Archive for the ‘Snake Lane’ 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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Jackie’s Tale

August 1, 2014

Jackie’s Tale

By Mrs Jacqueline Hainsworth (nee Ormiston)

Well, it’s a long time since I played on East End Park, but I remember happy days with our bottle of water and jam butties going up into the hills to watch the trains. I lived in Clark Avenue from birth to 23yrs with my Mam, Gran, and Grandad (who died when I was 11yrs). I remember happy days with our Auntie Nora who also lived with us until she married sometime in the 1940s. It was a real house full but a happy house with good neighbours. My Auntie Flo and her daughter, Margaret, lived next door to us. We would get home from school and skip with an old washing line across the street and all the rest of the kids would come and join in. Then there was bonfire night everybody helped, we went chumping (collecting wood) and Eddie Purdy’s Shop always gave us boxes to burn. Each mam made something: toffee, roast chestnuts, chips from Robinson’s, parkin (I seem to recall my Mam did the parkin) such joy from the simple things. (No health & Safety just caring parents watching over us). Mr Craddock lived opposite, he was the lamp lighter, and we had a lamp at top of street. We went to the pictures a lot; Easy Road (bug hutch) beginning of week, Princess midweek, Star at weekend, it was the best of times only we didn’t know it.
While at Ellerby Lane in 1955 we made a film does anyone remember? You can view the film at Yfa York Yo31 7Ex. It’s very good lots of familiar faces: Jean Fawcett, Moira Kelly are a couple I recognized can anyone help?
Netball at Ellerby Lane: I remember the day we had to play our ‘thorn in the side’ Coldcotes, we never seem to be able to beat them so this was going to be a real grudge match, I loved the game! Marlene Senior and I played in defence position we were also very good friends. Some of the other girls in the team were: Brenda Bradbury, Jean McConnell, Lesley Beverly and Anne Parkin. The whistle went and play began we all played really well and went into the lead, then we fell behind, such a blow, but we didn’t give in. It was a very hard game for Marlene and me, as we had to stop the goals going in. We went back into the lead. What joy! Then Marlene went over on her foot Oh no! We had to play on as together we were a team, so I made Marlene play on I told her not to be so soft, she was in a lot of pain but carried on, my fault entirely. We won the game but not the cup, that didn’t matter we beat Coldcotes! But poor Marlene she had to go to hospital and arrived back at school in pot up to her knee a broken foot. But she forgave me and we remained good friends we still have a giggle about the game and how determined we were to beat that school they were such a good team. They got the cup but our team had the glory!
On a recent visit to Leeds we had a run round East End Park, it brought back to mind the way Clark Ave used to be, the street was so different only the cobbles remain. I went back in time to 1953 the year of the Coronation it was full of excitement, street parties, all the neighbours getting together to make it special we had hanging baskets outside each house and a long table down the street and our mam’s baking & making jelly, trifles, sandwiches. We all got a crown money box (which I still have hidden away somewhere). There was music, playing games, lots of fun and laughter. Time for the Coronation to begin we all piled into Mrs Bernisconi’s we all thought them very rich they had the first and only T.V in the street – it had a magnifying glass on the front of the screen so we could see the New Queen being crowned. Oh the excitement of the day! I don’t know which was best the Coronation or that we had watched telly. Back to the party and the fun and games, it went on all day the weather was kind to us for the best part of the day but the good old English weather let us down for then came the rain! That didn’t stop the festivities we carried on indoors all crammed into Mrs Abbott’s house at the top of the street (her house was really big with a back room and a front room) how posh was that? Finally the day had to end, but it was a good day the street looked so pretty and very colourful with all the flags and bunting, every house had made a great effort to make it into such a special and memorable day, and I think our parents would hope that as I have kept in mind the wonderful day we all had so should everyone else. It was wonderful back there in that street, there was always a good happy feel to it.
The one thing I couldn’t understand on my latest visit to the Clarks is the street seems to have shrunk. Is that possible, or is it the age thing?
JACKIE G (nee Ormiston)

Clark Avenue

Clark Avenue today

*****

Great Tale Jackie
I don’t suppose there was anything so special about our old East Leeds habitat but it just seemed that it was. Jackie’s tale and Carole’s tale for June epitomises a golden age which makes us long to return there. An old mate tells of how he was playing in the school yard one playtime and a guy mending the road came over with whimsical eye and said to him, ‘Do you know lad these are the happiest days of your life.’ And the mate said I think he was right at that.
I often wander through the old streets where we used to run to school as kids. We at St Hilda’s School would run through the Copperfield’s, the Cross Green’s and the St Hilda’s streets to school. The Ellerby lane kids would run through the Clark’s, the Archie’s and the Easy’s etc and I suppose the Victoria former pupils would run through the East Parks, the Glensdales and Charltons etc. Now those streets seem so bereft. Going back into those streets remind me of the old song: Once upon a time there was a tavern where I would sink a pint or too. It’s about a lonely old woman returning to a tavern of her youth which had been such a fun part of her life but now it was alas, all changed. Once or twice while perambulating St Hilda’s Crescent I have waxed lyrical to present incumbents of the area about its provenance regarding the iconic pantomime Cinderella which was performed by local kids in 1941 in a yard between the houses to raise money for a spitfire. But invariably it falls on stony ground. So forgive me I have penned this poem. I have called it
The Copperfields

Once through these Copperfield’s streets they came,
Laughing and chattering in sun and in rain,
More joined the throng along the way,
Futures bright and hearts so gay,
Others came from different paths
To face English tests and study maths.

Now these streets seem so forlorn
as I wander through them all alone
Fresher fields called all away,
The time had passed to skip and play.
Where they have flown it’s not mine to know
Have their lives been fulfilled?
I’d like to think so.
Indulge me a bit more.
Once in school we had assembly and then off to our individual class rooms. We sat in rows from the front of the room to the back two to a desk, two boys two girls, two boys, two girls etc. We didn’t have homework so we didn’t need to carry anything to school. The school books we kept in the desks which had lift up tops and ink wells. When you got a new exercise book it was a joy and you would try to keep it pristine clean at the start but then your mate that shared the desk with you would lift the desk lid up while you were writing and your book would be spoiled with dirty great blot from the brown powdered ink which filled up the ink wells. No ball pens in those days; it was years later that I saw my first Biro. At 10.30 we would gurgle a gill of milk and then onto playtime and those wonderful playground games.
As I flunked my eleven plus I stayed at the same school, St Hilda’s, with the same kids all way from five to fifteen years. In those ten years we got to know each other very well and became firm friends. But now we are mostly lost to one another: where are they all now? How have they faired? It’s hard enough to keep track of the boys but even harder to keep track of the girls as most have changed their names upon marriage. I hate to think of us drifting out of life without further contact so, next time I catch a leprechaun by the toe I’ll make him reveal how all those good mates faired, before I let him go!

************************************************************

Finally, Dave Carncross asks if anyone recognises themselves on this picture – he is on there somewhere. He thinks it’s a Bourne Chapel outing in a farmer’s field near Snake Lane. