Archive for the ‘Ellerby Lane’ Category

When We Didn’t Have Much Brass

February 1, 2014

Thanks to this excellent site provided to us by wordpress we have now managed to publish more than eighty tales. In the process it has been necessary to widen the subject matter sometimes beyond our East Leeds mandate. So for this month’s offering I return to our roots for a few basic East Leeds tales of the first half of the 20th century. They are snip-pets I have collected over the years and unfortunately I cannot contact the authors for their approval as some I don’t know and sadly others are no longer with us but I’m sure they would approve of us sharing their tales of a time;

‘WHEN WE DIDN’T HAVE MUCH BRASS’
By our old East Leeds Mentors

Joyce's Parants Butchers shop

Joyce’s Tale
My maiden name was English and I was brought up by my grandparents, Mr and Mrs Hillyard at number 101 Cross Green Lane (by the bus stop). I lived with my grandparents because mam and dad had two butcher’s shops: one was next to the Maypole in Upper Accommodation Road and the other was opposite St James Infirmary in Beckett Street. You will see the picture was taken around Christmas time but not many turkeys or even chickens were on display it seems in those days. My grandmother would say that the poor people from the Bank area would come up Ellerby Lane to the shop but could only afford rabbits or if they were lucky a piece of pork for their Christmas dinner. Grandma said she would tell the women with prams to wait outside while Pa went into the shop and then she would fill their pinny pockets with carrots and onions ‘buck shee’ to help feed their families.

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John’s Tale
Seeing the picture of the Bourne Chapel March with the big York Road School in the background brings back memories. I attended that school but on the outbreak of war the building was taken over as an ARP station. All around the base it was sandbagged to a height of 10-12 feet. Next to the school on York Road it was a shop selling fruit and veg; it was owned by a Mr Jordon. We used to put our arms through the bars and knock on his window at the school break and he would come with apples and other fruit for us to purchase. Down the road from the sewing machine building was Bolton’s fish and chip shop – it faced straight down Shannon Street. On the same block was a barber’s shop; tupence for a haircut! My father worked at Temple Newsam pit which part of the Waterloo main Colliery. I used to meet him off the paddy train and ride on his bike to Great Garden Street. We lived opposite the Providence pub. He was killed in a roof fall on the 5th of March 1937.

York Road School

York Road School

Mr Farman’s tale
My grandfather used to live in Walkers Place. They were all one up and one down, he told me the water closets – as they were called – were a long way down the street and I can remember Grandfather calling out to a neighbours as she was carrying the slops down the street, ‘Sup before slop, Lizzie’ Also in the street was Bradley’s coal yard. I remember you bought coal and they loaned you a barrow to wheel it away in. My father was a maintenance man at Waterloo pit. I can see all the miners now packing the wooden trucks, all with black faces, no pit baths in those days, only the tin baths in front of the fire at home, I also remember the 1928 collier’s strike when mounted police were charging the strikers at the coal staithes on the corner of Easy Road and Cross Green lane.
I left school at fifteen and was accepted at Duffield’s as an apprentice printer. Starting at 10/- a week I was not happy there as it turned out the boss was a slave drier. You couldn’t talk or sing. Everything was done at the double. He even stood at the time clock and if anyone was five minutes late he would say ‘We’ve done without you for five minutes – you can go home for the day.’ As soon as you came out of your apprenticeship and came onto full money £4 a week you got the sack and there was no unemployment pay.

Stan’s Tale
I remember going to Hutton’s, the druggist, in Dial Street for one pennyworth of gunpowder for Mother to clear the flues under the set-pot. I liked this operation – Mother would wrap the gunpowder in a big wad of newspaper and place it in the fireplace under the set-pot and after lighting the ends of the paper she would put the long brush pressed tightly against the door and wait for the big bang, accompanied by a cloud of smoke from the fireplace. That was exciting for us kids.
Another job was for Dad to change the flimsy gas mantles after one of us had knocked them off. They were very flimsy after they had been in use and easily broke. The little corner shop (Gozzard’s) sold them in a tubular box and it was a masterpiece to fit them into position. I can see Dad now, standing on the table with his tongue partly out, placing the flimsy fibre over the stick and fitting it gently into position. Then the moment we kids had waited for. A light was placed at the foot and the mantle blazed nearly up to the ceiling. Then the glass was put back into position and all was ready for use again, with a warning from Dad to be careful in future.
Another big day in our lives was the day we got our ‘long ‘uns’. In those far off days until we were about sixteen years old we showed our knees in short pants and sported a fancy pair of socks with coloured tops turned down at the knees. It was usually a Sunday morning when you would be given your last inspection by Mother and with neighbours at the ready you stepped out into the street. As you passed they would call, ‘You do look nice! You’re a man now! How does it feel?’ of course then you would have to stand a real rigging. Yes we fellows have come a long way since those ‘britching days’.
Until we were about three years old in fact we were dressed like girls then all at once you were changed into a little boy, at first with short trousers, coloured jerseys with a fancy collars and a tie to match. It was a big day for you when at last you got your ‘long ‘uns’
Sundays were very different between the wars, the older folk would be seen taking bunches of flowers to the cemetery whilst teenagers would gather in the lovely parks and do a little ‘flirting’. After tea we would listen to gramophone records playing the latest tunes, play cards or perhaps dominos with a little flutter of a halfpenny a game.
I would like to give a special mention to my mother who died in 1943 – when I was thirty years old. She died as a result of TB in Rothwell Hospital after much suffering at the age of fifty-four. She had worked hard all her life to bring up her family: she never managed to eat the same meals she cooked for us. Many is the time after dad had gone to work I would go to the a little confectioner’s shop off Ellerby lane for a custard or a curd tart which she would eat along with a pot of tea and then back to the washtub. I often think of Mother with love and wish I had been kinder to her.
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Sally’s Tale
At thirteen I went to work at Lister’s Mill. Half a crown a week and me mother gave three pence pocket money, that’s what I got. In the war [WW 1] when Barnbow were there – I worked at Barnbow and I drove a horse and four trolleys full of shells right up to the station. I was there when the war finished and I were there when explosion come. We were on afternoons and it went off at two o’clock, and me and my sister came back home.
Then in the Second World War I worked at Ellerby Foundry with a hammer and chisel for five years. We didn’t get as much as the men – I had about four pounds a week. I stayed at the foundry while war were over and then when war were over I got my old job back the Black Dog Mil, because they didn’t want us women anymore. The men come back do you see?
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Maud’s Tale
The best bit of fun were at pawn shop – top of Ellerby Lane. One poor women, she had nowt to take, see, but she’d been to butchers and got half a side of lamb. True tale this. It’s a long time ago but it’s true. She got this half side of lamb from the butchers and wrapped it up and the pawnbroker man was so used to seeing her he never used to examine her parcels. So he gave her the same as last week and put her parcel on the shelf. Well, weeks go on and all of a sudden the gasman comes up. ‘Summat wrong with the drains.’ Well they had all the pavement up and everything. They were that bet with it. Then one day this pawnbroker, he was looking around and he says, ‘You know I think it’s coming from here,’ and it were lamb on top shelf. So she daren’t go there anymore and had to go to one up Richmond Hill.
We always had tingaleri man. Aye but I loves a bit of good music. We’d have a penneth of chips and be sitting outside singing Pasadena with the tingaleri, up Ellerby lane, where the grass is greener. And there would always be a couple of lovers under the shop window. You know but we were lovely when we were young weren’t we? We didn’t have scraggy hair did we? And we didn’t wear breeches.
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Not sure of author
My dad used to make coffins in the attic. There was only one thing Dad didn’t like and that was wearing top hat and tails. He liked all the other parts. He liked making the boxes and the tassels but when it came to going with ‘em he didn’t like that. They used to wear that hat and the old frock tailed coat with the buttons on covered in cloth. This black coat was shiny and so was the hat. He let Johnny go, his mate. And he looked after a firm that were called Binn’s undertakers for a long time – that were down South Accomm. As a boy I used to sleep up in the attic with the coffins, In fact we had a habit of getting in there and sitting in the coffins with two pieces of dowelling and telling myself I were in a rowing boat. Till one day Johnny Walker put the lid on me. And I never went in a coffin no more after that. He shoved me in and put the lid on.
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                                                                                                           The cost of a funeral in 1903

The cost of a funeral in 1903

Hilda’s Tales
My best job were on the trams, Oh it were a lovely job were that. I were out at Torre Road but we went to Lower Wortley, Upper Wortley Temple Newsam and then back, including Halton and Cross Gates. I remember once going to cross gates, you know we used to look outside when we were upstairs to make sure everyone had got on. Anyone used to ring the bell to save us having to run downstairs. And this were about half-past seven in the morning – we had long wooden ticket racks then and I dropped mine out of the window. I gave him five on the bell to tell him to stop but he thought I were telling him I were full, so he went off hell for leather and I’m there ringing the bell all the way. When we got to Nell Bend there was this tram coming the other way realized what was the matter and told him to stop. They had to get somebody in a taxi to take me to get my ticket rack back.

When we were rationed during the war, they gave us some ration cards. And one day my sister was washing step, you know and she says, ‘Mother this scouring stone is awfully hard!’ and mother said, ‘Silly B…. It’s cheese!’
During the war there were a barrage balloon came over Leeds and it had deflated at one end you know and there were rumours that the Germans were going to invade England. We were all frightened to death that there were going to be an invasion. And my mother used to get up right early and she gets up right early this morning and looks out of the window and over the town and you can see from the Bertha’s this balloon. She went over to my sisters and she says, ‘Get up! Get Up! Gerrup! They’re here, they’ve invaded us!’ She went in house and got her little poker out, she says, ‘They’re in the passage – come out! she says, ‘I’ll kill you stone dead – I’m not frightened of you!’ and my sister got up and said, ‘What’s up!’ she says, ‘What’s up!’
‘You – you’ll die in your beds, you.’ Mother says. ‘They’re here – they’ve invaded. Look you can see the balloon, they’ve dropped out of that end – look!’

