully stating your needs , he would mutter & sigh before slamming your purchase onto his wide counter. If you had the temerity to not offer the correct amount of money, he would roll his eyes and quite literally throw your change at you across the counter top. I dreaded going there and even my Mother, who could hold her own with most, was wary of him – that’s probably why she used to send me !.
Such behavior was/is completely inimical to running a service business where the vendor should surely go the extra mile to encourage his customers to come to him with repeat business.
Although this particular establishment was an extreme example, many corner shops were not known for their friendliness , seeming to think they were a cut above their customers – their vanity being the quicksands of their reason.

The Park Ranger at East End Park in the 40’s & 50’s could hold his own on the miserable git league. It must have been part of the job spec for all Park Rangers, for they all seemed to be the same, that a deep seated hatred of people, particularly young boys , came naturally to them.
This particular guy was a quite small and wiry which made him a formidable challenge because you couldn’t easily run away from him. He always carried a stout stick and he wasn’t averse, or even slow to give a swift whack to any errant youth.
At the time, it was forbidden to walk on the wide sweeps of grass (crazy or not ?) but it was a source of mischief to do so, calling to the “Parkie” to attract his attention and encourage a chase. Even if he didn’t manage to catch you, he had a good memory and would often extract his reprisal a few days later.
Another forbidden practice was riding your bike along Victoria Avenue , which went from one end of the Park to the other. Of course, this was another activity which the youth of the day just had to do. One time, a group kept sweeping up and down , dodging the Parkie who was obviously furious, shouting and waving his stick. His control finally left him and thrusting his stick into the spokes of one rider as they swept by once again, the unfortunate cyclist took a tumble and suffering a badly damaged wheel. But it brought the practice of the mickey taking cyclists to an abrupt halt.
Yes, “Parkies” were in the first division of miserable gits.

Schoolteachers had their champions in the miserable git stakes. I can only speak of Victoria but there was at least three there in my time who would quickly and readily administer corporal punishment at the earliest opportunity. Although some were good at actually teaching, there was often this underlying ,habitual code of strict discipline and little of the pastoral care prevalent in many schools today. But, every silver lining has a cloud, maybe the more “friendly” schoolteachers of today don’t gain the respect they once enjoyed and some people’s desire to do the right thing considerably exceeds their ability to discern just what the “right thing” is.

A nearby chippy was owned by a real grump. Fish and chip shops abounded in the area and everyone had their favourite. In those days, they would close for two or three weeks in the summer whilst the owners took their holidays so you had to switch allegiance for that period. This particular chippy knew you weren’t a regular and wouldn’t hesitate to let you know and disapproved of your using his establishment for convenience. On more than one occasion, I heard him tell customers to take their trade elsewhere. Unbelievable.

A well known barber on York Road, near Victoria school was the scourge of young boys. He would enforce silence whilst waiting your turn to have your haircut in the style he decided. He took no notice of your requests and would only condescend to let you in the chair when all the adults had been seen to first. I’ve even known lads, in mid haircut, to be removed from the chair to allow a later arriving adult take priority. Not only that, he was a nasty piece of work to boot and one to steer well clear of.

Another cinematic nightmare was the manager at the Star Cinema. In the fashion of the day, he always wore a tuxedo , sported brilliantined hair and a clipped moustache. But boy, was he a piece of work. He would fix you with a gimlet eye and if he didn’t like the cut of your jib, might not even let you in. To be fair, it was mainly teenagers in groups that attracted his wrath but it wasn’t always fairly administered and protest merely justified his draconian justice.

I had a friend whose Mum was not so much miserable but intensely house-proud. Our friend used to have piano lessons at home but to be truthful, anyone less musically talented would be difficult to imagine. However, when we called for him, he would sometimes be in the midst of his piano practice and although she invited us in, she would place a newspaper on the floor and insist we stand stock still, not move onto the sparkling lino floor or speak so as not to disturb the budding pianist whilst he practiced his ear offending scales. I’m no musician but my god, there are limits. Shoes were inspected prior to entry and naturally, sitting on the highly polished leather suite was strictly forbidden.

Some neighbours also figured on the miserable git list but they were far outweighed by the many friendly people who lived in the area ,who were kind and tried hard to make the lives of young people much better. And in the end, that’s what made the old East Leeds community the great place to grow up in that era – after all is said and done, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years and Old East Leeds was the place to do that.

Foul play at the Slip Inn

December 24, 2016

A TALE FOR CHRISTMAS

Foul Play at the Slip Inn – a fantasy tale of murder & mayhem
By Eric Sanderson

In the immediate post war years up into the ’60’s, the East End Park area of East Leeds was for the most part a comparatively tranquil place to live. However when the Slip Inn ( whose correct name was The New Regent but nobody called it any other than the “Slip”) opened it’s doors to the newly built concert room in the ’50’s & began staging live music, the area took on a livelier atmosphere & was a big attraction, drawing large, regular crowds of young people – many from outside the immediate area- & which inevitably turned rowdy at times.
One or two other establishments offered similar entertainment around the same time , notably The Prospect in Accommodation Rd & The White Horse in York Rd.

The following tale is one which to be truthful, is fictitious & which I had a bit of fun writing but why not put yourself in the front row & go along for the ride anyway ?. But a word of warning , every second you spend reading this piece of trivia may turn out to be
a second of your life totally wasted & wreck your sanity by reading such drivel.
I also know that there are a few historical timing conflicts but then, that’s the least of the nonsense.

