Archive for the ‘Easy Rd Picture house’ Category

Jackie’s Tale

August 1, 2014

Jackie’s Tale

By Mrs Jacqueline Hainsworth (nee Ormiston)

Well, it’s a long time since I played on East End Park, but I remember happy days with our bottle of water and jam butties going up into the hills to watch the trains. I lived in Clark Avenue from birth to 23yrs with my Mam, Gran, and Grandad (who died when I was 11yrs). I remember happy days with our Auntie Nora who also lived with us until she married sometime in the 1940s. It was a real house full but a happy house with good neighbours. My Auntie Flo and her daughter, Margaret, lived next door to us. We would get home from school and skip with an old washing line across the street and all the rest of the kids would come and join in. Then there was bonfire night everybody helped, we went chumping (collecting wood) and Eddie Purdy’s Shop always gave us boxes to burn. Each mam made something: toffee, roast chestnuts, chips from Robinson’s, parkin (I seem to recall my Mam did the parkin) such joy from the simple things. (No health & Safety just caring parents watching over us). Mr Craddock lived opposite, he was the lamp lighter, and we had a lamp at top of street. We went to the pictures a lot; Easy Road (bug hutch) beginning of week, Princess midweek, Star at weekend, it was the best of times only we didn’t know it.
While at Ellerby Lane in 1955 we made a film does anyone remember? You can view the film at Yfa York Yo31 7Ex. It’s very good lots of familiar faces: Jean Fawcett, Moira Kelly are a couple I recognized can anyone help?
Netball at Ellerby Lane: I remember the day we had to play our ‘thorn in the side’ Coldcotes, we never seem to be able to beat them so this was going to be a real grudge match, I loved the game! Marlene Senior and I played in defence position we were also very good friends. Some of the other girls in the team were: Brenda Bradbury, Jean McConnell, Lesley Beverly and Anne Parkin. The whistle went and play began we all played really well and went into the lead, then we fell behind, such a blow, but we didn’t give in. It was a very hard game for Marlene and me, as we had to stop the goals going in. We went back into the lead. What joy! Then Marlene went over on her foot Oh no! We had to play on as together we were a team, so I made Marlene play on I told her not to be so soft, she was in a lot of pain but carried on, my fault entirely. We won the game but not the cup, that didn’t matter we beat Coldcotes! But poor Marlene she had to go to hospital and arrived back at school in pot up to her knee a broken foot. But she forgave me and we remained good friends we still have a giggle about the game and how determined we were to beat that school they were such a good team. They got the cup but our team had the glory!
On a recent visit to Leeds we had a run round East End Park, it brought back to mind the way Clark Ave used to be, the street was so different only the cobbles remain. I went back in time to 1953 the year of the Coronation it was full of excitement, street parties, all the neighbours getting together to make it special we had hanging baskets outside each house and a long table down the street and our mam’s baking & making jelly, trifles, sandwiches. We all got a crown money box (which I still have hidden away somewhere). There was music, playing games, lots of fun and laughter. Time for the Coronation to begin we all piled into Mrs Bernisconi’s we all thought them very rich they had the first and only T.V in the street – it had a magnifying glass on the front of the screen so we could see the New Queen being crowned. Oh the excitement of the day! I don’t know which was best the Coronation or that we had watched telly. Back to the party and the fun and games, it went on all day the weather was kind to us for the best part of the day but the good old English weather let us down for then came the rain! That didn’t stop the festivities we carried on indoors all crammed into Mrs Abbott’s house at the top of the street (her house was really big with a back room and a front room) how posh was that? Finally the day had to end, but it was a good day the street looked so pretty and very colourful with all the flags and bunting, every house had made a great effort to make it into such a special and memorable day, and I think our parents would hope that as I have kept in mind the wonderful day we all had so should everyone else. It was wonderful back there in that street, there was always a good happy feel to it.
The one thing I couldn’t understand on my latest visit to the Clarks is the street seems to have shrunk. Is that possible, or is it the age thing?
JACKIE G (nee Ormiston)

Clark Avenue

Clark Avenue today


Great Tale Jackie
I don’t suppose there was anything so special about our old East Leeds habitat but it just seemed that it was. Jackie’s tale and Carole’s tale for June epitomises a golden age which makes us long to return there. An old mate tells of how he was playing in the school yard one playtime and a guy mending the road came over with whimsical eye and said to him, ‘Do you know lad these are the happiest days of your life.’ And the mate said I think he was right at that.
I often wander through the old streets where we used to run to school as kids. We at St Hilda’s School would run through the Copperfield’s, the Cross Green’s and the St Hilda’s streets to school. The Ellerby lane kids would run through the Clark’s, the Archie’s and the Easy’s etc and I suppose the Victoria former pupils would run through the East Parks, the Glensdales and Charltons etc. Now those streets seem so bereft. Going back into those streets remind me of the old song: Once upon a time there was a tavern where I would sink a pint or too. It’s about a lonely old woman returning to a tavern of her youth which had been such a fun part of her life but now it was alas, all changed. Once or twice while perambulating St Hilda’s Crescent I have waxed lyrical to present incumbents of the area about its provenance regarding the iconic pantomime Cinderella which was performed by local kids in 1941 in a yard between the houses to raise money for a spitfire. But invariably it falls on stony ground. So forgive me I have penned this poem. I have called it
The Copperfields

Once through these Copperfield’s streets they came,
Laughing and chattering in sun and in rain,
More joined the throng along the way,
Futures bright and hearts so gay,
Others came from different paths
To face English tests and study maths.

Now these streets seem so forlorn
as I wander through them all alone
Fresher fields called all away,
The time had passed to skip and play.
Where they have flown it’s not mine to know
Have their lives been fulfilled?
I’d like to think so.
Indulge me a bit more.
Once in school we had assembly and then off to our individual class rooms. We sat in rows from the front of the room to the back two to a desk, two boys two girls, two boys, two girls etc. We didn’t have homework so we didn’t need to carry anything to school. The school books we kept in the desks which had lift up tops and ink wells. When you got a new exercise book it was a joy and you would try to keep it pristine clean at the start but then your mate that shared the desk with you would lift the desk lid up while you were writing and your book would be spoiled with dirty great blot from the brown powdered ink which filled up the ink wells. No ball pens in those days; it was years later that I saw my first Biro. At 10.30 we would gurgle a gill of milk and then onto playtime and those wonderful playground games.
As I flunked my eleven plus I stayed at the same school, St Hilda’s, with the same kids all way from five to fifteen years. In those ten years we got to know each other very well and became firm friends. But now we are mostly lost to one another: where are they all now? How have they faired? It’s hard enough to keep track of the boys but even harder to keep track of the girls as most have changed their names upon marriage. I hate to think of us drifting out of life without further contact so, next time I catch a leprechaun by the toe I’ll make him reveal how all those good mates faired, before I let him go!


Finally, Dave Carncross asks if anyone recognises themselves on this picture – he is on there somewhere. He thinks it’s a Bourne Chapel outing in a farmer’s field near Snake Lane. Probably sometime in the late 1940s?

dave's bourne chapel group

The Glencoe Railway Children

March 1, 2014

The Glencoe Railway Children
By Former Glencoelian
David Harris
Note: ‘Click’ on pictures and map to enlarge
(It should be pointed out that the ‘Glencoe’s in this tale were a series of streets in old East Leeds and not the lovely Scottish Glen)
In the early 1950s I attended St Hilda’s School in East Leeds and lived in Glencoe View. The ‘paddy train’ ran at the top of our street behind high wooden boards. My first job after school was to climb over the boards with a bucket and go ‘coiling’ for the fire. We would even, irresponsible I suppose, dangerously knock out and pinch the wooden blocks that held the lines in place in aid of the fire. Then, after tea, it was over the boards again to play balancing on the train lines and see who could walk the furthest without losing their balance. On one occasion a bogey appeared on the line, like the ones you see in the American films. We would all pile on and have a great time. Another time we found some detonators and we put them on the line so that the train set them off with a series of great bangs. We

were always getting chased by the ’lines man’ but he never caught us – we knew all the bolt holes.Sylvia with caption

