Archive for the ‘Ellerby Lane School’ 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

Margaret’s Tale. Past times in Richmond Hill

December 1, 2014

MARGARET’S STORY Mrs Margaret Croll (nee Ibbetson) has given us permission to include her story in East Leeds Memories. Margaret’s story first appeared in: Past Times in Richmond Hill and The Bank a study in oral history of local folk collected under the auspices of Park Lane College. Margaret is the oracle on information about Richmond Hill. Margaret attended St Hilda’s Church of England School from 1941 to 1951.The classes were mixed and of different age groups of approximately 40 pupils. She was taught: reading, writing, arithmetic, science, geography and history, religious education (RE) and had to attend church on saint’s days. No provision was made for school diners until the 1950s. Margaret attended Ellerby Lane School for cookery and Victoria School York Road for housewifery.

Note: in response to this tale Marlene Egan (nee Marlene Howard) Ellerby Lane/Cross Green School Has left a comment. please leave a comment if you remember her.

MARGARET’S TALE – THE SHOPS IN RICHMOND HILL When thinking of my childhood during the first decade after the Second World War my mind sometimes wanders back to the time when there were lots of shops in Richmond Hill. One in particular brings back fond memories because it belonged to my Aunt Emma (nee Reynard) and Uncle Tom Woods. My mam was Mollie Ibbetson (nee Reynard) and was cousin to Emma. The shops at 29 Upper Accommodation Road at the corner of Nellie View formally belonged to John and Susan Reynard who were uncle and aunt to my mam. The shop was grocery and green grocery selling fruit, flowers poultry and game. The shop had a marbled top counter with scales for weighing dry goods such as: flour, butter, lard, cheese and fruit: apples, pears etc. On the counter was a bacon slicer for cutting thick or thin rashers of bacon and ham. It was also used for cutting boiled ham and corned beef. (I don’t think the health inspectors would have liked cooked and uncooked food being sliced on the same machine today?) Under the counter was a vinegar barrel with a tap; customers would bring their own jug or bottle for vinegar. The shop was stocked with dried fruit for baking, fresh fruit included apples pears, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, grapes, bananas and soft fruit when in season – strawberries, raspberries plumbs, gooseberries red currents and black currents. Soft fruit was not available all year round; it was the same with flowers. In the right hand corner of the shop was a big wooden potato hod, which was a pyramid shaped container, with the point at the bottom, standing on a frame with wooden side supports. Sacks of potatoes were emptied into it. There was a big scale next to it shaped like a coalscuttle, it was used for weighing the potatoes: people would ask for two pennyworths, six pennyworths or a shilling’s worth according to their needs. The green vegetables were also at this side of the shop – cabbages cauliflowers and sprouts alongside the root vegetables swedes, parsnips, onions, white turnips carrots and beetroot. The front window looked onto the main road. It was Mam’s job on Monday morning to clear and clean the window and brass the big rail, which is another way of saying clean the brass rail with Brasso. The rail had hooks on it that went all way across the window. Mam would then redress the window in the afternoon as it was half day closing. She would shine the apples with a soft cloth and arrange all the different fruit in the window with salad, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes spring onions, all arranged in separate baskets, then mam would hang black and green grapes on the hooks. At Christmas time the shop had holly and mistletoe on the hooks outside. In the big kitchen Mum and Aunt Emma would skin and chop rabbits, pluck and draw chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. In the shop were nuts, walnuts, Barcelona (like hazel nuts) almonds, Brazil nuts dates figs and crystallized fruit; all nice things for Christmas. Very early on Friday mornings, Mum and Aunt Emma went to the wholesale market which was in Leeds Kirkgate Market at the time. They would order all the fruit, vegetables and flowers for the shop. The shop hours were 9 am to 1 pm on Monday the other weekdays 9 am to 6 pm and on Saturday 8 am to 5 pm. on Saturday. When the shop closed for the weekend Aunt Emma would bring any soft fruit that had not been sold into the kitchen to make jam. She also pickled onions, beetroot and red cabbage, used cauliflowers to make piccalilli and made her own chutney, all this to be sold in the shop. She would buy two ounces of Turmeric from the chemist: Timothy White and Taylor to make the piccalilli, here were no metric measures in those days. She also made potted meat by boiling the ham bones and any leftover ends of bacon; there was always a queue of people waiting for it. Aunt Emma and Uncle Tom retired in the 1960s the shop was sold and they went to live next door. I miss all the shops that were part of my childhood and growing up. Federation housing is now on the site of the shop and old streets. There were so many shops in Richmond Hill all our daily needs could be purchased locally. Some of those which come to mind are: the Thrift Stores in Dial Street and Tommy Hutton the herbalist. Upper Accommodation Road had no end of shops including general grocers, Maypole, Drivers, the Co-op, Gallons, which later became Bill Benn’s television Shop. The Co-op also had a butchery and shoe department. There were lots of butchers in the area and confectioners, newsagents, drapery and clothing. Today all that remains in Upper Accommodation Road is a pharmacy, café, off licence and a sandwich shop. A bakery has recently closed. Nowadays we have to travel by bus or car for our everyday needs which usually come from the big supermarkets like Kwik Save on Torre Road or Morrison’s at Hunslet. Yes I do miss those little shops of earlier years.


our east leeds shops cross green lane

our east leeds shops

The Richmond Hill Whit Walk This was an annual event. It started from the Prospect Hotel, down Accommodation Road, Dial Street, Easy Road and then around the periphery of the old running track at East End Park, twice, before returning to the Prospect. It attracted a large field and there was a monetary prize. There is a dramatised film based on the race in existence. If I recall correctly an old mate, Jimmy Croll, won it twice, at least RICHMOND HILL WHIT WALK

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

Carole’s tale

June 1, 2014

Memories of long ago

 By Carole Gibson (nee Hillyard)

 Plus a show of East Leeds pride by Dave Carncross

(Remember to ‘click’ on pictures to make them bigger)

I lived with my father, mother and younger brother, Ken, at No 5 Pontefract Avenue from birth until aged thirteen when we moved to No 13 Kitson Street. My father worked for LNER all his life from the age of fourteen at the Neville Hill sheds; first as a cleaner then a fireman and retired as a driver. My mother worked as a machinist at a clothing firm. My brother and I first attended Richmond Hill Nursery School and then Ellerby Lane School until we were fifteen years old.

After Ken and I were born, Dad by then a fireman was allocated three holiday excursion tickets to the east coast each year. Scarborough was our favourite destination and we used the tickets over the long summer holidays – one trip every two weeks. Mother, Ken and I would turn up at the Leeds Train Station greatly excited with our packed tomato sandwiches and flask of tea ready to catch the train. The family ticket was for a dedicated excursion train and you could only travel there and back on that particular train. It usually set off at 9.00 am and returned about 3.30 pm from Scarborough and I seem to remember the journey in those days took between two and a half and three hours. Sometimes the carriages had corridors, sometimes not. Father would occasionally be on the footplate of the train which meant even greater excitement as he was given free time before he had to return to the train. He would pack and take with him a change of clothes as he would be wearing overalls (no smart uniforms in those days).

We would start with a walk down the hill to the beach, as we always liked to sit by the lifeboat station. On the way down if Dad was with us we would stop at a shop on the left hand side for him to buy a plate of tripe. The butcher would cut it into small pieces and put pepper, salt and vinegar on it. Mother, Ken and I absolutely refused to look at it. Dad also liked to have plate of whelks from one of the stalls at the side of the lifeboat station. They were pure rubber as far as I was concerned but Dad loved them. It was all part and parcel of being at the seaside.

There would be fishing boats in the harbour and we would watch them unloading their catches. I used to love looking at all their different fish they caught: crabs and occasionally lobsters were still alive.

The weather wasn’t always good and I seem to remember days when there were sea frets and it could be quite cold. On those days Mother would allow us to spend time in one of the amusement arcades. My brother, Ken, absolutely adored them and this was the highlight of his day.

Another treat was an ice cream from Jacomelli’s on the front on our way back up the hill to catch the return train.

My dad was a member of a works club of some sort at work and he saved a small amount of money each week. At the end of the year a weekend trip to London was organised with colleagues. It would start off early on Saturday morning and return late Sunday night so that they would be back at work on the Monday. They would obviously travel by train and stay in a bed and breakfast establishment. A sightseeing trip would be arranged during the day, sometimes river trips. The evening meant a theatre visit and my father’s favourite was The Crazy Gang. Sunday morning would be a visit to Petticoat Lane Market where small gifts would be purchased for home. On one occasion he brought home a pair of nylon stretch socks. These were a novelty at the time and the first we had seen. Unfortunately when my brother tried to put them on they wouldn’t stretch! Petticoat Lane lived up to its name. We certainly had a good laugh at Dad’s expense.

Father obviously enjoyed the weekend and would return on Sunday night slightly worse for wear. Presumably a number of beverages had been consumed during the weekend as no wives were at hand. Mother was not pleased and for the following week there would be as ‘atmosphere’ in the house, until all was forgotten and forgiven – until the next time.



Thanks for your lovely memories of typical East Leeds life in the 1940s/50s, Carole



And how about this for a bit of East Leeds pride? Dave Carncross managed to get the original street nameplate from his old East Leeds terrace house in May Grove, and proudly sports, it on his summer house.

 daves may grove



Dave has also managed to get pictures of a couple of our old cinemas in their pre war heyday. The Star and the Regent. Note: the Regent has its name painted on the roof and I have had a look after all these years the name is still discernible.

daves star cinema

daves regent cinema





September 1, 2013


Alan was a pupil at Ellerby Lane School but before that a pupil at the iconic South Accommodation Road School. You had to leave ‘South Accomm’ at age eleven and move to high school if you passed your 11 plus or failing that to, usually, St Hilda’s or Ellerby Lane Schools who profited by inheriting some great footballers

Close your eyes and go back to a time before the internet, joy-riders, and crack. Before SAGA and Nintendo. Go way back to:
Hide and seek in the park.
The corner shop.
Football with an old can.
Beano, Dandy, Twinkle and Denis the Menace.
Roly Poly.
Hula Hoops, Jumping the stream, building dams.
The smell of the sun and fresh cut grass.
Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum.
An ice cream cone on a warm summer night from the van that played a tune
Watching Saturday morning cartoons, short commercials or the flicks
When around the corner seemed far away and going into town seemed like going somewhere.
Playing marbles, ball bearings, big un’s, little un’s
Making igloos out of snow banks
Walking to school, no matter what the weather was like. Running till you were out of breath, laughing so hard your stomach hurt.
The embarrassment of being picked last for the team
Water balloons were the ultimate weapon.
Football cards in the spokes that transformed bikes into motorcycles.
Eating raw jelly, orange squash, ice pops.
Vimto and Jubbly Lollies, Curly Wirleys..

Remember when…
There were two types of trainers – girls and boys and Dunlop Green Flash. The only time you wore them at school was for PT. and they were called: gym shoes or if you were older: plimsoles.
You knew everyone in your street and so did your parents.
It wasn’t odd to have two or three ‘best friends.
You didn’t sleep a wink on Christmas Eve.
Nobody owned a pure-bred dog.
Five bob (25p) was decent pocket money.
You would reach into a muddy gutter for a penny
Any parent could discipline anyone’s kid, or feed him or use him to carry groceries and nobody, not even the kid thought a thing of it.
When being sent to the head’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited a misbehaving pupil at home
Decisions made by dip dip dip.
The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was germs
and the worst thing in the day was having to sit next to one.
Getting a foot of snow was a dream come true
Older siblings were then worst tormentors but the fiercest protectors.


South Accomm School

Alan Price

Alan Price – The Theatre of Dreams – at South Accommodation Road School


Does anybody remember the ‘film’? I think at Ellerby Lane we were the first school to attempt anything like this. When we went to the flicks we had to stay while the credits stopped rolling, while we wrote down the various occupations of the people behind the making of the film i.e. the director, camera man, gaffer etc. Then there were the endless rehearsals. The star of the film was to be Eric Isotta, who believe it or not got the part because the looks of his dark skin were said to have made him look like a villain!!! Of course that wouldn’t have been tolerated in today’s PC world (and I don’t mean the computer store!!) Apart from Eric, and I think, Billy Findley, I don’t remember the rest of the cast.
To this day I still remember the opening night. All the ‘boos’ when Eric arrived – I can still see Eric furtively peering around the corner after the theft of the silver and then all the rest of the class were chasing him. Then of course, all the cheers and foot stamping after Eric was captured. I often what happened to the film and if still exists stored in an attic somewhere?
Another tit bit about Ellerby Lane School. I believe it was the first local school to teach a foreign language outside of the usual: German, French and Latin. We were taught Spanish. I believe this was an attempt to show that primary schools were as intellectual as the grammar schools. Somebody told me there was a Spaniard working at the Ellerby Lane Foundry and I followed him about for weeks bucking up the courage to speak to him in his native language and when I managed it he told me to f… off in no certain manner. To this day I don’t know of he was a Spaniard or not.

And of course that film ‘Brought to Justice’ directed by Mary Milner a schoolgirl herself has recently and magically come to light. It has no sound it’s jerky –
it’s bloody marvellous!
Thanks for bringing the past back to life for us, Alan.

Last month’s picture was the former East End Park Special Needs School. The building is still there but no longer with the same use

We should all remember this one even though it was bombed by the Germans on March 14th 1941.Richmond Hill School


I don’t want to give the name of this school away but I can’t help including this great little gem written by a lady called Edith it would seem many years ago. I’m sure everyone will love it, Edith.

Edith’s Tale
I well remember the old Richmond Hill Council School. There will never be another as good or as well loved as that school. I became a pupil in 1903 and left to start work on the 12th of December 1913. The school itself was large and at the time, very modern, having good classrooms and washing facilities. The lower hall was shaped exactly like the top one with classrooms all around a central hall for pupils to be mustered for lectures of all kinds. When I attended the headmistress of the infants and juniors was Miss Bowker, a short plump, motherly person, who had about eight teachers under her authority.
In the early 1900s Leeds began to run tramcars. Such an event had to be noted, so a little game was organized. Some of us were lined up and taught a little song, which we sang as we trotted around in a line.

High-ho, see the trams go,
ride into town for a penny.
Jump on the car.
Hold onto the bar,
You’ll get there much quicker than any.
The school clock was a landmark. It had a very noble way of striking, especially at nine o’clock in the morning. The upper floor will be the one remembered by most. Mr. Luther Wilkinson was our headmaster, he signed his name with a flourish – I remember it well. All the schoolteachers were good and did their best to make schoolwork interesting for us. There was Mr. Reilly, who was killed in the First World War. Mr. Crue was the music teacher, Mr. Beaumont my own master for a few years and Mr. Turner. There were lots of women teachers who must have been very good to turn out so many good scholars. The Richmond Hill Football Team of those early years were real champions and were once invited to Copenhagen to play schoolboy’s teams over there.
A final little poem:
In days gone by, when I was young
Some folk went out collecting cow dung.
It was good for poulticing they said
For aching backs and thumbs hard and red.
But my mum believed in other things
Like bread poultices for boils and stings.
After that she fed it to the cat,
Who always had kittens in an old felt hat.





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



December 1, 2012


Another great tale from Audrey Sanderson

Formally:  Audrey Tyres Ellerby Lane School


Now living in Australia

She’s a star

Many, many British films and television shows have been shown throughout the world over and over again.  Some are splendid costume dramas, some are send ups of classic’s courtesy of the Carry On crew.  Lot’s of movies with fine acting, spectacular scenery but I think above all the British sense of humour and ability to laugh at themselves is the most popular of all.

Ordinary stories of families going about their day to day lives have made marvellous entertainment for the rest of the world.  When Albert Steptoe and his son Harold was first shown on T.V. I thought we were going to have to call for an ambulance for my Dad.  He laughed so much he went purple in the face and couldn’t breath.  Who would have thought a story about a rag and bone man could be so funny?  Many years and a thousand movies later the humorous shows are still being produced.

Constantly being repeated on Australian T.V. are episodes of Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet) and her misfit family and Frank Spencer’s many exploits.  I think my family fits somewhere in-between those two T.V. shows.

I had recently become engaged to be married.  As in most families about 20 years elapses with each generation.  One stage it’s all weddings, then lots of babies.  Big excitement over leaving school and getting the first job and before you know it more weddings again.  Mum and Dad came from large families so we went to plenty of weddings as all the cousins took the matrimonial path.  The man I was engaged to was an only child but had plenty of cousins around the same age as him so it was inevitable engagements and weddings would be in abundance.   No big parties for getting engaged in East End Park back in the 60s.  As I have said before it’s a long time since I lived in England and maybe people do make a big fuss and have all the trimmings of cards, presents, parties now as they do here in Australia.  Big events like weddings etc. are more like a Hollywood production with wedding planners, entertainers, everyone on the planet invited instead of a family gathering with your nearest and dearest.  Our engagement party consisted of myself and the intended, his Mum & Dad.  My parents, my two brothers and their wives, the best lace table cloth, best china, all squashed round the table in our tiny house in Charlton Place.  Once you were seated you didn’t move, there was no place to move to.  Not so for the engagement party two weeks later of a cousin from my futures in-laws family.

My own family tried to out do all our relatives when it came to weddings.  My future in-laws did the same I soon found out.  I only knew a few members of his family and had never met Aunty Madge and Uncle Wilf or their son and daughter.  My soon to be mother-in-law was a Hyacinth Bucket type.  Her husband was the kindest man, quiet spoken and gave in to her all the time.  Every time she left the house she wore a hat, leather gloves, matching shoes and handbag and a coloured chiffon scarf round her neck tucked into her coat and fastened it with a brooch at the throat.  Except on the occasions where she wanted to Lord it over someone and then out came the fur coat.  Not only how she dressed but how she spoke changed too.  We are all aware Yorkshire people clip the endings of words, notorious for not pronouncing aitches and any word with the letters U or OO in them are the brunt of many a joke.    I still don’t sound aitches or t’s at the end of words when I speak.   Annie felt inferior with her accent, unfortunately she put aitches where there shouldn’t have been one and sounded like a bad comedian doing an impersonation of the Queen with the high pitched voice she used.  Frequently in this mode she mispronounced words too. No matter how many times you told her the right pronunciation she insisted she was right and you wasn’t.  I used to get embarrassed but after a couple of years it didn’t bother me at all.  I couldn’t forget it though and even now if I hear the word obituary I always think Orbit-uri. A privet hedge she called a pivot hedge, ravenous became ravishing, champagne was shampagni.  Sean Connery  had just made the first James Bond movie Dr. No.  She got well and truly mad because people laughed at her when she called him SEEN.  Everybody else was wrong why couldn’t they see she was right and listen to her?

My fiancé had a flash car.  I think it was called a Ford Capri.  It was a turquoise colour, large and more trouble than you can poke a stick at.  He was totally useless as a mechanic, probably didn’t know how to put petrol in it either.  Back then the man at the garage filled the car, checked the oil, water, put air in the tyres and washed the windscreen while you sat in the car.  You payed him from the car seat and waited ’til he brought back your change and green shield stamps.  It was a very nice looking car, his pride and joy and his mother’s delight.  He’d bought the car just before he’d met me.  She asked if I could drive the first time I met her.  I said I knew how to but hadn’t got a licence.  She grabbed hold of me ” You must never drive that car!  Promise me you won’t drive it!  I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to it.”  I should have been warned then shouldn’t I?  Just like Hyacinth’s Sheridan, Annie’s son could do nothing wrong either.

Comes the day of his cousins engagement party our next door neighbour came knocking on the door.  She’d had a phone call from Audrey’s boy friend.  The car had broken down so he would be picking me up on the Vespa scooter he still owned.  Great!  I’d made myself a new dress for this party.  Annie’s instructions ” We’ve got to wear our best bib and tucker as there will be lots of people who we’ve never met.”  Namely the girls parents and her family.  I was a skinny 7 stone nothing in them days, dress to impress frocks were skin tight and just above the knee.  Although the middle of November this dress was a sleeveless green velvet with a high neck.  In my simple mind I’d thought I would be lovely and warm in the car with the heater going full blast.  Annie of course would be wearing the fur coat and his Dad in his best charcoal grey 3 piece suit.  Too late to change the dress so had to hoist the skirt up practically to my waist to get on the back of the Vespa.  I wore a thick wool coat trying to tuck it round my knees, a headscarf on my head and froze as we drove to the Gipton estate.  His Mum & Dad had had to travel on two buses to get there.  There was no way Annie would miss showing off the fur coat.

Madge and Wilf’s semi detached council house was very nice and near The Oak Tree pub I think it was called.  Quite a number of people were packed into the sitting room, some perched on chair arms, leaning on the sideboard, leaning on the backs of the lounge suite anywhere they could find a space.  Madge flitting in and out of the kitchen with large oval plates filled with tiny triangle sandwiches.  She gave them to the nearest person and told them to help themselves and pass the plate to the next one.  Back she went to the kitchen for more plates calling out to her son and daughter to help her.  Uncle Wilf was supposed to be handing out the drinks.  He did more talking and drinking than looking after the guests.  Being new to this family I didn’t know anyone and tried vainly to remember who was a family member and which ones had married into it.  I couldn’t work out who the girl’s parent were.  Hadn’t I listened properly when I’d been introduced to a sea of new faces?  Please don’t let me get the parents mixed up.  The young ones would think it great laugh, the older ones would never forget and remind me of it every time they had a family gathering.  I whispered to Annie asking which ones were the girls parents.  She whispered back ” They’re not here.  Madge told me the father is an alcoholic and spends his time in The Oak Tree.  His brother is the barman and they say he’s tea-total  but I find that hard to believe.  I don’t think this is going to be a marriage made in heaven marrying a girl who comes from a family like that.”  Charming,  I’m here not knowing a soul and she’s pulling the family through to pieces with the ring barely out of the box and the intending marriage doomed before it’s got to the planning stage.  I felt like warning the girl what she was letting herself in for before the ring got too comfortable on her finger.  Then I thought maybe she knew already if she agreed to have an engagement party to which her parents hadn’t been invited.  All too much for me to understand how other families sorted out their problems so I sat there and smiled.

Annie had taken off the fur coat of course, sat next to me on the couch she kept urging me to show off my engagement ring.  Mine was a solitaire diamond on a gold band.  Shirley, the newly engaged girl’s ring had 3 small diamonds on a gold band.  I wouldn’t have cared if her ring had been the size of a hens egg or one out of a christmas cracker it was her engagement party so let her enjoy herself.  Annie was a large bosomed lady with a small waist.  She never wore tight clothes and leaned more to the Queen mother look.   Her dress was navy blue with three quarter sleeves.  Very plain but very nice fine wool material.  She wore her 3 rows pearl necklace with pearl drop earrings, a gold watch on her wrist, wedding ring, engagement and eternity ring on her third finger.  There we all were being extra polite to each other, making small talk, saying how nice everything was and how Madge had gone to a lot of trouble making all the food.  Tray after tray of sandwiches, sausage rolls, wedges of pork pie, cubes of cheese, lots of food.  With a flourish Madge came back into the room with an enormous glass bowl of trifle.  Struggling with the weight of it asking someone to clear a space on the long coffee table in the middle of the room.  We were squashed in so tightly on the couch I had no idea how we were going to be able to serve ourselves as Madge was urging us to do.  Small glass dishes and spoons were distributed and still no one made a move to be first to disturb the pattern on top of the trifle.  Suddenly Madge’s voice from the kitchen yelling for Wilf to help her.  A glass halfway to his lips he took no notice.  Her voice wasn’t friendly as once more she yelled Wilf’s name.  Wilf’s brother said he’d better go and see what she wanted before she got mad at him.  Wilf still didn’t make a move until the booming voice yelled ” Wilf! Get yourself in here this minute.”  All the men started laughing with calls of ‘ Her Majesty’s voice, Now your for it, Watch out for the rolling pin.’  Everything in the sitting room went quiet.  Loud murmuring from the kitchen, lots of voices.  Annie told her husband to go and see what was going on.  He’d been perched on the arm of the couch and stood up.  The couch was on the far side of the room there was no way for him to get to the kitchen door without standing on dozens of feet so he sat down again.  The voices on the other side of the door were getting louder.  No one knew what to do.  A young man nearest to the outside door said he would go down the outside path round to the back door.  An icy blast as he went out and another young man said he’d go too as they might need a hand.  Seconds later the kitchen door opened and Mage’s voice clear as a bell ” No, no, don’t go in there.  There’s no more room in there you’ll stand on someones feet.”  All eyes were fixed on the kitchen door as it opened and closed then opened again.  A new male voice said ” It’s all right.  I just want to say hello to everyone.”  Panic in Madge’s voice ” Wilf! for God sake do something.  Don’t let him go in there.”  Not a sound from the sitting room as the kitchen door opened once more and in stepped a man wearing a long gaberdine raincoat.  He had a big beaming smile and said “Hello everyone I’m Shirley’s father”  Annie nudged me and whispered ” He’s the future in-law.”  O God that’s all we need.  Another man came behind him trying to get hold of his arm and pull him back to the kitchen ” Come on Bill, time to go home, we’ll say hello another day.”

