Archive for the ‘Leeds United’ Category

East Leeds to Orkney

April 1, 2017

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

Remember to ‘click’ on pictures to enlarge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Holloway ‘Castle’ Stronsay Orkney KW172AG Scotland

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

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Good Old Snakey

July 1, 2013

Good Old Snakey

A love affair with two tatty old football pitches.

By Pete Wood

‘Snakey’ is a field but not just any old field Snakey is the field for generations of East Leeds lads. What with the football and cricket not to mention the courting we probably spent more happy hours on that pair of scruffy pitches than any other piece of ‘God’s good earth’

My early recollection recall ‘Snakey’ – proper name ‘Snake Lane’ – as being bounded by: Black Road, Red Road, Cross Green Lane and the winding track which was Snake Lane itself and from whence came its name. My own introduction to ‘The beautiful game’ was when my mam finally allowed me to walk up the tiny ‘Red Road’ from Knostrop to watch those great giants of the late forties who graced its pitches. St Hilda’s in their claret and blue squares and Mount St Mary’s in their white and green squares shared the bottom pitch Saturdays about. Bob Bates ran the St Mary’s teams for years, years and more years. Bob was ‘a prince among men’ I can see him now marking the pitch out in lime before a Saturday match – they didn’t play on Sundays in the forties. Bob was a tailor by trade and always well turned out. On windy days the lime would be blowing back into his eyes and a white residue would cover his good suit. He was the type of guy who really deserved the MBE.

The ‘Yew Tree’ in their blue and white vertical strips and the ‘Bridgefield’ shared the top pitch followed in the nineteen fifties/early sixties by teams from the East Leeds Working Men’s Club’s teams who did old Snakey proud in their black and white. Their lads lovingly christened it; ‘The Snake Pit’, not many teams took points away from the Snake Pit.

Rhubarb fields covered the areas later dominated by the school (that too now gone) and the industrial estate. This left just enough room for the two football pitches and beyond them the ‘Paddy line’? The bottom field was my own personal favourite, our school played its matches on there and on sports day we ran our races on there. Some older folk even referred to Snakey as; ‘St Hilda’s field’. I believe at one time the field had probably been under church ownership and they had held a big ‘Whitsuntide’ field day on there, annually.

I can still remember some of the names of that St Hilda’s open age team of the immediate post war period: Denis Wardle, Bill Sedgewick, Alfie Duckworth, Freddie Earnshaw, Chic Reynard, Kenny Cope and Jewel in goal. Sometimes the team sheet would be put up in the sweet shop window opposite the school. These guys were giants without shin pads and had to wear huge boots in order to propel the rock hard leather footballs, often stretched far too large by over inflation and a potential health hazard to the poor centre halves whose job was to head them away from goal. Do I just image that everything was so much bigger then? Certainly those huge leather balls made a mighty ‘thwack’ when they hit the woodwork. When you watched them play on very cold days your toes took an electric shock if the ball came your way and you took the opportunity to kick it back into play. On very cold days it was not unknown for the ball to sprout icicles. One particular day a tiny little chap in a flat cap was standing on the touchline – the poor old lad was only about five foot tall and must have been quite as cold as us kids, someone took a swipe at the ball and it caught him full in the clock eclipsing his head altogether, such was the power of the kick that it spun him right over like a Catharine Wheel. It’s an awful long time ago now but the sight of it has stayed with me all this time it looked so painful.

That forties side looked so big they made the pitch look small and how powerful and hard tackling they were! The lads who play on Snakey today look big and powerful too. The strange thing is, that in between when our generation were custodians of old Snakey – and I played for six different teams on there – we didn’t seem to be big or the tackles hard at all! I suppose when you are actually playing you don’t notice the ferocity of the game.

Back to the forties – Snakey had two dressing rooms – one in the bottom corner and another at the top near to the prize-winning bowling green – infamously churned up one night by Peter Smith’s greyhounds. Both dressing rooms were made out of pink terra cotta tiles and inside a bucket of water provided the extent of the first aid kit and a half time drink. There was a drinking fountain springing out of the wall on the top dressing room, it had an iron cup chained to the wall, everyone and his dog drank out of that iron cup – can you imagine the germs? But I don’t think anyone ever went down with the plague. Without light the insides of the dressing rooms were as black as Hades. Three or four grass tennis courts ran parallel with the ‘Paddy line’ at the top but they were at the tag end of their lives as early as I can recall. The bowling green and the putting green are of course long gone as is the sigtht of the puffing Paddies: Kitchener, Dora, Jubilee and later Antwerp and Sylvia. Where are they now? The line of trees which shielded the bowling-green from the south-westerly winds are all but gone, the exposed ring system on their stumps hark back to the early fifties when the whole recreation ground was a thriving piece of paradise.

In early spring we had the odd special day for school sports day and Whitsuntide finery but for us Snakey was more than just an occasional day; it was the staple diet of our lives broken only by the odd intrusion for things like; The War for older lads and National Service for us, otherwise we played on consistently throughout the years from the age of about ten years old until well into our thirties.

