Archive for the ‘Richmond Hill’ Category

Margaret’s Tale. Past times in Richmond Hill

December 1, 2014

MARGARET’S STORY Mrs Margaret Croll (nee Ibbetson) has given us permission to include her story in East Leeds Memories. Margaret’s story first appeared in: Past Times in Richmond Hill and The Bank a study in oral history of local folk collected under the auspices of Park Lane College. Margaret is the oracle on information about Richmond Hill. Margaret attended St Hilda’s Church of England School from 1941 to 1951.The classes were mixed and of different age groups of approximately 40 pupils. She was taught: reading, writing, arithmetic, science, geography and history, religious education (RE) and had to attend church on saint’s days. No provision was made for school diners until the 1950s. Margaret attended Ellerby Lane School for cookery and Victoria School York Road for housewifery.

Note: in response to this tale Marlene Egan (nee Marlene Howard) Ellerby Lane/Cross Green School Has left a comment. please leave a comment if you remember her.

MARGARET’S TALE – THE SHOPS IN RICHMOND HILL When thinking of my childhood during the first decade after the Second World War my mind sometimes wanders back to the time when there were lots of shops in Richmond Hill. One in particular brings back fond memories because it belonged to my Aunt Emma (nee Reynard) and Uncle Tom Woods. My mam was Mollie Ibbetson (nee Reynard) and was cousin to Emma. The shops at 29 Upper Accommodation Road at the corner of Nellie View formally belonged to John and Susan Reynard who were uncle and aunt to my mam. The shop was grocery and green grocery selling fruit, flowers poultry and game. The shop had a marbled top counter with scales for weighing dry goods such as: flour, butter, lard, cheese and fruit: apples, pears etc. On the counter was a bacon slicer for cutting thick or thin rashers of bacon and ham. It was also used for cutting boiled ham and corned beef. (I don’t think the health inspectors would have liked cooked and uncooked food being sliced on the same machine today?) Under the counter was a vinegar barrel with a tap; customers would bring their own jug or bottle for vinegar. The shop was stocked with dried fruit for baking, fresh fruit included apples pears, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, grapes, bananas and soft fruit when in season – strawberries, raspberries plumbs, gooseberries red currents and black currents. Soft fruit was not available all year round; it was the same with flowers. In the right hand corner of the shop was a big wooden potato hod, which was a pyramid shaped container, with the point at the bottom, standing on a frame with wooden side supports. Sacks of potatoes were emptied into it. There was a big scale next to it shaped like a coalscuttle, it was used for weighing the potatoes: people would ask for two pennyworths, six pennyworths or a shilling’s worth according to their needs. The green vegetables were also at this side of the shop – cabbages cauliflowers and sprouts alongside the root vegetables swedes, parsnips, onions, white turnips carrots and beetroot. The front window looked onto the main road. It was Mam’s job on Monday morning to clear and clean the window and brass the big rail, which is another way of saying clean the brass rail with Brasso. The rail had hooks on it that went all way across the window. Mam would then redress the window in the afternoon as it was half day closing. She would shine the apples with a soft cloth and arrange all the different fruit in the window with salad, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes spring onions, all arranged in separate baskets, then mam would hang black and green grapes on the hooks. At Christmas time the shop had holly and mistletoe on the hooks outside. In the big kitchen Mum and Aunt Emma would skin and chop rabbits, pluck and draw chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese. In the shop were nuts, walnuts, Barcelona (like hazel nuts) almonds, Brazil nuts dates figs and crystallized fruit; all nice things for Christmas. Very early on Friday mornings, Mum and Aunt Emma went to the wholesale market which was in Leeds Kirkgate Market at the time. They would order all the fruit, vegetables and flowers for the shop. The shop hours were 9 am to 1 pm on Monday the other weekdays 9 am to 6 pm and on Saturday 8 am to 5 pm. on Saturday. When the shop closed for the weekend Aunt Emma would bring any soft fruit that had not been sold into the kitchen to make jam. She also pickled onions, beetroot and red cabbage, used cauliflowers to make piccalilli and made her own chutney, all this to be sold in the shop. She would buy two ounces of Turmeric from the chemist: Timothy White and Taylor to make the piccalilli, here were no metric measures in those days. She also made potted meat by boiling the ham bones and any leftover ends of bacon; there was always a queue of people waiting for it. Aunt Emma and Uncle Tom retired in the 1960s the shop was sold and they went to live next door. I miss all the shops that were part of my childhood and growing up. Federation housing is now on the site of the shop and old streets. There were so many shops in Richmond Hill all our daily needs could be purchased locally. Some of those which come to mind are: the Thrift Stores in Dial Street and Tommy Hutton the herbalist. Upper Accommodation Road had no end of shops including general grocers, Maypole, Drivers, the Co-op, Gallons, which later became Bill Benn’s television Shop. The Co-op also had a butchery and shoe department. There were lots of butchers in the area and confectioners, newsagents, drapery and clothing. Today all that remains in Upper Accommodation Road is a pharmacy, café, off licence and a sandwich shop. A bakery has recently closed. Nowadays we have to travel by bus or car for our everyday needs which usually come from the big supermarkets like Kwik Save on Torre Road or Morrison’s at Hunslet. Yes I do miss those little shops of earlier years.