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Last week’s picture was the old ‘Fish Hut ‘pub on Ellerby Lane. Now, alas, derelict.

Here is something a bit different this month. Can anyone find an earlier tree graffiti carving than this: 1891? At the time this was carved man did not have powered flight and Victoria still had ten years left to reign.

tree for blog

Seen in the old Newlands Estate near Stanley Ferry.

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WENDY’S TALE

October 1, 2013

                                                      WENDY’S TALE

 

                                           East Street Day Nursery.  1956

 

Wendy Carew is our East Leeds lass now living in Perth Western Australia.

Wendy in this tale remembers her days as a helper at the East Street day nursery

 

I was, again, causing a palaver at home. A decision had to be made about my future. Dad thought I should try for University but Mam wanted me to leave and find work .To be fair to my mother she had worked all her life as a seamstress and constantly tried really hard to make ends meet. The thought of supporting me through more years of education was not her idea of the future.  What a thorough waste of time, my mother kept repeating, for a girl to have “ideas above her station” after all marriage and motherhood, for me, was just around the corner and a University degree wouldn’t help bringing up the kids.

So, to keep the peace, I left my prestigious High School (Lawnswood) at fifteen. Facing the stern Headmistress, Miss Holden, on my own was daunting. She was extremely angry and had hoped I would ‘go on to do great things’ but what could I do? Trapped by my mother’s expectations and my father’s constant quiet surrender I left being a schoolgirl and went to look for work. Thank – goodness I was hopeless on a sewing machine or I would have been accompanying my mother to the huge Montague Burton’s clothing factory down York Road.

I applied to Leeds Corporation for work as a Nursery Nurse. To day it would be called a Kindergarten Helper.

Leeds Corporation had opened a few child-minding nurseries for working mothers and the nearest one for me was along East Street on the outskirts of the city.

Children, as young as babies and up to pre school could be left to be cared for five or perhaps six days a week (I cannot remember if we opened on weekends). I was accepted and began my first job at the East Street Day Nursery.

This Day Nursery was operated from a beautiful old house quite out of place in the surrounding location. Because of its close proximity to the city centre this area had absorbed a huge influx of Irish and Russian immigrants at the turn of the twentieth century and therefore had become extremely overcrowded and very unhygienic. I think the area was called The Bank.

I never enquired but just assumed the house had been the ‘manse’ (the vicarage) for St. Saviours Church situated on Ellerby Road in the suburb of Richmond Hill. Behind the church, on a downhill slope, was the church graveyard and further down beyond the graveyard was this beautiful house, which fronted onto East Street.

Let me describe my workplace, this grand detached house.

It was red brick and three stories high with lots of chimneys. The third story being two attic rooms under the tile-covered roof where, in the ‘hay day’ of the house, servants would have slept.

The front entrance had bay windows each side. Each window and the glass in the door contained beautiful coloured lead panels, which threw a rainbow glow into the interior hall when the sun shone through.

A Large central staircase with polished carved wooden banisters swept upwards in the foyer splitting to left and right when half way to the first floor. To me, growing up in the Charlton’s and on the Rookwood council estate this was a grand old house. I didn’t pretend I owned the place I just thought I was privileged to work there.

A concealed back corridor and stairs allowed movement from the ground floor kitchen and washhouse along to the large dining room and up to the 1st landing door to service bedrooms and further up to the servants small attic rooms. These stairs allowed the maids to bring food, linen and coal to each room without disturbing the owners of the house. Of course when I worked there these stairs were a quick way to take ashes and dirty clothes down to the laundry and clean linen and coal up to where they were needed.

I was accepted as a trainee and began my first job. Used to criticism at home I was like a young puppy when praised and would cheerfully try to do my very best the next time around.

We worked a forty plus hour week and in shifts. Early morning ‘starts’ (7-30am) or late night ‘finishes’ (8pm). My wage was three pound five shillings handed to me in a small manila envelope, which I eagerly accepted each week. I would hide my wage in a pocket in my navy blue bloomers so no one could pinch it.

When arriving home my sealed wage packet was immediately handed over to my mother, as was the custom at that time.

She allowed five shilling for myself, enough money if I was careful, to buy a lipstick, pair of nylon stockings and tram fare for the week. Any left over pennies were placed into savings for shoes, clothes and pocket money.

Now I was working and earning my own money I had thoughts of leaving home and going to swinging London. My father, horrified, announced “only BAD girls went to London” and “no daughter of his….etc…etc.”

So here I was in Leeds, either catching a tram to the city to work or walking through the streets to work. In Spring and summer if I had a 10am start I would walk from Rookwood Avenue down Osmonthorpe Lane, cut along Ings Road and skirt along the perimeter of East End Park cut down Accommodation Road to St. Saviours Church and then down to East Street.

We thought nothing of walking miles in those days. When I attended Osmonthorpe Primary School I would walk home to Rookwood Ave, have tea and then walk up to my library at Cross Gates change my books and walk home again.

Cutting through the streets to work, if the weather was good, I would walk through row upon row of sooty black ‘back to back’ terrace houses with their cobbled roads, maze of dark alleyways, ginnel’s, outside lavatory’s and smelly overflowing middens.

I was never afraid, alert but not afraid. If I felt danger and screamed many doors would open and whoever threatened me would feel the wrath of a street full of residents ready to come to my aid. Besides, because of overcrowding in the majority of homes, the streets were always full of kids playing, washing being pegged out, neighbours gossiping and men going to and from work or the Pub.

If my shift started at 7-30am in the morning, especially in late autumn or early winter when the mornings were dark, or full of snow I would rise early to catch a tram to town. Alighting at Marsh Lane (other side of York Road to that of Quarry Hill flats) I would trudge under the railway bridge towards Leeds Parish Church. Keeping left along Crown Point Road I would again turn left when I came to East Street.

East Street, before the war consisted of factories and small workplaces but because of bombing during the 2nd world war the houses and run down business’s now lay on open ground in a heap of rusted tin, broken glass and scattered piles of smashed brick and rubble.

A fair way along East Street was my place of work, East Street Day Nursery.

In winter, with snow boots, thick coat, hand knitted woollen scarf, gloves, and knitted bonnet I would trek, head down against the blizzard of snow, passing grim soot covered factory’s, scrap heaps and bomb damaged buildings, eager to get inside this welcoming house. I would leave my outdoor clothes in the attic bedroom and because the heat hadn’t yet reached the attic I would very quickly put on my uniform and rush downstairs to the warmth of the kitchen.

A quick cup of tea toast and jam, and I was ready for my working day.

Five days a week the busy kitchen would have the aroma of food being prepared. Vegetables and Meat cooking, biscuits, bread and scones baking. A large black kettle was forever bubbling away on a humongous black-leaded stove.

Tea was brewed in those days. Tea leaves were spooned into a large teapot ‘One for each person and one for the pot’ was the saying when we made a fresh brew.

Coffee was not the drink of choice with the working class in those days being a new fangled drink and more expensive. Tea leaves could be brewed and brewed again and again until they were tasteless. At this point they were place in a bucket and used to dampen fires to a glow if the rooms became too hot or could be used to reduce a fire to a glowing ember overnight at home leaving it ready to rekindle into flame when the first early riser in the house came downstairs.

The Tweenies.

I was only working there a couple of months when my diligence was dually noticed and I was placed in charge of the ‘tweenies’.

The children in my care were between nine months and eighteen months old. They were considered too old for the baby nursery, and too young for the rough and tumble play amongst the two to five year olds.

Remember I was only fifteen with no experience of young children but it was thought, because I was female, it was a skill I had been born with.

When, in cold weather, I was rostered on early morning shifts, my job was to light a coal fire in my small ‘tweenies’ room before the mothers arrived.

I had prepared the fireplace the night before by raking out the hot cinders, removing the build up of ash under the grate making sure the fire grate was now empty and clean. We had to be so careful there was nothing in the grate in case anything caught fire during the night.

Placing ash and cinders in the coal shuttle I would take it down the back stairs and out to a cinder patch in a safe corner of the garden.

I would then fill the coal shuttle with coal and coke (similar to coal) from the cellar, gather chipped wood and rolled newspapers and carry this up the back stairs to my ‘tweenies’ nursery and leave ready by the fireplace for the start of a brand new day.

Our nursery was situated in a very poor area and only working mothers could afford to place their child in our council subsidised care.

Many of the children arrived covered in lice and nits. I would spend time each day washing each child and running a nit comb through its hair.

With nits in those days a foul smelling solution went on first to kill the eggs and the ‘fine tooth comb’ was to comb the eggs out, which we would crack between our thumbnails. It was difficult to remove eggs from the eyelashes. The children would squirm and wriggle around but I would persist wanting to surprise the mothers, when they arrived in the late evening, with a clean child to take home.  Next day of course they would turn up reinfested and dirty and the process started again.

I loved my job even though it was very long hours. I loved it because the mothers complimented me when they came to collect their clean happy well-fed children. Always criticised for what ever I did at home I was yearning and needy for a compliment and a ‘pat on the back’.

In the winter, night descended around four pm.

When the last mother had collected her child around eight pm we (I say we because there had to be two staff rostered on an evening for safety) would lock up the nursery would quickly walk in the dark, past silent factories and pitch-black waste ground, all the way into town.

Gas street lamps were on at night but they delivered very little illumination. Going home in the dark in that area and towards town when the factories were deserted was very frightening and we would walk very close to each other. Sometimes a ‘bobby’ would be doing his rounds on foot and would walk with us until we reached city lights.

Remember, by now I had just turned sixteen but it was a different era and if working we were expected to be adults.

Looking back and looking at photo’s of East Street in the nineteen fifties, I think of that young lass walking up East Street to work eager to earn three pounds five shillings a week.

My heart goes out to her and I smile because I’ve survived, prospered and have led such an interesting life.

I have a lot to thank Leeds for. It gave me tenacity; ambition and the ability to get straight back up when the many tragedies and defeats knocked me to the ground. Leeds trained me with tough love and then sent me into the world and with those skills I survived.