We would play fifteen/twenty a side and more, if you turned up you were always sure of a game. It didn’t matter how good or bad you were nobody was ever turned away from old Snakey. We would begin by a couple of lads electing themselves as captains. They would toss a coin for first pick and then take it turns to select the rest. It made way for good equal and competitive sides and you got to know how good you were on account of how early on in the selection process you were picked; there was no hiding place for big egos with this selection process, especially when those who thought they were the ‘bees knees’ were left until nearly the last to be chosen. Lads turning up after we’d started would be paired up one for each side. Of course those turning up late had to deal with the fact that as all the players were atired in a rag, tag and bobtale aray of gear  it took quite a while to suss out who was on your side and who was the enemy. There was often a great gulf of difference in ability and often a full generation gap in ages. If you were a young ‘un you were likely to get ‘flattened’ but you didn’t worry and it was all good therapy and although we hadn’t benefit of a referee it was engineered that anyone who was consistently dirty would meet a sticky end. In the event of a foul we’d likely have a committee meeting. The score would begin to mount until it got into the late teens or twenties when it became easy to loose count of the score, someone would say, ‘What score is it?’ If you had a convincing voice you might say, ‘Twenty three – twenty two to us’, at which the outraged reply might go, ‘How did it get to that score, we were winning nineteen eighteen a minute ago?’ If it got too one-sided someone on the losing side would say, ‘Swap us so-and–so for so and-so, we’ve got a real load of old rubbish on our side.

We never knew when to pack in; we’d play until it was too dark to see the ball. Someone on the winning side might say, ‘We’ll finish when the paddy train gets to the goal posts’. Someone on the losing side wanting more time to draw level might disagree and they’d almost come to blows, we were very competitive about the score. I was daft enough to try to think up methods of how we could play on after it got dark (no floodlights then of course) like putting a light inside the ball. How sad is that. We were gutted when the ‘dark nights’ came along.

Occasionally we would have an ‘away day’ and play on Oxley’s pitch which was down Black Road or on The Railway’s pitch at Knostrop or perhaps on East End Park. There was as many playing on East End Park on Sundays as on Snakey. They had a similar set-up to ours; sometimes you would get professionals joining in, like Jackie Overfield or Mike O’grady. I’m sure their clubs would have been aghast at the injuries they risked for they were offered no special consideration and were just as likely to be kicked up in the air as anyone else – but after all we all know how hard it is to resist joining in when you hear the ‘thud’ of a football and see a group of guys kicking a ball around.

Periodically we would have phases were certain lads would get a team together and if you were lucky they might ask you to play for them. I recall Ron Ellis’s team, Eddy Pawson’s team, Vic Wilson’s team etc. You had to keep well in with these lads to ensure you were picked. The Falmouth and Bridgewater streets ran their own team called ‘The Buildings’. One Sunday afternoon that I particularly remember we had an away fixture – I think we were playing for Ron Ellis’s eleven that day and we had arranged to play a scratch team miles away up at Adel on the pitches called ‘The Bedquilts’. We must have been daft attempting to go all that way in mid-winter, it necessitated two bus rides and at that time of year it was dark by four o’clock! It was nearly dark by the time we arrived there. Anyway, we made a start, we didn’t have any proper kit just boots and socks pulled over the bottom of our trousers. I bet we hadn’t had more than a dozen kicks at the tatty old football when it burst and not having a spare we had to turn round and make the long journey home again.

When the school team had a match we’d get changed behind one of the goals. They didn’t even bother to open the dressing rooms for us and as for showers; they were things of the future. If it rained our own clothes got wet upon the ground but we didn’t care you were just so proud to be playing for the school. There was an extra bonus if you were picked for the school team; you were allowed to wear the team jersey to school on the day of the match, some lads managed to extend the time they wore the jersey to a week before they got told off. The first match I ever played for the school team was against Mount St Mary’s, it was in the intermediate age group; I’d be about ten. All the previous week I’d dreamt about us winning and me having a great game, when the day itself arrived we lost six nil and I was rubbish – I usually was. There were no cars to take us to away games – we had to go by public transport.

I suppose everyone who ever played on old Snakey has at least one magic moment, mine was scoring a freak goal from my own penalty area, I saw the ball comingCapture.PNG paddy

towards me and I just hoofed it back up in the air and it dropped over the head of the little schoolboy goalie in the bottom goal. In the professional game the pundits go wild if someone scores a goal kicked from their own half but even a school boy can get lucky with a kick like that, a really skilful goal is when a guy dribbles past half the team like Sedgwick, Monk and Whitehead could do on old Snakey and Eddie Gray did for Leeds United against Burnley in the 19760s. But I digress; this account is to be in praise of old Snakey.

In summer we played cricket on the same pitch as we’d played football, in fact we pitched the wickets on the bald patch in front of the bottom goal – it was the only level bit on the whole field. Such was the state of the ground the ball could either fly in any direction or just ‘grub’ – grub means when the ball sticks tight to the ground. You usually had ‘em with a fast straight ‘grubber’. We once won the School’s Cricket Cup playing on Snakey as our home ground. Ellerby Lane School were our main rivals that season and their lads were so confident they were going to beat us (they usually did at everything) that they didn’t even bother to pad up, but we managed win on that occasion in a low scoring game and managed to bruise a few shins in the process for their audacity in not wearing pads. There were a few really low scoring games on Snakey; like the time St Charles’s were put out for three runs and another time when Kenny Holmes of Ellerby Lane took four wickets in four balls – all bowled – I wouldn’t be surprised if they’d were all ‘grubbers’.

One of the stranger rules of school cricket at our level was: if a team managed to score fifty runs they would ‘suspend’ their innings and let the other team go in. In the unlikely event of the other team passing their score the first batting side could resume their innings at the end. If the game dragged on one could observe the bizarre sight of lads having to leave the field of play in order to satisfy their paper round. Anyway winning the cricket league entitled us to receive the Livingston Cricket Cup. When the trophy finally arrived at the school we were all excited and readied ourselves to have the team photo taken with the trophy. We were expecting a huge cup for our efforts and couldn’t believe it when the headmaster laughingly produced it from his inside pocket. It was about the size of an eggcup. To be fair; cricket never held the same magic in our lives as did soccer but it just about managed to occupy us on old Snakey between football seasons.