Bill not having any of it shook off his hand ” No it’s right,  They look like nice people.  It’s lovely and warm in here isn’t it?” he said to the nearest lady to him.  She smiled and nodded, he moved on to the next lady ” I’m Bill, Shirley’s Dad pleased to meet you ” and stuck out his hand.  You knew damn well refusing to shake his hand would have caused a fight so she shook hands with him.  He came toward us who were sat on the couch.  Now unsteady on his feet the heat of the room affecting his boozy balance I felt for sure he was going to fall on top of someone.  Thank goodness he had to negotiate two arm chairs and get passed the coffee table before he reached us.  Still with the beaming smile he shook hands with the ladies sitting in the arm chairs and those on the arms of the chairs.  By now he was opposite us on the other side of the coffee table.  If only Annie hadn’t started tut tutting and saying he was disgusting turning up in that state he wouldn’t have turned round to look at us.  I don’t think he actually heard what she said because he still had the beaming smile on his face.  He looked directly at Annie, his smile got wider ” Don’t tell me.  This lovely lady here is the Grandma.”  She nearly burst a blood vessel.  In her best royal tone ” I,  you stupid drunken idiot am THE AUNT    Not, the Grandmother.”  He started swaying.  O No, he’s going to fall backwards onto those ladies in the chairs or forward onto the coffee table.  He swayed a bit then righted himself. Annie bristled with indignation at being thought old enough to have a 25 year old grand son.  He leaned forward hand outstretched toward her ” I’m very pleased to meet you Grandma.”  I dug her in the ribs ” For God sake shake his hand before there’s a fight.’  She barely let him touch her finger tips.  Any minute I thought he was going to topple over.  He kept his balance and started to stand upright again.  Most unfortunately when he’d lent forward to shake her hand his raincoat had also dipped forward.  He’d managed to stand on the hem of his coat.  In his rapid movement to remain erect causing the neck at the back of the coat to smack him on the back of his head and pitch him forward.  It was like watching a train wreck.  You know it’s going to happen and there’s not a thing you can do to stop it.  Arms outstretched trying to save himself he hit the bowl of trifle full pelt.   I have never seen custard, jelly, cream and soggy cake travel so far, so fast and cover so many people.  It didn’t miss anyone. It hit me full in the face.  I could feel it seeping through my dress.  Couldn’t see a thing, custard and cream sliding down my glasses.  Still wedged in by Annie one side and another large lady on the other I could feel her struggling to stand up and heard her call him a bloody drunken old fool who should be ashamed of himself.  I managed to get my glasses off at the same time Madge came in from the kitchen.  She stood stock still, took one look and started screaming.  The man who had tried to get Bill to leave grabbed hold of his raincoat and dragged him out through the kitchen.  We could hear him yelling as he was dragged outside ” Nice to have met you all.  You’re all nice people ” as the back door slammed with a loud bang.  The place erupted.  Most of the women were in tears.  The men were fighting mad charging off outside threatening to beat him to a pulp.  Madge still screaming and everyone trying to remove custard, cream or jelly from clothes and out of their hair.  I eventually managed to wriggle to the edge of the couch holding the hem of my brand new dress and emptying everything that was still on it back into the large glass bowl.  I couldn’t stand up and let it all fall onto the carpet.  My shoes were the only things that had missed out getting decorated.  Annie hadn’t faired much better than me.  The front of her dress was covered in a fast melting gooey mess but all she was worried about was her pearls.  Someone offered to rinse them under the tap and she called them bloody idiots as well.  Absolutely everyone knows genuine pearls are not cleaned by submerging them in water she informed the young man in her best hoity toity manner.  Boy was she mad.  Lots of people tried to help her but she gave them a look that would have frozen hell over as men tried using their very clean white hankies  to mop up her chest.  As I said she was very well endowed so they all backed off.  Some one took me into the kitchen and tried cleaning my dress.  All I wanted to do was go home.  I did borrow a couple of towels to place under the dress so the wet material wasn’t touching me but that was about all anyone could do.  I had to go home on the back of the Vespa in my soggy dress which by then was starting to smell sickly sweet.  I was freezing cold and couldn’t get into the house fast enough as soon as we stopped outside. Mr. Scooter driver with a smart car in for repair again was peeved because he didn’t get a good night kiss.  The mood I was in I could have cheerfully punched him in the head.  Nothing like giving the neighbours something to talk about I banged the door shut and nearly woke up the entire street.  My mother of course was waiting.  She started yelling at me for banging the door.  I told her to shut up and took off my coat.  ” What the hell have you been up to your frocks wet through?”  I unzipped it and pulled off the two wet towels.  She nearly had a pink fit.  God knows what she was thinking and I didn’t care.  I got into my nightgown and dressing gown and got Dad’s bottle of rum.  I hate rum but Dad didn’t like scotch.  Mum thought all liqueur was was the way to ruin.  I drank a small glass neat as mum said I was on the road to becoming an alcoholic.  One small glass of rum was the best thing that had happened to me all night.  Guess which dessert I get asked to make the most when we have large parties?  People rave about it but I just cannot eat trifles.  I’ve made thousands and every time while making them I see that green velvet dress and feel it soggy cold and clinging to my skin.


Great tale as ever, Audrey.

Last month’s mystery picture was of course the old Coop building on Pontefract Lane near to the bridge.

Now for this month’s picture. I tried to take the picture from the other side of the road but it was too busy to get across.

Audrey: Schoolgirl and Teenager

September 1, 2011

Audrey: Schoolgirl and Teenager

Once again Audrey (ex pat East End Parker – now living in Queensland) allows us to peep into her life at Ellerby Lane School, Leeds, where she particularly remembers the tattoo at Roundhay Park in the early 1950s. (I’m sure a few more of us remember that tattoo, too.)  Later we are regaled by her tales of the type of magical nights you can only experience as a teenager. Well done Audrey! We’re right there with you.

Anything out of the ordinary routine of day to day living was cause for enthusiasm, eagerness to know what was going on.  Be the first one to know so you could tell others.  In other words, being a nosy parker.  A motor car stopping outside anyone house brought neighbours to their doors on the flimsiest of excuses; checking to see if it was raining; asking if anyone had seen the postman, milkman, and the paper boy.  Just an excuse to be out in the street and not being nosey at all.  They just happened to be outside at the same time a car stopped at number???  If it was a small Grey Ford Prefect or a Black Morris Minor you could almost guarantee it was the midwife.  That was to be expected really as Mrs. Whoever was due to give birth.  A dark coloured sleek car was usually a doctor’s car.  Although an ambulance meant someone was seriously ill it still caused excitement in the street.  Any other type of car had tongues wagging and speculation of which it was that was rich enough to own a car.  As soon as the car departed suddenly Mrs. Somebody had to immediately tell Mrs. Who-knows-a-car owner something important.  The rest of the onlookers waited until she came outside again.  She didn’t say anything at all but went into her own house and closed the door.  Seconds later one of the ladies remembered she too had something important to tell Mrs. Who’d just found out who owned the car.

The first time I had a ride in a private car I was about 10 years old. EllerbyLaneSchoolhad organised an excursion to a Tattoo inRoundhayPark.  I’d no idea what it was but I wanted to go.  I was very surprised when I told Mum about it and she knew what a Tattoo was all about.  Seemingly they’d had them before the war and Mum thought they were great.  But the cost of it!  Uncle Joe and Uncle Walt said they’d give me the money so I could see what a Tattoo was.  I paid the money and was given a paper to take home that gave details of date and time and I had to have someone waiting for me when the bus returned us to school after the event because it would be 10 p.m.  Mum said I couldn’t go.  It would be too late at night, too dark, too cold.  None of the other kids who were going lived near us.  I cried.  Uncle Walt saved the day and said he would be waiting at the school.  The day arrived or I should say the night arrived.  Mum took me to school, instructing me all the way not to get lost or they’d never find me, not to talk to anyone, do as I was told and not to walk home on my own if Uncle Walter wasn’t there to pick me up.  Instant panic “What am I to do if he forgets?”      “You stay there and wait for someone to come ”   ” Mr Holmes said we can’t go if there’s no one to bring us home.”  I had visions of being left on my own in an empty playground at midnight because Uncle Walter had forgotten me.  Mum said she’s sure he’d be there and shoved me on the bus.  None of the kids I was friendly with at school went on the trip.  I knew the kids but wasn’t in their groups.  Only the boys had gangs, we girls had groups.  I can’t remember too much about the Tattoo.  As anyYorkshirelass I loved brass bands, the louder the better.  There was a lot of marching in lines, Navy as well as Army uniforms then the pipe bands and men in kilts.  I remember them having to dismantle a gun on wheels then move the bits to the other side of the floodlit arena with rope and pulleys and put it back together again.  After it finished we were told to hold the hand of the kid next to you and follow Mr. Holmes.  I was a quiet kid at school, mostly because I was small and had to watch out my younger brother didn’t get bullied.  Yes, instructions from Mum again.  That was another reason for me wanting to go on the trip;Normanwas too young to go.  The girl next to me was Valerie Kay, another quiet girl.  We were both so quiet and shy we didn’t know each other was on the same bus.  She only lived 4 streets from my street so I thought if Uncle Walt wasn’t there I’d go home with her.  It was pitch black of course at that time of the night and no idea where we were until we arrived back atEllerby Lane.  Lots of parents were there but I couldn’t see Uncle Walter.  Valerie’s father had her by the hand walking away.  Close to tears I daren’t move.  I don’t know if I was more scared of being left on my own or of Mr. Holmes going mad at me because no one was there to take me home.  Mr. Holmes had a fierce temper if you stepped out of line.  A deep voice from behind me “Come on lass.  Let’s be getting thee ‘ome afore tha mam chews ‘re nails down t’  knuckles.”  Uncle Walt was a gate keeper on the locks on the river Aire.  He spoke very broad old fashionedYorkshirelanguage with lots of thee’s and thou’s and as strong as an ox.  

God! Was I glad to see him.  We started to walk.  Mr Kay, Valerie’s Dad asked if we would like a lift home.  Uncle Walt thanked him but said it wouldn’t take us long to walk.  Mr. Kay said we had to walk past the end of their street so why not get in the car.  I was so excited.  Me and Walt climbed in the back.  The interior light was on and I was so thrilled, everyone could see me in Valerie Kay’s father’s car.  As soon as we started moving I was disappointed Mr. Kay turned off the interior light, no one could see us inside.  We stopped outside their house in Glensdale Grove, thanked Mr. Kay very much for giving us a ride and Walt took me home.  He asked if I’d liked the Tattoo.  I said I had and I’d liked all the brass bands and seeing them marching.  He asked what the best thing had been.  I said without a doubt ” The very bestist thing was us having a ride in Valerie Kay’s car.”  He roared laughing and said maybe Mr. Kay could have a side line and make some pocket money charging 2d. a go giving rides round the streets. 

