Archive for the ‘Market Dist Boys Club’ Category

March 1, 2013

The laxative Joke


East Leeds Lads on Holiday in Devon

By Eric Allen

The Laxative Chewing Gum. An amusing little tale (well to me anyway – possibly not to those it affected) was instigated by me in the 1950s. Beech Nut chewing gum could be bought out of vending machines located outside shops usually on street corners. On this occasion the machine in question was outside a shop in Fewston Avenue.

To recap: there had been an intense sales drive to advertise BONO  MINT laxative chewing gum and samples of this product had been pushed through the doors of local households. On the day in question my mates, Bernard, Pete and I were off to the Market District Boy’s Club – Bernard and Pete to play football and I was to play my game, rugby. Before setting off I took a packet of Beech Nut chewing gum and swapped the contents for BONO MINT laxative chewing gum. On the way to the club I offered a piece each to Bernard and Pete, who both, innocently, accepted. Of course I had carefully positioned a piece of the proper Beech Nut gum in the packet for myself.

After the game we met back at the club where I was advised that Bernard had been taken short during the match and had to make a hasty retreat off the pitch. It did not seem to affect Pete until later that night when we were coming back late at night from dancing at Pudsey baths. Pete had to quickly get off the bus and get behind a hedge. He caught the next bus but unfortunately the same thing happened again and as this was now the last bus he had to walk all the way home (on his own). Unfortunately it was still affecting him while serving at St Hilda’s Church the following morning. Fortunately the incident did not affect our friendship and we embarked on a holiday in Devon.

The Holiday in Devon It would have been around 1956/57 when Pete and I decided to have a week’s camping holiday in glorious Devon. We were in our mid teens and this was going to be an adventure. Our route was to be by steam train from Leeds to Bristol where we would change trains for Barnstaple, another train to Bideford and finally a bus to Clovelly, which was to be our ultimate destination. There we had arranged to camp at the delightfully named ‘Wrinkleberry Farm’. The site had already been recced by Pete’s mother and father as being a suitable spot for us.

We allegedly carried everything we would need for the week on our backs, including two small tents, one for sleeping and one for stores. In addition, we had with us, or thought we had with us, a Primus stove for cooking. We got off to a bad start by falling out over whether or not we should risk dumping ourselves and all this gear in a first class carriage; which looked much more attractive than those afforded by our third class tickets and werekleberry Farm for Blog

full anyway. Somewhere along the way, it dawned upon us, with a sickening impact, that we had forgotten the Primus stove; it was still sitting on our kitchen table at home. This was a major blow for two growing lads for it meant no hot food unless we bought out, this was a ‘double whammy’ as take-a-ways were as rare as rocking horse dung in Clovelly and anyway our financial resources, being young lads, was very limited. We decided, after debate, that our best course of action would be to buy another stove and this we did at Barnstaple. Now, whether we couldn’t afford a proper Primus stove or whether we just could not locate one in Barnstaple I can’t now recall but we finished up buying a Butane stove instead. The Butane stove was a small blue affair; the canister, which contained the gas, came separate from the base of the stove. To start the thing one needed to locate the canister onto the stove and push into position by forcing it onto a spike and securing it with two clips. That in turn pierced the canister and allowed the gas to be released in a controlled manner for igniting and cooking. Unfortunately, the first time we tried to use it we managed to spike the thing but did not have it located properly. This caused it to take to the air like a flying saucer propelled by the escaping gas and emitting a smell like rotting vegetation as it flew. By the time we retrieved the canister it was empty. So that was it, as we didn’t have access to another canister in outback Clovelly, so we were back to square one again without a means of cooking.

Happily, Wrinkleberry was a great place to camp and Clovelly itself, in my perception, one of the most beautiful villages in England. Of course we had probable been indoctrinated by Pete’s mother and father, who made pilgrimages to spend their holidays there almost every year. That was in the days when a Ford eight had to meander through countless town and city centers (before motorways) and an overnight break in Bristol on the way down, which meant four days of the holiday were lost already in the travel.

Pete’s house in Leeds was a shrine to Clovelly; there were pictures of the place on almost every wall and a Devon pixie doorknocker. For those not lucky enough to have visited Clovelly when it was a living village rather than a virtual museum it can best be described as one long, narrow, cobbled street which reached from a car park at the top to the quay far below. Motorised transport was not allowed in the street: it was far too steep and narrow anyway. All goods, including: milk deliveries, groceries and even the dustbin collection and funerals were carried out by means of donkeys pulling sleds. At that time, the whole village was under the ownership of Lady Hamilton, who lived at Clovelly Court, a grand house out of bounds to the rank and file.