Wendy Carew's pic of nursary

 

Wendy, with children at the East Street Nursery. Behind them is the boundary wall of St Saviour’s grave yard.

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Great tale Wendy – thanks for sharing it with us. Can we help Wendy? She would love to know more about the history of the building which housed the East Street Day Nursery in the 1950s/60s. It was a detached red brick house, not a plain building. It had once been a grand family built house with attics for servants and quite grand for its day, especially in the area it was situated. Wendy believes the Toch H organisation owned the building in the 1950s and they leased it to the Leeds Corporation who in turn used it as a child minding centre. It would be wonderful if it triggers anyone’s memory. Come on ask around for Wendy.

 

Last month’s pic was of course the iconic Richmond Hill School

 

How about The pic for this month. Where was it? red walls picture

 

 

Kenneth’s Tale

June 1, 2012

Kenneth’s Tale

I saw a gentleman looking reverently at St Savour’s Church. He looked the age of one who could have enjoyed good old East Leeds in its heyday. I unashamedly mugged him for his memories and he was kind enough to send me this account 

Kenneth, who attended St Saviour’s school wishes to point out that any old school mates will know him as: Kenneth Hawkins, as he only took on the name: Heptinstall, after he had tragically lost both parents and been legally adopted by his grandparents close to the time he left school.

 

                          The Memories of Kenneth (Hawkins) Heptinstall

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I was a pupil at St Saviour’s School and I would walk to school along the Low Fold, which was a path that ran alongside the river from the old Suspension Bridge whereSouth Accommodation Roadcrossed the river, to come out inEast Streetclose to school. In the early days I would enjoy watching the horses towing the barges along the river by means of a long rope Later the horse gave way to tugs which pulled several barges loaded with goods of one kind or another.

            The part of East Leeds where I lived in from 1924 to circa 1936 seemed vast to me as a child. It included the Bank area, Cross Green,Richmond Hill,East EndParkand other areas in the vicinity. There was much poverty about but to us children the streets, yards, ginnels, and bits of spare ground were there for our enjoyment, we used them to the full. The area had lots of small shops and a few large ones such as the Co-op, Gallons and the Maypole but nothing like today’s supermarkets etc. Churches seemed to dominate the area: St Hilda’s, St Saviour’s, Mount St Mary’s, All Saints as well as the chapels. There were schools to all the churches, some other schools were non-church schools such asRichmond HillandEllerby Lane. Scouts and Girl Guides were part of the churches, with Boy’s Brigades belonged to the chapels. One of my memories was of the Boy’s Brigade marching from the chapel to the bottom ofEllerby Laneon a Sunday after the service and we children would march alongside them on the pavement.

            There were also lots of pubs: The Black Dog, fisherman’s Hut, Cross Green, Spring Close, The Hampton, Prospect and Yew Tree. The landlord of theHamptonat one time was Dolly Dawson who was a member of the famous Hunslet Rugby League team. There were several cinemas in the area: Easy Road, Princess, Victoria inYork Road, and the Premier inSouth Accommodation Road– the Victoria later became: The Star.

            I was christened at St Hilda’s but I attended St Saviour’s school. It was a good school and I thought the teachers to be strict but dedicated. Being a mixed school there were separate classes for girls and boys but being a church school we started together for assembly, prayers, hymns and scripture lessons. Mister Ridley was the headmaster; we did plays under his guidance. He was in amateur dramatics and I think he thought doing plays would give us the confidence to speak out. Other teachers also became involved. There was one gentleman called Mr Smith who was a top man at Ringtons Tea and he too had been a pupil at St saviours School. He knew that children that attended the school were from poor backgrounds and twice a year: Christmas Day and Empire Day (which was celebrated in those days) he would send round sweets and on Empire Day a medal bearing the king’s head. In one of the plays we did we were Sikhs and all in Indian dress. The girls helped with the costumes and the boys with the scenery. When Children’s Day came along a van was hired, the scenery from the play was erected and placed on the vehicle then we dressed in the costumes and a sign advertising Ringtons Tea was displayed around the sides of the vehicle. We then joined the parade from the city centre up toRoundhayPark.   

            When St saviours Church was built the tower was left off, we were left to believe that his was due to the ground being on a hill making the foundations risky. We were also told it was due to lack of money, which I think was more likely. However the tower was added in the thirties. I was told it was Mr Smith of Rintons who provided the money. When the church was built it would have been in grey stone but due to fogs and industry it became dark, the tower stood out after being added as it was in the original grey but as can now be seen, due to air conditions over the years this now looks no different.

Some of the things I remember

People putting bread cakes on the windowsill to cool, lines of washing hung across the street that was hauled up when horse and carts came along the street, men walking up the streets cap in hand singing, a man with a tingaleri who sometimes let us wind the handle while he went and knocked on doors for donations, Walls ice cream carried on a three wheel bike. Sometimes if we helped push him up the hill he would cut one of his triangular ice creams in two for helping. Some of the lads had bogeys made of a short plank and four wheels, the front held on by a vertical bolt which enabled it to be steered. Also a steel ring like a large wheel which we rolled along pushed by a steel rod shaped like a hook which fitted round the rim and enabled it to be pushed and steered whilst running alongside it. Marbles or ‘tors’ as we called the game  played ideally on cobbled streets, along with football, kick out can and numerous other games – hide and seek known locally as ‘hiddy’ and ‘tig’ around the streets sometimes dividing into two teams. The girls had their own games: skipping and hopscotch being just two.

            If we managed to go toEast EndParkthere were football pitches. The first one inside the park was a cinder pitch which didn’t do the legs much good! There were policemen patrolling the area. One had the name ‘Bobby Rocking-Horse’ because of the way he walked, rocking from side to side!  Men in the area used to gamble – tossing coins – as it was illegal the police used to raid and the men used to run through passages and into people’s houses. Those who were caught were taken to the police station in a van known as the ‘Black Maria’

            In the mid thirties we had slum clearances when we were moved on to new housing estates. It was nice to have hot water, bathrooms and gardens. I still had a couple of years to go until I finished school so I used to travel so far on the tram and walk the rest.

Great tale, Kenneth. Times were not always easy but how many of us would not want to be back there if we could?

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     peter_wood@talktalk.net   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.

 

Eileen’s Tale

October 1, 2009

Eileen’s tale is a delightful little tale of life in East Leeds in the 1940s, including time spent with her grandmother in Knostrop New Hall and as a pupil at St Hilda’s and Ellerby Lane Schools.

Eileen’s tale

Eileen’s Tale

Mrs Eileen Ramsey (nee Tootle) is the niece of the legendary George Tootle and sister of Barbara who has herself written her tale in these pages.

Until I read the pages of this book I thought Knostrop was just my magic place and never realised there were other children like myself who understood the magic of Knostrop and the way of life of the community as well as me. Although Knostrop New Hall was a wonderful place for me the owners had left the property to rot and decay instead of the upkeep it deserved. Every flat should have had a bathroom, toilet and even the electric light was late to arrive although there was the massive Skelton Grange Power Station just down the road.  Why do they call it progress to allow small communities like Knostrop to be wiped off the face of the earth to make way for concrete monoliths? Lord Halifax had long resisted building on his land on the north side of the Aire. Industry used to be in Hunslet on the south of the river and the fresh air that the people needed on the north. What happened?

                                                        ******

This is my story. I was born on the 27th of April 1932. My father was Roland Tootle, whose mother was Charlotte Wright before her marriage. My paternal grandfather’s name was Christopher Howard Tootle. My first memories are of being looked after by my maternal grandmother, Ellen Maud Smith, whilst my mam, Hannah Tootle, went out to work at J.W. Plant and son Ltd (flag and bunting manufacturer), Elsie Crescent, Upper Accommodation Road. Leeds 9.

            My gran lived with her second husband, Thomas Smith. They had two children, a boy Charles and a girl Ellen, or Nellie as my mother used to call her and who tragically died of a mastoid in the ear aged ten. This is what was told to us when we asked Mother if she had only brothers and no sisters. She said Nellie was her half sister – she died in 1928 the year before my eldest sister, Celia, was born.

My maternal granddad Thomas Byron Holmes and Grandma came from York to Leeds seeking employment as they had a young family of six to support. My granddad was from Southwark in London and served as a soldier in the 26th Scottish Borderers. My grandma Ellen Maud Holmes had a position of nanny, at which she was very good. Granddad (Thomas Byron Holmes) was tragically killed in a freak accident at Waterloo Pit on the 8th of January 1913 aged 36 years. He had been working with another man on the surface, loading and unloading when a sharp gust of wind suddenly arose as they were untying a tarpaulin cover from one of the wagons; it snagged my granddad and carried him up to the wheel of the gantry, which took him round and round. When they finally got to him he was left in just his socks and boots. The inquest was held at the Irwin Hotel, Halton, Leeds. Compensation amounted to just £157. 2/- and 3d to be paid to his widow (my granny) at the rate of £2 per month. 

My gran eventually re-married Thomas Smith, who was a widower twenty years her senior, they moved into the big mansion, Knostrop New Hall, as caretaker and wife. Among their duties were: the collection of rents, upkeep of the interior, cleaning the upstairs and downstairs toilets etc, also the wash-house, hen-house and stables.  

A pony trap was kept in the stables and a gentleman would arrive with a horse, which was stabled elsewhere, and ride around the countryside in the pony and trap. There was a large weeping willow tree, with initials carved upon its trunk on the front lawn facing the lodge (better known as The Round House). I used to climb the huge tree and sit reading my comics within its branches and leaves. I would follow with my eyes the flight of birds into the thick ivy that covered the ten foot high boundary walls and then I would head unerringly and find the nest with tiny eggs inside, usually about four of eggshell blue. They were very high walls to a child and it was only when I was older and more daring that I managed to scale those high surrounding walls of the New Hall Estate and stare over at St Saviour’s Orphanage, where the children would emerge in a long crocodile with one lady in front and another behind.