When I was 17 Auntie Maggie next door was constantly asking when I was going to get myself a chap.  Her grand children were either going steady, engaged or married.  It wasn’t uncommon for girls of 18 to be married and by age 22-24 have 2 or 3 babies.  Mum ruled with an iron fist.  I was only allowed to go to the youth club at Richmond Hill Methodist church.  Only because my cousin Dorothy was allowed to go there too and we went together.  She was 2 years older than me and liked playing the general knowledge quiz games they had,  a lady tried to teach the girls a thing called tatting.  It’s something like crocheting but a shuttle is used instead of a crochet hook.  The lady was so damn fast at doing it everything was just a blur.  The boys had the use of a dart board.  I was bored out of my brain.  A boy who went to our school turned up one evening and started playing the piano.  His name was Desmond and he could play like Winifred Attwell.  It was honky tonk lively music, the kids loved it and gathered round the piano.  The person in charge told him to stop and locked the piano lid.  He said we were not at the youth club to be entertained we had to join in.  Desmond went home and that was the last time I went to the youth club.  Auntie Mary, Dorothy’s Mum, told my Mum she should make me go back to the club as it was very nice and I wouldn’t meet any rough boys there.  I didn’t want to meet any rough boys anywhere but it would have been nice to meet some who were allowed to talk and laugh and not to have to sit in a circle and answer general knowledge questions.  Dorothy continued going and was happy with the crowd of people her own age.  Working in a factory broadens your outlook on life so when one of my workmates suggested we went dancing at the Majestic Ballroom my eyes lit up.  No use telling my Mum where I was going she’d have chained me to the table leg.  She lived at Cross Gates and said I could stay over night at her place as the dance hall didn’t close until 11:30 p.m.  My mother would have had a pink fit if she’d known.  I’d never been to a ballroom and imagined girls in long gowns and boys in dark suits waltzing around.  She said it was nothing like that but I had to wear a nice dress.  Mum’s idea of a nice dress was a pale blue or pink with puff sleeves, Peter Pan collar and a flared skirt.  Jean said I could make one.  We worked on a sewing machine we could make anything. Couldn’t use the sewing machine at home so had to sneak it into work and make it in the tea break.  Had to watch out that the forewoman didn’t catch me so sewed like a demon.  At that time some magazines offered cut out material with instructions how to sew it together.  I sent for a tailored dress and jacket.  Had it sent to Jean’s address of course.  It was a simple straight dress with no sleeves and a round neck.  The jacket had three quarter sleeves, a round neck with a collar, and three buttons and barely came to the waist.  The picture in the magazine was a silver grey colour.  Jean said it looked elegant and not to bother making the jacket up because I’d only need the dress to go dancing.  What it didn’t show in the magazine was the top of the dress had to be fitted to the bottom half.  We thought it would be just 2 pieces of material, front and back, with facings for the neck and arm holes.  Couldn’t send it back so I had to make it.  I’d been so devious, told lies, so much planning I was going to go to the Majestic Ballroom if it was the last thing I did.  It took 2 days for me to make it as we only had two 15 minute tea breaks each day.  The material was not a silver grey but a dark grey colour.  Jean said it would be more elegant than silver grey when it was made up.  It was the word elegant that got me.  That, plus the magical world of ballroom dancing.  My head was filled with romantic notions of meeting my Prince Charming.  In my haste to finish the dress before Friday I attached the top of dress to the skirt part but had the back of the dress top to the front part of the skirt.  Not until it was finished did I realise what I’d done.  Couldn’t burst into tears at work everyone would want to know what was wrong.  Rolled it up, shoved it in my bag and thought I was doomed to be an old maid forever.  No one had asked what I was sewing in the tea breaks as the dark grey colour was similar to suit material.  In the lunch break I took my bag into the ladies toilets with my friend Jean in tow.  Nearly in tears told her I’d made the dress back to front.  She told me to try it on and she’d see if she could do anything with it.  We were in the canteen toilets so there wasn’t the usual crowd of women smoking like chimneys.  When I had the dress on she said it fitted me like a glove.  I said she was lying, it was back to front.  ” It’s only the top bit that’s the wrong way round but look at it you’ve made yourself an empire line dress.  Look in the mirror.  It looks lovely.”  Instead of fitting on the waist line it was just under the bust line.  It didn’t look too bad ” But what’s it like at the back?”  She gave a wolf whistle ” Smashing.  If you’d put both front bits together you would have had to fill in the gap with some lace.  It would have been too low on your chest.”  I still wasn’t convinced.  The rest of the week I was thinking up excuse not to go on Friday night.  Friday dawned, more doo’s and dont’s  from Mum before I left for work.  I’d told her Jean and me were going to the Regal cinema at Crossgates.  Lucky me.  I’d already seen the film so could answer her questions on Saturday when I came home.  She only went to see musical films, singing and dancing pictures as she called them.  I knew she would ask the neighbours if they had seen ‘ Interlude ‘ I think it was called.  It had Rossino Brazzi in the lead role and was so romantic.  I knew the answers before she asked the questions.  Nervous as a kitten but excited as well we joined the ticket queue at the Majestic Ballroom inLeeds City Square.  All my Christmas’s had come at once.  Large men at the entrance dressed in tuxedos, white shirts and BOW TIES.  WOW! Just like they are in the films.  They said ” Good Evening ” as we walked passed.  We smiled and said good evening back to them.  In the cloakroom I asked Jean who those men were.  A one word reply Bouncers.  ” What’s a bouncer?”  In case there’s any trouble they sort the fellas out and throw them out on the street she told me.  My God! My mother was right.  I should never have come.  There’s going to be a fight.  She then told me they never have any trouble at the Majestic it’s a nice crowd they have in there.  After putting on more lipstick Jean had given me out into the ballroom we went.  She knew some girls who were already there and we joined them.  The band was playing a slow tune and only a few couples were dancing.  More of a shuffle than a dance.  Suddenly she whispered ” You do know how to dance don’t you?”  I said I did.  Uncle Billie had won medals for dancing and loved to teach all the girl cousins to dance.  Uncle Billie taught us Victor Sylvester style dancing.  A group of young men in nice suits, white shirts and ties came nearer to us.  One by one they asked the girls if they’d like to dance.  Then came my turn.  He was only as tall as me so he’d be about 5’4″ as I had high heels shoes on.  He didn’t dance like Uncle Billie at all.  I could hardly breathe.  I pushed him away, he pulled me back.  We were still in the same spot, we hadn’t moved an inch.  I asked if he didn’t know how to dance.  He put his face along side my cheek ” Sure I do honey ” in a broadYorkshireaccent.  I nearly laughed, who does he think he is? Clark Gable?  I turned my head sharply and caught him on the side of his head with the frame of my glasses.  That made him jump and moreYorkshireaccent ” Bloody hell, what did you do that for ”  Sweetly I said ” Sorry. I wanted to look where we were going you don’t seem to know.”  He stood still, moved back a little ” I haven’t seen you here before ”  All I said was haven’t you?  Maybe it was the dim lights, the music, excitement who knows.  I was a different person.  I wasn’t the shy timid young girl. I was in a dance hall with a real live band and bouncers outside in tuxedos.  I was a grown up. I had my elegant dress on. I had face powder and lipstick on my face. I knew how to dance and dancing is what I was determined to do. He mumbled ” Do you want to finish this dance or what?”  I said I was waiting for him to start.  He left me on the dance floor on my own and walked off.  So much for my dreams of a knight in shining armour sweeping me off my feet. 

I was asked to dance by someone else and he didn’t try to squeeze the life out of me but he couldn’t dance either.  Not many of them could.  A man who Jean knew tapped her on the shoulder.  Smiles all round as she and the other girls said hello to Charlie.  Jean introduced us, we shook hands and Charlie said ” A new face.  Fancy a twirl round the dance floor?”  I had no idea who he was and he was a lot older than us.  Married man screamed in my head.  He held out his hand ” Come on then before the band stops playing.”  So I did.  Just as Uncle Billie had taught me.  He was a terrific dancer.  No squashing, no sweaty hands, no trying to nibble my ear, we danced round and round the floor.  He said ‘ Your really enjoying this aren’t you?”  I said I was and he was the first man that night who knew how to dance.  He laughed ” Did you really think all these blokes come here for the dancing?”  Very naive I asked why else would they be there if not to dance.  He shook his head ” Did your mother not tell you?”  Tell me what?  Still dancing ” What did your mother say as you left the house?”  I mumbled.         ” What’s that you said?”  Feeling guilty and caught out ” She doesn’t know I’m here.  I told her I was going to the pictures.”  I felt sure he was going to tell me to go home on the next bus.   He asked what would Mum say when I didn’t get home until after midnight.  I told him I was staying at Jeans house.  He squeezed my hand, twirled me round, big smile on his face ” That’s all right then.  I live near Jean and give her a ride home if we’re both here on the same night” and twirled me around again.  He brought me back to Jean and her friends when the music stopped playing he’d seen someone he knew and he would see us later.  I asked her who he was.  ” He’s nice isn’t he, lovely dancer, he lives near me, often gives me a ride home.”  Hesitatingly ” He’s a bit old for you isn’t he?”  She laughed out loud ” Charlie’s married.  He makes no secret of it.  His wife’s lovely she just doesn’t like dancing and Charlie adores it.  You’re quite safe with him.  He’ll give us both a ride home tonight so we can stay to the very end and not have to run to catch the last bus.  Well I never did find my Prince Charming on any dance floor.  I had some good times though and plenty of laughs, some sore feet at times as well.  A lot of the times caused by young men standing on them and other times by wearing stiletto heeled shoes with pointy toes.  Ah! The fashions as well as the times we’re a changing.

The first time a ‘ chap ‘ brought me home in a car I’ll swear the whole street knew before he stopped outside our house.  I said thank you for the ride home and opened the door to get out.  He gave a mournful ” Aw don’t I get a kiss goodnight?”  I gave him a smile ” Only if you want a description of your car, licence plate, an exaggerated account of kissing and canoodling at this time of the night to be all overEast EndParktomorrow morning.  I value my reputation too much to be classed as a scarlet woman ” and got out of the car.  His window was wound down and his parting shot was ” I’ll tell all my mates you’re madam freeze ”   I said he could suit himself what he said, making a mental note to tell all my friends to steer well clear of him.  Mum of course was waiting up for me. Who was that? What have  told you about letting boys bring you home?  You’ll be getting a reputation.  I don’t know what I’m going to say to the neighbours.  I told her to tell them to mind their own business and went to bed.  If it had been either of my brothers that would have been an end to it.  Saturday morning she dragged it up again.  Sunday morning once more because I’d gone out dancing on Saturday night as well.   I was doomed to be the object of the neighbourhood gossips she didn’t know how she was going to hold her head up.  I laughed and said if I could weather the storm as I had done nothing wrong I’m sure she’d manage too.  That got me clip round the ear and one of our many shouting matches erupted.  It never entered my mother’s head the entire street could hear us yelling.  The neighbours who hadn’t been behind twitching lace curtains when the car had pulled up were soon informed by those who had.  Auntie Maggie wanted to know about my ‘ chap ‘ practically had the banns read out at the church.  I told her he wasn’t a boy friend just someone who’d given me a ride home.  Instantly from ‘ nice chap ‘ to Jack the Ripper ” Oh you gotta be careful our Audrey.  You shouldn’t be getting in cars with fellas.”  She was the only one who called me Audrey and it grated on my nerves.  Mum thoroughly agreed with Maggie and they spoke about me as if I wasn’t there:  I keep on telling her Mag but does she take any notice?  She’s going to end up like that lass in the next street.  I don’t know what’s got into her but if she doesn’t mend her ways she’s going to get whatfor.”  Maggie tut tutting and nodding her head.  I knew as soon as Maggie left she’d be straight into Martha’s house telling her poor Nellie’s daughter is leading her a merry dance.  They’d be shaking their heads with lots of sympathy for poor Nellie and who’s have thought her daughter would turn out like that ……and enjoying every single minute.  It was me this week it would be somebody else next week. 