our east leeds shops cross green lane

our east leeds shops

The Richmond Hill Whit Walk This was an annual event. It started from the Prospect Hotel, down Accommodation Road, Dial Street, Easy Road and then around the periphery of the old running track at East End Park, twice, before returning to the Prospect. It attracted a large field and there was a monetary prize. There is a dramatised film based on the race in existence. If I recall correctly an old mate, Jimmy Croll, won it twice, at least RICHMOND HILL WHIT WALK


October 1, 2013

                                                      WENDY’S TALE


                                           East Street Day Nursery.  1956


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me describe my workplace, this grand detached house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tweenies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the winter, night descended around four pm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wendy Carew's pic of nursary


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


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


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


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



Kenneth’s Tale

June 1, 2012

Kenneth’s Tale

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

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


                          The Memories of Kenneth (Hawkins) Heptinstall


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

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

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

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

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

Some of the things I remember

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

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

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

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

East Leeds Champions replying to Bernard Hare’s Derogatory book on East Leeds

November 1, 2011

Comments from the ‘Champions of East End Park’ replying to the book: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew.

In October’s blog the question of the publication: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew was raised and a few old East Leedsers across the world were sent copies for their comments. Of course if you haven’t read the book you may wonder what all the fuss is about. The author of the book, Bernard Hare, purports to be an ‘Eastie’ himself, born in East Park View in 1958. Returning to the area in the 1990s he finds: feral children, car stealing joy riders, drink and drugs, underage public sex, lawlessness and living standards of absolute squalor. Unfortunately, this book is finding its way into the hands of folk new to the area that are unaware of its provenance and think the area was ‘ever thus’

            I think Mr Hare’s book strikes us so violently because he is so detailed in naming the streets and places that were dear to our hearts hence giving  credence to his story: Mount St MaryEast Street, Batty’s Brush Works, Mount St Mary’s Church and Steps, (we used to train for football running up and down those steps), Richmond Hill, East Park Drive, Glensdale Terrace, East Park View, Accommodation Road, Londesborough Grove, East End Park Bowling Green, and the Slip Inn are all mentioned and his finely detailed description of his walk back from the Royal Armouries crossing  over that which can only be our dear old ‘Paddy’s Park’ to finally arrive in Glensdale Terrace.

            Perhaps we shouldn’t shoot the messenger but rather accept that we, who were lucky enough to be born in East Leeds in the 30s 40s and 50s, have probably created a utopian vision of the area when really it was just that we were young at the zenith of the generations and it has been down hill for everyone ever since?