Friday evening, which was probably the venue’s most popular time, always crowded, was buzzing as usual but one particular evening, just before Christmas and as the stage curtains were pulling back & the band were about to strike up, a gasp arose from the audience as the resident pianist – known as Light Fingers , for a good reason that didn’t include his piano playing abilities, was seen slumped over the keyboard with his face buried in a congealed, half eaten parcel of newspaper wrapped fish & chips. Oddly the other members of the troupe appeared not to have noticed, but were probably used to seeing him comatose as he only worked there to pay his bar bill. It brought a chill to the customers who were there expecting an evening of Christmas cheer & music amongst the brightly lit festive decorations.
The police were speedily summoned ,although their response was slow as the officers involved from Millgarth Police Station happened to be esconced in a nearby
bookies trying to recoup last weeks heavy losses . Reluctantly leaving the bookies as they were convinced they were onto a surefire winner to boost their Christmas backhanders, they jumped into their souped up Ford Granada & roared along Marsh Lane, up Shannon street past the coal staithe, tore into Lavender Walk & along Ascot terrace , fi- nally racing down Temple View Rd to screech to a tyre smoking halt outside the Slip. A little street furniture & a couple of dogs were the hapless victims of their reckless high speed journey, along with a few pedestrians diving for cover & needing rescucitation afterwards as well. Into the concert room strode sharp suited Det Sergeant Beauregard
Sidebottom, his immaculately tailored suit being marred only by the slight bulge from a couple of knuckledusters in his jacket pocket. He was accompanied by his assistant, Det Constable Euric Head who unsurprisingly appeared a little tipsy , having a legendary re- putation for imbibing copious quantities of Premium Bitter & claiming that his investi- gatory powers remained unaffected, even enhanced, except for his need for regular toilet breaks & for him to stick his head into the porcelain for a good barf . Both were well known to the local villainy, especially for their vigorous interrogation techniques so
there was an immediate scramble for the exits, many of East Leeds finest scattering in all directions , fleeing to the more remote regions of East End Park, Black Road or the dark alleyways & safe houses of Saville Green to lie low ‘til matters cooled down some- what.
A posse of bobbies tried to pursue them through the Glendsdales, Charltons & along Welbeck Rd but the pursued were fleet of foot & well used to outrunning the police foot- men .The unfit & mainly overweight rozzers were soon gasping for breath & quickly gave up the unequal struggle, repairing back to the Slip for the odd rejevenating pint of Hemingway’s Cloudfest Bitter to start their Christmas celebrations early.
On being briefed about the situation, D.S Sidebottom declared “I smell a rat”. Not so said several of the audience, it’s the miasma from a decomposing body. Some had spotted the pianist slump over the keyboard just as the stage curtains were closing at the conclusion of the previous friday night’s concert & just assumed he was in his usual drunken stupor. “That means the man must have been dead for almost exactly one week” ventured D.S. Sidebottom & glancing at his assistant murmured “that’s what makes a great detective – the ability to think on your feet & make complex deductions at the
crime scene”.
The D.S. immediately put those remaining or trapped in the room, around 150 or so, on lockdown & permitted nobody to leave, or even served with a drink ‘til someone had ‘fessed up. This brought howls of protest but unsurprisingly nobody owned up, so D.S Sidebottom placed all 150 in the room under arrest on suspicion of murder and/or complicity in the deed. Unfortunately, he had insufficient pairs of handcuffs to go
around so had to improvise by commandeering empty coal sacks from a nearby coalyard ( Wriggleworths – better known as “Lizzies” & just across the road from the Slip Inn) & placing them over the heads to blindfold the 150 suspects before frogmarching the lot down to Millgarth Police station .
There, devoid of any of the Christmas spirit goodwill towards all men, the interro- gation, conducted under the strictest human rights directives of course, commenced in due course but only after banging everyone up overnight, 25 to a cell on stale bread & water only and a prolonged waterboarding . As the suspects were gradually released, some appeared with bruised faces, black eyes & clutching bruised ribs – & that was only the women. Many of the men appeared with missing teeth & bandaged hands where fin- gernails had been ripped out. Not a great start to the festive season’s break.

The police pathologist, Dr Hugo Ruff-Trayd, was beginning to sober up when he
commenced the autopsy & apart from his badly trembling hands resulting in a few mis- placed slashes from his scalpel, managed to complete the autopsy without once falling over or throwing up onto the cadaver.
His alcohol blurred vision proved unable to discover any obvious clinical impedi- ment, declaring it was “death from natural causes, that is until it was pointed out by his recently released assistant, Dr Garth Vayder – “that is a load of old b******s there’s a b******g deep penetration wound between his f******g shoulder blades”.
Unable to control himself because of some genetic predisposition , his language skills unfortunately suffered & were often the cause of conflict between himself & their clients.
Aha, declared Dr Ruff-Trayd, this means a criminal offence has taken place & I’ll be required as an expert witness.
This finding unleashed the constabulary to widen their searches far& wide amongst local hostelries , the railway cuttings between Pontefract Lane, East Park Rd & all other
known refuges in the search for potential fugitives ,those with information which might lead to an arrest ( i.e. -a stool pidgeon) or the finding of a weapon. Not unaturally for the force in question, a few beatings, threats & late night forced entries were employed to speed matters along. Finally, the list of suspects was narrowed down to 24 but this was such a bonanza arrest list for the beleaguered W.Y. Police Force , that D.S. Sidebot- tom was assured of promotion at the earliest opportunity.
The main suspect was the 94 year old , tiny & frail widow Lawless solely on the grounds that she had not answered a single question put to her. The reason for that being because the interrrogation team had simply failed to realise she was stone deaf &
couldn’t hear a word said to her.
Meanwhile, the SlipInn Concert Room was declared a crime scene & closed for a full half hour whilst the forensic team did their work before packing up for a complimentary liquid lunch with pork pies from a nearby shop run by a zit faced youth who, unknown to his clientele, because of his inattention to the job & his total uselessness, used to end up doing disgusting things with the pies & sausage rolls. Dropping them onto the floor
& wiping them clean with his filthy , chest cold filled hankerchief was one of his more hygenic procedures, often resulting in his customers projectile vomiting liquids from both ends of their torso . Some said this was deliberate on his part.

The trial date duly arrived & the accused, all 24 of them charged with joint
& several responsibility, were to appear at Leeds Crown Court, before High Court
Judge, his Lordship Theopholus. P. Bulstrode – a man of jurisprudence known chiefly for his illiberal opinions, robust court discipline & harsh sentencing. He announced that
there was to be no time wasting, wanting the matter cleared up quickly so that he could get into the season of good will a.s.a.p.
Dr Ruff-Trayd was due to be first up to provide the court with his autopsy findings but was found asleep in the witness waiting room, clutching an empty absinthe bottle & requiring several bucket of cold water to be thrown over him and a gallon of strong
black coffee poured down his throat before he was deemed fit, although looking some- what dishevelled, to enter the witness box, much to the relief of his deputy who, suffer- ing from an almighty hangover , believed his inability to speak in any other than the most offensive expletives may have got him into troublewith the judge.
Naturally, His Honor was furious at the delay which meant his lunch break would be curtailed to a mere 2 hours & a measly half bottle of Navy Rum. His fury was plain to see with bulging eyes, neck veins standing out & his alcoholic red nose glowing like a rear stop light.
“You sir, are an incompetent, unprofessional fool & a drunkard to boot” bellowed the judge.
M’Lud enquired Ruff-Trayd’s counsel, “why so aggressive & insulting towards the ve- nerable Dr.”
“Because it takes one to know one” thundered the judge.