One game of football which stands out in my memory, was a game played for St Hilda’s in the open age of the Church League. It was the last match of the season and if we won we won the league. The league officials were there with the shield in order to present it to us in the event of our victory. I always thought parading a trophy before it was won was tempting fate and there was a good chance of that happening on that occasion for if we failed to win then it would be Methley who would win the league and their lads had turned up in force to cheer on our opponents, who happened to be Pudsey. Anyway kick off time arrived and only seven of their players had turned up, you could start a game with seven so naturally we were eager to get started and crack in a couple of goals before the rest of their lads arrived. This would surely have happened if it were not for the league officials becoming involved. ‘We’re sure St Hilda’s, sportsmen that they are, would not want to take advantage of this situation, so we’ll ask them to hold the kick off until the rest of the Pudsey team arrives’, said their spokesman. So we had to bite our tongues and wait for the rest of their team to turn up. This was not what we had in mind at all! Worse was to follow, when their team was at last up to strength we realised that they were about to play their first team who didn’t have a match and normally played in a higher league than ours. This change in our fortunes delighted the observing Methley lads who could now see the trophy coming in their direction. In the event it all ended happily for we managed to beat them anyway and had a great booze up in the ‘Bridgefield’ that night to celebrate our victory. Later we were presented with a further trophy for being ‘the most sporting team of the season’ on account of our willingness to wait for the opposition to arrive in such an important match. It’s a good job they didn’t know what we really had in mind.

So we progressed from being young lads who had to leave Snakey and go home when the church bells rang at half past seven into young men turning up in motor cars, still to play twenty a side on old Snakey but then retiring to the pub. I seem to remember ‘The Prospect’ being a favourite watering hole after training for many a year. By the time the sixties arrived Sunday morning football was in full swing. Playing on a morning usually meant the weather would be brighter than Saturday afternoon football, but occasionally there would be morning fog, we were so keen that the game wouldn’t be cancelled that I can recall running around waving my arms about trying to disperse the fog. Being Sunday morning it obviously followed on from Saturday night. Lads would turn up after having a heavy night on the town, there were certain lads who could spew their hearts up at the side of the pitch before the game began and still turn in a performance that I couldn’t have matched even if I hadn’t had a drink for a month. These are just a few of my personal memories, I bet every lad who played on old Snakey has his own nostalgic ‘Boy’s Own’ accounts.

As the years went by and I moved away from the district I imagined my love affair with Snakey had finally run its course until joy of joys by a stroke of luck my lad started playing for a club whose home pitch was Snakey. Quite a coincidence, I’d go along there and enjoy watching him play sometimes. Trouble was I became a bit outraged when they complained about the state of the pitch. ‘Pitch is rubbish’ they would say. Well bloody hell! They’re out of order. If Snakey was good enough for us and for those heroes who came before us then it was certainly good enough for them and the tripe they turned out. Anyway I would regularly go along and enjoy watching their matches, sheltering when it was a wild day behind the trees that still bowed away from the southwesterly wind. Sometimes I’d be seeing the game being played in front of me and sometimes my mind would wander off and I’d be watching those twenty a side games played a long time ago between lads whose worlds were still young and their futures still an adventure in prospect and I would ponder where were they now and did they too, spare a thought now an then for old Snakey?

The bottom pitch has gone completely now, sacrificed to the new East Leeds Express way but there is a beautiful new rugby pitch on the site of the ‘top pitch’ – all levelled off and complete with a barrier to keep spectators at bay. I’m still regaled to watch sport on there, occasionally, as the East Leeds Amateur Rugby League Club plays its matches on there and I watch in wonderment, along with my peers, at the size and fitness of the present generation. They are bigger and fitter than ever and the game is played at such a ferocious pace you wonder how you ever managed to play the game yourself – albeit a long time ago – and take all those knocks!

snakey today

Last month’s picture? Ellerby Lane School of course.

How about this building? Did anyone else meet their life’s partner here?brenda majestic

I’m sadened to announce the passing of Gerry Thrussell – he was a great guy. His tale is on here on february 2011

Audrey’s Wedding Tales.

July 1, 2011

Audrey’s Wedding Tales.

By popular demand another great tale from Audrey – formally of East Leeds but now of Queensland, Australia. Audrey tells her tales superbly – I’m standing on the step with her reviewing the bride and her family in the back streets of East Leeds

Weddings were major events in our childhood.  Any wedding of neighbours, they didn’t have to be related to you was a cause for excitement.  Not so much if it was a male member of the family but if the bride was leaving from the family home we hung around outside the house early to watch all the coming and goings.  Relatives, friends, neighbours in and out of the house hours before the bride left to go to the church added to the excitement.  Mum, Auntie Maggie and Martha who lived next door to Maggie started out with the pretence of cleaning the outside window,  sweeping the pavement and then scrubbing the stone step outside the door.  It just happened they were all in the mood to add sparkle to the house, nothing at all to do with watching the procession of people at the brides house.  No one owned a car so everyone arrived on foot and most had to pass our house to get to the brides home.  Before the relatives started arriving friends and neighbours of the brides mother were running between their own place and the brides every few minutes.  Some with tea pots, others with a plate covered with a tea towel, children of these neighbours dispatched to run errands to the small shops for sugar, tea, bread as the supplies ran out.  Important things like nylon stockings, mens black socks, dress making straight pins the ladies took upon themselves.  Everyone forgot they had to have pins for the buttonhole carnations or the brides mothers ‘spray ’of flowers, usually two carnations and a bit of green fern.  This was wedding stuff important to the day so had to be right.  Mum, Maggie and Martha would say hello as the lady made to walk past.  She was on an important mission so a curt ‘hello’ back was all they got.  They waylaid her on the way back though.  “Everything going all right at number ???  She getting a bit jittery now?  Have you seen the dress yet?”  She couldn’t resist.  After all she was in the know and the rest of the neighbours wasn’t.

