Archive for the ‘Gas light’ 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;

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.

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.
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?
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.

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.

                                                                                                           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!’


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.

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.