By then I was not the timid young girl who never answers back to an adult.  I worked with women older than my mother and we were all on an equal footing in the factory.  Someone yells at you, you yell back.  I’d got friendly with a lively girl called Sandra.  She made everyone laugh, knew all the latest fashions, pop singers, film stars.  I bought vinyl records of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams and she bought records of Elvis, The Beatles and we both loved Aker Bilk and Kenny Ball.  We were both old enough to go into pubs, the pair of us barely 18.  She’d got in with a group of girls who used to go to the Compton Arms on a Saturday lunch time.  Drinking in the middle of the afternoon!  The height of decadence!  She said I aught to join them they had a great time.  My mother WOULD have thrown me out if she’d smelt beer on me in the middle of the day.  One Monday morning at work Sandra said it had been Fab at theComptonon Saturday they’re had been a jazz band playing..  Everyone wanted to hear about it.  She said they didn’t play there regular it just happened their car had broken down so they’d gone into the pub until a mate picked them up in his van.  They were Uni students and had formed their own jazz band and they had a regular paid job to play every Friday night at a jazz club over a pub atKirkstall Road.  Boy O Boy did I want to go???  We worked out how to get there for the following Friday.  Sandra lived at Halton Moor and could get on a number 14 bus that would take her to city square where she would wait for me to catch a number 4 bus that would take us as far as Kirkstall Abbey.  The pub we wanted was across the road from the Abbey.  I had to walk toYork Roadto catch almost any bus that would take me to city square.  I was beside myself with excitement.  We danced to live bands at the Majestic but this was Jazz music.  We got off the bus before the Abbey and crossed the road into a small pub.  She was greeted by all and sundry, old as well as young people wanted her to sit with them.  Back then all pubs were smokey places, didn’t bother us as along with everyone else we smoked cigarettes as well.  We were sophisticated we smoked Peter Stuyvesant king size cigarettes.  Everyone else smoked Players or Senior Service unfiltered cigarettes.  I kept asking where the band was. Every time I asked she stood on my foot under the table.  Eventually as girls do we went to the ladies.  Don’t ask me why, girls go in pairs to the loo.  As soon as the door was shut she said ” Will you stop asking about the band.  It’s not at this pub.  I come in here because I’ve got to know people and they think I go home when this place closes but I go over the road to the jazz club.”  I asked why we couldn’t go to the pub where the Jazz band was over the top.  A startled ” Are YOU kidding?  It’s The Star and Garter there’s a fight outside there every night the pub closes.”  She’d brought me to a pub where they fight every night?  I could almost see my picture on the front of the Yorkshire Post.  My mother would kill me before she slung me out into the street.  Sandra said it would be O.K.  We’d stay where we were until closing time, stay on the same side of the road until the cops had cleared the drunks and brawlers away in the Black Mariah and then we’d join the queue.    There were crowds of people hanging around.  Cop cars and the black van, cops shoving men into the back of the van and eventually they all drove away.  Sandra grabbed my hand ” Come on hurry up, elbows out, they only let a certain amount in.”  We ran and pushed our way towards the front.  We were all jammed together as we moved up a narrow wooden staircase.  A small window at the top of the steps was where we paid our entrance fee.  I think it cost half a crown to get in.  Could not see a thing once we were inside.  Sandra gripped my wrist and yelled not to let anyone separate us as she pushed herself further into the room.  We were making our way toward the only light in the place as she’d said that’s where the band played.  Light?  It was a single red light bulb.  My eyes were getting accustomed to the dark and I could see figures slightly higher than us under the dim red light.  There was a drum roll and a cheer went up from the crowd, then silence.  Suddenly a male voice ” Sandra you made it?  Is that your friend with you?  Come on gents give the ladies a bit of room, let them through.”  There was a small gap and Sandra dragged us both through to the front.  There we were, right at the front.  The drummer crashed the cymbal, a male voice said one, two, and…away they went.  The crowd cheered, the music was loud, and the atmosphere was electric.  We were packed in like sardines and we all had a wonderful time.  They must have played none stop for an hour before they had a break.  There was a makeshift bar near us that only sold cider.  We drank it.  You couldn’t move far in any direction so the band joined us two and introductions all round.  I cannot remember any of their names but I do remember the trombone player.  He was 6ft. tall, bright blue eyes, red hair and a big red moustache.  He was the larrikin of the group.  When Sandra introduced me he took my hand and kissed the back of it.  He wouldn’t let it go ” Come along darling.  Can you play the trombone?”  I said I didn’t have a clue how to play any musical instrument.  ” Lesson number one darling.  This is the bit you blow into.  Take a big breath and blow, I’ll handle the notes.”  I did as I was told.  I can’t remember who’d told me but at some time someone had said you place the mouth piece flat against you lips and blow like hell.  They were all surprised when I got a note out of it.  He picked me up and planted a big kiss on my lips ” You’re the first girl whose every known how to blow a note.  Can you play the trumpet?”  I couldn’t play anything.  They gave me the trumpet.  I did it again.  Johnny one note, that’s me.  They got back on the stage and played for another hour and then it was time to go home.  When we got outside the last bus had gone.  No idea what we were going to do.  If you missed the last bus at the Majestic there was a taxi rank down one of the side streets.  No taxis where we were.  We weren’t scared to walk in the dark but it would have taken us until dawn to walk home in high heeled shoes.  The band saved the day.  We were feeling sorry for ourselves when they came out of the small narrow door at the side of the pub.  They realised we’d missed the last bus so offered us a lift in their van.  We said we lived on the other side of town.  They said they lived at Crossgates, Seacroft, Halton Moor, Harehills andRoundhay Road.  Only a slight detour toEast EndParkso we piled in.  No safety belts back then.  The drummer owned the van so he drove.  I sat on the trombone players lap in the passenger seat.  Sandra was sat on a cushion in the back with the drum kit, a double base, the base player, the trumpeter and clarinet player.  We laughed and sang all the way to my house.  Going upEast Park DriveI said they would all have to be quiet as my Mother would go raving mad as it was with me being so late.   They wanted to take me to my door but I said dropping me off at the end of the street would be fine.  Our house was only the third one from the end of the street.  We were giggling at we drove upEast Park Drivewith lots of telling each other to shush so as not to wake the neighbours.   I got out of the van with lots of whispered ‘ good nights see you next week, hope you don’t get into trouble ‘ and a giggling Sandra ” See you on Monday with the rest of the slaves.”  High heels clicking on the pavement I took 3 steps, turned and waved as the van door closed quietly.  Then they laughed, a blare from the trumpet echoed down the street, much revving of the engine and tooting of the van horn and they roared off with trumpet still playing. 

My Mother threw the door back on its hinges ” What time do you call this?”  she bellowed.  I said I’d no idea but I was sure all the neighbours would be able to tell her in the morning what time I’d got home.  She was so flabbergasted she didn’t say a word, just stood there holding the door open.  I went straight to bed.  I knew I’d have to pay for being cheeky the next morning but tonight I was on cloud nine.  We’d had a fabulous time.  The music was still ringing in my ears, the young men in the band were great fun and I’d had my first kiss by a man with a moustache.  The next morning there wasn’t the ranting and raving from Mum as I was expecting.  She unnerved me asking in a quiet voice where I had been the night before and who’d brought me home.  No more lies.  I’m not a good liar and knew sooner or later I’d trip myself up and she would have shackled me with a ball and chain, mentally if not physically.  On my guard as I was sure it was the lull before the storm ” We went to a jazz club onKirkstall Road.  Sandra knows the people who play in the band.”  Getting ready to dodge the clip round the ear I was certain was going to be delivered Mum yelled “Kirkstall Road!  Why the hell did you go all the way out there?”  Obvious answer

” Because that’s where the club is and these fella’s get paid for playing there.”  She quietened down ” They’re proper musicians then?  They get paid for doing it?”  I said yes wondering what was coming next.  She chewed the inside of her mouth and a lot of hmmm and a sigh.  Still quiet voice ” Well the next time they bring you home tell them not to kick up such a noise at that hour of the morning.”  My God!!! What’s come over her?  I didn’t question it.  Coming home from work Monday night a couple of neighbours called out Hello to me as I walked passed their houses.  Big smiles on their faces.  As soon as I went indoors I asked what was wrong with Mrs. Simpson and Miss Smith.  Mum said she didn’t know and smiled to herself.  I said the were cooking something up and I knew it had something to do with me.  The neighbours were friendly saying Hello, Good Morning when they passed in the street but not usually with beaming smiles for no reason at all.  Dad came in a few minutes later ” What’s up with Mrs. Simpson and old Alice grinning likeCheshirecats.  They said your Audrey knows how to have a good time.  What are they on about?”  He looked directly at me waiting for an answer.  I shrugged my shoulders and glared at Mum.  Dad looked at Mum who was chewing the inside of her mouth again ” What the hell’s going on?  If those two old gossip mongers are saying stuff about her I’ll soon sort them out.”  Mum said they’d wanted to know who had brought me home Friday night as they could have woken the dead with the racket they kicked up yelling and blowing trumpets.  Dad slept like a log and hadn’t heard a thing.  Dad was still waiting for an explanation.  ” So I told them she has a boy friend that has his own band but they won’t be making a noise again because she’s told them not to.”  A few weeks I reigned as the girl who was going out with a band leader.  The tale grew with each telling.  From a bunch of Uni. students to the likes of Joe Loss, Ted Heath and almost Count Basie and Duke Ellington fame I had big smiles from everyone.

Red Walls

August 1, 2011


 Red Walls

 Not much to see is there? But Red Walls was an iconic play ground for East Leeds lads and lasses. It was reached down the equally iconic Black Road. We would set off on our walking expeditions to Temple Newsam equipped with our liquorish water and perhaps jam sandwiches – we could always pinch some ‘tuskey’ on the way. We would be off down Black Road, perhaps a paddle in the beck at Red Walls and on via ‘The Basins’ to Temple Newsam. Special days on that route are so memorable they are with us for the rest of our lives.

Roy Marriot remembers an illicit day playing truant and going fishing ‘Tom Sawyer’ type to Red Walls; Eric Sanderson sets the scene for bike rides down Black Road; Muriel Parking (nee Bailey) fondly paddles in memories with her dog, Queenie; Janet Elliott (nee Lawler) gets butted by a nanny goat and Eric Allen dares to ride the ‘Wall of Death Basins.’ Plus a map of the location of Red Walls.

 (Next month more Audrey)


  By Roy Marriott

I was in Mr, Holmes’ class (Chuck) atEllerbyLaneSchoolfrom Sept 1945 to Sept 1946. As many of the lads will remember, who were fortunate to be taught by him, he would often end the afternoon lesson by reading from a story, maybe just from 3-45 to 4-00 p.m. I certainly enjoyed it, I’m sure the rest of the class did too.

            I well remember him reading ‘Tom Sawyer’ the part about Tom and his friend Huckleberry Finn playing truant and going fishing was especially enjoyable. A very good friend of mine was Brian Helley, his father was a regular in the forces – I can’t remember which branch, though I remember Brian had to leave Leeds because his dad was posted somewhere near Driffield. I think he left in late ’46. Anyway Brian and I had been enthralled with the idea of playing truant and going fishing. That morning the weather was glorious and as Brian, Frank McGann – another good friend – and I walked home from school we were hatching out a plan. Brian lived quite near to Eddie Purdy’s shop onPontefract Lane in one of theClark streets – I cannot remember which one. Anyway after he’d had his dinner Brian came round to our house and said, ‘Come on then – let’s go fishing!’

            I didn’t need asking twice. I got an empty dried milk tin from the kitchen, punched a couple of holes in the rim, added string and managed to secrete my fishing net. I don’t think my mother even realised what was going on. Off we went, just as we got to the top ofClark Lanewe met Frank coming along Pontefract lane. He was not interested in joining us but he did agree to tell Mr. Holmes we had been sick on the way home and that was the reason for our absence. Our destination – where else of course but down Black road to Red Walls. 

            We had no way of telling what time it was – but we just about filled the tin with tiddlers, sticklebacks and bomb-bellies when our tummy clocks told us it must be just about tea time. So off we set for home. Brian managed to get hold of a jam jar and we transferred a few fish into it.

            When I got home I smuggled my tin upstairs into my bedroom (which was in the attic) fortunately my mother did not come into my bedroom that night. The evening was very warm, the poor fish didn’t stand a chance; there were far too many for the size of the tin. The result being that the next morning there was this awful smell. My Mam thought it was coming from the quarry. The first chance I got I took the can outside and emptied it down the drain. I felt really upset for ages afterwards because I had caused the death of so many fishes.  While you are catching fish it’s great – but you do really have to know how to take care of them. Playing truant – Never again!

            One thing that was amazing, we got back home, around the time we would have if we had been at school. The next morning Mr Holmes asked how we were, I wonder if he knew what we had been up to – he really was a great teacher.    

                                  Eric Sanderson Remembers  Red Walls.

I spent many happy hours down there at the Red Walls. Isn’t the stream in fact nearly the end of Wyke Beck before it finally tumbles into the river? During the long summer days and before we had bikes, we’d often meander down towards there, sometimes down Red Road, past the Basins and cut across Halton Moor but more often than not, down Black Rd with a few distractions like Oxley’s field or even Knostrop Army camp with it’s water filled tank obstacles, brim full of wildlife ready to be caught with a few basic implements.

In those days, the stream was very clear, especially a little further upstream as it ran over Halton Moor, and many’s the time when we’ve drunk the cool, clear water on a hot summer day. We’re still here and I never remember anyone suffering any ill effects, so it can’t have been too bad.

It must have been fairly well unpolluted because it had lots of Sticklebacks & Red-bellies in those days.

It was also a good way to cool off by stripping off shoes & socks, sit on the bank down by the Red Walls and let the lovely cool water do its work by refreshing our red hot and aching feet. 

When we were a little older, we used to use it as a turning point for bike races from the top ofBlack Rd, down there and back, it was a good test. A problem we had to avoid however was the huge potholes, created by the Leviathans from the open cast coal mine and the cause of more than a few tumbles.

I’m sure many others will say the same but, as the Paddy ran close by, it was occasionally a relief for our weary legs after a tiring day and to save trudging back to the top of Black Road, to hop onto the back of the slow moving Paddy Train for a quick ride to the top, dropping off just before Cross Green Lane


By Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey)

It was coming to the end of the summer holidays: soon we would be back at school. The family decided that if the weather kept fine we would have a walk downBlack Roadto the blue bell wood. We often went to the blue bell wood but only with Mam and Dad. When Sunday arrived the weather was fine, Mam got on with the dinner early and Dad decided we should give Queenie, our dog, a bath as she had been confined to the house for a number of weeks. After dinner my sister and I did our usual job of washing up and clearing away the dinner crockery and then we were ready for off: Mam, Dad, Brenda, Baby Andrea, Queenie and of course me.

            Queenie was my dog she had been bought for me when she was weaned at six weeks old; she was a white bundle of fluff with just the two patches of brown in her coat. Anyway I had her on her lead until we reached ‘Red Bricks’ (Red Walls).

            There had been another occasion at Red Walls when I had ventured into the stream and stood on some glass, it cut my foot quite badly and I had to walk ‘tip toe’ all the way upBlack Roadhome. The glass was in fast and Dad had to remove it with pliers. Anyway on this particular day we didn’t venture into the water  but there were plenty of other boys and girls playing in there who all wanted to stroke her. I was so proud to be her owner. Unfortunately she had no tail to wag for them as she had been ‘docked’ by the man we bought her from; she just had a stub for a tail and a long ringlet at the end which was soft and wavy like her coat.

            Dad wanted us to push on or we would lose the day and that is when everything went wrong. I let Queenie off the lead as we approachedAustin’s Farm and she bolted. Straight into the duck pond she went as we looked on in horror. Our lovely white and tan dog came out a horrible shade of green and dripping with slime.

 We finally arrived at our usual place to find Mam and Dad’s friends were already there. We had a lovely day playing hide and seek in the farm yard and Queenie was allowed to romp around to her heart’s content and as blackberries were in season and we had taken a basin with us we were able to collect blackberries too.

            Eventually the evening sun began to show, telling us that it was time to go home. By the time we got to the end of our street people were taking advantage of the warm evening to sit around in the street talking. I ran up the street as fast as my legs would carry me with Queenie on the end of the leash looking like and old rag. She had dried but oh did she smell! This meant she was not allowed to go into the house until she had another bath. Two baths in a day for Queenie. We had to use the ‘Peggy tub’ for our own bath. We had some sandwiches and off to bed ourselves. What a wonderful day!

Now Mam and Dad are long gone and we three sisters are in our old age but we still talk about those childhood days and laugh, we couldn’t have had better days, they were fantastic. 

The Nanny Goat

By Mrs Janet Elliot (nee Lawler)

(What a lovely little tale)

When I was twelve years old me and Brenda Johnson, Beryl Morgan and Pat York, all fromVictoriaSchool, went off down to Red Walls to catch tadpoles in a jam jar. We used to take with us: jam sandwiches and a bottle of liquorish water. We were very happy in those days. On the way back we climbed over a fence and took some rhubarb to eat on the way home. As we were walking away a nanny goat escaped out of a field and chased us upRed Road, it ran straight past Beryl and chassed Brenda, Pat and me. It caught me and butted me up the backside. I suppose it served my right for pinching the rhubarb! 

And finally

The Basins

   By Eric Allen

Who remembers ‘The Basins?  The Basins were to be found on the Red Roadedge of Temple Newsam. They were to be reached along Black Road and through Austin’s farm and were a site of great adventure for young ‘dare devil’ bicycle riders.  The basins had originally been mine workings and their spoil heaps. Some had paths going around the sides making them like the fair ground ‘wall of death’ The largest basin had a path going down one side into the bottom and up the other side, this was the best run for the young ‘dare devil’. Unfortunately on many occasions the rider did not have enough speed to carry them up the other side, which ended up with a quick dismount and a hard push to get the boy and bike up the other side before it toppled back on him.

And by popular demand a map showing location of Red Walls.



Audrey’s Tales.

June 1, 2011

                                                Audrey’s Tales.


Mrs Audrey Sanderson (nee Tyers) now lives a sunny life out in Queensland, Australia but she still remembers her roots, especially in the Charlton Streets near to East End Park in East Leeds. We are to be regaled this month by three of Audrey’s great tales (more in later months) told in the colloquial as only she can. Audrey’s first tale The Homecoming tells of how very quaint Audrey’s children found the back to back houses of East End Park after the wide open spaces of Australia.  The Teenager tells of Audrey’s introduction to a working life at the huge Burton’s tailoring factory and finally: Watching the Coronation on Black and White TV How many of us remember that?  I have another one of Audrey’s tales The Wedding but you will have to wait a bit for that one.

            In the meantime come on you Queenslanders I have seen you having a peep at the East Leeds Memories blog (and very welcome you are) out there in:

Brisbane, Deception Bay, Burpengary, Fairneyview Geelong, Gold Coast, Gatton, Upper Brookfield, Toowoomba, Weatcourt, Mackay, Glamorgan Vale, Nambour, Caloundra, Churchill, Caboolture, Torquay, Moggill, Nering, Morayfield, Port Vernon, Ipswich, Pullen Vale, Point Vernon, Nerang, Moggill  and Mount Whitestone.

I’m sure you must have a tale of the old days to share with us my e-mail address is   Come on send us a tale and it might appear on here.


                                                The Homecoming

In 1977 I took my two children to visit Mum and Dad who still lived in the same house I had spent my childhood atEast EndPark.  They’d never seen terrace houses before and loved going down stone steps into the cellar and climbing two sets of stairs to the attic with a sloping roof.  At the time Linda was 9, Martin 11 and both inquisitive children.  When they had climbed from the cellar to the attic they asked where all the other rooms were.   Disbelief when I said there were no other rooms, a cellar, lounge, bedroom, attic, that’s it.  Insisting there was more rooms they started looking for doors to get into them.  Martin asked where all the other people were.  “There are no other people.  Only Grandma and Granddad live here.”  Puzzled looks on their faces “Listen! I can hear someone speaking.  There is someone in the next room.  Is there a secret door?  Come on Martin we’ll find it.”  Dad who was nearly 80 years old and partially blind asked what the kids were looking for.  I laughed and said they thought there was a secret door and they were looking for it.  “What secret door?  What you on about?  We could do with elastic walls with all of you here.  Tell them to sit down and be quiet.”  O dear, a long time since young children had visited. Linda had her ear pressed to the adjoining wall near the large ornate polished sideboard.  “Listen! Listen! I can hear a man” dragging me by the arm and told to press my ear onto the wall she was excited. Martin was at the other side of the house, “There’s someone over here as well.  Come and listen, there’s a lady shouting.”  Dad muttered “Who needs a wireless when you live in a mad house?”   Mum told Dad to stop whinging and tried to explain to the children there were no secret doors and the voices were from the people who lived next door and the house in the next street.  Confused them more than ever.  To solve the mystery of the secret people we had to put on overcoats, scarves, gloves and go out into the street.  The neighbours either side of Mum & Dad’s house was easier to explain than the one that was on the other side of the wall Linda had been listening at.  Both kids thought it was an adventure going into the next street anticipating what they were going to see.  Disappointment when it was practically the same house as Grandma’s.  The next question was ‘How did you find you way home when all the houses looked so much alike?’  They said it was too cold to stay outside and wanted to go back to Grandma’s.  Linda said they could both stand near a wall and listen to what the neighbours were talking about.  Martin thought it was a good idea too.  I squashed that idea but wondered how I was going to keep two lively kids entertained so they didn’t annoy Dad.  Old photographs were the answer. Lot’s of laughing and lots of explaining who aunts, uncles and cousins were and where they all fit into the family.  Dad’s sister Maggie had lived next door to us so easy to explain.  Back to the dividing wall again.  Maggie was a lot older than Dad and as she got older if she didn’t feel well would knock on the wall and Mum would go into her house.   The kids began to see the advantages of living in a back to back house.  Dad said it was a bloody nuisance at times as well.  The inevitable question was asked ‘WHY Granddad?’  He said a long time ago every one had coal fires.  The kids had a lesson from Mum on how to build a fire in an old black fireplace and how to cook a meal.  ‘Why did Granddad not like them?’  It wasn’t the fireplace he objected to it was the nightly ritual of the neighbours.  Aunty Maggie didn’t sleep well so around 9 p.m. she started getting ready for bed.  First trip up the uncarpeted bedroom stairs she took a thermos flask.  The next trip was with a cup with milk and sugar in it.   The third trip her magazines.  This took about half an hour.  On completion Dad always said “That’s our Mag settled for the night.”  At 10 p.m. Mr. & Mrs. Hodgeson, neighbours on the other side started raking the embers of the fire before going to bed.  They were both stone deaf and had a fear of fire and not being able to hear anyone calling out if their house caught on fire.  As our fireplace was at the back of theirs the noise was deafening as the steel poker banged and rattled in the fire grate ending with a triumphant swish across the grate to knock the ash off and a final clatter as the poker was dropped onto the hearth.  Dad said one of these days Mr. Hodgeson would brake through the back of the fireplace and could rake our fire out at the same time.  At 11 p.m. we heard the door to the cellar open from the house at the back.  Dad groaned.  Clump, clump, clump down the stone steps into the cellar.  Seconds later the floor vibrated and loud chopping of wood.  It seemed to go on forever.  More clumping back up the stone steps and a loud bang as the cellar door was closed.  Dad heaved a sigh “Thank the Lord for that.  Maggie’s got her picnic, Hodgesons have the cleanest fire grate in the street and the midnight joiner has chopped another oak tree up into chips so now we can all go to bed.”  The kids roared laughing.  Dragging more photos out of the box Dad spent the entire afternoon making them laugh at the clothes and the hair styles on small black and white glossy photos.  The kids loved them all.  They’d seen old photos of me as an 18 year old with a bee hive hairdo but not any school photos.  They laughed ’til they fell out of the chair.  Me at 6 yrs. old with masses of long curly hair, a yard of ribbon in multiple bows perched on the top of my head and those tiny round National Health glasses, I was hardly a candidate for the Pears Soap posters.  The wool cardigan I wore in the photo had aFair Islepattern.  Mum had learnt how to knit and she knit sweaters for everyone under the sun.  Mum was also the worst housekeeper on the planet.  Her excuse for doing nothing but knit was she’d promised Mrs. Somebody or other she would knit jumpers for Mrs. Somebodies entire family. Lot’s of photos at various ages of me and 2 brothers on our annual holiday to Cleethorpes.  On the first week in September from me being 6 years old until I was 16 the suitcases were packed a tram ride to Leeds Central train station and what seemed like all day the train ride to Cleethorpes.  The first few years we were in Mr. and Mrs. Mason’s boarding house and later years Mrs. Herbert’s boarding house. Mrs. Mason’s house was large with big bay windows and slap bang facing the sea.  Mum thought it was heaven.  We kids had been warned to be on our best behaviour or we’d get what for.  Usually meant dare step out of line and you’d get a clip round your ear, lots of glaring, lots of threats what would happen if we dared step out of line again.  We were in an age where we were frequently told to shut up and sit down and stop annoying the grown ups.

I thought Mrs. Mason was very nice.  She had bright yellow curly hair, always had make up on and wore pretty dresses with flowers on the material.  Mr. Mason was entirely different.  He served the meals from a large silver tray and he wore a small apron tied round his waist. Lincolnshirewas another world to us kids.  They had a different accent than ours so it didn’t bother us that Mr. Mason wore an apron and had a silly giggle in his voice.  All the Uncles and male cousins in our family were down to earth coal miners, builders, plumbers, engineers. My younger brother and I were fascinated seeing a man in an apron.  It was an apron Mum told us not a piny.  A piny wrapped all the way round you like my Gran’s did or bib and brace like Mum wore.  Mr. Mason’s was an apron.  Dad was not impressed and although he replied good morning back to him he did not spend much time in conversation with Mr. Mason.  Building sand castles and making sand pies on the beach only we called it The Sands all morning, back to the boarding house for dinner (lunch) a change of clothes and a walk along the promenade to the putting green and then walked back in time for High Tea.  Mum loved the sound of high tea when all it consisted of was a thin slice of boiled ham, 1 lettuce leaf, 2 slices of cucumber and half a tomato.  But the buttered bread was shop bought and thinly sliced.  The china was beautiful.  In this day and age it would only be used on special occasions if at all.  One small cake each was presented on a tiered cake stand and everything was so refined.  I loved it.

 Mr. and Mrs. Mason sold their big house and it was made into a hotel.  Too expensive for us so we started going to Mrs. Herbert.  Pretty much the same set up but the china wasn’t anywhere near as good as The Mason’s.  Still the same routine of building with sand, long walks in the afternoon and a stroll in the opposite direction early evening.  Dad liked a drink and went to the pub for an hour.   Mum complained all the time about anyone who enjoyed a drink or smoked.  I grew up terrified of walking past a pub.  I really don’t know what I expected to happen only that Mum had gone on and on about them not being decent places to go.  So what happens when you get to 15-17 and fed up with being told you can’t do this or that and you can’t go there.  No explanation given.  Well the times sure were a changing.  Bill Haley rocked around the clock and so did everyone else.  Suddenly anyone who could hum a tune made a record.  The swinging 60s started in the 50s. 