 “Mrs. ???? has just come back from the hair dressers, she looks smart. Mr. ???? hasn’t started to get ready yet and she’s going mad at him.  They’ll be lucky if they’re ready on time.”  Have you seen the dress?  “No, not yet, but by all accounts it’s lovely and everyone will be talking about it for ages.”  Off she goes at breakneck speed only to pass another neighbour on another mission to the corner shop.  Aspirin and sticking plasters (Band-Aids) New shoes had rubbed blisters, somebody else had a headache.  She also got waylaid on the way back.  Shop keepers didn’t put packaged items in paper bags so the 3 musketeers saw what was in her hand.  “O I hope nobody is poorly love.  What’s wrong with them?”  Important neighbour on mercy mission. “It’s nowt much.  Two of thum ‘ave got blisters wi’ new shoes an’ t’other got an ‘angover.  ‘Servers ‘im right, the silly beggar.  ‘is wife’s tol’ im if e spews she’ll kick is arse oll way ‘ome.’  Eager musketeers “Is it Mr.??? who’s got an ‘angover??”  They were informed it wasn’t Mr. ??? with the hangover because Mrs.??? would have killed him, it was his brother.   After she dashed off to administer relief of blistered feet and a thumping headache the 3 women with the cleanest pavement and doorsteps in the street passed comment.  The complete history of the bride’s family was discussed.  It’s been said often and it is really true the people who lived in terraced back to back houses were the salt of the earth.  Always, always someone to give a hand to absolutely anyone who needed it.  It made no difference if you’d spent most of your life rowing with your neighbours if they were in desperate need of help you gave it.  It also meant that everyone knew about everyone’s family history as well.

 From the cradle to the grave lots of people never lived anywhere else but the house they were born in.  My own Father was adopted by Grandma Coley as a baby.  Lived his entire life in the same house.  When Grandma died Dad took over and had his name put on the rent book.   He married mum and they lived there until his death in 1987.

The time for the approaching wedding was getting closer.  People were now running in and out of the house.  More relatives in their best clothes were arriving.  Auntie Maggie wanted to know if all of them were going to the church in the hired cars.  Mum said it would cost a fortune, Martha said they’d need a corporation bus.  Lots of laughing at the thought of a big green double decker bus coming into the street and everyone scrambling for a seat.  No more running to the corner shop.  Mum said it must be just about time for them to leave and we’d better get closer if we wanted to see anything.  As if someone had flicked a switch suddenly the street was filled with women and small children.  They gathered in small groups near the bridal home.  Out came various people dressed in their Sunday best.  The men in dark 3 piece suits; trousers, jacket and waistcoat all matching.  A gold fob watch in one waistcoat pocket with a gold chain fastened to a pocket on the other side of the waistcoat.  White shirt and dark coloured tie and a carnation button hole.  All wore black shoes and black socks.  The ladies all wore hats and gloves, flowery dresses, matching dress and coat or a 2 piece.  The 2 piece was a skirt and jacket of the same material and colour.  New shoes and handbags and carried in the crook of the arm like the Queen did.  They didn’t acknowledge anyone who’d come to gawk.  Noses tilted in the air, hand threaded through their husbands arm off they walked out of the street.  For all their airs and graces they were the ones who were not going in the hired cars and had to walk to All Saints Church,Richmond HillMethodistChurchor Mt. Saint Mary’s if they were catholic.  Relating all what happened is not because I was a child who took too much notice of what people were wearing it was the running commentary issued by Mum and all the other women scrutinising every thread, every style from top to toe of every wedding guest.  Plus more family history from the onlookers;  I remember when that one ran around with the yanks during the war; I remember her uncle getting carted away in the Black Mariah when he belted his wife; When they were little poor little buggers never got new clothes at Whitsuntide.  If these women had been invited to the nuptials none of this would have been mentioned of course.  None of us had any money; everyone of us had skeletons in the cupboard.  I found it very entertaining listening to all this information.  Of course when I asked questions later I was told to mind my own business I shouldn’t have been listening.  Lots of it was very funny.  Things that were related to blackouts, fire watching, rationing and pawn shops.  Uncle Walter, Maggie’s husband, had died years before.  At every wedding we went to watch she always said the same thing “It’s to be hoped the wedding ring is 24 carat gold.  You get more at the pawn shop if it is.  Mine spent more time behind the counter than it did on my finger.  Walter never knew the brass curtain ring I wore was not the ring he’d married me with.  Mind you he didn’t know his best boots spent all week in there as well and only came out Friday afternoons and was back in again Monday morning.”  Mum tried to ignore her but Maggie thought she was offering good advice.

We got a little bit closer when Billie Roberts big black Rolls Royce pulled into the street.  He was the undertaker but hired the cars out for weddings.  Everyone said sooner or later you got to ride in one of Billie Robert’s cars.  No one looked forward to riding in the first one which was longer than the rest, had windows down both sides and only room for one passenger.