Newly promoted Det Superintendant Sidebottom – who now styled himself
Siddybotham as more befitting his new, higher rank and had taken to wearing even sharper suits along with equally lurid hand painted kipper ties , proceeded to out- line the evidence against the suspects , i.e. that they were present when the body was discovered & that they were all from East Leeds – Q.E.D. ,in particular the damning evi- dence against the incommunicative 94 yr old widow main suspect.
This was followed by defence “ counsel ” ( a self educated ex con & AA attendee who’d recently bought a second hand copy of “Idiots Guide to Litigation”) presenting witnesses to attest to the character & somewhat dodgy alibis of the 24 in the dock.
The judge quickly became bored & fell asleep to be awoken only by his own thun- derous double bass snoring. He immediately & grumpily declared he was suspending proceedings & would find all the accused guilty as charged on the basis of an ancient le- gal tenet of Common Law known as Excreta Taurus, because none had proven their in- nocence to his satisfaction & he was therefore redacting all defence testimony & pro- ceeding straight to sentencing.

However, before he could do so, the huge Cuban cigar he’d been secretly puffing behind the bench before he’d dropped off & was still burning, made contact with his vo- luminous scarlet robes which he’d only recently purchased cheaply on EBay . Unfortu- nately for him, they’d been manufactured in Hong Kong from a highly flammable mate- rial, soaked in Saltpetre to preserve their lurid colour and on which he’d spilled a large
tumbler of cognac as he fell asleep ,very quickly caught fire becoming a blazing inferno within seconds. The self immolation became complete within minutes & all that re- mained was a bareboned skeleton, slumped in the judges high chair but still clutching the Smouldering Cuban Cohiba with a cheap & nasty nylon Judges wig askew on the skeleton’s skull. Along with the tempting aroma of roast pork. Bang went his Yuletide orgy plans.

During the ensuing chaos, all the 24 accused managed to escape , the chief sus- pect, 94 yr old widow Lawless overcoming her burly minder by head butting him fol- lowed by a hefty kick to his groin & escaping the building by clambering through the high level lavatory window. Still dressed in her Santa Claus costume & jumping onto a high powered police motorbike she raced off heading South on the motorway but in the Northbound carriageway, creating havoc & multiple pile ups & so preventing the police from pursuing her .(they never thought about using the Southbound carriageway), reach- ing Southampton in record time where she managed to smuggle herself onto a tramp steamer heading for S.America. Hiding in the ships hold , she managed to find a few pal- lets of convenience food but was troubled by a horde of black rats which tried to share her food & gnaw at her ankles. She was able to keep them at bay however by a few well aimed shots from a Kalashnikov AK47 she discovered in a secret arms cache in the same hold & which the ships captain obviously intended smuggling into Mexico.
Once in Mexico,& after enjoying her brief period of notoriety, she decided to con- tinue her criminal career & ultimately became the dominatrix of a leading drugs cartel , striking up a relationship with a 23 year old Mexican drug smuggler toy boy & reaching a notoriety & villainy matched only in later years by Hillary Clinton.
All the other escapees, having fled the country quickly & so having little or no as- sets, developed successful careers as arms dealers, drug smugglers, timeshare salesmen
, unauthorised plastic surgery clinicians & illegal moonshine production. A few how- ever had to revert to type & resorted to the less savoury activities in which they were well versed .So far, all have managed to avoid extradition & subsequent jail sentences but
Chief Constable Siddybotham, now styling himself “Sidboam” continued to keep the case open.
The understudy pianist who stepped in immediately following Light Fingers demise was said by some to to have a knowing smirk on his face and curiously, had blood like stains on the lapels of his white Tuxedo jacket which proved to be resistant even to liberal ap- plications of “Vanish”. Nonetheless, Ch Cons Sidboam refused to investigate his fellow Freemason, even though he’d been a member of a notorious biker gang & covered in af- filiation tattoos before his damascene conversion to Freemasonry.
Bizarrly, shortly afterward he too disappeared suddenly to be replaced by a highly ac- claimed classical pianist – a strange choice & yet another mystery.
Nonetheless being a classical musician, he was a stickler for detail & perfection and con- cerned that his grand piano appeared to miss a few notes & seem out of tune. On raising
the lid, he discovered to his horror, a discarded white Tuxedo jacket & several half ea- ten, heavily tattoo’ed body parts.
The gruesome discovery, on the eve of Christmas, increased the tempo of the investiga- tion resulting in ever more officers being pulled away from the vital & pressing activites of parking tickets & raiding pubs that stayed open 5 minutes later than thy should have, unleashing them yet again to practice their ferocious intimidation on the locals.

Metropolitan Chief Commissioner Sidboam was determined to see a conclusion to his most famous case but, getting no result other than multiple claims for compensation for wrongful arrest & extreme brutality, meant that suspicion fell , & remains upon all the community, especially by association ,those who frequented the Slip Inn concert room. However, some believe that those who have no vices , often have very few virtues.
Lord Si’Bome subsequently lobbied for a judicial enquiry & felt the £20million spent was fully justified though has yet to reveal a culprit & conviction, the 120 year old widow Lawless still being his main suspect & remaining at large even though a 12
strong team of West Yorkshire’s finest spent 3 weeks at the 5 star Shangri La in Acapul- co , making searching enquiries as to her whereabouts. But they did come back with su- perb all round tan and a pretty hefty expense account bar bill.

The tragic loss of life of talented, hard working musicians, the spectacular demise of the illustrious Judge Bulstrode & the consequences of 24 escapees to ply their illegal trades in the seedier parts of the world’s stage is one thing but the frightening thought re- mains that a cannibal killer could still be stalking the highways & byways of East Leeds. Alas the Slip Inn no longer exists (as a pub) , it’s former glory long past &it’s ignomi- nious existence as a convenience store hiding the history of many a good night for lots
of us to remember. But I wonder how many would be happy to shop there for their Christmas turkey knowing the grisly acts which took place where the frozen food cabi- nets now stand ?
Rest easy but take care out there.

The Magic of Aeroplanes

December 1, 2016

This month’s tale is about aeroplanes but there will be special Christmas tale by Eric Sanderson concerning dastardly deeds at the Slip Inn .

Look out for it on Christmas Eve

THE MAGIC OF AEROPLANES
We have all spent our lives under the sounds of aeroplanes and I Say ‘aeroplanes’ not aircraft for that is what we called them in the 1940s and they landed on ‘aerodromes’ not ‘airports’, ‘Yeadon Aerodrome’ not ‘Leeds Bradford Airport’. Somehow the name ‘aeroplane’ seems to carry the magic better.
When we were young, in the 1940s, the air would be full of piston engine aeroplanes droning above us, there were so many and we were so used to seeing them we hardly bothered to look up. If we did look up we would see, Spitfires and hear their beautiful Rolls Royce Merlin engine note, Hurricanes, Mosquitoes with their snub noses, Blenheim’s, Lancaster’s, Halifax’s, Sterling’s, Wellington’s the American ‘Flying Fortress’s with its many gun blisters and the work horse Dakotas’ with one engine hidden behind the fuselage so it looked as though it had and engine missing. These were to name but a few. We recognised them by their wing tip arrangement some clipped some curved and by their tail fins. We were spoilt, we observed these beautiful aeroplanes oblivious that this was a unique experience which would not be repeated for future generations.  The German planes only came by night but you could recognise them by their sinister, irregular engine note. When an air raid was on and we were in the shelter and the drone of a plane could be heard overhead someone would say, ‘Is it one of ours or one of theirs’ even as a child I could always tell them.
There was an ack ack battery further down Knostrop in the middle of the woods. When they opened up they made a ‘pom pom’ sound so we called them the ‘pom poms’ the night sky would be filled with searchlights trying to light up the intruders. The raid would begin with the wail of the sirens and the boats on the river would blow their hooters too. My dad would say, ‘the mussel boats are going off it’s time to go to the shelter!’ When the guns went off they would rattle the door of the shelter and I, being child, was once heard to say, ‘Someone’s knocking at the door.’ Seemingly that lightened the situation but the dog we had, Bobby, ‘took his hook, and we never saw him again. When the ‘all clear’ sounded it was welcome and had a far pleasanter note, then we could return to the houses and bed.
In the mornings after a raid we kids would hunt for shrapnel for souvenirs. The Germans were dropping anti-personnel mines so Mam would say, ‘Don’t pick anything nasty up’; with her saying ‘something nasty’ I expected the mines would look something like dog droppings. A sea change event occurred on Friday night the 14th of March 1941 when a German Bomb hit Richmond Hill School. As it was at night no one was injured but the pupils of Richmond Hill School were scattered among the other local schools in the area or in some cases evacuated to places like Ackworth and to Lincolnshire. Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins) in her tale on this site, see Aug 2007, tells of how next morning she could see her poor little knitting on pins (the girls were knitting socks, gloves and Balaclavas for our soldiers) among the debris.

richmond-hill-bomb-damagen

At one point I was sent off to stay with my aunt in the country as seemingly being safer than Leeds but the first night there the Germans dropped a flare right outside her cottage, evidently searching for the massive Avro munitions factory
Towards the end of the war I recall a full week when nearing dusk the sky would be filled from northern horizon to southern horizon with endless formations of bombers their red and green lights winking. We were used to seeing a lot of aircraft but this was obviously something quite special. I wonder now, looking back if they were the 1,000 bomber raids or perhaps the build up to the invasion. It was such a sight I have never forgotten it. When the RAF lads came home on leave in their blue uniforms they were the celebrities, especially if they had wings above their left breast pocket, one wing for aircrew and a double wing for a pilot and a god.
Sometimes there would be an exhibition on a spare space in the centre of Leeds and there might be a Lancaster bomber and you would be allowed, as a child, to clamber in and wonder at how tight the space was inside and the marvellous array of dials and gadgetry and the smell that went with them, there seemed to be so much that could go wrong.
After the war we saw the first of the jets: the Gloster Meteor, De Havilland Vampire, with its twin fuselage, The Hawker Hunter and the English Electric lightening. All were beautiful aeroplanes getting faster and faster – the goal was to break the ‘sound barrier’ which at the time appeared to be some sort of a mysterious barrier where the plane would be buffeted about, some thought bizarrely that the controls would become reversed. We went to the cinema to see films such as Test Pilot and The Sound Barrier. 762 mph at sea level was the sound barrier but I remember 606 mph being the record at one time. Test pilots were now the new heroes; it was a dangerous job De Havilland lost three of their family testing planes
I would regularly take on the congested traffic around tiny roads to watch the air shows at Church Fenton. There’s a pub there still, The Fenton Flier, filled with photos of wartime aircrew and general memorabilia you can get the feel of the RAF guys piling into there for a few pints after sorties, having survived another day in the skies. On one occasion there was a Harrier vertical take of plane practicing the day before the show, it hovered about for a bit then it put on full power and climbed nose first vertically the back draught from its engines was so powerful caused huge mature trees to bow as if they were twigs.
Along came national service for me in 1959, I was drafted into the REME attached the Army Air Corps The Army Air Corps function was primarily to act as eyes for the Royal Artillery to help them target their guns but we also had a liaison duty, which entailed ferrying VIPs around. It did get a bit over the top on occasions. For instance, sometimes we would pick up a general and fly him for hundreds of miles to attend a meeting but then we would have to drive a petrol-tanker to the same destination to ensure the helicopter could be filled up with the correct fuel for the journey home. I recall going along for a ride with the bowser driver all the way from Detmold, in Germany all the way into France to complete such an operation.
At 652 Squadron we had fixed wing aircraft: Austers and Chipmunks and rotary wing aircraft in the form of the tiny Skeeter helicopter which could just hold the pilot and one passenger; later we acquired the larger French Allouette helicopter. The Auster actually had its tail wheel attached by means of a thick rubber band – this was the correct monoculture for the job but it enabled the RAF lads to have a laugh at us and our ‘toy planes’. In theory, the lightweight Austers could actually fly backwards. It is air passing over the wings of an aircraft, which actually keeps it in the air. So if the if the wind speed is 50 knots per hour and the engine is only making 40 knots per hour, then the plane is losing distance at the rate of 10 knots per hour but can still stay in the air. The advantage of the Auster, was it could land on a sixpence. When we went on schemes, any old field could present a landing strip. One had to take care around aircraft: if a plane came into contact with a solid object there was hell to play. Everything had then to be checked out with a fine toothcomb before it could fly again. There was danger too. The main rotors blades of the tiny helicopters dropped to below head high as they were slowing down so you had to keep well clear and the tail rotors were lethal, they revolved so fast that you didn’t actually notice they were there at all. On one occasion, walking blindly into a spinning tail rotor decapitated an unfortunate Alsatian. The method of starting the light aircraft was to ‘swing the prop’ but you had to make sure you arm was out of the way before the engine fired or there was a danger of losing it. That was not a job trusted to a humble clerk.
After a major servicing had been carried out on an aircraft the mechanic who had been responsible for the servicing was supposed to make the first flight with the pilot. This was a safety precaution to encourage him to carry out the job correctly but as long as someone went up with the pilot they were not too fussy as to whom it was. The safety procedure was quite rigorous though, loads of forms had to be signed and counter signed before the aircraft was released back into service. If the mechanic didn’t feel like flying I would often volunteer to take his place, I loved flying; couldn’t get enough of it. Sometimes they wouldn’t have even have bothered putting the doors back on yet, when the pilot banked you were looking out into nothingness but we were strapped in and somehow looking out of an aircraft is not so frightening as looking down from a high tower or a bridge. Once in the air the noise from the engine was terrific, you were sat next to the pilot but you could only speak to him over the radio.
Flying was so exhilarating, especial when you went above the clouds after a dreary period of weather and saw the sun which might have had been missing for days: the sun always shines above the clouds in daytime of course. The servicing would likely have been carried out by one of my airframe, engine or electronic fitter mates from the billet, who might well be complete ‘nutters’ in their off duty periods but I never worried, I knew they would be spot on when aircraft safety was at stake.
Helicopter rides were my favourite, I recall a particular helicopter flight when the pilot followed a herd of deer running through the fire breaks of a forest at tree top height, and it was a sight you don’t easily forget. Helicopters sometimes have to encounter a phenomenon known as a ‘vortex ring’; these are pockets in the sky where the air will not support a helicopter. Apparently there is no warning when you are about hit one of these things

allouette-helicopter

and the ‘copter drops like a stone. The pilot would practice the procedure for dealing with a vortex ring or indeed for engine failure should it ever arise: you cannot glide down a plane without wings. The method employed to prevent a helicopter from actually hitting the ground was to disengage the rotor blades and let the machine fall. The action of falling through the air causes the blades to rotate faster and faster, and then just before the ground arrived the pilot would re-engage the clutch that would alter the pitch of the blades, which hopefully would be just enough to hold the machine for a soft landing. Of course, when carrying out these exercises, it was the pilot’s game was not to warn you what he was about to do in advance, so when the plane dropped you turned green and left your stomach a few hundred feet above. The lads always had a laugh at my expense when I took a helicopter flight in the tiny Skeeters. These small aircraft were not advised to take off vertically, except in emergency when carrying more than twenty-five stone. As few pilots were under ten stones, our flights fell into such a category, to compensate for the extra weight the helicopter would take off along the runway like a normal aircraft, generating much laughter from the lads. We didn’t get much pay on national Service, If I recall it was about £2 10 shilling per week but the c/o helped us out by giving us an extra 7 shillings and six pence a week if we could become ‘observers’ for this we had to be able to recognise aircraft silhouettes from a card, which was a ‘piece of cake’.
Originally I had been posted to a small airfield in Detmold, West Germany but eventually I was posted with our flight to RAF Wildenrath, still in Germany. Here we were part of a huge RAF station. It stretched for three or four miles in every direction. One would have been talking about ten miles plus, to walk around the perimeter fence. It seemed a bit of an extravagance that our little Austers, which only needed thirty yards to take off, used their giant runway. The fact that the RAF did all the guards was a bonus too, as it meant we did not have to do any ourselves. The station was equipped with Canberra bombers they were bombers but handled like fighters and were flying somewhere in the world for almost fifty years.

v-bomber
All the three ‘V’ bombers: The Avro Vulcan, Handley Page Victor and The Vickers Valiant, would drop in from time to time. It was the time of The Cold war and all three aircraft producing companies had been commissioned to come up with a plane that had the ability to carry a nuclear bomb to Russia and return. It was a marvellous sight to see them landing and taking off. In my spare time, I would enjoy just sitting on the grass and watching them: there is an exciting smell and a sort of magic just to be around aeroplanes. There were regular open days at the station, when all sorts of exotic aircraft would arrive to take part and we saw it all for free. I recall one day prior to an open day air show two jets arrived one coming from the east and the other from the west and they crossed right over my head it was a memorable occasion another memorable sight and one I have never forgotten to this day because the odds against it happening were so great happened a night with a lovely silver full moon,

I looked up and a Vulcan bomber passed exactly over the moon and for a brief second its delta wins and the moon fitted perfectly together.
On one of these open day occasions I remember having the doubtful pleasure of sitting astride a nuclear bomb. From time to time, the RAF had to practice night flying, which could be quite noisy. It kept you awake the first few times then you got used to it and never seemed to hear it at all.
I would have loved to win a flight in a Canberra sometimes as a money raising effort the RAF would raffle a flight in the nose of a Canberra bomber they would whisk you out across the North Sea and back. Alas I was never lucky enough to win a ticket. That would have been something special for me.
The mighty Vulcan bomber made its finest and farewell flight – in fact its only flight in anger – in 1982 when it was already out of service making its daring flight from Ascension Island to the Falkland island to put the airstrip at Port Stanley, held by the Argentineans, out of commission. The flight was far beyond its range but a planned series of thirteen Victor Tankers continually refuelled it and had to be refuelled themselves to achieve the objective. It must have been a morale lifting sight for the subjected Falklanders to hear the mighty roar of the Vulcan delivering its pay load over runway and know that although Britain was 8,000 miles away they were not abandoned. After being refuelled by the last Victor it became apparent to the crew of the Vulcan the fuel load to complete the mission was inadequate they could carry on and complete the mission but not have enough fuel to return or they could abort the mission altogether. They decided to a man to complete the mission whatever. Only one bomb hit the runway, the first, but it was enough it put the airstrip out of action and could not be used for the duration of the war by the Argentineans. On the way back they met our fleet on the way out to the Falklands who thought the Vulcan to be an enemy aircraft and nearly shot it down. It would seem the Vulcan was out of fuel and out of tankers and they were preparing to ditch in the sea, then in the nick of time a Victor turned up out of the clouds to refuel the Vulcan and save the day. What a welcome sight it must have been for the brave crew of the Vulcan; surely a tale fit for a ‘Biggles’ adventure.

Today, faced with the enormous cost of producing a new plane from scratch it is beyond the scope of individual companies to produce their own new aircraft, it’s even beyond most countries and the European countries pitch in to produce a new plane between them. We have The Typhoon and The tornado fighters but you hardly ever see them in the sky and unless you are taking a trip on a faceless commercial airliner plane spotters are restricted to watching vapour trails in the sky and wondering how the bodies of tiny sea creatures produced so much oil to fuel them all.

Saville Green, Torre Road and Leeds Fireclay Company

November 1, 2016

Saville Green… Torre Road and The Leeds Fireclay Company Ltd.

Another great tale by Eddie Blackwell

Anyone remember the Quarries in Saville Green area, where the old Boyles Brickworks used to be, as lads we played for hours around there. I had a school boy friend called Kenny Walker, I’ve mentioned him before in my tale about East end Park, he lived in Bickerdike Street which was off York Road and ran right the way down to the wreck area and Torre Road. The quarries were originally owned by Boyles Brick Yard, and then bought out by Leeds Pottery later taken over by The Leeds Fireclay Company Ltd, who had a works which overlooked the wreck and quarries.
There was a pub called the “Glassmakers Arms” in the area, where my Mum and Dad spent many happy hours. Dad worked at the Leeds Fireclay Works in Torre Road, and although we lived the other side of York Road it wasn’t that far to walk, in those days we couldn’t afford a car and Dad never had any desire to drive. There were two Quarries one still had the remains of a railed track that had been used to haul the clay corves from the Quarry, the other one always seemed to hold water and we tended not to play in that area because the sides were too steep and it was too dangerous if you fell in it was unlikely you would get out on your own.
There was a grassed flat area opposite Bickerdike Road, which was adjacent to where Kenny lived, with pig sties on the edge of the quarry, and a container with feed collected from the waste that people in the area discarded, there was always an old man with his clay pipe who fed the fire and tended the stock, we asked him one day why he boiled the pig feed and he said, the pigs are fed with waste food we collect that people don’t want, and germs can breed in the waste food, which if fed to the pigs would make them poorly, then if we ate that meat it would make us poorly as well, so we always boil the feed for at least two hours to kill the germs before it’s fed to the pigs and then the meat is safe for us to eat. I seem to remember he was called Old Mr Emit, and some of the lads and lasses we played with in the area were called Emit, so it all seems to fit in.
I recall some of the games we played were quite dangerous, for one of them we would set three 50 gallon oil drums on their side one on top of two, and the competitors in the game had to lay side by side at far side of the drums, then the player who had been lucky enough to be dipped out (one potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato six potato seven potato more.) had to run and jump the barrels and the players laid on the other side, if he or she cleared them then that was OK and he or she went again, but if they landed on the group then they formed the end of line and the first in line had a go, both lads and lasses took part, sometimes you suffered a few bruises but never anything serious. I was quite athletic in those days so I was OK but Kenny always hit the barrels and landed in a heap, old Mr Emit used to look on with a smile on his face, and say get out and find some firewood the stocks getting low.
Boyles had been a brick yard and there was an area where all the rejects had been dumped so we devised a game not unlike conkers, where you selected a brick and your opponent selected a brick and then when it was your turn you slammed your brick down holding it edge on, into your opponent’s brick, if it broke the other brick then your opponent chose another brick and tried to break yours, and on and on it went, the winner was the one who’s brick lasted the most number of hits, There were plenty of bricks to go at and some of the bricks had a black core which meant they were not dry in the centre when they had been fired, oddly enough they seemed to be the strongest.
We got up to all kinds of fun and mischief in that area, but never anything of a serious nature, because the watchful eye of old Mr Emit was always upon us, and kept us in check, and he never missed much of what we were getting up to.
Glassmakers Arms.
I mentioned earlier that Mum and Dad spent many happy hours in the Glass Makers arms, well I must tell you this, they had a Ladies Trip, where all the Ladies went to the seaside in a hired coach, as you will have already gathered I was quite a live wire and one of my objectives was to reclaim materials that I could make into things, to this end I would get wooden boxes from Mrs Fenton’s knock them apart and reclaim the nails and wood for my projects on this particular occasion I had knocked the nails into a piece of wood to use at a later date and left this on the Chamber steps, Mum was going on the Ladies Trip that Saturday morning so she was up early and went down the stairs, suddenly we heard her shouting Joe come and help me, and Dad jumped out of bed only to find that Mum had stepped on the piece of wood that I’d knocked the nails into, Dad pulled it off and Mum shed a few tears, but it didn’t deter her she went on the trip and enjoyed it, and brought some rock back for us all to share, but that incident had a dramatic effect on me and I never knocked nails in wood again for a long time.
Dad was a good dart player and played for Glassmakers Arms team, he used to make Dart boards from wood, wire and staples, they were singles and doubles boards, as was the custom in those days, no trebles like there are today.
As you would expect I used to help him, we had an old zinc washing tub in the back yard, in which the boards were soaked for a few days until they were saturated, then Dad would mark the board out using an adjustable steel divider that had a screw so that you could fix the distance set, and he would then set out the bulls eye and the doubles rings working the segments from the centre of the board, my job was to make the numbers from wire. He had a clever way of fixing them by turning down the starting point and finishing point about five eighths an inch, this enabled the numbers to be fixed using the turndown as a nail and lightly hammering it into the perimeter of the board. But before I could do any serious work, I had to memorise the sequence of the numbers I did it by remembering the top bottom and quadrants then filled them in from there, it took a while but I got there in the end. Then Dads arm went he couldn’t let the darts fly, he held the dart between his thumb and forefinger with the point on his forth finger the keeping his elbow as still as possible he threw from the elbow, spinning the dart as it went into flight, he was very accurate, but suddenly he just couldn’t release the dart, he was devastated. Eventually he developed an under arm release it looked odd but he could still play better than me.

The Leeds Fireclay Co. Ltd.
Burmantofts Works.
Leeds 9.
I started my working life at LFC, in the early 1950’s as an apprentice draughtsman, at the Burmantofts Works, we specialised it making Faience and Terra Cotta for the building industry and I was to train as an Architectural Draughtsman. The drawing department was on the first floor of the office block which faced onto Torre Road, and I had a drawing board by a window that looked out over Saville Green Wreck, Boyles’s old brickworks and the Quarries where we had played as children, I could see York Road and the Trams dashing up and down either going into town or out to Gipton , Crossgates, Halton or Temple Newsome, and some of them would terminate at the Lupton Avenue Depot. We lived in Osmondthorpe at this time. I used to walk to and from work every day, up the pathway that started the other side of the little Railway Bridge at the end of Wykebeck Avenue on past the pit hills to Osmondthorpe Lane over the road and down through the ginnel by the UMI football pitch onto Skelton Road then passed the White Horse Pub across York Road onto Lupton Avenue passing the Spread Eagle, down Torre Road and into work. It’s strange that this particular area of Leeds seemed to play such an important role in your everyday life, but things were about to change, plans were announced to demolish much of the area and redevelop it for housing. the Quarries were to be filled with domestic waste, and the old houses including the much loved Glassmakers Arms would to be pulled down. Things didn’t happen overnight of course I was 16 years old and deferred from National service until I was 21 and in that 5 years no new housing was anywhere near being ready to be occupied, although the Quarries had been filled in there was no way that area could be built on, or so we thought, domestic waste tips usually stand for a number of years to allow densification to take place and the Methane gas generated by rotting vegetation is usually burnt off. However a number of incidents did occur whilst these changes were developing, one in particular that I recall which could have been quite serious was, as the houses were knocked down and families left the area a lot of the pets were just left behind, in particular dogs, being pack animals they followed their instincts and banded into groups, and would roam the area looking for food well on one particular afternoon about 2 pm, Mrs William’s the works Managers wife, who lived in a house on the works had been to town shopping, got off the tram in York Road and decided to walk down across Saville Green Wreck and to her home at the end of the works, we had a good view of her from the Offices. Well I don’t know what was in her shopping bag but the smell of whatever it was attracted the attention of one of these roaming packs of dogs and they came charging after her, she began running but she was no match for them and they started nipping at her heals, fortunately enough of us saw what was happening and went racing across to her aid, this slowed them down but they weren’t afraid, until we were joined by some people who were walking down Torre Road, then they backed off and Mrs Williams fainted.
The police and an Ambulance were quickly on the scene to sort things out and a team of dog catchers from the RSPCA arrive to round the animals up before it got dark, they said that once they had gone wild enough to attack an adult, a child would have very little chance, eventually all of the dogs were caught, about twelve in all were carted off and presumably destroyed, but the incident made the local papers and people were warned to avoid the area if on their own, until it was deemed officially safe.
Shortly after this incident, groundworks for the development were started, foundation were excavated and long strips of deep reinforced concrete foundations were cast. We were all staggered at the size and depth of the foundations, which were literally just a couple of hundred feet away on the other side of the road. Mr Mowthorpe our Chief Draughtsman, said there’s something wrong here, you can’t put foundation blocks down that size for houses, and he had his plumb bob out sizing things up through his window which faced onto the workings, and there’s one of those blocks that’s not plumb it’s all skew whiff, we were all doubtful of the purpose of these large blocks of reinforced concrete. The sight surveyor turned up with his Dumpy Level, and sure enough a couple of days later a breaker and machine arrived and started breaking out the block of concrete that Mr Mowthorpe had said was not plumb, I told you something was wrong with that he reiterated, and we all said yes Mr Mowthorpe you were right. It was unfortunately my time to go and do National Service so I had to leave it all behind and get on with other things.
Some years later I revisited the area where the old L.F.C. offices had been, and found huge multi-storey Blocks of flats had been erected, in the area we had known as Saville Green Wreck, which is now Ebor Gardens, the area that was the old quarries was never built on and forms a green area in the centre of the estate.
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Thanks for another great tale, Eddie

Vera’s Memories

October 1, 2016

 

 

 

THE MEMORIES OF VERA BELSHAW

 

Vera is a first time contributor to the East Leeds memories site and we thank her for her contribution 

I am new to East Leeds Memories and didn’t think there was anyone left who would remember seeing all the old names of places. I know most of them are no longer there. Even the old Bug Hutch (The Easy Road Cinema) was a real trip down memory lane.

I was born in Ascot Street, went to All Saints School and lived in Sussex Crescent behind the Yorkshire Penny Bank. Looking back at that part of Upper Accommodation Rd, we had everything, shops at the end of the streets from Hutton’s Chemist where it joined Easy Road right up to the “Prossy” (The Prospect pub) near Richmond Hill school. There was no need to go into town; if you did you took the short cut, down over the Irish Park into East Street and on to the Parish Church and you were there.

We had four Fish and Chip shops and four or five Cinema’s were within easy walking distance. You could see a different film every night of the week if you had the brass. Our nearest Chippy was Scots at the top of the Hampton street where you could get a meal for three for less than a bob: a four penny tail, two tuppenny middles and three penny worth of chips. Desert was usually three trifles from Precious’s up near the Bertha’s. For anyone who liked a pint there were five good hostelries: The Prospect (Prossy), Hampton, Yew Tree, Spring Close and the Cross Green plus the Conservative Club when it was above the Yorkshire Penny Bank.

The Army Camp down Black Rd. I don’t remember until the war started. Our Sunday walk was down Red Rd. to pick Blue Bells at the far end and in spite of the notice’s that there was a fine of 10 shillings if caught.

Sometimes we would catch the tram home at Halton terminus; more often than not we would walk back the same way as we came.

The Army Camp was down a turn off from Black Road, where my late Father-in-law, Charlie Belshaw of Easy Road was maintenance man for the duration of the war and afterwards when it was a P.O.W. Camp.

His son Stan, my late husband was a St Hilda’s pupil and was one of the evacuee’s sent to Ackworth where he stayed for three years.

approaching my four score years and ten next year, it’s been great reading your contributors stories and brought back a load of memories and a few familiar names so hope you don’t mind me putting my twopeneth in to say thank you for them telling it the way it was.

