Archive for the ‘Paddy trains’ Category

The Pocket Watch and Route Noir

July 19, 2015

THIS MONTH TWO MORE GREAT TALES FROM ERIC SANDERSON

THE POCKET WATCH & ROUTE NOIR

 

 

THE POCKET WATCH

By Eric Sanderson

Long summer evenings in the fifties would find a group of us, anywhere between four and seven, on the playing field at the top of Snake lane. Very rarely had anyone any money, not a single penny, we mostly went out with nothing in our pockets.

Games of 3-a-side football, shots in, touch and pass or even cricket was played in fiercely competitive spirit for an hour or so. We then flopped onto the grass to recover and shoot the breeze over any and all subjects – most of which we knew very little about. The comparative merits of bikes was a favourite topic – Claude Butler; JRJ; Dawes etc’ We would argue over the minutiae such as the frame tubing, diameter of the rear stays, tires and (especially) the width of the wheel rims as well as the lustre of the paintwork. I hasten to add that none of us had the slightest chance of owning such a magnificent machine, but you could dream.

One evening Ronnie Cockill told us he had acquired a Smiths pocket watch from his brother Stan and that this model was regarded as the “toughest in the world”. This outrageous boost was widely scoffed at and the evidence, nay, the incontrovertible proof was demanded. Ronnie was extremely indignant at our scepticism and showed us his admittedly fine and robust looking example of horology. With some remaining unconvinced, Ron volunteered to demonstrate the watch’s credentials by hurling it as high as he could into the air and letting it fall to the ground – which he duly did. Sure enough it looked undamaged and continued ticking away like a time bomb. Fairly impressive but it was pointed out that its impact had been cushioned by falling into thick grass. The discussion continued to consider other ways for a more rigorous test, dispensing with placing it on the rail line for the “Paddy” train to run over it or throwing it against a brick wall as being perhaps too severe. A solution was finally agreed upon which, if passed, would satisfy all doubts, the following evening one of our group turned up with a Webley air pistol which belonged to his brother. It was a fearsome looking weapon obviously capable of bringing down a charging rhinoceros. The gun was tested against a nearby goal post, chipping the paintwork as well as burying the slug deeply into a nearby wooden post. We all felt this was going to provide a suitable examination of Ron’s claims. The agreed procedure was that the watch would be hung from a nearby sapping and we would each have two shots at it, one to the front face and one to the back of the case. All shots would be taken before the final examination so that if any damage resulted no individual could be blamed.

With great anticipation the test took place from a distance of about ten yards from the suspended watch. During the test the slugs pinged loudly when they struck the watch but there was no obvious damage from our distant vantage point and at the end the watch was solemnly passed around for detailed inspection by everyone. Remarkably, the watch continued to tick away merrily without a single mark, scratch or indentation to be seen. Honour was satisfied and Ronnie was justifiably triumphant. Secretly, we were all slightly envious of him owning such a remarkable timepiece which would surely last forever.

However, Ronnie’s joy didn’t last long because a few days later he lost his prized possession, probably when we were scrambling up and down the embankment to the “navvy” which we always used to access from the Bridgefield car park because under the bridge there was a small pond which was home to a number of attractive red bellied newts.

So if anybody happens to find a grime encrusted Smith’s pocket watch from the East End Park navvy, still ticking away, it may just belong to Ronnie Cockill.

ROUTE NOIR

Inevitable, after 50/60 years some of the fine detail in such memories can be a little hazy, certainly with my stories. Nonetheless, the thread and the main content remain faithful to the events at the time but apologies in advance to any whose recollections may be slightly different.

The Bridgefield Hotel was the origin of three roads running in a southerly direction from there. Cross Green Lane ran approximately south west with a sweeping left hand bend past St Hilda’s and terminated in those days at the Cross Green pub and the junction of South Accomm, East Street and Easy Road.

Halton Moor Road, always known as ‘Red Road’ because of its red shale surface (at least as far as the ‘basins’ more of those later) than roughly south east parallel to Neville Hill railway sidings and gradually petering out and terminating at Temple Newsam Road near the now defunct athletic track.

There was also another road called ‘Red Road’ by some. This ran along the bottom of the Snake Lane playing fields to Knostrop lane. I always considered this to be part of Snake Lane (but this may not have been strictly correct) and Halton Moor Road to be the ‘proper’ Red Road.

The third road was known colloquially as ‘Black Road’ probably because of the contrast of its Tarmac surface with the red shale of the adjacent Red Road. Black Road is more correctly a continuation of Pontefract Lane which started at the Hope Inn on York Road but this section was never called any other name than Back Road or ‘Blackie’ as in ‘we’re going down Blackie.

For young boys Black Road offered by far the most opportunities for adventure and so the following few yarns will focus on the East Leeds version of the iconic Route 66. It ran roughly south east forming the southern boundary of Halton Moor and Temple Newsam Country Park. terminating at the junction with Bullerthorpe Lane near Woodlesford. Little traffic traversed this road other than the leviathans carrying the excavated material from Parkinson’s strip mining site, located between Temple Newsam and Woodlesford. They would thunder up the road discharging billowing clouds of dust and fine soil which is why, after rain, the road below Blue Bell Wood was covered in a thin film of treacherous sludge, hazardous to any bike rider and, I dare say any other means of transport. The open cast mining site is now completely landscaped and there are very few obvious traces of mining activity.

The Snake Lane playing fields at the top of the road and Cross Green Lane were the source of great pleasure to many with its football pitches, bowling Greens and tennis courts. We spent many hundreds of hours there, as was the picturesque East Leeds Cricket Club (what a gem that was) the site of many keenly fought cricket matches and pleasant afternoons.

The ‘Basins’ were further down and located between Red Road and Black Road. I’ve no idea how they came to be there but suspect they were some kind of ancient soaking pits. Perhaps others may know. Anyway, they were a series of partly spherical depressions in the ground about 25/30 yards in diameter and about 3 or 4 yards deep and they were great fun to whizz around on your bike at breakneck speed – just like the Wall of Death (almost) before skimming over the rim, wheels leaving the ground and into the next basin. Of course it didn’t always happen as smoothly as described, especially after rain and the surface was very slippery, often resulting in a tangle in the cusp of the basin. I guess these were early versions of BMX parks but without the manoeuvrability of modern stunt bikes.

Bike races down Black Road were a popular pastime for us and one summer evening, a few of us were at the top of Snakey where it met Black Road and participating in a few bike races down towards the Woodlesford end. One of the group was a lad called George Dawson who lived somewhere in the Glencoe’s during the early fifties and drifted in and out of our regular group. George had a top quality bike with a fixed wheel arrangement whilst I had bike with a derailleur type gear change and we challenged each other to a race, exchanging bikes with each other. Off we went fairly evenly matched down to ‘Red Walls’ or was it ‘Black Walls’? the bridge over the Wyke beck which then ran along from Halton Moor and beyond On the return run I hit a large pot hole (probably caused by the huge trucks mentioned earlier) at speed, which sent me spinning from his bike and skidding along the road for what seemed about 50 yards. My clothes were torn and I suffered considerable gazing, still carrying the scars to this day and it didn’t do George’s bike much good either. When I see bike crashes in today’s Tour de France it makes me shudder, bringing back unpleasant memories of that day. George’s first thought was to make sure I was OK and even through his bike was badly damaged. He was completely unconcerned, ensuring that I got home safely if somewhat painfully. He absolutely refused to accept any payment for repairs as it had been his ‘challenge’ but it must have cost a small fortune to put his bike back into shape. Unfortunately, we shortly lost contact with George because I believe he went to live in Australia. Bike racing also disappeared from my routine activities for a long time.

Another time we thought we had discovered a highly efficient way of collecting blackberries which grew in profusion further down Black Road. At the time it was possible to buy fireworks long before bonfire night and there was a particular vicious little banger called ‘The Little Demon’. Armed with a few of these we thought that tossing a few into the blackberry bush just a fraction of a second before the explosion, would blow bucket loads of berries from the bush and become much easier to gather. I have to tell you that this idea was a total failure, resulting in not a single berry being dislodged and a total waste of a week’s pocket money. Still nothing ventured, nothing gained.

About three quarters of a mile down the road from the Bridgefield, a rail spur ran from the ‘Paddy line’ to Neville Hill and a track on the RHS lead to an army camp which was used during WW2 to house POW’s and I think the local defence and Home Guard. There was also an Ack Ack battery stationed there. It was later used by the TA. The prisoners, which I believe were mainly Italians seemed to roam freely and a number of them stayed after the war, merging with the Italian contingent in the community. Part of the army camp was an armoured car testing circuit, which consisted of several deep water filled troughs with intervening humps and hillocks. These troughs teeming with frogs, newts and small fish were a magnet for young boys with fishing nets. On occasions a team of TA soldiers would bring a couple of tanks and put them through their paces around the circuit and once or twice they even allowed us onto the turret for a thrilling ride. However, I dread to think what happened to the wildlife in the water troughs as these armoured beasts splashed through them, churning up anything in their path with their powerful crawler tracks.