The Roll’s stopped outside the house.  Out jumped the groomsman and knocked on the door.  The house door was opened.  Out stepped Mrs ??? with a regal smile and a nod to the onlookers.  Joining her in the car were other adults named by those in the know as Mrs.??? brother, married sister and husband and grand parents.  That car left with lots of waving from the gawkers and a Queen like wave from Mrs.????  The next car pulled into the street.  Same procedure by groomsman.  This time out comes 2 small little girls dressed in pink long dresses, yards of pink ribbons on their heads and carrying a small bunch of flowers with a silver paper doily round them which my Mum called a posy.  Two older, taller girls came out next with identical style dresses as the smaller girls wore only larger. They had a broad band of pink material like anAliceband holding their long dark hair off their faces and carried a posy of flowers. Two adult girls were next same style dresses but deeper shade of pink.  They both had short hair which was half covered with a pink feathered head dress my mother called it.  It wasn’t a hat as we knew hat’s to be, it sat very tightly across the crown and looked as if it wouldn’t be long before they had a thumping headache.  They carried a proper bouquet of flowers.  Lots of oooos and aaaahs from the crowd as they climbed into the waiting car.  As it moved away the car that had taken Mrs.??? and relatives came back.  We were all ready for the big finale.   Seemed ages for the bride to appear as we all moved to get a close look.  The door opened and a cry of, “Here she comes” from the crowd.  But she didn’t, the door closed again. Lot’s of, “What’s up” from the waiting throng.  A few comments of a bit late to change her mind now.  The door opened again, the groomsman came out.  Silence from the crowd.  Then the bride appeared minus flowers.  A lot of oooos and aaahs isn’t she lovely from everyone.  Couldn’t see her face as it was covered by the white veil.  She didn’t seem to want to leave the house.  A loud voice from the back yelled out “ Oi!  She can’t see the steps.  Give her a hand you useless lump.”  The groomsman, brick red in the face held out his hand.  She still didn’t move.  Voice from the back again “Lift the hem of the frock you big ninny.  Were going to be here all day.”  He moved the bottom of the dress so she could see the steps and rousing cheer from the crowd she got into the car with a smile on her face.  She waved enthusiastically to everyone and her Father got a big cheer as he held the brides bouquet in one hand and locked the house door with a large key in his other hand.  A big smile from him too and a relieved, “Thank God! I didn’t think we were going to get out of the house.  Better put your foot down mate or he’ll think she’s changed her mind and her mother will kill me.”  Lots of laughing, lots of cheering and kids running behind the car as it moved out of the street.

The crowd dispersed and we went back to Aunt Maggie’s house for a cup of tea.  Lots more discussion of who wore what and who was married to who and where were the newly weds going to live.  It didn’t take long before other weddings were discussed.

Grandma’s house inDevon Streetwas called a through terrace house.  She had a proper room and a proper kitchen at the back of the house.  Outside the kitchen door was a small concrete square with clothes lines strung across, the outside toilet and a coal cellar.  You could get into the coal cellar through a door on the inside of the kitchen.  Had to be kept locked at all times as anyone lifting the metal grate where the coal man tipped the coal into the cellar could slide it up and climb in.  All my life I never heard of anyone gaining access in that manner.  If anyone was intent of stealing anything they knew it would have to be in another area.  We were all in the same boat, nobody had anything worth pinching.  If ever I see green or maroon velvet now I think of my Gran’s scrubbed wooden table on Sunday afternoon with it’s velvet cloth.  I have no idea where they bought these prized possessions.  Probably given to her by her own mother.  Round the edges of the cloth was a lace type cord with either a tassel or a pom-pom every few inches, very ornate.  In the centre of the table was a glass bowl.  I think it was a fruit bowl but it was always empty. She also had the same type of velvet 12 inch wide cloth fixed to a brass rail under the mantel shelf over the black fireplace.   Gran didn’t believe in ‘new fangled’ things and wouldn’t have electric installed in the house.  She had a gas mantel for light in only the one room, a gas boiler in the kitchen for boiling the white clothes on Monday’s (washing day) in later years she also acquired a gas cooking stove.  The pantry was under the bedroom steps which led to 2 bedrooms.  Under the steps that led up to the attic in the front bedroom was a single bed.  Which ever one of us kids slept in it had to remember not to clout your head getting in or out of it.  I was scared if I had to sleep at Gran’s house.  You had to have a candle for any light and it cast shadows over everything.  A stern warning of not to touch the candle or holder or you’d tip it over and set fire to the house and we’d all die.  Can you imagine what child psychologists would do to any parent who uttered those words today?  You’d be in court before you drew your next breath.  Worked for us.  You wouldn’t dare touch a lighted candle.

The best thing about Grandma’s house was when there was a wedding in the street.  She lived halfway up the street .  Directly opposite was a street with only a few houses.  I never knew what it was called, everyone called it the short street and it led intoAscot Street.  We had a grand stand view of all the weddings amongst all those houses.  We sat at the front bedroom window and didn’t miss a thing.  Mr. & Mrs. Edwards lived directly opposite, they had 3 daughters and 2 sons.  The girls had lavish wedding dresses and was the talk of the neighbourhood for ages.  All the little girls wanted a dress like they had when they got married. 