 Here is what our old champions – all born within a stones throw of East Park –   have had to say about the book:


Wendy, East Leeds Lass, born in the Charltons, who now lives in Perth, Australia, has this to say:

Sorry, I just can’t read anymore of this book, ‘Urban Grimshaw,’ I was in conflict about the authenticity of the author’s story. I lived in the Charltons in the 1940s and my grandmother lived in the Ecclestone’s. I would cut through the streets mentioned in the book while walking to work at East Street Day Nursery in the 50s and I can honestly say I never witnessed anything Bernard Hare describes. Good writers should entice you into their story not turn you off at the very beginning.

I found the writing alienated me in the very first chapter and my mind was closed and resistant through the next chapters. I think the author needs to be seen as valuable. Perhaps he was overlooked as a child, and saving others gives him a ‘feel –good’ appreciation.

Sorry not interested in reading anymore.

Wendy said after that she had to put the book down and have a glass of wine.

The Slip

Eric, born in East End Park – travelled the world, says:

I have to say that I barely recognise the portrait described in this book and there is very little resemblance to the East End Park that I knew.

I lived slap bang in the middle of Bernard Hare’s described boundary and roamed its highways and byways for over 20 years. I can therefore claim to know the area pretty well

I would differ from his boundary description, it was much less defined than that and in some parts I would not go so far and in others extend further. For example I would consider the true EEP to be roughly bounded on the west side by the railway cutting so far as Ascot Avenue, then a line across Ascot Avenue, Vinery Terrace, Ivy Avenue Street to Skelton Terrace Road then down to Ings Road along to Osmondthorpe Lane cutting south to Neville hill Railway Sidings. People either side may consider themselves to be in or out of the EEP area but it’s a matter of opinion and there was certainly no rigid defined boundary.

It was never described or considered to be an ‘estate’. An estate was generally characterised by several features which distinguished it from the mix of housing which even today prevails in the area. An estate almost always comprised:

(1) Council/Social housing all of a similar style and construction (although   now there are a few private estates).

(2) All had medium to large gardens (mostly neglected)

(3) More structured layout with wider streets, grass verges and some tree lined avenues

(4) In general better facilities than many EEP residences, such as indoor toilets, H & C running water, indoor toilets, bathrooms etc.

The EEP area was never an homogenous area such as this with it’s mix of 19th century terrace housing, some back to back along with more modern housing, preceding any general understood notion of an ‘estate’ in Leeds.

I’ve never, ever heard the soubriquet ‘Easties’ applied to the residents or the artefacts (he refers to Eastie Curtains when describing shutters) {or perhaps could he be referring to boarded windows?}

The author clearly knows the area in general, most of his descriptions of the streets are quite accurate but some are not. For example he describes Londesborough Grove as tree lined. It never was and still isn’t. It was as he also describes, too narrow for street trees and even today has no garden trees. Even the lower part, which runs on to East Park Parade was wider but still devoid of trees ‘till well into the 60s but now has the odd garden tree on the east side. Nor was East Park View blocked off by the Slip Inn. True it was diverted but not blocked off

So much for the geographic content but it is the anthropogenic theme of the novel which is dour and depressing and portrays a community which is alien to that I remember through the 40s, 50,s and early 60s.

My clear memory of the area and community was one of vibrant, friendly, safe and relatively crime free environment. There was little anti-social behaviour and the streets were generally free from the litter and detritus. Indeed most houses took particular pride in keeping their own stretch of pavement and road well swept. The pavements were periodically swilled with water, brushed clean and the doorsteps ‘donkey-stoned’ on a weekly basis. Some rented houses were granted 6d a week reduction in their rent just for keeping the flags and doorsteps in a clean state.

Of course there was the odd bit of drunkenness and punch up in the pubs etc, but rarely, if ever the extreme violence which is so common today for the most trivial of reasons, nor the gratuitous profanity that seems to be everyday language by almost everyone. ‘Bad’ language was usually reserved for the tap room or the workplace and never in front of ladies or children. Drug taking was unheard of .

The appalling feral behaviour described in the book just wouldn’t have happened in those days. The parents would have brought the miscreants to heel and failing that so would the community. Although EEP is now described as an inner city area with crime rate attracting the priority of the West Yorkshire Police, it is the Glensdales, Templeviews and the Charltons which has the majority of the  crime. The bulk of the remainder is still a respectable working class community.