East Leeds Teenager

The Easter of 1957 I leftEllerbyLaneSchool.  Was grown up, knew all the answers and ready to make my way into the big adult world.  Mum, who dictated every aspect of our lives told me I wasn’t smart enough to work in an office and she was going to take me toBurtonstailoring factory onHudson Roadand put my name down for a job.  Thank the Lord by then she’d let me stop wearing yards of hair ribbon and because I was going for a job interview I was allowed to wear nylon stockings and not white ankle socks.  Classed as sexy lingerie these days garter belts were to hold the nylon stockings up only we called them suspender belts.  This was before sheer tights had been invented and Mum still thought 15 denier stockings were decadent, a reminder of American soldiers during the was no doubt.  Mum was very scathing of women who’d had American boy friends.  Mum was also a gossip as were most of our neighbours.  I can’t remember much of the interview but was told to report on a given day and about 20 young girls sat an entrance exam.  More exams, I thought I’d finished with all that.  Simple arithmetic, simple English, general knowledge history and geography, I had it finished in less than 10 minutes.  The young lady in charge asked if I was having trouble answering the questions as I gazed around.  I said no I’d answered them all.  She looked at the paper, looked at me and asked why I hadn’t applied for a job in the office.  Never been allowed to think for myself I answered “‘Cos Mam said I had to get a job on a sewing machine making trousers.”  She asked why “Cos Mam said I wasn’t smart enough to learn shorthand and typing and I had to get a job here.” She asked if I knew any people who worked at the factory.  Did I ever?  Everyone inLeedsknew someone who worked atHudson Road.  Some of my Aunties and cousins worked there.  She patted my arm and said “I see” before moving to the next girl.   The next paper to be filled in was for a list of relatives past and present who worked or had worked atHudson Road.  Back came the lady. There were lots of female names on my list and two males.  She asked if John was a cutter or engineer.  All I knew was John mended sewing machines.  She asked which “Room” he worked in.  Blank look from me.  She told me there were 2 coat rooms, 1 trouser and vest room and a cutting room.  Didn’t mean a thing to me.  Females outnumbered males by about 1000 to 1 in the factory.  The other male on my list was Uncle Billy, he was a commissionaire. She wasn’t interested in him.  She asked how old John was.  I didn’t think it strange she asked.  It was like a school room situation, the teacher asked a question you answered.  John had just finished doing National Service in the R.A.F. and was 21.  She then asked me if he was the mechanic everyone called Big John.  I said I didn’t know we just called him John.   Lots of my cousins lived close by and we were all brought up like brothers and sisters.  At the end of the tests we were told what day to arrive for work and which “Room” we had to go to and the name of the person we had to report to.

 The day arrived.  What an eye opener!!!  The doors opened at 7:45 and the few early birds walked in.  Definitely a fish out of water I stood just inside the door.  The large commissionaire in a uniform full of gold braid and ribbons on his chest asked my name.  I was told to stand where I was, not to get in anyone’s way and Mrs. Oakley would be along presently.  Feeling very nervous but a little bit grown up as well for I’d worn my best going out red coat and nylon stockings.  Shortly I was joined by 5 other girls who were told to stand and wait for Mrs. Oakley.  One girl was very confident, my goodness she actually wore face powder and lipstick.  One girl was as nervous as I wore ankle socks and her hair in plaits with ribbons on the ends.  Mrs. Oakley arrived.  I’m only 5ft. tall and towered over her.  She was the lady in charge of the training school and was going to teach us how to sew a pair of trousers together.  Suddenly a deep rumbling noise started up. There were wide eyed looks from us 6 girls.  Nothing to be frightened of said Mrs. Oakley “It’s only the power being switched on.  Follow me to the training room.”  We didn’t even know we were going to a training room when we were told we had a job.  Within an hour I had a headache with the noise of the factory in full swing.  I had a headache for a solid week and we didn’t even get paid at the end of it.  We had to wait for another week for our first every pay packet.  I was very disappointed on pay day.  We didn’t get our money in a paper packet.  Round about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon we lined up near the time clocks.  A big cheer went up when young men pushing trolleys holding lots of trays with tiny metal boxes in them arrived.  Depending on what number was on the card you placed in the time clock every morning determined which queue you had to be in.  You gave your ‘clock number’ to the young man he gave you a tin box the size of a mustard box with your wages stuffed inside it.  My £3.10/- was inside with a thin strip of paper called a pay slip.  Mrs. Oakley told us how to check the pay slip and what all the deductions meant.  Mum was waiting at the door Friday night when I got home.  I gave her the money.  Glaring she asked where my pay packet was.  I said we didn’t get one she didn’t believe me.  Straight round to Auntie Mary’s she went, 10 minutes later came back and handed me 10/-    Obviously checked with Mary to see if I was telling the truth.  WOW! My first ever pocket money.  I was told I had to put it into the bank.  Dad said “Leave the lass alone.  Let her spend it how she wants.”  Mum said I’d only squander it and she’d put it into the bank for me.  I’d only had it in my hand 5 minutes and she was going to take it off me.  I said I was grown up now I was capable of taking it to the Yorkshire Penny Bank on my own.  Dad grinned, Mum said I’d been working 2 weeks and already had a lip on me.  Dad said it was her fault she’d made me go to work at the factory and I’d have to stand up for myself or get bullied. 

The girl who had worn the pigtails and white ankle socks on the first day of work was called Brenda.  The other girls giggled behind her back pointing at her socks.  It was only 2 weeks before I’d still been wearing socks just like them.  I guessed she had a mother like mine and had to do as she was told.  She looked close to tears I asked what was wrong.  She said she knew the others were making fun of her but if she didn’t do as she was told she’d get a good hiding.  I knew exactly how she felt.  I suggested on the bus trip she took every morning why didn’t she take off the ribbons and brush her hair out and take off the socks and go bare legged, braid her hair again and put on the socks on the return trip home.  At first she was scared her Mum would find out but a few days later she arrived with long hair and no socks.

We got on like a house on fire.  That was 54 years since and we are still friends.

After 3 months of training we all knew how to make a pair of trousers.  From undoing the tightly rolled bundle of cloth and all the small bits and pieces rolled up inside it to the final pressing of an immaculate pair of trousers with knife edge creases.  And then we were shoved into the main factory.  It was like starting all over again, only noisier.  The noise was deafening.  A room as long as a football pitch, 3000 sewing machines whirring none stop, steam presses, Hoffman presses banging and hissing steam, people yelling above the noise.  It was a nightmare.  There weren’t enough machines for all of us 6 girls to make trousers from beginning to end so Brenda and I were put into the section with conveyor belts.  There were 44 women on one conveyor belt.  The first lady opened the rolled up bundle and place the bits and pieces into a sectioned box then it was put onto the conveyor belt.  Each box was placed on a painted line on the canvas belt.  Each procedure of making trousers took 1 minute to complete.  The boxes had brass hooks at the back which rested on the wooden structure of the conveyor belt next to a sewing machine.  Standing next to the belt watching women doing their particular job it looked very easy.  In the training school we’d been taught to do an expert job, checking every detail as we went.  On ‘the Belt’ you didn’t have time to blink.  From starting time at 8 a.m. until finishing time at 6 p.m. we had to make 450 pairs of trousers each day to earn 1shilling and sixpence per hour on top of our basic wage of £3.10/- per week.  Fast! No wonder everything we did outside of working hours we did fast.  We couldn’t switch off thinking or talking fast and loud.  Jean and Margaret on the sewing machines in front of mine put the side pockets in trousers, I sewed the white linen bits together to make the pocket and Brenda sat behind me putting in the cash pockets.  Once you got the hang of it and could keep up to the boxes coming down the belt you worked like a robot.  Had to watch you didn’t sew your fingers together but didn’t have to think too much.  The monotony was relieved by the characters who worked there.  Brenda and I were still naive and a lot of the jokes went over our heads.  All the married women laughed, we kept quiet.  I had an older cousin I could talk to so asked Norma about things that had been said at work.  We learned a lot about life in 12 months.  Norma was cousin John’s sister.  She worked in one of the coat rooms making silk linings for jackets.  She told John which part of the factory I worked and 6 months after being there this large shadow came over my sewing machine.    Working at the pace we did you never lifted your head up from the machine.  I was aware everyone near me had stopped talking.  That was strange, there was always somebody talking about something.  I looked up John was grinning down at me.  “It’s taken me months to find you.  Our Norma told me where you were or I’d still been looking.  I’d get into trouble if I walked up and down every aisle looking at the girls.”  I carried on working of course and everyone round about me could hear what was said.  He only stayed 2 minutes and had to go back to where he was supposed to be.  I carried on working and so did everyone else.  Changing the boxes over, the girl on the other side of the belt tapped the wheel of her machine with her tailoring shears.  We did that to get someone’s attention.  It made a piercing noise if given a sharp tap.  She had a dreamy look and a breathless “Do you know him?”  Stupidly I asked “Who?”  Everyone close by was looking.  “You actually know him?  How did YOU get to meet him?” 

“You mean John?”

“No you bloody fool.  I mean the man in the moon.  Of course I meant Big John, who else?”

I laughed “So he’s Big John?”  All the time I’d worked there I’d heard them talking about Big John and how gorgeous he was.  All the time I’d been on the lookout for some handsome, film star looks, 6ft. 2in. black curly haired, deep brown eyes, lovely smile specimen who had all the girls week at the knees and it was only ‘ Our John ’   What a disappointment.  I’d known him all my life so never thought of him any different to other male cousins or my brothers.  I was the most popular girl in the trouser room when everyone got to know Big John was my cousin.  I don’t know what they expected me to do about it, introduce them to him?  He’d have run a mile.  He was tongue tied round girls.  He liked girls but he said they always stared at him.  Listening to all the lunatics near me going on how gorgeous looking he was I realised why he was scared of them.  They’d have frightened me if all they wanted was to gaze.  I was asked a million questions of where he lived, does he have a girlfriend? What’s he really like?  Not a cat in hells chance would I tell them where he lived or what a great sense of humour he had.  I tried inventing a girl friend thinking it would put them off. It made them worse.  They knew they’d be a better girl for him.  When he did become engaged to Eileen I thought the whole factory was going to go under with the tears.  Absolutely crazy!  I told my Dad I thought if these idiots found out who Eileen was they may try to hurt her.  Dad said I was stupid.  It only happens to film and pop stars not anybody like us.  Maybe John was the reason handsome, drop dead gorgeous looking guys never impressed me.  They are men just like any other men and if they have nothing but a handsome face what you going to talk about?  All his life he was my best friend.  Years after his death, just before his 66th birthday I still miss him.

Something else factory life taught me was how to smoke a cigarette.  Working at top speed all the time ‘the belt’ was switched off for 5 minute every hour.  If the call of nature called you barely had time to race down the room to the toilets and be back on your chair when it was switched back on again.  It was the only time away from your sewing machine so whether you wanted to use the loo or not you went to the toilet area.  It was a long narrow white tiled corridor with about 20-30 toilet doors facing you and 2 wash basins.  No one was allowed outside the building unless you had a pass from the forewoman in charge of you.  That included the times when the machine needle went straight through your finger.   Try to get out of the door without a pass and the commissionaire would have you shot at dawn.  Standing there with a broken needle hanging off your finger, blood dripping and he’d ask  “Where’s your pass.  You’re not getting out of here without one.”  And he wouldn’t unlock the door.  Thank God there was never a fire.  None of us would have got out if we didn’t have a pass.  The toilets were the only place allowed for smoking too.  Smoking cigarettes was soooo sophisticated.  Long red nails, a burning cigarette and a sultry look on your face worked very well for Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, and Jane Russell.  Not too well on someone with a round face, lots of curly hair and glasses.  I thought I looked pretty good and with it anyhow.  With it, was the phrase before fab, cool cat and man which all the hippies called everyone. I was never a hippie.  They looked scruffy.  I was the tight skirt, stiletto shoes, and beehive hairdo type.  My God didn’t I think I was the height of fashion. And of course smoking made me more elegant.  Also made you dizzy the first time you tried it.  Why couldn’t I have been 12 years old when I first tried it, got sick, had a headache, threw up and cured me for life never to try it again.  No, I had to wait until I was old enough.  “You’ve got to keep practicing Audrey.  You’ll soon get the hang of it.  O it makes you feel so good.”