We were so entwined with everyone’s lives in the 40s.  One family called Olbison lived 6 houses up from Gran.  They had sons, no daughters.  My eldest brother used to knock around with them and Mum was always questioning Alan what they got up to.  Same answer as kids today give “ Nuthin ”  If groups of kids were laughing she said they were getting up to no good.  Didn’t stop Alan from running around with a wild bunch as my Mum called them.  Years later after Alan was married he said all they ever got up to was playing in bombed out houses, playing near the quarry and getting thrown out of the Princess picture house for yelling too much.  They literally got chased out of theEasy Roadpicture house before they got inside.  At the pay box one of them asked for a ticket and a bug hammer.  The whole lot of them got chased upEasy Road.

As we grew older we didn’t see much of our cousins who didn’t live in and aroundEast EndPark.  They were working and only came to visit Gran a few times a year.  Uncle Dick, mum’s brother, and his wife Gladys had 3 daughters.  Absolute stunning looking girls.  All had flaming red curly hair.  American movies were all the rage and Mavis, the eldest fashioned herself on Rita Hayworth.  She was about 18 and the Olbison boys used every trick in the book to get her attention.  She called them juvenile delinquents, tossed her head and all that long red hair and walked away from them.  The boys hung round Grandma’s front door talking loud waiting for her to go outside.  What they got was Uncle Joe telling them to clear off.  Half an hour later they were back.  Mavis of course loving every minute.  Gran told Mum to go out through the back door and tell their father to call the boys home because the next time Joe went out he’d leather them.  Uncle Joe, also a red head, had a short fuse.  A few minutes later Mr. Olbison bellowed from his front door and the boys disappeared.  One by one the Olbison boys married except for Kenny.  He joined the army and wore a red beret.  As far as I knew he was in the army and that was that.  I had no idea about regiments, badges or coloured berets.  Home on leave Kenny pursued Mavis, they became engaged.  All my older cousins were getting married and at one of the weddings which was the only time the entire family met up as Kenny was almost a member he was invited too.  Goodness knows what happened but towards the end of the evening a fight broke out.  Mavis threw her engagement ring at him and stalked off.  I think she’d seen too many American movies.  Lots of family discussions of why it had happened.  Ken wasn’t involved with the fight but they thought some of the opposition male wedding guests had made a pass at Mavis.  Some of our family said she was a flirt, others said she was just a good looking girl.  Looking back now WAS she ever a good looking girl!  Never daunted, Kenny didn’t give up.  Twelve months later he became engaged to my cousin Norma.  A very attractive girl but quieter than Mavis.  Kenny was very handsome and loved the army life.  Norma expected him to give it up when they got married.  He was used to making decisions, telling other people what to do, exit engagement number two and he didn’t bother trying to marry into our family again.

One of the funniest wedding tales I heard was related by Auntie Maggie.  As I said Dad and his sister Maggie had lived all their lives inCharlton Place.  The particular wedding must have been in the early 1920s.   I’m not certain but I think the name was Booth.  Their daughter was getting married and Mr. & Mrs. Booth, like all parents wanted it to be a spectacular event.  As after the Second World War money was tight after the 1914-18 war.  All the neighbours helped out as best they could. 

Beryl, the bride-to-be wanted a white lace dress, bridesmaids, bouquets, a fancy wedding cake, wine and all the guests to wear their best clothes.  Wasn’t as if many of them had a choice.  They counted themselves lucky if they had a warm coat for the winter and shoes or boots for their feet.  Ingenuity, make do, beg, borrow or steal Mrs. Booth was going to do her upmost for her daughter. 

Maggie jumped the tale forward.

“It was a lovely wedding.  Beryl had the white lace, bridesmaids in pink, beautiful flowers, a big wedding cake on them little pillar things, even had wine and all them that was invited had nice clothes.”

I asked if no one had any money how did they manage to get all this lovely stuff.

“You’re not listening love.  I told you we had nowt and we had to make do with what we ‘ad so everybody helped and we made stuff ourselves.”

“I know you could make the clothes and the cake but it still takes money to buy material and flour, sugar eggs and stuff for the cake.  What about flowers, you can’t make them.”

“Didn’t have to, we borrowed them.”

“You mean borrow?  as in you stole them?”

“We didn’t steal anything!  I said borrow and Borrow them we did.  One of the neighbour’s daughters worked in a florists shop.  They had to make bouquets for a 4’o’clock wedding and as Beryl was getting married at 2 she said they could borrow them but make sure they were back in the shop before half past 3.”

“Did they borrow the wedding dress?”

“No Mrs. Booth made it out of lace curtains.  She took the curtains from the windows and made a frock.”

“What did they do at night time?  Everybody would be able to see into their house.”

“Used newspapers taped to the windows.  And before you ask the bridesmaid frocks were made the same way.”

“But you said they were pink. Did she have lots of curtains to be able to make everything?”

“She didn’t have lots of lace curtains but she had relatives and they all did the same as her, put paper on the windows.  She dyed them pink using the water she’d boiled beetroots in.”

“What about all the guests?  Where did they get clothes from?”

“Everybody lent them things.  If it didn’t fit it was pinned up or held in with a belt.  They were only going to wear them for a few hours it didn’t have to be perfect.  Mrs. Booth wore a lovely hat covered in flowers.”

“Who lent her that?”

“Not listening again.  She made it.  She used Mr. Booth’s bowler hat and made flowers out of the tissue paper that comes round oranges.  The man from the fruit shop gave them to her.  At the wedding one of the grooms relatives said she could smell oranges.  Mrs. Booth, quick as a flash said it was orange blossom in the brides bouquet she could smell.”  Mr. Booth wasn’t too happy; it took a long time before his bowler lost the smell of oranges.