We must have been fit at the time for we would be up and down that street from Wrinkleberry to swim by the quay, three or four times a day – all four or five hundred feet drop of it. I certainly wouldn’t like to have to tackle it even once a week today! One day we looked back from our swimming in the quay to see all our clothes floating on the water, the tide had come in and we hadn’t noticed; the salt water ruined my new watch. About the third day a most amazing thing happened; we were lazing about on the big pebbles by the seaClovelley for Blog (2), like a couple of great porpoises, probably thinking what we would have for dinner. We were still without the stove – One day as I was laid on my stomach on the beach looking up the winding street, I gasped: ‘Your Lill and Bill are coming down the hill!’ We called our parents by their first names, they said we were cheeky b’s but I think they liked it really. I suppose we were a bit avant-garde for the fifties. Anyway, I remember Pete saying, ‘Come off it. How can they be? They’re at home three hundred miles away!’ It was a bit like in The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy when the main protagonist who is on a distant isolated planet sees his old aunt walking down the road towards him. However, in his case he was hallucinating – I wasn’t – it was Pete’s Lill and Bill. They had made the three hundred mile plus journey, all the way from Leeds, to bring us the Primus stove. Well, that and the fact they didn’t need much of an excuse to have an extra holiday in Clovelley at the best of times. Thereafter, for a few days, we slept in our tent and Lill and Bill slept in the van alongside us at Wrinkleberry Farm. And we were able to cook on the Primus stove; in fact, I suppose we had the advantage of Lill doing most of the cooking for us too.

The week proceeded idyllically and sunny for the next few days, we had a memorable trip to Lundy Island on the old Waverley paddle steamer, which would arrive from Ilfracombe and anchor out in the bay where the local fishermen would row the folk who wereWaverley paddle steamer
going to make the trip out to join it. I admired the lifestyle of those old Clovelley fishermen. Many of them had been born and bred in Clovelley and worked the fishing boats as lads before getting ‘wanderlust’ and joining the Royal Navy or perhaps the merchant navy and going off to see the world. Finally they would return to finish their days back in Clovelley, pottering about in their boats, setting a few lobster pots, making few bob rowing holidaymakers around the bay etcetera but mostly just to sit around smoking on the harbour wall chewing the fat with their old mates. What a lovely way to spend a life! I believe the old Waverley, which incidentally made the trip to Dunkirk to bring the lads back, is still plying its trade among the Scottish Islands even at the time of writing. Lundy, a windswept rock in the Bristol Channel was at the time home to a few lighthouse keepers and a puffin colony. I recall a steep climb to an old stone church, a post office making good profit out of selling the island’s own puffin stamps and a having a picnic. A good day was had by all.

About Thursday the weather changed and it started to rain and I mean rain, ‘stair-rod time’. Now, there is not much to do in Clovelley in heavy rain so good old Lill and Bill said they would take us on to Newquay in the van, where there were chances of a few more foul weather attractions. So, off we bumped to Newquay in the back of that seatless, Jowett, Bradford van. We still intended to camp but the rain was no better in Newquay: probably worse if anything. We paid an old farmer for a campsite but it quickly turned into a river and we had to abandon the idea of camping altogether and seek ‘bed and breakfast’ accommodation. We were boarded the first night by a nice lady who then passed us onto her daughter for the rest of the week. Both houses were located on a bend in the road into Newquay near to where a circus was being held. Neither of us has been able to pin point the exact location of these two houses on subsequent visits to Newquay.

Then followed the longest train journey home either of us can remember. First the train went to Plymouth, were we were delayed and had to make a change of trains. Eventually we arrived in Bristol where we had to spend a cold night on the station platform as our train did not leave until the next morning. That night spent on a cold seat was memorable in that it was so cold and miserable. Ironically, as we were told later, our carriages were standing alongside the platform unlocked where we would have been welcome to spend a warmer, more comfortable night than on the station bench. We arrived home in the afternoon of the next day. It was seventeen hours after our departure from Newquay by time we saw the grimy old face of Leeds Corn Exchange, which always confirmed our holidays were well and truly over. But what an adventure it had been!

Great tale Eric. I remember it well – especially the laxatives!!!

Last months pic? St James Infirmary (Jimmies) Taken from Becket Street Cemetery
Now for this months’ Remember these two Schools?
.Beasts in the top school belles in the lower schoolCentra & Thorseby for blog

My Early Life in East Leeds by John Gibbins

April 1, 2008

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


                                                The East Leeds I Knew  (John Gibbins)

Early memories:

These include many unforgettable characters of our youth.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Fond and lasting memories abound

The Quarry

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

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

From Zion to Garforth (and back)

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

Ran races

Drank Tizer

Scoffed cake

A lovely time was had by all

Home again on the bumpy ride

Sleep snugly until tomorrow

Times to treasure

East Leeds Commerce

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

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

Ex school monitor Ellerby Lane.

Farewell Akela

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

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