            I had a sister three years older than I her name was Celia and somehow we only really got together when I was about three years old. She must have stayed with a neighbour while my mother went to work as a sewing machinist. Celia had an accident as a child after coming downstairs very early one morning and playing with matches. She had climbed up on a buffet and reached up to the high mantelpiece for the matches and her pyjamas went up in flames. Her screams brought my dad running downstairs but the naughty girl had slid the bolt on the downstairs door and it took precious minutes before he could kick the door open. He wrapped her in the fireside rug to douse the flames but she had to be taken to the infirmary as she had sustained bad scaring on her chest and arms.

            I don’t know why but I had lived with my grandma for as long as it was possible and I couldn’t pronounce my sister’s name properly, it was nearer to ‘Ceeley’ than Celia. I must have been a two year old at the time for I can remember my gran wheeling me up and down Knostrop Lane in a pram and then through the ginnel into Easy Road and up to Archie Place.

            It was Knostrop Hall that I regarded as home along with Grandma and Granddad Smith. My uncle, Charlie Smith married Ivy who became my aunt. Their first child, Brian, arrived and I had a cousin. Gradually I was taken back to live with my sister Celia and Mam and Dad in Archie place and began to attend Ellerby Lane Infants School. It was a really bad winter and when we were sent out to play Mam came to the school railings in the snow to bring us hot drinks of cocoa from a flask. She was more than loving towards us; she would give me a ha’panny to ask at the grocer’s shop at the bottom of Easy Road for broken biscuits for my morning break to have with my little bottle of milk.

            Mrs Nelson used to take the infants class and around two of the walls were little linen bags that had embroidered animals on them for us children to pop in our biscuits. Unfortunately for me I always forgot which bag I had put my biscuits in but Mrs Nelson wouldn’t wait for me to find them, she would clap her hands and usher us all out of the room at playtime no matter how hard I protested. Well, in my little mind I thought that was most unfair and I was also fed up of having to lie on a hard camp bed with just one grey blanket in the afternoons. So I decided not to go to school at all. I hid away in the passages and only joined the kids when they were coming out of school at tea time. My sister, Celia, said the teachers had played pop with her because I had not turned up at school and it was her responsibility for taking me to school. So my mam sent me back to my gran’s down Knostrop – or Knowsthorpe – to give it its posh name.  My sister thought I was causing her trouble and upset her, so any explanation of mine was unacceptable. I did eventually begin to attend school again and happily they had started giving us things to do in the afternoons to keep us occupied.

            I remember going for walks in a crocodile down Knostrop to the big house at the entrance to Jawbone Yard to see the monkey on its little stand and the parrot of many coloured feathers that her sailor husband was supposed to have brought her. They also had had a grey/white/brown/black sheepdog or collie with a blue eye and a brown eye {Rex}. Just around the corner on Knostrop Lane was the petrol station yard where huge tankers full of petrol would come and go. Grandma always taught me to walk on the pathway and listen before crossing the road.

            When I was back in Archie Place my sister and I would make numerous trips to The Premier Picture House down South Accommodation Road on Saturday afternoons to see Flash Gordon. The friends my sister had were: Teresa Towning, May Beckwith, Audrey Smith and Margaret Headley and they attended Ellerby Lane School. Jean Clapham attended Mount St Mary’s. Celia being three years older than I didn’t want me around her and her friends so I played with their younger sisters and my own school friends: Sheila Thrush, Maisie Wilcox, Dorothy Jackson and Marion Eastman. We bought two comics a week each and then we swopped them so that we managed to read them all eventually.

            When I was seven years old war broke out. Dad said it would begin with air strikes so we ran out and looked up at the sky but all we saw was a large barrage balloon. Then we had to practice putting on our gas mask, which we carried in cardboard boxes suspended by string around our necks. They smelt horrible and I couldn’t breathe down or up my nostrils anyway because I was a mouth breather like my mate Maisie Wilcox.  

            My sister and I were evacuated to Market Rasen along with lots of others. Celia and I and another two sisters who lived in the Cavalier House Flats in East Street were sent to a posh house. We were allocated attic bedrooms and after being scrubbed down in hot baths and given dry cream crackers and cocoa, with no sugar, we were sent to bed.

The house was owned by the misses Kelly and had its own orchard and lawns and a cook and servants. It was like living in a dream world, far away from all we had known. But the older girls were rebels and they said it was like living in a jail. They caused trouble and the Miss Kellys wrote to both our parents asking if they could keep the youngest sister of each family because we were the quietest. We attended church twice on Sunday and travelled in luxury in a chauffeur driven car with one, or sometimes both of the Miss Kellys (I think now it was probably a taxi).

            But no! Our parents would not split us up and my dad said Celia and I would have to stay with a young couple who had a baby daughter. They were Mr and Mrs Saunders, they were a lovely couple and I used to rock their baby daughter to sleep on Saturday afternoons. I was seven years old and I still couldn’t read but I promised to try harder if the teacher would try to teach me how to read. It was hard for me as I had missed a lot of my early schooling. Gradually though it sank in and I was over the moon it was like solving a very hard puzzle. It didn’t come easy for me because the classes were so big as a result of the evacuees, and most of the village children could read already, so the teacher just wrote things up on the blackboard and expected us to understand. what was expected of us.

My mum came for us eventually and took us home to Archie Place, Leeds.           We then attended Richmond Hill School; that was a great school. They put on a pantomime at Christmas. In 1941 the German planes bombed Richmond Hill School while we were sleeping in the cellar at home. We were frightened and Mam started taking us to the Princess or the Easy Road cinema just to give us some light relief from the war which was going on around us. We then had to attend Ellerby Lane School and as I couldn’t sleep properly on a night I often fell asleep in school. Miss Gibbins was the teacher in that all girl’s class. Then in standard three we had an awful teacher (we shall call Miss W) who caused one girl to wet herself because she would only let us use the toilet at play-time. On one occasion she sent me to see Mr Dennis, the headmaster, because I had accidentally broken my wooden ruler. He was teaching a boy’s class next door and I was so terrified, not of being caned but of being shown up in front of all those boys. I broke down a sobbed, but surprise, surprise, Mr Dennis realized it had been an accident and how dreadfully I felt about it all so he sent me away with a stern caution.

            Thank Goodness my next class was standard four and the teacher was Mrs Darnell, her husband was in the armed forces and we were all given wool to knit scarves for our soldiers, sailors and airmen. Ellerby Lane School for me holds memories of lads waiting to snowball us as we went out of the big gate.

My mam said that now I was going to go to St Hilda’s School so that I could take Barbara to school and bring her home at dinner time. Barbara was two years old at the time and I was eleven. That was 1943 and the war seemed far away from us kids but by that time we had become used to eating ‘specky’ apples, raw carrots, ‘tusky’ (rhubarb) and liquorish twigs from the chemists, cough lozenges were treats

My granny had us climbing the trees within the New Hall grounds and shaking down the fruit so she could store it for the winter months. While we were at Ellerby Lane School we had cooking lessons one day a week, I enjoyed that. We also used to march down to Joseph Street baths. Although Maisie Wilcox and I used to enjoy Joseph Street Baths we learned to swim at York Road baths after school. Then we were sent to the Dispensary because the doctors were doing a mass cull of enlarged tonsils and adenoids. When we came round the pain and the blood we had swallowed was horrendous. Our swimming days were over after that, water used to go up our noses and straight down our throats, that was something that had not happened to us before, we were choking and spluttering if we let our heads go under the water. Both Maisie and I were devastated. Maisie came to live in Cross Green Lane, so she started to attend St Hilda’s School too. Our teacher was Mr North. He wore a cap and gown and sat on a high chair at an Edwardian desk. Behind him was a bookcase filled with books and I enjoyed reading many of them. We could borrow them to take home but we had to return them for others to enjoy. There was no one checking the books in and out but we were honest and our parents knew what we were up to most of the time so we had to accept their code of honour.

            The one thing I look back with in sorrow was that some of the other girls caused Maisie and I to quarrel and we never really sorted it out satisfactorily and that makes me sad. I had another friend, Joan Hitchen, who lived across Easy Road; we called for one another to go to school together. Then she moved to Blackpool with her parents and little brother john. We also visited Easy Road Picture House together, regularly. Frank Sinatra had just started out in films (1943) he had a nice singing voice but from what we saw of him he was thin as a skeleton. It was four pence for children on the front seats, even in front of these were about six wooden forms where kids could sit for a penny at the Saturday children’s matinee. My favourite star was Mickey Rooney he played in a saga which would now be described as a ‘soap opera’ on television. In these films Mickey’s father was called Judge Hardy and Mickey had many different girl friends, one was Judy Garland. The seats further back cost sixpence and those right at the back for adults, nine pence.

            My dad had started a large allotment off behind Knostrop New Hall with the help of Mam, Celia and me. He had made a hut, greenhouse, cold frame and a lean-to shed for the horse-muck we had to collect from the stables of a funeral director in Lavender Walk, Richmond Hill. He had huge black horses and we paid him five shillings for him to fill our wheel-barrow with horse-muck for us to wheel back down Knostrop. I wanted to go by way of the Long Causeway as I didn’t want my mates at St Hilda’s to see me wheeling a barrow load of horse-muck. I was ashamed in case they would laugh at me at school because unlike me they didn’t have to work at an allotment.

            We supplied quite a few of our neighbours with food produce. I had a list of customers to supply in summertime with: lettuce, radishes, potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, cabbages, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. In winter it was Brussels sprouts before the first frost set in. And we grew beautiful chrysanthemums too. Dad had us working all the summer holidays clearing the land and double digging the soil. He said we had to carry the stones away in buckets and pile them up inside the twelve foot walls of the estate. There must have been a well because we moved so many stones they piled up to within three foot of the top of the twelve foot wall. We could then look over at Farmer Allison’s fine detached house and the little ‘Humbug House’ close by. We could also see the ABC Houses further down the road. When the farmer came home with his big shire horses he would let them out of the cart they had been pulling and into the field beyond the New Hall walls and they would kick they heels up and run about in a happy way because their work was over for the day.

My Uncle Charlie was a soldier who served in Burma during and after The Seconds World War. I stayed with my Aunt Ivy and Brian for a while after my tonsillectomy, while she was living in the Lodge or The Round House as we called it.

They had a tiny black, white and tan rough haired terrier called Paddy. Brian and I were sent into the Hall to live with Grandma when another baby was due.  I didn’t know any of Brian’s mates and Grandma would not allow me out of the gates of the grounds to seek new friends while I lived with her. When Grandma was busy cleaning she would often send me up to keep Mrs Barker company for an hour in her rooms upstairs. Mrs barker was a lovely lady who smelled of flowers and talked and talked about her family who had all died either in the First World War or later. The stories she told me about them meant she loved them and didn’t feel lonely talking about them it was as if they were still with her. She gave me a book to read, it was called ‘Little Women’. I really enjoyed reading that book: Mrs Barker was a grand lady, she died at Christmas 1952.

My father’s brother, George, lived in the Hall too. My dad told me George had      been brought up by his granny and his father made him chop up wood into chips and take them around the streets selling them to householders to start off their coal fires.  Later I was told he had been blinded by being repeatedly hit in bare knuckle fights. He took in stay dogs for company and he would walk them the front lawn every couple of hours. He was a giant of a man well known to all and always cheerful in spite of his blindness.

My grandfather’s name was Christopher Howard Tootle and he had a mule in a shed behind Ellerby Lane School. He would get wooden crates and chop them up for firewood then get an Ellerby Lane School lad, I think his name was Ginger Rhodes but I was never sure, to jump up on the cart and sell the chips to householders as they drove around the streets.

Life was full of people, some relatives that you didn’t really know and some you didn’t acknowledge as being related to you. It was very confusing to a child, especially if you were always sent out to play if mothers came to gossip together, ‘Hush! The kids are coming in.’

I had to go up and down Knostrop to collect the greens and potatoes from the allotment for the neighbours because Dad was working on the night shift and Mam said I would need my own bike as Dad needed his to go to work; he was head shunter at  Hunslet Goods Yard. On one occasion when I was about eleven or twelve I was sent to the allotment by my dad at dinnertime and I nearly ran down a string of children who were holding hands across the road just around the sharp bend on Knostrop Hill. I raised my head and prayed to anyone up there to help me for in the seconds that I saw them I realized I couldn’t stop the bike in time. Suddenly a gap appeared in the line of children and I managed to get through but I finished up down on the cross bar of my dad’s bike and crashed into the brick wall on the right hand side of the road. A panic attack or an adrenalin surge stopped my feeling the pain immediately and I ran back towards the little children who were only about six or seven years old, they were dazed too, apart from one little girl who had started to cry, with shock I suppose, because I examined her and there were no marks anywhere on her arms or legs and I didn’t see any marks on any of the other children either. They must have seen me, grazed and bleeding from the wall, and asked what they should do now. I told them to knock on the door of one of the little white cottages and someone might look after them for I still had to carry on to the allotment and get my dad the cabbages he was taking to work and I still had to get his bike back to him in time for his shift. If only I could have got the bike going again but the wheel was buckled and kept catching as the wheel went round. My arm, elbow and knee on my right side were hurting too but I carried on. Upon reaching home I was more worried about what my parents would say about the bike. They finished up arguing, Mam saying that Dad should have made the trip down Knostrop himself and not sent me. He said he would have to catch the bus now or he would be late for work and he would look at the bike wheel later. So Mam said to me, call at Benn’s shop and ask him to make you up a bicycle for ten shillings. I already knew Mr William Benn from Knostrop Old Hall and his sons, Alf and Bill. Bill had a shop at the bottom of Easy Road dealing with bicycles, batteries and tyres etc. So I called in and asked him about getting me a bike for ten shillings and he said he would see what he could do as he knew my granny and knew that if I had a bicycle I could do errands for her. Within weeks he had a bicycle for me; it was a light blue man’s bike with drop handlebars. I thought it was a beauty and I didn’t mind it having a crossbar as I was used to riding my dad’s bike anyway.

I started working full time on my fourteenth birthday. My mam got me a position at Lewis’s on the Headrow in the town centre. Monday to Saturday with a half day off on Wednesday for the sum of twenty two shillings and six pence. I thought I was in prison! I had to pay my own bus fares, for my dinners and still give Mam fifteen shillings. When I found out that I could leave at two minutes notice I took the chance after working for three months there just taking money out of the little containers and putting in the change then putting them back into the tubes that used to shoot them back up to the shop counters. I told my mam that I had been working in the cellars, where they took all the money and at first we used to get a break in the morning and an afternoon break as well as a dinner break but the adults conveniently forgot about the breaks and we were too young to speak up for ourselves so I left there at two minutes notice. My mam was furious with me and took me down to Great George Street Junior Employment Exchange and I landed a job at Joseph Kay and Son, Accommodation Road, as a junior clerk 9 am to 5 pm with one and a half hours for lunch, five and a half days a week. They also paid for me to go to Osmondthorpe Night-School to learn typing.

At St Hilda’s School Vera Wood and Joan Dobson were in the same class as me and the twin sisters, Sheila and Shirley and the greengrocer’s daughter, Pat. As for the others I can’t recall their names only their faces. We were all in Mr Child’s classin1945/46. I recall a party at school when the war was over. Our mothers had been baking and spending their precious food coupons, there were jellies and custard trifles as well as sandwiches but I was appalled when the boys starting a bun fight after they had scoffed everything else. I thought what a waste of food after all that effort our mothers had put in and how they had deprived themselves of their precious coupons. I came away disgusted. I suppose boys will be boys but we girls couldn’t understand them at all and I thought it would be a long time before I looked at them in a different light.

About this time coloured plastic wire became popular at school. The girls would thread different colours into designs and made them into bangles for themselves. And I remember going to the St Hilda’s playing fields to play near the tennis courts.

Happy days!

It was disappointing to me when I returned to the site of Knostrop New Hall in 2008. I had hoped to take a photograph of that lovely old weeping willow tree but it had long gone beneath the concrete jungle.

So sad! 

Knostrop New Hall.

Drawn by Eileen from memory. On the left of the picture can be seen the northern servants entrance, carriage house, wash house, inner yard and backdoor entrance,

Maud’s Tales

August 1, 2008

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

Maud’s Tale

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

 

Maud’s Tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

            I says, ‘I don’t know.’

            She says, ‘ Bought her an evening dress.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

http:eastleedsmemories.wordpress.com/

is this site

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

or

Peter_wood@talktalk.net

Would do fine

My Early Life in East Leeds by John Gibbins

April 1, 2008

My Early Life in East Leeds by John GibbinsJohn revisits his early years in East Leeds particularly at Ellerby Lane School Edgar Street Woodworking Department The Market District Boys Club and Newbourne Methodists Chapel.  

 

                                                The East Leeds I Knew  (John Gibbins)

Early memories:

These include many unforgettable characters of our youth.

Big Ernie at the Princess, who bawled so loud (and put the spotlight on any miscreant)

Charlie Atha, who could find any part needed for your bike from within his grotto.

The sisters who ran the Easy Road Cinema were such sticklers for correctness; they would turn away anyone who gave a bit of backchat. One then had to forgo the dubious privilege of placing one’s bum (for two hours) onto a wooden plank at the cheap front end.

A lasting memory: Our class at Ellerby Lane (circa 1954) would traipse each week across York Road to attend the woodwork/metalwork centre. Passing on route our beloved municipal baths and library – the façade of which is all that remains today.

The woodwork centre was situated close to the dreaded school dentistry at Edgar Street – too painful to ponder. The instructors at the centre were Mr Whittle and Mr Hardy. I remember them both with mixed feelings. One day (during an unscheduled break) Tommy Bradbury and myself were deeply engrossed in the well-known and absorbing exercise of ‘wooden mallet juggling’. Mr Whittle witnessed this and promptly requested I furnish him with my current project – a stool. (Tommy kept his head down). Mr Whittle then preceded to ‘bounce’ my work against the hard surface of the floor. After three attempts the pride of my labours disintegrated; was crestfallen. Would have much preferred a caning instead. Somehow I sensed that the saintly Mr Hardy had later interceded on my behalf and that a quiet word with the volatile Mr Whittle – was had. Attending class the following week Mr Whittle took me aside explaining that he wished me to take on a special project that had not before been attempted. It was another stool, but much larger than my previous project, with a shaped seat.

I have it to this day, and looking at it now after all that time, brings back these memories.

OUR COMMON MARKET

Looking at the faces around our table at the local hostelry most Sunday lunchtimes, the thought occurred as to the various origins of our development. Many different former schools are represented each week: ex-pupils from Mt St Mary’s, Victoria, Ellerby and St Charles are present.  The common thread that drew us together from those diverse starting points was the Market District Boy’s Club.

‘The Market’ was as a magnet; it’s influence-drawing urchins from all areas of East Leeds. When a force for good is active within a community, everyone benefits. Friendships were formed and forged there, being sustained long after that wondrous institution ceased to exist. Now, whenever using my bus pass travelling into town, the aging senses wander towards long ago events: clambering aboard the tram subsequent to another epic played out upon the hallowed field of the Shaftsbury. (We are either elated or dejected) casting mud enrout, normal passengers don’t seem to mind but the cleaners will curse us later….

Awake again, brief glimpses by the railway arches from York Street, fleeting view, towards the site of our once Mecca – ‘slow down driver’.

Fond and lasting memories abound

The Quarry

The Quarry was bounded by Clark Lane, Kippax Place, Easy Road and the ‘Clarks’.

The name is a mystery to most; perhaps maybe someone could define it (a long gone mine working?) It was a magical place overflowing with commerce and crap. Pig rearing, rats galore, mud pie makings. The most inappropriate area for infantile upbringing imaginable – but we loved it.  It was grotty, horrible, ugly – it was ours – on our doorstep. One couldn’t imagine life without it. Eventually the Council ended it all. Rats migrated to adjoining address and the world was poorer.