I laughed like mad. Maggie could tell a good story.  It was like seeing it all in my mind.

I asked about the tiered wedding cake “She couldn’t have borrowed that.  They’d have all wanted to see them cut the cake and have a taste.”

She made the tale spin out but what they actually did was make a small fruit cake, put plain icing on it and slid it under the bottom tier of the “cake”. The 3 tiered wonderful effort on the sideboard was made out of stiff paper painted white.  The decorations were glued on white lace doilies.  A slit had been made in the bottom tier for the knife to go in and cut the small cake underneath. It had then been taken into the scullery to be cut into small pieces and handed round.  The small buns, tarts and sandwiches had been made by the neighbours and Mrs. Chester had provided the wine.  It was rhubarb and had been in her cellar for a long time.  Maggie said it must have been a good drop because they were all drunk by 8 ‘o’clock.

“So they all had a good time then?  It sounded as if everything went off like they planned.”

Maggie started laughing until tears ran down her face.  It would have been perfect if it hadn’t rained when they were walking back from the church.  The dye from the bridesmaid frocks started to run and they looked like melting ice creams by the time they got back here. 

My own wedding!!!  On the actual day it run pretty much true to form as all the previous weddings in the street had done.  Everyone made an excuse to pop in and out asking if we needed anything.  Remembering these houses were very small, packed with furniture, anymore than 4 people in the room at the same time and there was nowhere to move.   When it did happened at times Uncle Walt said somebody had to breathe in so others could breathe out. 

Weeks before Mum made countless lists.  Dictated what everyone had to do.  No one had telephones so lots of bus rides organising all the relations.   Not only our family but the grooms as well.  I didn’t want all the razzmatazz.  My youngest brother had got married 8 months before and we’d been through all this.  I wanted a register office wedding with just the immediate families having a nice meal at a hotel.  Explosion time!  For one thing I was marrying a catholic.  He was an only child.  His mother nearly fainted and I got a lecture on Catholicism.  My own Mother yelled and carried on “What would people think if you don’t get married in church?”  And God forbid if I got married in anything but a long white gown.  So what does a good daughter do?  If she wants to still speak to her family and not have it thrown in her face for evermore she gives in for peace and quiet.  John’s Mother insisted we get married in a catholic church or we wouldn’t be married in the eyes of the church and we’d be damned for ever.  Come hell or high water him and his family would crawl over broken glass to go to mass every Sunday morning.  Annie, his mother, wanted the ceremony at St. Anthony’s at Beeston.  Mum wanted it at All Saints onPontefract Lane.  The two mothers wouldn’t meet to discuss it.  It was a series of “Tell John’s mother this, this and this “ from my mum.  Annie said virtually the same only “Explain to your mother this, this and this.”  I suggested to John we elope and let them argue amongst themselves.  He didn’t see the funny side.  Mum said we could have two ceremonies.  The first at All Saints so all our neighbours could come and watch and then all go over to Beeston so Annie’s neighbours could come and gawk.  Both Father and future Father-in -law said it was ridicules; it would be like a travelling circus.  Mum was in a black mood, she didn’t get her own way.  Mum made the wedding gown and 4 bridesmaid dresses.   I don’t have a sister, neither did John.  Annie asked one of his cousins if she wanted to be a bridesmaid, she jumped at the chance.  I’d never met her.  My eldest brother’s daughter was 4 years old Mum said she could be a bridesmaid.  I said I wanted my friend Brenda.  Brenda was married and just fallen pregnant with her second child Mum said it wouldn’t be right having a pregnant bridesmaid.  I said I’d known a lot of pregnant brides and got a clip round the ear.  More dramas making the dresses.  Mum said it would look silly having an 18 year old bridesmaid and a 4 year old trailing behind me so asked the daughter of her friend who was a tall 14 year old.  Not to be outdone Annie said the 4 year old daughter of her niece would match my 4 year old niece and everything would balance for the photographs. 

The day arrived.  The last Saturday in February.  Had to have that date, the following Saturday was in lent and if we waited until after Easter we would miss out on the income tax rebate. 