‘The Gorge’ was a cutting through a granite or sandstone outcrop near to the Woodlesford end of the road, about 10/15 foot high and about 100 yards long and topped by a line of trees, some of which were horse chestnuts. The sandstone rocks provided many a good hand and foot hold for clambering up for the ‘conker’ trees in September, when the conkers trees came into their prime. As it was a couple of miles from the top of Black Road it was a very long round trip to walk and as such meant that the conker crop would be pretty much intact, enabling a good harvest.

Just around the corner, up Bullerthorpe Lane, the rear entrance into Temple Newsam Park lead into through fairly dense woods. Within them was a pond which was absolutely stuffed with fish which would fight to jump out onto a simple fishing rod or line. Fishing competitions would often yield 30 to 40 catches EACH of fish measuring up to three or four inches long. They were all returned of course to ensure sport for another day.

That which we knew as the Bluebell Wood was in fact properly called Bell Wood and bordered the southern edge of the Temple Newsam golf course. I seem to remember that access to it from Black Road meant crossing private farmland patrolled by a warden who seemed to find the presence of young boys inimitable to peace and harmony. So it was a bit of sport to scamper across the farmland and dodge the bad tempered warden in order to meander up Dog Kennel Hill to the mansion house at the top, taking the short cut home via Halton Moor Road (Red Road)

The final little yarn of this story concerns the illegal and dangerous practice of what we called Paddy Hopping. At times when we were trudging back up the road, the Paddy would often pass by, usually slowing down and sometimes enabling us to jump up and cling to the back of the last wagon. We would dismount quite easily as it approached Cross Green Lane as it had to stop there prior to discharge the passengers or to cross the road when going to the coal staithe. Makes you shudder just to think of it these days but then, what a laugh!

Roaming far and wide was an everyday occurrence for many, just think what today’s youngsters are missing.

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The Glencoe Railway Children

March 1, 2014

The Glencoe Railway Children
By Former Glencoelian
David Harris
Note: ‘Click’ on pictures and map to enlarge
(It should be pointed out that the ‘Glencoe’s in this tale were a series of streets in old East Leeds and not the lovely Scottish Glen)
In the early 1950s I attended St Hilda’s School in East Leeds and lived in Glencoe View. The ‘paddy train’ ran at the top of our street behind high wooden boards. My first job after school was to climb over the boards with a bucket and go ‘coiling’ for the fire. We would even, irresponsible I suppose, dangerously knock out and pinch the wooden blocks that held the lines in place in aid of the fire. Then, after tea, it was over the boards again to play balancing on the train lines and see who could walk the furthest without losing their balance. On one occasion a bogey appeared on the line, like the ones you see in the American films. We would all pile on and have a great time. Another time we found some detonators and we put them on the line so that the train set them off with a series of great bangs. We

were always getting chased by the ’lines man’ but he never caught us – we knew all the bolt holes.Sylvia with caption