From Zion to Garforth (and back)

How we looked forward to our trips to the far side of the world! It was of no concern that the transport consisted of wooden benches borrowed from the Sunday school and strapped onto uncovered lorries – we didn’t know any better. This was high living indeed. People waved along the way – no reason; happiness apart. We played in the field of the farm, jumped about in the hayloft of the barn.

Ran races

Drank Tizer

Scoffed cake

A lovely time was had by all

Home again on the bumpy ride

Sleep snugly until tomorrow

Times to treasure

East Leeds Commerce

Where is the post office my wonderful headmaster Mr Lilliput directed me to each week with the dinner money takings? Wasn’t it across from the Spring Close pub in Ellerby Lane? What about the sweet shop on the other corner where we refuelled on liquorice sticks? Who moved these precious establishments? The proprietor at the post office was a most gracious lady, accepting the school’s pennies amicably, ledgering the transaction and furnishing receipt. That I was trusted to hand over the dosh made me feel privileged.

Looking at my ancient Yorkshire Penny Bank deposit book, consisting of my paper round earnings duly saved, I’m mindful of these early fiscal dealings.

Ex school monitor Ellerby Lane.

Farewell Akela

A recent gathering took place in the spring sunshine at Newbourne Methodist Church Richmond Hill, We were there to acknowledge the passing and celebrate the life of Vera Jobbings.

            Vera’s whole adult life was immersed within the Scouting movement. After the war Vera married George Jobbings and resided for some while in Kitson Street. Together they organised and ran the 1st East Leeds Scout Group. George, being the scoutmaster and Vera the mistress.  I never did graduate to the Scouts as my as my elder brothers had, they played the drums during our Sunday parades. How envious I was, being confined to my flag carrying duties in my cub uniform. There were so many happy times during our wolf cub days. Vera’s life was devoted to the group and her enthusiasm infected all within her circle of influence – nothing was too much trouble. She worked hard to ensure that we earned our badges. I well remember the occasion when she walked us down to a public telephone box by York Road. After explaining the mysteries of buttons ‘A’ and ‘B’ we were furnished with a few pennies, given a number to dial and instructed to converse with the distant voice at the other end. I have forgotten which badge we were hoping to attain by this exercise; anyway it was a new experience for most of us, tin cans and string being the normal method of communication. As indicated, I didn’t make the transition into the Scouts, perhaps other interests intervened? It is almost fifty years since I last saw Vera, yet fond memories of our cubbing days are as vivid as ever      

 

My Early Life in East Leeds by Graham Hawkridge

February 1, 2008

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

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paddy Train drivers:

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

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

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

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

 

The Opening

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

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

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

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

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

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

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

 

Graham Hawkridge

 

 

 

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paddy Train drivers:

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

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

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

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

 

The Opening

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

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

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

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

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

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

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

 

Graham Hawkridge

 

 

My Life Between the Wars by Stan Pickles

January 2, 2008

My Life Between the Wars in East Leeds,This is an account of Mr Stan Pickles’ life in East Leeds between the wars. (Mr Pickles was born in 1913) 

This Was My Life Between the Wars

 (A Selection of the Memories of Mr Stan Pickles born 1913)

 

Ellerby  Lane School and Local Football

 

I was taken to Ellerby Lanne School by a neighbour’s children at the age of three, from there to the infant’s school and so to Standard One, where I was first introduced to our headmaster, Mr J.H. Bazley – the famous England fisherman, who we soon found out was a hard but fair disciplinarian. Nobody who was a persistent trouble-maker was keen on making Mr Bazley’s acquaintance as his cane was expertly delivered. Other teachers were: the brilliant and dedicated Mr Archibald Gordon, who held our interest with his keenest desire to do his best for his pupils. He too used the cane and would remark, ‘Well, boy, you asked for it.’ Mr Calverley another teacher, was aged but active in his desire to help his class, many of whom he knew existed below the poverty lines: he spent his free time on cold mornings running us around in the play-ground and keeping us in good shape.

 

We did not have a team of our own at Ellerby Lane during my days there, but a lot of my pals played for Richmond Hill and I was a regular supporter. Matches against Mount St. Mary’s were always an attraction and the touchlines were crowded to watch the ‘derby’ games between the lads in blue and white and green and white. The vocal support was tremendous as the two rivals battled it out. The four pitches on the bandstand field were almost always taken up with the local school’s football teams.

 

Richmond Hill and Mount St Mary’ formed the nucleus of the first Schoolboy’s International team to visit Denmark in 1912. (Stan Atkinson, Tom Hammill, Cliff Miller, from Richmond Hill and ‘Daddy’ Melia, Billy Joy, and Tubber Whitfield from Mount St Mary’s.  The School’s Cup competitions were always the big attractions. The highlight of my season was in 1923-24 when Richmond Hill won all the honours – beating Armley Park for the Meadow Cup, School’s Cup and Samuel Cup in three finals at Oldfield Lane (the schoolboy’s Wembley).

I wonder if any old boys living today still recall waiting for the lower Wortley tram at Bertha Grove, then clambering up the stairs to the open front and cheering and singing  all the way through town: ‘We are the Richmond…The bony, bony Richmond… and we play on East End Park’.  I remember it well, with a grand set of lads, such as: Walter Slicer, Billy Crossland, Clifford Morgan. Billy Watson, Jim Healey, Jim Schofield, and others and always on the touchline at every match was that gentleman headmaster: Mr Wilkinson, encouraging us and giving advice at half time. A lot of these footballers went on to play for local teams in the Red Triangle League on Saturday afternoons.

Childhood Days

In those far off days, people found it hard to ‘make ends meet’. Being the eldest, it fell to me in our back-to-back house to be the errand boy and to see to things generally. Mondays started quietly – it was school bank day and I always called at the houses of two of Mam’s friends, to take 1/- (5p) each to save in the old Yorkshire Penny Bank.

Dad worked at Kitson’s (Engineering) in Hunslet and came home to lunch every day at noon. Monday was ‘cold meat’ day. By this time, there were three children to care for. Mother seemed to be always in the washtub trying to earn extra money and it was my job to deliver huge baskets of neatly ironed clothes to her clients. My cousin, Ernest shared the load: each of us taking one handle – we usually got a penny each from the ladies to whom we delivered. Once a week I took my Dad’s and my uncle’s lodge money and got a halfpenny from each of them, which added up to 2p.

Tuesday and Thursday mornings, before school, I went to the butchers in Dial Street for a half pound of stewing steak, a half pound of liver and one pennyworth of melt – used for flavouring and thickening the gravy. With lovely Yorkshire puddings (my favourite- and still is), along with two vegetables it made a nice dinner for us. Sometimes we had rice pudding but Wednesday and Friday were fish and chip days and I placed the order at Westnedge’s, outside the school in East Street. Fish, chips, and three fish cakes was my order (9d). We were allowed to leave school five minutes early in order to collect our orders for our father’s dinner.

Twice a week I went to Davy’s pork butchers for polony or a pork pie for tea. It was lovely with Yorkshire relish and Mam’s new cake. Friday morning was grocery day at Chadwick’s in Upper Accommodation Road. Even at 8.15 a.m. before I went to school, the shop would be full of people waiting to be served. I would put my hand up when old Charlie or his daughter shouted: ‘Who’s next?’ Then I was on my way home with my basket of groceries, carefully placing the bag of biscuits on the top to help myself on the way home (I felt that I had earned it). All this is so very different, from today’s super market procedure.

On Saturday mornings, there were always one or two ‘tick’ bills to be paid and I took 1/- (5p) to the doctors (no National Health Service, then), the footwear shop and to the clothiers in Dial Street. A visit to the butcher’s shop for a small joint of beef for Sunday dinner just about wrapped up my weekly duties at home. My pet hate was coming home from school to see steam belching out of the window and afterwards seeing my Mam hanging out the washing across the street to dry and hoping it wasn’t going to rain. Our house did not posses a scullery where the clothes could have dried.

 

After my home duties, I had a little errand job for Mrs Marsh, the draper. She gave me six pence a week for which I was grateful for it meant I could go to the pictures two or three times a week. Another chore was going to the Leeds abattoir for Mr Davy to buy blood, which he used in making black pudding and once again, Ernest and I carried a milk churn with a stick through the top, which we held with one hand each. Even then, I still found time to fill in games with my pals on the ‘top hollows’ or on East End Park. My life was all activity and I seemed to thrive on being involved in almost everything.

I remember going to Hutton’s, the druggist, in Dial Street for one pennyworth of gunpowder for Mother to clear the flues under the set-pot. I liked this operation – Mother would wrap the gunpowder in a big wad of newspaper and place it in the fireplace under the set-pot and after lighting the ends of the paper she would put the long brush pressed tightly against the door and wait for the big bang, accompanied by a cloud of smoke from the fireplace. That was exciting for us kids.

Another job, was for Dad to change the flimsy gas mantles after one of us had knocked them off. They were very flimsy after they had been in use and easily broke. The little corner shop (Gozzard’s) sold them in a tubular box and it was a masterpiece to fit them into position. I can see Dad now, standing on the table with his tongue partly out, placing the flimsy fibre over the stick and fitting it gently into position. Then the moment we kids had waited for. A light was placed at the foot and the mantle blazed nearly up to the ceiling. Then the glass was put back into position and all was ready for use again, with a warning from Dad to be careful in future.

The Sporting ’Bank’

We had some popular rugby players living on the Bank. Dolly Dawson, Harry Beverley and George Tootles all played rugby for Hunslet. Afterwards Dolly Dawson was ‘Mine Host’ at the Hampton and the coach at Headingley. I can still see his face burst into a smile when we sang: ‘Get along Dolly Dawson, get along, get along.’ To the tune of the popular song, ‘I’m Heading for the Last Round up’. Dolly of course knew how to deal with the odd awkward customer or troublemaker.