We all enjoyed going to the pictures in the 1950s. I used to clean Aunt Elsie’s steps to get my picture money. In our local picture house ‘The Easy Road – fondly nick named the ‘bug hutch’, the cheapest seats, which were our domain, were made of wood and often had protruding nails. The ‘bug hutch’ was within a couple of hundred yards as the crow flies but it was either over the boards again and the boards at the other side of the lines which protected those who lived in the ‘May’s’ and the ‘Pretoria’ streets or a more lengthy trip to ‘the ginnel’ which passed under the line for safety, but this was not for us it was too far away, so it was over the two sets of boards for us and the same coming home after the show.
Our outside toilets were at the top of the street facing the railway and would ice up in winter requiring a bucket of hot water to thaw them out – even so the pipes would usually burst requiring a plumber. Happy days! Many a time we would sit on the toilet roof facing the railway and when the paddy train came past on its way to the coal staithe at the bottom of Easy Road we would shout for the driver to throw us a cob off, and most times he would comply. Then we would tumble down to retrieve it with our buckets. Another favourite of ours was to hitch a ride on the paddy train on its way down Black Road to Waterloo Pit. Often on these occasions we would start a brick throwing fight with the soldiers from the army camp who manned the Ack Ack guns and barrage balloons during the war and later guarded the German and Italian prisoners. Then we would steal a ride on the dust-carts for the return ride. They had a four inch board at the back that you could jump on as the dustcart slowed for a corner, and then we would jump off as the cart slowed to enter Cross Green Lane near the Bridgefield Pub. The driver who always knew you were on the back and didn’t like it would accelerate into Cross Green Lane if there wasn’t any traffic coming the other way, which meant you had to jump for it accounting for quite a few grazed limbs’.
We were well off for railway lines for there was another railway line which ran under a bridge at the other end of our street this one was over an eighty foot drop! It carried goods trains from the main line at Neville Hill to the Hunslet Goods Yard and beyond. This cutting was locally referred to as ‘The Navvy’. Modern Health and Safety laws have now secured the bridges and approaches with eight foot high metal fences. They make the navvy look more sinister than it really was. The navvy was never a sinister place for us, it was a playground a dangerous one sure, but still a playground. We’d never heard of Health and Safety laws and wouldn’t have taken any notice of them anyway. We were adventurous in the forties and fifties no iPods for us, you were a ‘sissy’ if you came home without a cut or a bruise. We were up and down that ‘navvy’ like monkeys, especially at weekends when there were no railway personnel around – all eighty foot of it. Some maniacs even walked along the parapet of the bridge where a sudden gust of wind would have resulted in almost certain death. There were various features on the way down the navvy which will bring memories to any old East Leedser: ‘Ginner Rock’ and the ‘Town Hall steps’ are but two. One brave but foolhardy lad: David Wilson, once famously jumped all the way down the navvy for a bet of six pence and forty comics. Some say it was an arm he broke some say it was a leg others say got the comics but not the six pence. David is alas no longer with us but his name will live on in folk law as ‘The one who dared to jump the Navvy’ There was one particular descent which was a rite-of-passage for we Glencoe View lads, this was a vertical channel located hard up to the brick work of our Glencoe View bridge with rock on the other side, if I remember we called it ‘the devil’s drop’. You could let yourself down on a rope but the climb back was like climbing up a chimney, feet on one side of the channel and back on the other and inching yourself up slowly. You had to satisfy this climb before you could become a full member of the gang.01-02-2014 19;52;47

Another game was to place tin cans on the railway lines and fish for them with a magnet on a long piece of string. And who can forget the iron ‘Monkey Bridge’ where the paddy line crossed over the navvy and where diehards would attempt ‘daring do’s’ with ropes and all manner of death defying manoeuvres. Finally there was one part of the descent composed of loose pebbles where we would ski down just like on scree. Amazingly we survived to tell the tale.
In October we would assail the paddy train again off down Black Road, this time to ‘chump’ – collect wood for the Bonfires (no council arranged bonfires for us) while we were down there we would indulge in our staple diet of Tusky (rhubarb) and ‘oss mangles and likely have ‘sprout fights’.
Oh Happy Days!
p.s does anybody remember the ‘pig farm fish pond’?The Navvy Today for Blog

Navvy for blog

Great tale Dave. Have you anymore? Here’s a bit more info from Dave. Reportedly Joe Ball rode across the parapet of this bridge on Sandra Marshalls two wheeler bike. Good heavens!
Navvy BridgsNote: click on pictures to enlarge


Navvy before railings fitted    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Easy Road Taws pitch

June 1, 2013

The Easy Road Taws pitch

By Dave Carncross

There was an open space at the end of one of the streets between us and the Easy Road Picture House. We knew there had been a house there at one time … the reasons it wasn`t there any longer ranged from being bombed, to gas explosion to , somebody being murdered there and nobody would rent it so it was pulled down. In fact I think it was that it simply became unsafe for some reason or other and had been demolished accordingly. So the next house in the terrace acquired a gable end and became the end one instead. The cellars had been filled in and the earth there was ideal for several taws pitches and became a handy meeting point for the local likely lads.