It’s difficult to believe the accuracy of the depth and range of the behaviour, it seems extreme. So much so, that I wonder if the author has used the technique of many authors. They take scenes of unconnected events and people, weaving them into a composite picture to try and portray a reality. It may well be that contemporary residents have created their own ‘turf’ boundaries and glossary of terms but I think he has used his knowledge of the area to create a contrived and sensationalised urban story of decay, crime and social breakdown. Although it’s a novel, it’s presumably intended to portray life in the real but its gratuitous use of profanity, lewd and lascivious behaviour is, in my opinion, the only thing that sustains the ‘plot’ i.e. it’s junk.

Whilst parts of the area are now undoubtedly dreadful and unpleasant places to live, unlike the days of yore I can’t help feeling it’s an exaggerated perspective, designed to sell a few books.

I’m only grateful the EEP I knew and remain intensely fond of is light years away from the Hogarthian nightmare described in this book.

Something else has just occurred to me that should have been blindingly obvious. Londesboro GroveThe book claims ‘the shed’ was located between Londesborough Grove and East Park View and that was where the chicken coop of my friend, JT’s grandparents lived. Those houses had quite big gardens and the coop was big enough to hold a few of us from time to time.


John: an East Leeds lad who had a career spanning the continents before retuning to Leeds has this to say:

It wasn’t the easiest of reads – I could only manage a chapter at a time: drugs, thieving, car burning, glue sniffing were never part of my life – or my peers. What a sheltered lot we were.

I’m not sure if this makes sense but the reading of it gave me a feeling of claustrophobia, hemmed in and uncomfortable, hence one chapter at a time.

I left East End Park in 1964 and returned toYorkshire in November 2001.

I cannot equate with the people or portrait of lifestyles. The Svengali/Fagin character, who I assume was the author, was unrealistic in that context. He writes well but unconvincing. It’s not theEast Leeds I recognise.


Audrey Lived in Charlton Place – now long time removed to Brisbane. She observed a general deterioration of the district when she returned for her father’s funeral in 1987. Audrey concurs nearest to Bernard Hare’s description of the old district.

          Unfortunately, I can relate to how some kids have been abandoned, Not abandoned as in left on the road side but left to their own devices with no structure whatsoever. In our day neighbours would step in and give kids a bath and a meal or take them in when their parents were having a fight. Charlton PlaceThere are so many ‘do-gooders’ quoting rules but not prepared to roll up their sleeves and take charge and the kids are left to flounder along spiralling out of control. No matter where you live there is an area of survival of the fittest which turns into ghettos of squalor. In 1987 my mam still lived in Charlton Place. I was there for Dad’s funeral. Only about three houses had the same long term occupants I remembered when I lived there.  I don’t know how much rent Mother paid but it must have been cheaper than most areas as almost everyone was on the dole or some welfare payment. I was upset at the state of the houses with their grimy appearance. Mum had a window cleaner who came once a week she was the only one in the street he cleaned for

If the area had been in BrisbaneI would have avoided it like the plague. Strangely I didn’t feel any fear at all. At that stage I had to use a walking stick to get around but I still didn’t feel vulnerable but I wouldn’t have left a car parked outside overnight as I fear it wouldn’t have had its wheels in the morning.

All the shops were still operating but had wooden padlocked shutters over the windows after closing up.  The streets were extremely quiet after dark, no sound of people walking home from the pub or chip shop. I found it eerie. About twelve months later my brothers got Mum a unit down near Upper Accommodation Road, somewhere round about The Yorkshire Penny bank and The Hampton Pub. It was units for elderly people. My brothers said it was safer as the Charltons had become like a war zone. What is the answer to the problem? EDUCATION, its no good blaming society. Everyone is responsible. Don’t be afraid to stand up and have a say. Make those who have the power to alter things take notice of what you have to say.

Doug: born in the Glensdale Terrace in the 1930s and now lives near Adelaide, Australia

As for Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew I don’t know where my feelings end up.Glensdale Terrace It seems to pretend to be autobiographical, with Bernard Hare talking about himself. But, while he certainly writes as an insider to that culture, it doesn’t seem credible to me that a grown man in his thirties would join such a young bunch as the shed crewers. If it is really true, it is equally incomprehensible that he wasn’t lynched somewhere along the line for being a ‘nonce’. Whether he was innocent or not it would have been hard for him to avoid accusation.

But even as fiction from an insider it paints a depressing picture. I can believe there are pockets of such deprivation and sub-culture, but it’s harder to believe that it would be widespread over an entire district. We have pockets of extreme ‘delinquency’ here in some suburbs ofAdelaide. The gang of 49 is currently at war with society, with car thefts and ram raids, only the other day there was an abduction if a mother and child. The police know them, the courts have put them away in prison for periods but as soon as they have served their time they repeat the offences. Sadly they are mostly drop outs from school, from families absent of parents, and no hope of future other than what stunts they can pull and where they can get their next fix. So I can fully believe there are such pockets in Leeds and in East End Park.

Again I link back to your memoir. We were lucky to be part of a social class that had a positive culture. Though lowish in the social pecking order we were encouraged to finish school and do apprenticeships. As a youth I really cared about the impressions that the good citizens of Glensdale Terrace had about me. We were poor but decent. How awful that the whole fabric of socialisation has crashed for these young people.

Whether it is appropriate to blame Maggie Thatcher and those she represents, I do not know. But something essential has been stripped from society. People have to have a sense of future. If they are continually belted byBabylonthey will sink to the depths of this poor bunch unactualised kids, who in the postscript are not doing too well as adults either.

There is a sense of approval that the author seems to bestow on his own efforts and on the kind of integrity and loyalty to each other that these kids have. I’m sorry I can’t endorse that approval. Sigmund Freud (whose views I do not always subscribe to) once wrote that each new generation of children is like an invasion of the barbarians and it is the duty of parents and societies to socialise them and bring them under control Somehow, socialisation has failed. Somehow the id has to be brought under the control of the ego and superego.

Authoritative parents, good education, and prospects of some kind of respectable work, have to be reinstated.

Well at least Mr Hare has given us a talking point. Perhaps he will reply with a comment on this site?

East End Park




Maud’s Tales

August 1, 2008

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

Maud’s Tale

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


Maud’s Tales

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

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

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

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

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

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

            I says, ‘I don’t know.’

            She says, ‘ Bought her an evening dress.’

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

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

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

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

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


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

is this site

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


Would do fine

My Life Between the Wars by Stan Pickles

January 2, 2008

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

This Was My Life Between the Wars

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


Ellerby  Lane School and Local Football


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


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


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

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

Childhood Days

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Sporting ’Bank’

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

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

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


Easy Road picture House and East End Park

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


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

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

Ho! Those Trams

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

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

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

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

Those Back-street Bookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

snack and a cuppa is available. What changes indeed!

The Monkey Walks


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

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

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

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

Richmond Hill School, Ellerby Lane School & Evacuation

August 29, 2007

On March 14th 1941 Richmond Hill School in East Leeds was bombed. Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins) tells her story of the evacuation of Leeds School Children that followedRichmond Hill School, Ellerby Lane School & Evacuation 


Schools: Richmond Hill and Ellerby Lane, Leeds.



Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins)

March 1941 saw the bombing of Richmond Hill School and brought to an end seven happy years there. The picture shows my classroom, which took a direct hit. Fortunately it happened at night when the building was empty, so no loss of life was involved. I remember seeing my knitting in the rubble. We girls were knitting socks and Balaclavas for the troops and my efforts looked so pitiful – a khaki Balaclava on broken blue knitting pins. I recall the same air raid resulted in the dropping of bombs in Butterfield Street.

From then on I went to Ellerby Lane School; I was there for just eighteen months before leaving at the age of fourteen years. The teaching staff was: Misses Kelly, Grinstead, Gibbins and Carr and Mr Bannell, Holmes, and the headmaster Mr Dennis. They gave us a good basic grounding for life, for which I have always been grateful. On Miss Kelly’s retirement I wrote to her and her reply I have kept for fifty two years as a reminder of a very caring lady – even though she could be strict at times.  Her sole aim in life was to teach young minds and prepare children for the many eventualities they would encounter.  Those who read this account may be interested in the following quote from the letter I received from Miss Kelly. She thought a great deal of us all.

Quote from letter dated 29th July 1952 from Miss Bertha Kelly:

‘I have always wanted the best for the girls in my care and it is boys too now that classes are mixed and if in any small way I have done anything to help them to appreciate education and to learn self discipline I am amply rewarded………..There are only Miss Gibbins, Mr Burnwell and Mr Holmes left of the staff you knew.

Mr Dennis retired some years ago and is living in Lincolnshire where he was born. These changes do come as we get older and we have to accept them.  I shall miss Ellerby Lane and the children very much. They are a grand set of boys and girls and I have been happy teaching there. I can’t realise yet that I shall not be going back……….I have spent all my life teaching in East Leeds and it will always be a part of me. 

End of quote.

One memory I have of Richmond Hill was of two children in my class: Jessie Cockroft and Kenneth Wainwright who both died at the very young age of six or seven years of age. The whole school lined up in the playground when Jessie’s cortege passed by and we all said our goodbyes.

I have a newspaper cutting dated 17th December 1938, of a much loved headmaster Mr Mulley. He retired in the late 1930s. Others who read this may remember him; he was headmaster at Richmond Hill School from April 1933 to December 1938.

Wartime Memories:

All the houses in the area had their cellars reinforced ours was no exception. Our cellar consisted of two rooms the smaller being used as a larder (before the days of fridges). The larger cellar was for the coal. Dad had made part of the coal area as comfortable as possible – a couple of easy chairs and a place for the baby to sleep.

Dad was always out on patrol during air raids as he was an ARP man. He always tapped on the coal grid of every house and asked if everyone was OK. I was told by neighbours that they found this reassuring.

I was one of the evacacuees who went to Lincolnshire in September 1939. My brother Alan (he was only five years old) came with me and Mum and baby Keith followed next day. Two brothers Norman and Raymond Clough from Dent Street were billeted in the same house as my brother and I, which was a sweet shop in the village of Tealby. It seemed a great adventure, nothing traumatic, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience; in fact about ten years ago I found myself in the same area once again and I called at the house of Mrs Roberts with whom we had stayed. The shop was no longer there and the current owners had no idea there ever was a shop. They were very welcoming and interested in hearing about those days. I have a picture (enclosed) taken one Sunday morning after a group of us walked from Tealby across the fields to North Willingham. The elderly gentleman and the small girl were residents and the other gent is my Dad, who as visiting for the weekend. All the rest of us were evacuees from Leeds.

Raising money for ‘Spitfire Week’ was something I became involved with – only in a very small way, being only twelve years old. I made a stall out of a couple of wooden boxes and with the help and generosity of neighbours I collected lots of small items to sell. I set up a shop at the top of Kitson Street. After sitting there for the full day the grand total raised was 10/- (ten shillings) fifty pence in today’s money. I thought I had done well enough to buy at least one wing for a Spitfire.

Ark Royal Week

Early in 1942 Leeds residents wanted to raise money to help replace the famous Ark Royal aircraft carrier that had been sunk during a sea battle. The objective to be reached was £5,250,000 (nationally). The children at Ellerby Lane wanted to do their bit and collected clean empty jam jars, which were stored within the school. We must have collected hundreds if not thousands. Moorhouses, the jam company agreed to buy them and the school received a cheque for £27.00 from the company (a tidy sum considering that at the time a man’s wage was about £3.00 a week). This was given to the fund. There were many other ways of raising money: dances, whist drives, raffles etc.  In the Leeds City Centre an indicator was erected showing just how much money had been collected. When the indicator was raised there was usually a notable person involved, an example being one of our gallant airmen who had been badly burned bringing home his burning plane. He was awarded the highest honour his country could bestow on him: the Victoria Cross. His name was Nicholson. We also saw the Free French leader: General De Gaulle raising the indicator. Princess Royal did the honours on another occasion.