Harry Beverley who helped in his father’s coal business, played cricket at East Leeds and had the great honour of playing rugby for England on tour in Australia. I think Dolly was very unlucky not to be picked for England. George Tootles, who was also a boxer, had a short career with Hunslet, finishing up almost blind due to boxing.

Doris Storey, the Olympic swimmer, was born and bred: a ‘York Road lass’. She learned her swimming at York Road Baths and came fourth in the 200 metres final. In that final, the three in front of her were using the new breast-stroke, which had just been officially accepted, while she was still swimming in the old manner. She would have had the Olympic gold if all things had been equal. 

 

Easy Road picture House and East End Park

These two places keep cropping up in my mind and in my writing and for along time my life revolved around them. The picture-house had a fireman we called ‘Old Gridiron’ because he sold tin lids and cooking dishes of all sizes during the day. The cinema pianist was a Mrs Scott, whose family kept the pastry shop opposite the ‘top hollows’. Then of course there was Abe, the Jewish roly-poly character: the jovial manager who was everyone’s friend. He always had a word for you about the films and a ‘Good-night, hope you enjoyed the show’ when you were leaving. He knew us all from being lads in our ‘penny rush’ days to the time we started courting and took our girls with us. Now and again he would give us trade passes, which my cousin and I were delighted to have and were able to see previews of coming films and to attend the shows at the Majestic or the Scala. 

 

The Easy Road Picture House always closed the show with a serial, generally in fifteen weekly parts, with its tag line…to be continued next week’ after a nail biting finish. The big night was the coming of the ‘talkies’ The Broadway Melody packed the cinema to capacity each show for a week (in fact we packed in like sardines).

The local lamplighter Was Mr Kendall and next door to the cinema was Mr Smallie’s blacksmith’s where we used to watch him shoe the horses and where we could take small household goods to be welded. East End Park had a little duck pond with railing around it, which was so attractive with mothers and young children throwing titbits for the swans and ducks to dart after. The flower gardens, the grass with its neatly cut verges and the lovely landscaped floral arrangements all combined to make the park a delight for everyone. All presided over by Dolphus, the ‘Parkie’ who kept a lookout for any mischief-makers and woe betide any trouble-makers.  You will note I didn’t say ‘vandals’. There were no such people in that day and age.

Ho! Those Trams

There were very few cars then and the working classes depended on the tramcars for

almost all occasions, from early morning until almost midnight they took us to work and back and then  were ready to take us out for enjoyment. The workpeople’s 2d and 3d returns always carried full loads across the city. My tram was the South Accommodation Road one, which carried workers to Hunslet Road for the big engineering works and to Armley and Wortley for those who worked in the mills. What would we have done without them?  On Saturday afternoons, they dispatched huge crowds waiting in Briggate and Swinegate to Headingley and Elland Road and were there waiting outside the grounds to bring them back at the end of the game. It was a sight to see the poor conductor trying to get up the stairs to collect the fairs, with the stairs looking like escalators in a big store. Then it was back to town and returning for another load.

Yes, we were very dependent on them right from our young days when Mam and  Dad took us out on our school holidays to places like: Roundhay Park and Kirkstall Abbey.  Otley Chevin, also featured in our tramcar rides, where they were engaged in carrying lots of visitors to the famous hill. There we enjoyed the day out, furnished with potted-meat sandwiches put up by Mother and pots of tea bought from the tea-hut at the hilltop.

It is no wonder the tramcar is remembered with affection, when it could be relied on never to let you down. I wish today I could once again catch a tram and see the cheerful conductor, always at our service. Thanks for the memories!

Those Back-street Bookies

Looking back I see those dismal small huts up some dark ally or a house in a back yard, which were almost the only places where one could place a bet in those far-away days in the 20s and 30s (and it was illegal of course). There were no brightly lit offices in the main streets where smiling girls were ready to take you bets and pay you out if you were lucky. It is good now to be provided with a neat betting slip and a pencil instead of the grubby bits of paper, which used to be the norm. It is good also to be able to watch your selection running on the TV. In those days between the wars the latest thing was the ticker-tape machine which tapped the results through. Our main bookie was, Charlie Tobin, up a passage in a little shack off East Street or Willie Haselgrave in an old yard in Easy Road.

The bookie’s clerk took your bets through a square hole in the wooden wall and gsave you a numbered ticket to identify your bets. Many the time we had to scamper off in all directions when the lookout gave the warning that the police were raiding. We generally had time to run through the streets to take refuge in a friendly house. I wonder how many living today remember those raids and the ‘Black Maria’ taking the punters away to Meadow Lane Police Station? The police had decoys in overalls posing as engineers or painters and then pouncing a day or two later with evidence of accepting bets.

On one such occasion a blank slip was placed in front of Willie and looking up Willie said, ‘What’s tha ‘aving?’

       ‘I’m ‘aving thee,’ was the reply.

       Willie retorted: ‘Tha’s nor big enough for a copper!’

       But back came the answer, ‘I’m big enough to cop thee!’

Yes, the luxurious betting offices of today make it a pleasure for the punters. Even a

snack and a cuppa is available. What changes indeed!

The Monkey Walks

 

Recollections of the ‘monkey walks’ in the 20s and 30s when young men and girls paraded up and down in innocent flirtation come to mind. Our walks began in East End Park on Sunday afternoons, when we paraded up and down the main drive past the little duck pond and beautiful landscaped flower gardens. The park was always a picture with its newly painted forms in a lovely green and the lawns a ‘sight to behold’. Always on the lookout for our favourite girls strolling by, we would sit around talking of the films we had seen the previous night at the Shaftsbury, Princess or Regent cinemas, or in noisy argument about the rugby match at Headingley on Saturday afternoon. Of course, when the girls came round the conversation changed and there were other things on our minds.

Often we would make for the big area of grass near the bandstand to join the crowd lounging about and listening to the band rendering overtures from: The Maid Of The Mountains, The Desert Song, The Merry Widow and all the rest of the popular music of the times. Just before we left to go home for tea we would have the last half-hour enjoying an ice cream or a bottle of pop with the girls and our last chat. On leaving the park our parting words were usually: ‘See you up the Beck tonight.’ For the ‘Monkey Walk up Killingbeck was our Sunday night rendezvous. It was always well packed on the paths between the Melbourne and the Lion and Lamb, boys and girls chatting up within the range of the old gas lamps. All though our teenage years we looked forward to being: ‘Up the Beck’.

A little later, we were old enough to have a few drinks in the Melbourne, where we had many a happy night. Our host, Jim Greenwood, provided a most friendly atmosphere with his walk around and his chats to the customers and would often give us his version of  ‘The Girl in the Alice Blue Gown,’ which brought special applause to Jim’s delight.

Captain Miller, our Shaftsbury host, with his adopted stance of his regimental days, took a bit of stick fro the lads regarding the two race horses he owned: Shaftsbury Lad and Shaftsbury Lass (They couldn’t have beaten me!), just about sums up their ability on the track, although I saw ‘the Lass’ win a three horse race at Pontefract.

Growing up on the other side of the bridge.

November 2, 2007

Life on the Other Side of the BridgeThis is an account By Mrs Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey) of living in Hunslet, attending South Accommodation Road School and Later Ellerby Lane School in the 1940s. Coal Collecting in Winter, Jam jar collections  and the joy of Children’s Day at Roundhay Park, Leeds.   

Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey)

Growing up on the Other Side of the Bridge

I don’t suppose growing up on the either side of South Accommodation Road Bridge was much different, after all most of the kids from Leeds ten finished up going to Ellerby Lane School anyway. I only ever made two real friends the rest were just girls in the class. I remember one Saturday, it was about a week before Children’s Day; teacher asked if we would sell flags, another girl and I spent all Saturday morning standing on the corner of Ellerby Lane and Dial Street – mind you we did non-stop business as Saturday was the best day for shopping even through some food was still on ration. It was all a far cry from that which we have today. The five years we had to spend without Dad, who was in the army, seemed to be forever; but we had to get on with life and somehow manage without him. The only boys and girls I played with at first were those belonging to Mam and Dad’s friends but once school started I mixed much better.

            Shelters began to be built for the use of families in the street but we never used them. There was one neighbour across the street who had her cellar converted into a shelter and we always asked if we could shelter in hers if there was a raid. That particular lady’s husband had not been called up into the army, instead he patrolled the streets in his tin helmet and an armband on which was written: ARP. One morning while I was on my way to school I found a large piece of shrapnel near to our step; I still have it to this day, wrapped in newspaper and stored in a drawer.

            I began by attending South Accommodation Road School, where I made loads of friends; you couldn’t help but make friends as we all lived in nearby houses. When I was about seven there was about a dozen kids in our street: Albert Street – it was a great place to grow up there. A new girl came to live next door and I grew to like her very much. Her Dad had been killed in the army and her mam and my mam became firm friends. We were the two oldest in the street and played all the kid’s games together: kick-out-ball, rounders, and hide-and-seek, whip-and-top, hop-scotch and every other ball game there was, and skipping too of course, there was very little falling out and if we did it was all forgotten the next day. During the summer we would take sandwiches and bottles of water to East End Park; we knew how to have fun.        The park wasn’t as it appears today, there were shrubs and the big gates where you entered were locked at night. There was a paddling pool, a sand pit, swings, round-a-bout, and a water fountain; I wonder how many mouths went over that? The park was so full of kids you could always guarantee to be waiting your turn to get on anything. A large board told of all the ‘do’s and don’ts’ you had to adhere to while in the park.

          Folk in other stories have mentioned ‘Red Walls’ our name for the little bridge across Black Road was ‘Red Bricks’ One day we all went there and I went into the stream, stood on some glass and had to walk ‘tip toeing’ all the way home without my shoe. The glass was fast in and Dad had to remove it with pliers. As I was a year older than most of the kids in our street they tended to treat me like the boss, so along with my friend (Pat Towers) we decided to ask the other kids if their mams would give them a halfpenny every Friday, which I then saved in a tin box. When they had saved enough I would take them all round to the café where Mam worked to have buns, tea or lemonade. It was a real treat and the kids loved it.