During one hot summer – they were all hot then, weren`t they ?? – somebody got the idea of grassing the whole area over and gangs of youths diligently scoured the immediate area and the quarry uprooting clods of grass from between the cobbles and wherever they could be found. Unbelievably, we actually managed to cover virtually the whole of the packed earth thus creating a new green “ lawn“. It wasn`t cricket square standard but nevertheless unique at our end of Easy Road. Much stripping to the waist and lounging about then ensued and we went home as brown as berries – not sunburnt, just covered in all the dust which had stuck to our sweaty bodies. All the grass had died within a couple of days of course and we were soon back to the plain old surface.

When we were about fourteen it was the site of an unfortunate accident for me personally. A few of us were speeding home down Easy Road on our bikes and I spied a trio of girls leaning against the end wall chatting. One was my mate Jenny Chappelow but the other two were `foreigners` and therefore of considerable interest to me. In the juvenile equivalent of screeching to a stop in an E type Jaguar, I swerved as nimbly as I could at the last minute and ended up skidding along the paving immediately next to the wall. Unfortunately, the knuckles of my right hand clutching the drop-handlebars scraped along the pebble dashed wall for a considerable distance removing the skin neatly and efficiently in the process. Somehow, I managed to quell the howl of anguish this provoked, managed what must have been a ghastly, crooked attempt at a smile, contrived a few merry quips through gritted teeth and went home to inspect the damage which, for once, was actually much worse than I`d thought it would be. This being the summer holidays, there was no one home but me and my Dad who was upstairs asleep in bed (permanent nights on bus service) and I thought it would be prudent to disinfect the area with Dettol. Using this neat from the bottle and pouring with my left hand was probably not the right thing to do so, yet again, I was in a position where I couldn`t unleash the screams of pain which would I thought have been entirely justifiable. I bandaged it as best I could and later told my Mam how it had happened judicially leaving out the girls bit. She looked at me through narrowed, all-seeing eyes and said “Showing off, were you ?? Serves you right !!” She always did have a way with words.

Not many folk came through with the answer to last month’s pic. It was of course Victoria School on York Road

Who is going to offer a name for these old iconic school –alas no longer with us.


Ellerby Lane School pic


My Hero

December 1, 2011

Dave Carncross has kindly allowed us to peep with respect into his epitaph of a true East Leeds Legend – Richard Chappelow.  In our old East Leeds society the virtues we admired most of all were to be brave and to be tough. Rick had both in abundance.  That he was a little injury prone only added to his charisma and made us love him the more

My Hero

By Dave Carncross

By the time we were ten years old or so, we were all veteran cinema-goers – the main venues being the Easy Road Picture House, the Star and the Princess. We liked anything which involved soldiers, cowboys, cartoons and comic book characters. We all had our own favourite film heroes but I had a real one much nearer home – next door but one to be precise. His name was Richard Chappelow.

The Chappelows were a lovely family. Jenny was like an extra sister. She was the same age as me but always seemed older. She was fiercely intelligent and always seemed to regard me with an amused tolerance and affection – as though I was a big, daft dog or something. David was the eldest and a really nice lad. Richard was, well, just Richard. Their Dad, Alf, left them when Richard would have been about thirteen years old and I never heard any of them mention his name again. May, their mother, had an uncanny resemblance to the film star June Allison and was just as nice. She went on in later life to write a few romantic novels and got them published. Jenny married another good local lad, Jim Croll, had a family and found the time to get a BA degree in her thirties through the Open University. David married and ended up inAustraliaalthough I think he had a spell inSouth Africafirst.

Richard was without doubt the toughest, most resilient lad I ever met in my entire life. This is not to say he was a hard case, far from it, he was a gentle, good natured, easy-going sort and universally popular. We junior males in East Leeds at that time always set great store by not being perceived as being `soft` and tried to take the knocks as they came without any outward show of being hurt. This was not always easy even for kids who only had to endure their own fair or average share of misfortune. The difference with Richard was that, if there was an accident waiting to happen, it would invariably be waiting for him. Whatever occurred, he would always behave the same, never cried or whinged and had seemingly bottomless reserves of mental fortitude. When anything happened to him and bear in mind that I had plenty of practice, I would closely watch his face for any sign of normal frailty but never saw any.  Perhaps a tightening of the jaw muscles or a momentary closing of the eyes would be all that escaped his iron control. I was always amazed and mightily impressed by how he dealt with the `slings and arrows` which were constantly besieging him and I always knew for an absolute certainty that I would be found badly wanting in similar circumstances.

The first time I ever visited the dreaded `Dispensary` on North Street it was just to keep Richard company while the medics reassembled whatever part of his anatomy had been damaged that particular day. We were greeted by a groan from the Sister of `Oh no, not you again Richard !! ` He was a regular client there and was probably on first name terms with most of the practitioners there as he was at the LGI and St. James` casualty departments as well.  If we’d had such things then, it might have proved cost-effective to assign a personal paramedic to follow him around at all times. Perhaps a prescription for a full-body suit made of Kevlar for protection against impacts of all kinds, fully wired to afford insulation against electric shocks and corrosive chemicals would have come in handy. There must be many doctors who served their apprenticeship repairing bits of Richard. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had been invited to their graduation ceremonies, been made Godfather to their children and attended the odd retirement party or two.

We decided to paddle in the small lake atRoundhayParkone hot summer’s day just next to the sign forbidding us to do exactly that. Nothing happened to any of us except Rick. He stood on a broken milk bottle which cut deep into his foot damaging a tendon in the process. He had an operation and finished up with a plaster cast right up to his knee to hold his foot in a downward direction. To have to wear a `plaster` was like being the given a Queen’s Medal for Gallantry and all the lads were deeply envious. He kindly allowed us to draw on it and sign our names. Rick had always been very fleet of foot and, although the operation left him slightly flat-footed for a while, it didn’t seem to affect his running speed at all. He was still quicker than me even flat-footed. Mind you, he was quicker than virtually everyone else inEast Leedsat that time. I even tried running in a similar manner just to see if my sprinting improved but it didn’t.

Once, during a stone fight on t`ollers, we were sheltering behind our brick barricade sorting out fresh ammunition. I ventured a quick look over the parapet and saw a roofing slate scissoring through the air towards me and ducked instinctively as you would do. The slate sliced a neat furrow along my scalp but Richard had bobbed up behind me and it hit him dead centre in the forehead with a dull thud. I had a very satisfactory, showy but superficial cut which bled impressively but didn’t hurt really. Richard, however, went off to renew acquaintances with his old contacts at the Dispensary and added further to his ever-expanding stitch collection.

One dark winter’s night, we were engaged with loads of the lads in a vigorous game of Relieve –Oh when he took a bad fall on the cobbles. He got up holding his arm and immediately asked me to go home with him.  For him to ask for any sort of help was a first so I asked him why and he said “ I’ve dislocated my elbow“. I asked how he knew and he said “ I’ve done it before“. We walked back to his house but his Mam and Dad were at the pictures and his brother David didn’t believe him. We went to our house and my Mam took one look at his ashen face and told my Dad to ring for an ambulance. The ringing had to be done from the local call-box so we all went down together and waited for what turned out to be a car driven by an ambulance driver. Dad had to go to work (on nights) so I went to the LGI with Richard by myself. Bear in mind that I was about twelve, he was a year or so older and it was about 10pm by this time. The doctor in Casualty had a quick feel through his jacket and said `X Rays – wait here`. Rick said `Carny, quick get me shirt off! ` I asked why and he said `cos me vest’s black bright`. I managed to get his shirt and vest off and nearly fainted when I saw his arm at the elbow. It looked as though the bones had been moulded into a figure of eight and it was grossly swollen. I think by then that I must have looked as bad as he did. The doctor reappeared and ushered him off into the next room leaving me profoundly glad to follow his instructions to sit there and wait while they put the arm back into place. I heard the odd muffled, stifled whimper and they came back about 20 minutes later and Rick’s arm was in a sling. He already looked better and we were just deciding what to do next when Rick’s Mam arrived so we all went home together – me with the offending vest still stuffed up my jumper.

During the school holidays us kids were more or less free agents because our parents were all at work. In some ways I think we very quickly became aware that we were responsible for ourselves and the independence from virtually constant supervision that prevails in these days made us better at risk assessment in general. From the age of about eleven, we used to go all over on our bikes – Otley. Ilkley, Wetherby, Collingham and the like and never gave it a second thought. I often wonder if my Mam and Dad ever really realised just how far afield we wandered.

Collingham was a favourite venue for swimming. We used to go to one of our secret places which was reached by much fence climbing and running crouched down like Indian trackers alongside hedges, all the while dragging our bikes along. It just occurred to me now to wonder how we knew how to get there? Perhaps it was received knowledge passed down from generation to generation of East Leedsers. We used to sneak our swimming trunks out from home and, if we were lucky, a towel as well. If no towel, it was get dried the best way you could – usually on your shirt or wait until the sun did the job for you. Fate decreed one day that it was time for Rick’s next accident. He told me he would show me his newly acquired racing dive technique and prepared to launch himself off the bank. Now, swimming and diving were the only athletic pursuits at which I was definitely better than him so I stopped him, pointing out that the water was far too shallow at that point. He wouldn’t have it, argued that a racing dive only took you just under the surface and launched himself out energetically almost parallel with the surface. He seemed to stop dead as soon as he hit the water and I heard an unearthly, gargling underwater shriek at the same time. He stood up slowly, turning towards me with the water lapping gently just under his knees. He looked as if he had just been wrestling a wolverine or had had a lively encounter with a honey badger which was particularly out of sorts that day. All down the front, from forehead to feet, he was one giant graze – spitting out a mouthful of bloody gravel through busted lips with small stones dropping at intervals into the water from his numerous lacerations. In a very matter-of-fact voice he said `You were right about that, Carny` and retired to lick his wounds. We always thought it was best to leave him alone at these times as long as we were sure he hadn’t actually broken anything again. Later on he came to the conclusion that the water should have been deep enough but that he’d made a minor miscalculation on his angle of entry.  I felt that `minor miscalculation` didn’t quite cover it – a bit like setting off due west fromLiverpooland somehow managing to miss Ireland but we didn’t fall out about it.

In brief, there were the times …………………

When he was wrestling with his elder brother David and brought his head up sharply so that David’s top teeth cut a perfect semi-circle into his forehead.  He explored that wound with expert fingers and pronounced conclusively that it didn’t need stitches.

When, in our early 20`s, we were both playing for one of the Leeds and District rugby league open age teams. He was a marvellous player and completely fearless as always. He was at full back and came weaving through at pace after collecting the ball from a kick through. Suddenly, without being tackled, he hopped to a stop and put the ball down carefully. He sat down on the pitch, rolled down his elastic knee bandage and there was a clean cut right across his kneecap. We had no idea how it had happened but, of course, stitches were involved again. The following Thursday night at training he turned up complete with his bag containing his playing kit. I said there was no way he could train with the stitches still in but he said he was having them out on the Friday and wanted me to take his bag home with me so that he could play on the Saturday without his wife knowing. As it happened, there was no game because the ground was too hard due to frost.

We decided to make some toffee. It was his idea and we were in his house alone during the school holidays. I didn’t know how this was done but he said he’d seen his Mam make it and produced a jar of treacle and a bottle of vinegar. I liked treacle and was all for eating it straight out of the tin with a spoon but he went ahead and mixed it with vinegar into a stiff paste somehow. This was spread into an old enamel baking dish. Their old black cast iron range oven had a gas element at the back and he tried to light it with a taper made from newspaper. The time lapse between turning the gas on and reaching in with the lit taper was too long however and there was an almighty bang and rattling of the cast iron oven plates as it exploded. It blew Rick backwards clean over the sofa. He scrambled up and shocked though I was I remembered to turn the gas off. His eyebrows, eyelashes and the front of his quiff had disappeared and his face was studded with grime and tiny pieces of rusty cast iron but he was still clutching the taper. He had a good swill in the sink and, after tidying up as best we could, he felt that we might have gotten away with it. Looking at his new bland, featureless face with its faintly curious expression and unique hairstyle to say nothing of the remains of the treacle mixture here and there on the wallpaper, I wouldn’t have put money on it but kept my thoughts to myself.

I was stung on the index finger of my right hand by a wasp in 1997. I remember it quite clearly because it was the first time in my life it had happened and was very painful. Being 57 years old at the time, I managed not to cry (well, not much anyway). During the summers of our childhood, it was a daily, sometimes hourly occurrence for Richard to be attacked by wasps, bees or any other insect which liked biting or stinging people. The cure then was to apply a dolly-blue bag or a dock leaf. I personally thought a mainline injection of morphine might have been more effective but the stings didn’t seem to bother Richard much or indeed at all so maybe he had developed some level of immunity over the years.

Richard’s brother, David, had a beautiful J.T. Rodgers` racing bike. Metallic blue with chromed forks. Richard was under a permanent but ineffective instruction never to ride it. Came the time when we crashed together at speed attempting some intricate manoeuvre and the lightweight alloy front wheel of Dave’s bike was buckled into an `S` shape. As usual, Richard was impervious to the cuts and miscellaneous contusions which he and I had suffered but we both realised the enormity of the problem we now had with the wheel. I had a spoke key at home but had no idea how to use it. By trial, many errors and intense concentration we virtually dismantled the wheel and rebuilt it. Few things in my life have given me as much satisfaction as seeing it spin straight again when we put it back on the bike. Dave never found out (unless he ever reads this).

There was a time when he had his chest heavily strapped to the point where it was difficult for him to breathe. I can’t remember now how he had broken his ribs and I’m tempted to invent some bizarre set of circumstances which brought this about such as being run over by the cricket pitch roller or a chance meeting with a water buffalo which had escaped from a private zoo somewhere. It was probably something more mundane such as being head-butted by the Co-op milkman’s horse.

I have dismissed the assortment of broken fingers, cuts, bruises, torn ligaments, broken noses which adorned Richard’s daily existence as being too trivial and numerous to mention. Falling in rivers, out of trees, trapping toes; fingers etc were just an everyday thing for him and not worth recording here. These things happened to all of us but not as frequently as they did to Richard.

Richard left school at fifteen. I had another two years to do because I was about eighteen months younger than him and also at grammar school leaving at sixteen. He joined Andrews Flooring and Tiling as an apprentice. I did think that entering a trade which inevitably involved working with sharp, pointy metal tools, glassy materials and powerful abrasive machinery might just be tempting fate a bit too far but, as far as I know, he stayed at that company which is still on the go for the rest of his working life. Perhaps he used up all his accident quotas in his earlier days. We lost touch completely by our mid-twenties. In those days, National Service, moving to another area ofLeedsand employment or social patterns could mean you would just never bump into each other again.

Rick died a good while ago from a lung complaint, I believe. Jim Croll, his brother-in-law, told me that the doctors never seemed entirely certain what the illness actually was. With Rick’s luck it would have been a unique alien ailment brought to Earth from the Andromeda galaxy by a speeding speck of meteoric dust which managed to travel for 2.5 million light years just to hit him and him only. Mind you, I don’t think he would have been much help to the Doctors in that he wouldn’t have allowed himself to tell them just how rough he felt. There was a marvellous series of comedy TV programmes many years ago called “Ripping Yarns“ and Michael Palin was the star. In one episode his character caught bubonic plague and was covered in running sores and scabs. He passed it off as “Nothing to worry about – just a touch of the bubos“. Through my laughter I thought of Rick immediately. That was him to a T. My hero.




                      And anyone who knew Rick would concur with that!

The East Leeds Memories of Gerry Thrussell

February 1, 2011

The East Leeds Memories of Gerry Thrussell

Gerry remembers fun nights at the Easy Road Picture House in the 1940s, a time when the German prisoners of war were still incarcerated in the POW camp down Black Road, exchanging derogatory salutes with the POWs and an amazing coincidence when he later met up with one such ex-prisoner on his own ground while Gerry was carrying out his National Service in West Germany. Gerry remembers too ‘Yanks’ in the Leeds City Centre and finally local ‘duffs and dares’ in East Leeds.