I’m doing nicely with the reading the East Leeds Memories site and have reached back to the year 2009. They are great tales and bring back so many memories. Edmund House Club I remember very well though at that time I knew it as the Railway Club. Between the two wars the W.M. Clubs became very popular and looking round we had quite a few in the area. I understand my Dad was one of the very early members of the East End Park W.M. Club in the Vinery’s, though they didn’t’ allow children. That’s how I know Edmund House Club, they did. And being an ‘only one’ I was able to accompany my parents on Saturday nights there. Of course in those days kids had to be seen and not heard so pencil and paper was taken with you. I might have been occupied but I didn’t miss much. Looking back I think I can say I enjoyed growing up in East Leeds.

Prior to moving to Sussex Cr. we lived in one of the many streets of tiny Terrace houses that stretched from Ellerby Lane right up to Sussex St. and on  to Mount St. Mary’s which I think was the top edge of what was known as The Bank. Sadly years later this area was always looked down on but it wasn’t like that then. They may have been gas lit, have an open fire range, only had cold water and a set pot in the cellar but there were people even in those days that were house proud. Flags swilled every week, windows cleaned inside and out and you had to have the right colour Donkey Stone on your doorstep and even the Brass Sneck on the door had to be polished. Dustbins set in a neat line against the wall at the end of the street. One of our neighbours at that time was a Mr Huntington and his family. He later became very well known as the large man with the very loud voice who kept law and order in the Princess Cinema every night. {Sounds like ‘big Ernie?’}He also worked for the Council cleansing Dept. before it was mechanised and did his rounds with a very large Horse and Cart. We left there about 1936 for the Council houses on offer at that time were at Belle Isle and Middleton and my parents didn’t want to leave the area.

Vera Belshaw

 Thanks for your great memories, Vera. I hope we can coax you to into telling us more?

In the meantime here are a few more of our old East Leeds shopsA few of our old East Leeds Shops:

Cobblers: Mr. Hick was our local cobbler; he had a shop on Cross Green Lane. When you entered you were treated to the fine aroma of worked leather. Mr. Hick had the type of old dry humour, prevalent among masculine shop proprietors of the day. In the 1940s, before rubber stick on soles ruined the cobbler’s trade, folk would try to breathe life into their footwear by having them soled and heeled in leather – often more than once – before they finally gave up the ghost on them. This meant that the cobbler’s shop would often be quite full on your visits. While you waited you were able to observe the cobbler at his trade. He would put the boot onto his last, throw a handful of tacks into his mouth and commence the operation. He could transfer those tacks from mouth to leather and hammer them home with the blade of a huge rough tooth file as fast as a machine gun and he never seemed to hit his thumb. When the leather sole was in position he would then pull the boot into his stomach and cut away with a wicked little curved knife, paring dangerously towards his own body. No wonder his leather apron and protective wristbands bore the scars of many a slip. Being so busy Mr. Hick was always behind with his orders so invariably he’d not have your shoes ready on the promised date for collection. He was always fighting a losing battle of trying to keep everyone happy. When you called to collect your footwear he would try to placate you with his standard retort: ‘Yours are just t’next job on love.’ A mate once took his football boots to be repaired after the season’s last match in April, when he went to collect them in September – at the start of the next season, it was still: ‘Yours are just ‘t next job on love!’

 

Grocers: There were shops, which sold groceries at the end of almost every street but the Coop probably held prominence with its ‘divis’. Folk could remember their Coop dividend number like some of us remember our army numbers. Mother shopped for her general groceries at the Thrift Stores half way up Dial Street. Everything had to be weighed up and bagged and the bacon machine was constantly whirling slices of bacon off a huge joint. The place was always full of Mam’s and their babies, which had me in mind of the old music hall joke: ‘Please don’t sit your babies on the bacon machine ladies, we’re getting a little behind with the orders!

 

Newsagents: Our newsagent was Mr. Emmett. His shop was in Dial Street too. Mr. Emmett missed out on the stereotype of having dry humour. He didn’t seem to laugh much at all, which was quite surprising for being in the seller’s market for The Beano and The Dandy, he could execute great power over the young lads of the day. Wartime priorities meant that comics were scarce commodities. Mr. Emmett was rationed as to how many copies he could have from the wholesaler. If you wanted to order a comic you had first to go on his waiting list and hope that one of the lads presently receiving the Beano or Dandy: either reneged on his payment, fell out with Mr. Emmett or moved up to the Wizard, Hotspur, Rover or Adventure. It was like waiting for ‘dead men’s shoes’. When you finally reached the top of the list and a comic became available, Mr. Emmett would make it seem as though he was doing you a great favour by putting you on his comic delivery list.

Sooner or later it would be your turn to move into the bigger lad’s fantasy world of the written story comics: Wilson, of the Wizard, has remained my lifelong hero.  Wilson could bowl out the Australians before lunch and then climb Everest in his old black running costume, When asked if he’d reached the summit he would say something like: ‘That’s something between me and the lady.’ He was such an athlete! Such a gentleman!

But I digress.

Fish and chip shops: reigned supreme as purveyors of fast food. They were our staple diet. Fish at five pence and chips at two pence made a great meal for less than three of today’s new pence and sometimes, if you were lucky, you got a ‘jockey’ fish too. We had three fish shops on our side of ‘the ginnel’: The Cross Green Lane Fisheries, The Fewstons and the Copperfields. At different times each had hegemony for being the current provider of the biggest fish, the best quality fish, or perhaps giving you the most chips for your money. Particularly on occasions such as Friday dinnertimes, queues would wind out of the shop and down the street you could regularly expect to wait half an hour to be served. When it got near to your turn you would look at number of fish in the pan and the number folk in front of you to be served and hope you didn’t have to wait for another frying.

There were many more fish shops on the other side of the ‘ginnel’: Clark Lane, Easy Road, the Hampton, the Berthas, Cosy Corner, there were a couple more fish shops in the Charltons and in the Vineries. I’m sure old East Leedsers can think of many more. When we were likely lads and really could eat it was not unknown for us to have one lot of fish and chips on the way home from the Star cinema and when they were finished call in another fish shop and have another helping before we reached home. A fellow gannet assures me that on at least one occasion we managed a third fish shop. While my stomach might have been able to manage it then my memory fails me on that one now.

Ellerby Lane Fisheries happened to be our schoolteachers’ favourite. A boy or girl would be sent out at ten minutes to twelve to fetch the teachers’ dinners and possibly something from the confectioners. On one occasion a poor lass (who shall be nameless) caused a nine-day wonder at school when she could not resist having a bite out of the teacher’s tart on the way back to school.

Say bye bye to the old Yew Tree Pub. First they had it fire, now it’s down

yew-tree