A lot of years have gone by and I’m still trying to give them up.

 I also decided I wanted to try colouring my hair as well.  A big, big no- no in our house.  According to Mum any female who coloured her hair, painted her nails, wore lots of makeup was in the class of hanging around street corners swinging a handbag.  I had to work atBurtonsto find out what she really was implying.  Some of the girls who worked near us had lovely coloured hair and told us the colour was out of a bottle.  Both Brenda and I had mousey coloured hair.   We talked about it for weeks, looked at endless colour charts on the backs of bottles of hair colour in the chemist shops.  The main concern was: what our mothers would do to us are we every got around to changing the colour.  A very attractive girl called Kathleen Emmett worked near us.  She later married a rugby player called Trevor Whitehead.  I think he was an Australian.   She egged Brenda and me on to buy a colour and said to try a pale shade at first.  We both had long hair, mine curly, hers straight.  Monday morning arrives Brenda bounces in all smiles tossing her hair back.  I said I’d do mine the following weekend.  The brand name was called Colour Glow and we’d chosen Honey Gold.  It looked lovely on the packet.  To be quite honest you couldn’t tell any difference in the colour at all.  We asked Kathleen what had gone wrong.  “You have a lot of hair you should have used 2 bottles, maybe you didn’t leave it on long enough.”  We were scared so we’d only left the solution on 5 minute before rinsing it off.  Kathleen said she left hers on for half an hour.  The next time Brenda said she wasn’t going to play about anymore she was dying her hair red.  She coloured it auburn and WOW what a difference it made.  I asked what her parents had said.  She said her dad was too drunk to notice and her mum said she’d got beyond caring.  I still wasn’t that brave.  My Dad never got drunk; it was Mum we were all scared of.

Sunday morning everyone was out of the house.  Still apprehensive, I must have read the instructions on the bottle a dozen times.  It was a darker colour this time.  When the content of the bottle was on my hair it was dark brown: instant panic.  My hair might fall out, Mam will kill me, wash it off.  It had only been on my hair a minute.  Read the label again; when first applied colour may appear darker than colour chart.  I left it on for 15 minutes.  I couldn’t rinse it off fast enough.  I used an old clean duster to dry it in case any of the colours got onto a towel.  No home dryers then so had to wait until it dried.  Thank goodness the label on the bottle had been right.  I was not a dark brunette just slightly darker than my normal colour.  No one at home noticed any change.  The girls at work did and everyone liked it.  I felt good all day.  Returning home from work Monday night the electric light was on.  A summons of “Come here I want to look at you” from Mum.  Quaking in my shoes I stood near her.  Both hands on my shoulders twisting me this was and that “What have you got on your hair?”  Meek and mild “Nothing”    I hadn’t anything on my hair I’d washed it off.  More twisting from side to side “There’s something different.  If you’ve been wasting money on fancy stuff you’re going to get what-for” A what-for was usually a thump in the middle of the back or a smack round the ear.  Not wanting either I said I’d used a new shampoo.  A look of approval. “Mmm, it’s made your hair shiny.  I might use it, what’s it called?”  My God! What am I going to say?  Simple…. lie.  “It was one Brenda lent me and I’ve given it back to her.”  Something else Mum didn’t approve of was borrowing anything from anybody.  You had to laugh really because Auntie Maggie next door didn’t believe in wasting money so she was forever in our house ‘borrowing’ sugar, milk, eggs, potatoes, bread.  Dad’s wages must have been keeping Maggie in food as well as us.  Of course Mam found the empty Colour Glo bottle in the dust bin when she emptied the ashes from the coal fire.  I managed to keep out of the way of her hand as she ranted at me. My hair was going to fall out or turn green.  How dare I lie to her?  I was going to end up swinging my handbag on street corners and the final

“Don’t you bring trouble here or you’ll be out on your ear.”  By trouble she meant being pregnant.  No one ever used the correct names for body parts or any operations below the waist.  If an unmarried woman got pregnant she’d got herself in trouble, a shot gun wedding meant the day before the wedding the girl was a slut, the day after she was a happily married woman.  No blame what-so-ever attached to the male.  In fact he was praised for ‘doing the right thing and marrying the girl.’    Fat chance I had of having a boyfriend.  I worked amongst thousands of women.  I only had to smile at someone anywhere near home and every person fromCharlton PlacetoDevon Streetwhere Grandma lived who’d seen me would tell Mum.  Mum should have had a job with M I5 she was always interrogating me. 

The magic age of 18 arrived in 1960.  I could go into a pub……legally.  I’d been working for 3 years and joined in with other girls when they went on nights out for someone’s birthday, Christmas, New Year parties or any other nights out someone organized.  Didn’t tell Mum or Dad and stayed at Cousin Norma’s house overnight.  Mum and Dad thought Norma was sensible so it was alright for me to go.  I told them we were going to a picture house near where she lived.  She lived on the Gipton Estate and the nearest cinemas were The Shaftsbury or The Clock.  The White Horse onYork Roadwas a lively place in the 60s.  The Fforde Green was opposite the Clock cinema.  Had to be careful whatever pub I went to.  We had lots of Aunts and Uncles all overLeeds.  Mum had 8 brothers and sisters Dad had 5.  Norma used to have a look inside the pub checking for relatives before I went in.  She was 4 years older than me and more confident.  I wasn’t keen on The Fforde Greene.  The few times we’d been there had been a brawl outside at closing time. It scared the living daylights out of me.  I was scared of the men who wanted to buy drinks for us as well.  The only men I knew were family members and these men were nothing like them.

Watching the Coronation on Black and White TV

Television!  The magic of watching pictures in your own house.  What a wonderful invention.  Crowds used to gather outside electrical shop windows to watch the one television set that was switched on.  I didn’t know anyone who actually owned a set until a few weeks before Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.  Big excitement anyhow as we got a day off school but to be invited to watch it on television WOW.

One of Mum’s brothers lived 4 streets from us in Glensdale Grove, just round the corner from George Henson’s butcher shop on ‘ The Drive ‘   George owned the house, Mary and Tom paid rent to him.  Both Tom and Mary worked full time, Mary at the laundry onEllerby Laneand Tom at the coal yard at the bottom ofEasy RoadoppositeEllerbyLaneSchool.  Dorothy, their only child spent all her time at our house.  She arrived at 7:30 a.m. went toVictoriaschool and came back to our place at 4 p.m. and waited until her parents came home.  We all went to Grandma’s house at lunch time for dinner then back to school for the afternoon.  Along with myself, my two brothers and Dorothy there were two other cousins John and Norma who also had dinner at Grandma’s.  Mum’s sister Eva and her husband Eddie were ill people and frequently in hospital so John and Norma lived at Grandma’s at this time.  We all went to different schools.  My youngest brother Norman and myself at Ellerby Lane, Alan my elder brother at All Saints, Dorothy at Victoria, Norma at St. Bridget’s and John at St. Charles.  Uncle Eddie was catholic so the kids went to catholic schools.  Mum could never remember holy days, days of obligation, fast days or any saint’s days.  She only knew no meat on Fridays and mass on Sunday morning.  Money being tight and food scarce we had plenty of stews at lunch time.  One which Grandma called tatty hash was a favourite.  More potato than anything else.  Everything was on ration and had to stretch as far as possible.  Dad had got his allotments by then and we had onions and cabbage a lot.  Thank God Grandma could cook, Mum was hopeless. 

Two wages coming in at Uncle Tom and Auntie Mary’s meant they could buy stuff from the big shops in town and had a sofa and two armchairs that matched, a polished dining table and chairs,  nice curtains and proper carpet.  Not the clip rugs like the rest of us had.  They also had a proper bathroom upstairs as well.  No indoor toilet just a bath and wash basin.  Of course they got a television before anyone else we knew.  Mary came home from work about 5 p.m. Norman and I were allowed to watch their television from 5 until 6 p.m. then we had to go home.  We had to take our shoes off as soon as we got through the door and sit on the floor in front of the T.V.  Mary was very strict with Tom and Dorothy too.  Tom had to have a bath as soon as he came home.  Working in the coal yard he looked as though he had been down a coal mine.  Like most terrace houses the bedroom steps were opposite the door to the house.  Tom never came into the room; he took his boots off at the door, hung his coat on a peg and went straight to the bathroom.  We kids were always having our hands checked and told to wash them.  Dorothy was taught how to embroider and embroidered linen cloths were over everything, the arms and backs of chairs, table cloth over the polished table, cushions.  If it had a cloth on or over it Mary and Dorothy had embroidered it.  We never ever had anything to eat in their house.  My Dad said Dorothy only went home to sleep.  The neighbourhood kids thought she was my sister.  We looked very much alike and she was always at our place. 

A few days before the coronation Mary told us we could watch the event on their T.V.  We were over the moon and told all the kids at school.  The actual day dawned and my young brother, myself and Mum were dressed in our best clothes to go and watch the T.V.  As always strict instructions from Mum to behave ourselves, speak when you’re spoken to etc.etc.  When Norman and me watched Muffin the Mule on children’s T.V. we were not allowed to move.  If we were told to wash our hands we had to tip toe past the T.V. so we didn’t jar it and send it wobbly.  Tom was the only one allowed to adjust it if it did go wobbly.  He knew as much about it as we did.  He kept mentioning the horizontal hold and we sat there watching wavy lines.  We’d watch anything.  In the early days we watched a lot of ‘ Normal Service will be resumed as soon as possible ‘ and the potter’s wheel going round and round until the problem was fixed at the studio.  Mary was not allowed to dust the set, Tom did it with the corner of a clean men’s handkerchief.  It was a 12 inch black and white set and the centre of attention.

We had to be at Glensdale Grove early Mum said or we wouldn’t get a seat.  Mary had invited all the neighbours.  She must have started making sandwiches and little buns in paper cases at dawn, there were lots of them on the best china plates.  Norman and I took our customary place on the floor.  Mum told us to get off the floor, what did we think we were doing sitting down there in our best clothes.  Heading the warning to behave ourselves we looked toward Mary.  All smiles Mary said   ” What are you doing down there?  You’ll be in the way when everyone arrives.”  We sat in the easy chairs, a treat indeed.  Mum asked who else was coming to watch the coronation.  More smiles Mary ran off a list of names.  Mum’s eyebrows shot up “Where are they all going to sit?”

Mary said everyone would fit in.  Mum mumbled something and the word shoehorn were mentioned.  We giggled and got a punch on the arm from Mum.  Dorothy was dressed in her taffeta party dress arranging cups and saucers in rows on the table.  The neighbour who lived opposite arrived followed quickly by another two ladies, then an elderly couple.  A big fuss was made over them.  Mum squashed Norman and me into the easy chair with her.  There was a never ending stream of people.  People sitting on chair arms. leaning over the backs of easy chairs and sofa, standing near the wall.  It got to the stage where people standing at the door couldn’t get in.  Then Mary said she’d make a pot of tea and told Dorothy to hand round the sandwiches.  Dorothy was nearly in tears she couldn’t get out of the corner of the room to reach the table.  Someone near the plates started handing them over the heads of those lucky or unlucky to have a seat.  We were getting squashed from all angles.  You could only move your hands.  Those standing were shoulder to shoulder and no one dare move their feet ‘cos they’d stand on someone’s foot.   Mary never did get to show off the fancy china cups and saucers as some one would have got scalded with the hot tea and as for passing the tiny milk jug, sugar bowl filled with sugar cubes and tiny sugar tongs they stayed on the table in all their pristine glory.  The plates of sandwiches and small cakes were empty in minutes.  Tiny triangles of bread with the crusts cut off were gone in two bites.  Mary had to push her way through to switch on the set.  No one said a word, all eyes on the T.V.  A man dressed in the ancient uniform read out the proclamation I think it was outside10 Downing Street.  For some reason the national anthem was played. Rugbyscrum time a No. 30 Glensdale Grove.  I have no idea how someone didn’t get seriously injured or suffocated as we all stood up.  You couldn’t breathe.  And of course we kids sang God Save the King.  We were so used to singing it at school.  I can’t remember a lot of what we saw at the time.  It went on for ages and we didn’t have a clue what it was really about.  We wanted to see the crown put on her head. As soon as that happened the national anthem was played again and we were on our feet once more this time remembering to sing God Save the Queen.  It was years later when I saw the coloured version at the cinema I understood it more.  When it was over we escaped into the street grateful to be able to move and breathe fresh air once more.  Mary never did invite all the neighbours to view anything else on her T.V.

 I wonder what happened to that film of the potter’s wheel.