The Easy Road Picture House.

One night at the Easy Road Pictures, Alan Ellis, Terry Croll, Picko and me, were making a lot of noise on the forms and Abe White, the proprietor, came down to put a stop to it. In a fit of bravado I said, ’Can we have this form for the bonfire?   Abe got me by the arm and escorted me off the premises and clotched me from the Picture House for good.  As fate would have it however, poor Abe died a few weeks later and his sisters (in the pay-box) didn’t know anything about the ban, so I was lucky and I was back in there like a shot.

Air Raids and the POW Camps

Of course we all remember the air raids and the guns firing. Richmond Hill School was bombed on Friday night: on Monday morning we all marched down to Ellerby Lane School. Of course many East Leeds children were evacuated to Lincolnshire. Later in the war we remember the POW camps in ‘Lover’s Lane’, off Black Road. And how amazed we were to see German and Italian prisoners walking about in Cross Green Lane, Easy Road and East End Park. We even invited two Italian prisoners to play football with us one day on East End Park. One September Evening in 1944 as we kicked the ball around on Snakey Lane about 200 plus Lancaster Bombers flew over, quite low, heading south east to join a 1,000 bomber raid.


During 1944, I often went into Leeds with Billy Sowery (whatever Happened to him?) During those days Leeds was full of American soldiers. It was a case of Yanks chasing girls and girls chasing Yanks. Meanwhile Billy and I would chip in with, ‘Got any gum chum?’

 ‘V’ For Victory

In late 1945, after the wear was over I used to cycle home from work for my lunch. I was cycling up East Street one day at the same time as two British Army trucks packed with German prisoners (POWs) slowly passed me heading for the POW camp on Black Road by way of Cross Green Lane. As they drove by some of the Germans gave me the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute, so as we reached the coal staithe where I turned left up Easy Road I stopped and gave the Germans the ‘V’ sign. It was the least I could do! The Germans just shook their fists and I peddled like mad up Easy Road hoping that the trucks would not follow. This was repeated for several weeks running but then the trucks stopped. Perhaps the camp was full? Of course the ‘V’ was ‘V’ for VICTORY. Four years later while doing National Service with the 11th Hussars in Osnabruck West Germany I got into conversation with a new German interpreter working in the camp, a chap called Fritz, he was a huge guy who it was said had been a champion wrestler in the WAFFEN S.S.  When he heard I was from Leeds he was very interested and said he had been a prisoner of war at the Black Road camp in East Leeds during late 1945. Although we had just met, Fritz thought he knew me from somewhere and he would have talked all day but I was on duty and left him with a puzzled look on his face and scratching his head. As it happened two days later a detachment of Hussars, including me left for manoeuvres in Lunenburg Heath followed by a move to Brunswick on the East German border.  So, unfortunately, I never saw Fritz again – I wonder if he ever worked out that I was the boy on the bike in East Street back in 1945?  



One of the favourite pastimes of the East Leeds lads of the 1940s was doing ‘duffs’

One good spot for this was the field down Red Road, just behind the East Leeds Cricket Ground where there was a wide stream. We would pick spots to jump across and many a time ended up with wet feet. Poor old Leslie Hall broke his arm there and Terry Brayshaw got a black eye and a grazed nose – both these old friends of mine have now sadly passed way.

 Old Houses:

These were houses left empty when the families were re-housed on council sites. We’d spend many happy hours playing in them before they were finally pulled down. One of our games was throwing stones from across the street trying to get the stones through the upstairs windows of the houses opposite where the workmen had removed the glass. This practice came in handy when we were throwing hand grenades in the army on our National Service. But it wasn’t as exciting!


We all had sledges in those far off days and we prayed for snow in winter. My favourite spot for sledging was the Cavalier Hill between the pub and St Saviour’s church. It was quite steep and a long walk back alongside the church,  I always remember there was an echo there and we used to shout, ‘Hello’ across East Street from the top and a couple of seconds later your voice would come back to you – it was great fun. Perhaps that echo is still there and if you’re passing give it a try – but don’t get arrested! My wife says that ‘Bricky Hill’ was the best hill for sledging, so I’d better mention it!



Footnote: It seems the massive new residential blocks being constructed at the bottom of the Cavalier Hill are to be called ‘Echo Court’   Just a coincidence?