Coal Collecting

1947 was a very hard winter, we had icicles all way down our drainpipes: one particular day it was so cold and as there was no heating on in the classrooms at schools we were sent home. When I arrived home even though it was snowing like crazy Mam and Grandad were all togged up ready to go out. I asked where they were going; they looked at each other, then at me and said, ‘Down Black road coal picking.’ I was thirteen years old and had never heard of coal picking. ‘Can I come?’ I asked. And I was allowed to accompany them but Black Road in the freezing winter was a lot different to the summer outings we had down there. There were lots of other folk collecting coal on prams and barrows, anything that came to hand. We managed to get enough coal from the outcrop to keep the fire burning.

            When I first started at Ellerby Lane School I was terrified, I had heard from my aunt, who had also been a pupil there; that just the look of Miss Kelly was enough to make you shake. Anyway I had three years to go before I would be in her class. Miss Darnell was my first teacher; she was okay but could be very strict on occasions.

Children’s Day

I hadn’t heard of Children’s Day until I attended Ellerby Lane School, but that very first year at the new school, Barbara Burton; our head girl, was chosen to be the Children’s Day Queen. Some of the other girls were also doing some kind of display in the arena and I asked Mam and Dad if we could all have the day out in Roundhay Park.  The day finally dawned; it was the 6th of June 1946, we packed sandwiches, cakes and a little stove on which to boil the kettle. It was to be a day I was always to remember – we still have some photographs of it somewhere of those girls in their white blouses and blue gym shorts. I don’t know what it was about that day but I felt so proud, maybe it was because it was my first year in the new school and we were lucky enough to have Barbara Burton in our class. The next year we had Miss Grinstead; she was a small teacher and I always tried to keep out of he way. If any of us girls got anything wrong she would grab us by the chin and rock our heads backwards and forwards. As I was quite small I usually had to sit in the front desk alongside my friend from South Accomm, Jean Parker. For my final year at school my teacher was to be the dreaded Miss Kelly. Unfortunately, I was hospitalized for a while to have my tonsils out that year and while away they had a jam jar collection. By the time I got back to school they were already on the last day of the collection so my contribution was very small. Naturally I came bottom of the collection class and Miss Kelly really laid into me as if it had been my fault that I had been ill. After that I made sure that I would be well prepared for any future jam jar week by collecting jam jars every week and putting them washed and away in Grandad’s cellar. 

            By 1948 I was seeing less of the kids in the street, my sister was now ten, the same age I had been when I looked after the street kids and I was fourteen and doing the grown up jobs to help Mam around the house. I also met my first boyfriend and with my parents consent we used to go to the nearby picture houses (later I became an usherette at the Premier Picture House). We were together until I was eighteen and then I lost him to national service – and another girl!

            During my teenage years in Hunslet I discovered what it was like to go into the pubs, not to drink beer, just shandy, at first as I was only nineteen. There was the Albert Inn at the end of our street, the Queens on the corner of Clarence Road – where I celebrated my wedding and the Prince of Wales on South Accomm. Towards the end of the road there was Billy Walton’s fish shop where I would get fish and chips five times every Friday dinner time for Mam and Dad, my two sisters and I and all for half a crown 22 ½ pence in today’s money. 

            I have saved my ration book too and photographs taken of us all in our Whitsuntide clothes, you knew you would not get anymore clothes until the following year as our parents were too busy trying to keep up with our school clothes. I was glad I had parents in the tailoring trade. Like most folk now in their seventies, I believe we grew up in better times than the kids today. They may be better off but take it from me they don’t love their parents like we did!

 

 

 

Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey)

Growing up on the Other Side of the Bridge

I don’t suppose growing up on the either side of South Accommodation Road Bridge was much different, after all most of the kids from Leeds ten finished up going to Ellerby Lane School anyway. I only ever made two real friends the rest were just girls in the class. I remember one Saturday, it was about a week before Children’s Day; teacher asked if we would sell flags, another girl and I spent all Saturday morning standing on the corner of Ellerby Lane and Dial Street – mind you we did non-stop business as Saturday was the best day for shopping even through some food was still on ration. It was all a far cry from that which we have today. The five years we had to spend without Dad, who was in the army, seemed to be forever; but we had to get on with life and somehow manage without him. The only boys and girls I played with at first were those belonging to Mam and Dad’s friends but once school started I mixed much better.

            Shelters began to be built for the use of families in the street but we never used them. There was one neighbour across the street who had her cellar converted into a shelter and we always asked if we could shelter in hers if there was a raid. That particular lady’s husband had not been called up into the army, instead he patrolled the streets in his tin helmet and an armband on which was written: ARP. One morning while I was on my way to school I found a large piece of shrapnel near to our step; I still have it to this day, wrapped in newspaper and stored in a drawer.

            I began by attending South Accommodation Road School, where I made loads of friends; you couldn’t help but make friends as we all lived in nearby houses. When I was about seven there was about a dozen kids in our street: Albert Street – it was a great place to grow up there. A new girl came to live next door and I grew to like her very much. Her Dad had been killed in the army and her mam and my mam became firm friends. We were the two oldest in the street and played all the kid’s games together: kick-out-ball, rounders, and hide-and-seek, whip-and-top, hop-scotch and every other ball game there was, and skipping too of course, there was very little falling out and if we did it was all forgotten the next day. During the summer we would take sandwiches and bottles of water to East End Park; we knew how to have fun.        The park wasn’t as it appears today, there were shrubs and the big gates where you entered were locked at night. There was a paddling pool, a sand pit, swings, round-a-bout, and a water fountain; I wonder how many mouths went over that? The park was so full of kids you could always guarantee to be waiting your turn to get on anything. A large board told of all the ‘do’s and don’ts’ you had to adhere to while in the park.

          Folk in other stories have mentioned ‘Red Walls’ our name for the little bridge across Black Road was ‘Red Bricks’ One day we all went there and I went into the stream, stood on some glass and had to walk ‘tip toeing’ all the way home without my shoe. The glass was fast in and Dad had to remove it with pliers. As I was a year older than most of the kids in our street they tended to treat me like the boss, so along with my friend (Pat Towers) we decided to ask the other kids if their mams would give them a halfpenny every Friday, which I then saved in a tin box. When they had saved enough I would take them all round to the café where Mam worked to have buns, tea or lemonade. It was a real treat and the kids loved it.

Coal Collecting

1947 was a very hard winter, we had icicles all way down our drainpipes: one particular day it was so cold and as there was no heating on in the classrooms at schools we were sent home. When I arrived home even though it was snowing like crazy Mam and Grandad were all togged up ready to go out. I asked where they were going; they looked at each other, then at me and said, ‘Down Black road coal picking.’ I was thirteen years old and had never heard of coal picking. ‘Can I come?’ I asked. And I was allowed to accompany them but Black Road in the freezing winter was a lot different to the summer outings we had down there. There were lots of other folk collecting coal on prams and barrows, anything that came to hand. We managed to get enough coal from the outcrop to keep the fire burning.

            When I first started at Ellerby Lane School I was terrified, I had heard from my aunt, who had also been a pupil there; that just the look of Miss Kelly was enough to make you shake. Anyway I had three years to go before I would be in her class. Miss Darnell was my first teacher; she was okay but could be very strict on occasions.

Children’s Day

I hadn’t heard of Children’s Day until I attended Ellerby Lane School, but that very first year at the new school, Barbara Burton; our head girl, was chosen to be the Children’s Day Queen. Some of the other girls were also doing some kind of display in the arena and I asked Mam and Dad if we could all have the day out in Roundhay Park.  The day finally dawned; it was the 6th of June 1946, we packed sandwiches, cakes and a little stove on which to boil the kettle. It was to be a day I was always to remember – we still have some photographs of it somewhere of those girls in their white blouses and blue gym shorts. I don’t know what it was about that day but I felt so proud, maybe it was because it was my first year in the new school and we were lucky enough to have Barbara Burton in our class. The next year we had Miss Grinstead; she was a small teacher and I always tried to keep out of he way. If any of us girls got anything wrong she would grab us by the chin and rock our heads backwards and forwards. As I was quite small I usually had to sit in the front desk alongside my friend from South Accomm, Jean Parker. For my final year at school my teacher was to be the dreaded Miss Kelly. Unfortunately, I was hospitalized for a while to have my tonsils out that year and while away they had a jam jar collection. By the time I got back to school they were already on the last day of the collection so my contribution was very small. Naturally I came bottom of the collection class and Miss Kelly really laid into me as if it had been my fault that I had been ill. After that I made sure that I would be well prepared for any future jam jar week by collecting jam jars every week and putting them washed and away in Grandad’s cellar. 

            By 1948 I was seeing less of the kids in the street, my sister was now ten, the same age I had been when I looked after the street kids and I was fourteen and doing the grown up jobs to help Mam around the house. I also met my first boyfriend and with my parents consent we used to go to the nearby picture houses (later I became an usherette at the Premier Picture House). We were together until I was eighteen and then I lost him to national service – and another girl!

            During my teenage years in Hunslet I discovered what it was like to go into the pubs, not to drink beer, just shandy, at first as I was only nineteen. There was the Albert Inn at the end of our street, the Queens on the corner of Clarence Road – where I celebrated my wedding and the Prince of Wales on South Accomm. Towards the end of the road there was Billy Walton’s fish shop where I would get fish and chips five times every Friday dinner time for Mam and Dad, my two sisters and I and all for half a crown 22 ½ pence in today’s money. 

            I have saved my ration book too and photographs taken of us all in our Whitsuntide clothes, you knew you would not get anymore clothes until the following year as our parents were too busy trying to keep up with our school clothes. I was glad I had parents in the tailoring trade. Like most folk now in their seventies, I believe we grew up in better times than the kids today. They may be better off but take it from me they don’t love their parents like we did!