We all enjoyed going to the pictures in the 1950s. I used to clean Aunt Elsie’s steps to get my picture money. In our local picture house ‘The Easy Road – fondly nick named the ‘bug hutch’, the cheapest seats, which were our domain, were made of wood and often had protruding nails. The ‘bug hutch’ was within a couple of hundred yards as the crow flies but it was either over the boards again and the boards at the other side of the lines which protected those who lived in the ‘May’s’ and the ‘Pretoria’ streets or a more lengthy trip to ‘the ginnel’ which passed under the line for safety, but this was not for us it was too far away, so it was over the two sets of boards for us and the same coming home after the show.
Our outside toilets were at the top of the street facing the railway and would ice up in winter requiring a bucket of hot water to thaw them out – even so the pipes would usually burst requiring a plumber. Happy days! Many a time we would sit on the toilet roof facing the railway and when the paddy train came past on its way to the coal staithe at the bottom of Easy Road we would shout for the driver to throw us a cob off, and most times he would comply. Then we would tumble down to retrieve it with our buckets. Another favourite of ours was to hitch a ride on the paddy train on its way down Black Road to Waterloo Pit. Often on these occasions we would start a brick throwing fight with the soldiers from the army camp who manned the Ack Ack guns and barrage balloons during the war and later guarded the German and Italian prisoners. Then we would steal a ride on the dust-carts for the return ride. They had a four inch board at the back that you could jump on as the dustcart slowed for a corner, and then we would jump off as the cart slowed to enter Cross Green Lane near the Bridgefield Pub. The driver who always knew you were on the back and didn’t like it would accelerate into Cross Green Lane if there wasn’t any traffic coming the other way, which meant you had to jump for it accounting for quite a few grazed limbs’.
We were well off for railway lines for there was another railway line which ran under a bridge at the other end of our street this one was over an eighty foot drop! It carried goods trains from the main line at Neville Hill to the Hunslet Goods Yard and beyond. This cutting was locally referred to as ‘The Navvy’. Modern Health and Safety laws have now secured the bridges and approaches with eight foot high metal fences. They make the navvy look more sinister than it really was. The navvy was never a sinister place for us, it was a playground a dangerous one sure, but still a playground. We’d never heard of Health and Safety laws and wouldn’t have taken any notice of them anyway. We were adventurous in the forties and fifties no iPods for us, you were a ‘sissy’ if you came home without a cut or a bruise. We were up and down that ‘navvy’ like monkeys, especially at weekends when there were no railway personnel around – all eighty foot of it. Some maniacs even walked along the parapet of the bridge where a sudden gust of wind would have resulted in almost certain death. There were various features on the way down the navvy which will bring memories to any old East Leedser: ‘Ginner Rock’ and the ‘Town Hall steps’ are but two. One brave but foolhardy lad: David Wilson, once famously jumped all the way down the navvy for a bet of six pence and forty comics. Some say it was an arm he broke some say it was a leg others say got the comics but not the six pence. David is alas no longer with us but his name will live on in folk law as ‘The one who dared to jump the Navvy’ There was one particular descent which was a rite-of-passage for we Glencoe View lads, this was a vertical channel located hard up to the brick work of our Glencoe View bridge with rock on the other side, if I remember we called it ‘the devil’s drop’. You could let yourself down on a rope but the climb back was like climbing up a chimney, feet on one side of the channel and back on the other and inching yourself up slowly. You had to satisfy this climb before you could become a full member of the gang.01-02-2014 19;52;47

Another game was to place tin cans on the railway lines and fish for them with a magnet on a long piece of string. And who can forget the iron ‘Monkey Bridge’ where the paddy line crossed over the navvy and where diehards would attempt ‘daring do’s’ with ropes and all manner of death defying manoeuvres. Finally there was one part of the descent composed of loose pebbles where we would ski down just like on scree. Amazingly we survived to tell the tale.
In October we would assail the paddy train again off down Black Road, this time to ‘chump’ – collect wood for the Bonfires (no council arranged bonfires for us) while we were down there we would indulge in our staple diet of Tusky (rhubarb) and ‘oss mangles and likely have ‘sprout fights’.
Oh Happy Days!
p.s does anybody remember the ‘pig farm fish pond’?The Navvy Today for Blog

Navvy for blog

Great tale Dave. Have you anymore? Here’s a bit more info from Dave. Reportedly Joe Ball rode across the parapet of this bridge on Sandra Marshalls two wheeler bike. Good heavens!
Navvy BridgsNote: click on pictures to enlarge

 

Navvy before railings fitted    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Red Walls

August 1, 2011

 

 Red Walls

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

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

 (Next month more Audrey)

   GONE FISHING

  By Roy Marriott

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

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

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

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

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

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

                                  Eric Sanderson Remembers  Red Walls.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 OUR QUEENIE

By Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nanny Goat

By Mrs Janet Elliot (nee Lawler)

(What a lovely little tale)

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

And finally

The Basins

   By Eric Allen

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

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

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My Early Life in East Leeds by Graham Hawkridge

February 1, 2008

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

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paddy Train drivers:

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

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

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

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

 

The Opening

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

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

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

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

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

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

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

 

Graham Hawkridge

 

 

 

                                        The Navvy (Graham Hawkridge)

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

The Paddy Trains & Snake Lane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Paddy Train drivers:

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

 

Graham Hawkridge  (aided by an old colliery employee)

Army Camps and Air Raids.

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

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

 

The Opening

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

 

 

Ellerby Lane School

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

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

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

 

 

Jam Jar Week  

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

 

Graham Hawkridge