I woke up at 7 a.m. with my mother’s voice telling Dad everything was going to be a disaster.  That’s a good start to what was going to be a long day.  Forever the drama queen, knowing Mum it wouldn’t have been anything we couldn’t cope with.  As I opened the door at the bottom of the bedroom steps she was going out the door “You’ll have to get a move on and help your Dad sweep up this mess” and she left.  Not being a morning person I didn’t answer back.  Dad was leaning over the fireplace “Give us a hand love.  We’ve got to clean this up before she brings the frocks from your Grandma’s “Eyes wide open now I saw the hearth covered in soot.  If the chimney wasn’t swept on a regular basis sooner or later great clumps came crashing into the fire grate and sent clouds of soot over everything.  Told Dad to put the kettle on while I plugged in the vacuum cleaner.  Everything had to be vacuumed, dusted and wiped over with a cloth even the slightest speck of soot left behind and it would have been a disaster.  The blushing bride?  I felt more like Cinderella.  Maggie and Martha came in asking if we needed anything.  Not to be outdone the neighbours across the road came in as well.  I said I was going to sell tickets if anybody else came.  The women left in a huff saying they hoped the fog would lift before 3’o’clock.   Dad told me not to be cranky and I wished we had eloped.  Dad lit a fire in the grate and we both had a cup of tea and a smoke.  Mum came in asking what the hell we thought we were doing sitting down there was too much to do to be sitting around.  I said I was going to have a bath to get rid of the soot I was covered in.  Not something I was looking forward to as the tin bath was in the cellar.  Dad said we hadn’t had anything to eat.  Mum said she didn’t have time; he’d have to have a slice of bread with something on it.  She had a list of things for us to do after the tin bath was emptied.  I said she’d have to do it herself I was going to the hairdressers.   Thank God the fog had lifted but it was freezing cold.  Lovely and warm in the hairdressers though.  All hopes of peace and quiet went out of the window because the 4 ladies with curlers in their hair under the hair dryer domes wanted to know everything about the wedding.  The dryers were noisy things and they shouted above them.  I left the shop with enough hair lacquer holding my hair in place to withstand an atomic bomb.  As I walked up the street a neighbour’s door opened.  Esther, who was always dolled up as Mum called wearing lipstick and face powder said she had something for me.  “Come in out of the cold love.  Sit tha sen down.  Av made a spot of summat for tha t’ eat.  Tha’l be too busy at your ‘ouse.”  A nice little plate of sandwiches, a mug of tea and Dad sat at the table opposite me.  I nearly choked.  Mum would kill the pair of us if she found out we were in Esther’s house.  I thanked her and said nothing.  Esther was always laughing but Mum had her in the category of ‘a lass who had American boy friends during the war.’  I gulped everything down and said I’d better be going before Mum came looking for me.  Dad said he would be home in 5 minutes.  My brother, wife and small niece plus John’s cousin and her small niece were in the house when I arrived.  Hardly enough air  to breathe.  The coal fire was glowing.  Mum asked if I’d seen Dad.  I said he wasn’t in the hairdressers.  Got a black look from her.  Alan and his wife said they’d take the two little ones next door to Aunt Mag’s to get them dressed.  By 2 p.m. everyone was ready.  More instructions from Mum telling Dad not to forget to lock the door when we left.  More biting of her finger nails as she said she thought she’d better travel in the car with me and Dad so she’d be sure the door had been locked.  My Dad was a very placid man but he yelled “For Christ sake get into the car with the rest of them and get going.  God knows how long it will take to get to Beeston Leeds United are playing at home today.”  A look of horror on her face ” Why didn’t somebody tell me before now.  We should have set off earlier, were never going to get there.”  Mum, Alan & wife, Mum’s 2 brothers and Maggie piled into the car and left.  Peace and quiet at last.  One of Billie Roberts Rolls Royce’s pulled up outside and the 4 bridesmaids got in.  Very quiet, just me and Dad.  “EE you look a picture lass.  I’ve been dreading this day since the day you were born.”  I can cope with the yelling but not this.  “Do me a favour…lift this bloody veil up so I can have a smoke or I’ll set fire to myself.”  We both had a smoke before the other Rolls Royce pulled up outside.  We were both calm and I said I was only going to live at Halton, not the other side of the world.  He opened the door and it was snowing.  No crowds of neighbours hanging round the door to wave me off just 2 neighbours huddled in overcoats wished us Good Luck and hurried back indoors.  Half way across Leeds Dad said Mum would smell cigarette smoke on us and go mad.  I said she would be too busy bossing the priest around and between her and Annie it would be something to see.  Shivering with the cold we waited for the organist to play the wedding march.  I daren’t look at Dad but gripped his arm and he squeezed me tighter to him.  Dad was wounded in the First World War and had to use a walking stick so it was a slow walk down the aisle.  Everyone was in place and the church was packed.  Mum was very superstitious, she had one for every occasion; weddings had top priority.  Farther down the aisle I could see Annie.  I nearly laughed out loud.  I’d asked her countless times what she would be wearing and got a smug look and told it was going to be a surprise.  She always mimicked the Queen Mother’s style of dressing.  The hat sort of to one side with a big fluffy type feather in it.  A skirt and longish jacket, the long gloves, shoes and handbag all in the same shade of pale green.  I dare not look at my mother’s face.  GREEN at a wedding!!! The marriage would be lucky to survive to the end of the day. 

All went smoothly during the ceremony and then off to the vestry to sign the papers.  As it had performed in a catholic church we had to go through the civil service again before we signed.  Years before a registrar had to perform the civil ceremony in the vestry.  As more and more rules of the Catholic Church relaxed and ‘ mixed marriages ‘ more prevalent there wasn’t enough qualified registrars to go every church wedding.  The young priest had explained all this to us stating lots of priest had taken the course to become qualified registrars.  We were doing the I Do and I Will bit again with my mother’s voice in the back ground “Where’s the registrar?  The registrar should be doing this.  It’s not legal.  She’s not married.  The priest can’t do it; it’s got to be a registrar.  When our Eva married Eddie they had a registrar.  Bert! Do something I tell you she’s not married.”  No one took any notice and Mum had a face like thunder in all the photos.  We had the reception at the local working mans club.  The in-laws were well known there and Annie swanned around imitating the Queen Mother for the rest of the evening. 

The evening for the happy couple came to a close about 7 p.m.  We were driving to North Wales for our honeymoon but staying the night inManchester.  We got toManchestercity about 9 p.m.  Into a big hotel we go only to be told they were full up.  Back in the car and another hotel, same answer.  We must have tried every hotel in the city.  Someone told us there was a T.V and radio convention all weekend and everyone had booked rooms weeks before.  We did eventually find a hotel, miles out ofManchesteraround 11 p.m. This was a time long before the permissive society. We got very funny looks from the manager at that hour on a Saturday night.