Our Area:

The hub of our area must have been Accommodation Road, every shop imaginable was there, grocers, butchers, shoe shops, clothes shops, hardware, newspapers and sweets plus the Yorkshire Penny Bank, a pub, chapel and a dentist My mother never had to go into Leeds city centre for anything. Everything she wanted was nearby, what you couldn’t get there you could get in Pontefract Lane where there was a post office, a chemist, pea and pie shop, Coop grocers and butchers, barber shop and cinema – the Princess. What happy times we had at the Princess – Saturday afternoons watching the Three Stooges, and wild western films. Later on I graduated to more sophisticated entertainment.

Rudges bakery at the top of Kitson Street was a magnet – delicious smells of bread wafted out I always wanted a slice of new bread from the oven but it never happened. We had to eat the old bread first or Mam would make bread pudding, full of dried fruit, and sprinkled with sugar then cut into squares. This was always on the dresser when we arrived home from school and we just helped ourselves. From the age of twelve to fourteen years of age I worked at Rudges for two hours every day after school and earned 4/6 (four shillings and six pence), twenty-two and a half pence in today’s money for the week. Half a crown supplemented the family income and I was allowed to keep 2/- but made to save it. With this money I bought my first and only bicycle, which was my transport to work after leaving school. 

Lots of miners lived in our area and an early recollection: is being woken up at what seemed like an ungodly hour by a man tapping the bedroom windows with a pole. You could always hear him as he wore clogs. Not only did he wake the miners up, he woke everyone else up as well.  Most tenants were railway men, the houses being owned by the Railway, if you worked for the Railways you were able to get a house to live in.   Our next-door neighbour, Harold Bell, was a train driver, his wife, Sally, a lovely lady, made the most delicious chocolate cakes; every Saturday I would go to her hoping for a slice. I was never disappointed. Every chocolate cake I have tasted since those days has been compared with Mrs Bell’s and they’ve never come close.

I recall an occasion when my dad bought a settee, second hand of course, from a neighbour. It was many years later that I learned it had been bought from Mr Wiseman of Oxley Street, who was the father of Ernie Wise (of Morecambe and Wise fame). Decades later I met Ernie at a ‘do’ we both attended and reminded him of our association with East Leeds. He told me he had revisited his old home and one improvement made to the house was, it now had an indoor loo.

Other memories of my youth flood back when I see, for instance: packets of chewing gum. I would sit on the wall at the top of Kitson Street with a mate, waiting for anyone to put money into the chewing gum machine at the corner greengrocers. We would just have a half penny to spend but every third customer at the machine would get two for the price of one, that’s what we were waiting for. I was never the one with the money, so having someone who would share was a mate indeed.

Rhubarb reminds me of trips down Black Road where there used to be fields full of the stuff. Armed with a good tablespoonful of sugar in a bit of newspaper we would help ourselves to sticks of rhubarb, dip the rhubarb into the sugar and eat it. This was before rationing so sugar was still plentiful – it needed to be, raw rhubarb is not to be recommended.

Another treat for us youngsters was when we bought a pennyworth of chips from the local ‘chippy’. The first three in the queue got a ‘jockey’ (I have no idea where the name originated) it was just a small piece of fish, enough for a taster. We didn’t often have the luxury of chips but when we did we made sure we were first in line.

East End Park was an oasis for me, the only place nearby where we could see trees, flowers and any sort of greenery. There was a small area for children with swings, seesaw and a roundabout. There was also a tennis court. From one area you could see railway trucks unloading coal into a vast chute. So even in the park you were not far away from coal.

The Star Cinema in York Road was the newest and much larger that the Princess and more plush too as was the Shaftsbury. We didn’t go to the Shaftsbury as often though as it was quite a long way away to walk and we had no money for a tram fare. Occasionally we would go to the Star but the Princess being so local was always our favourite.

Mrs Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins)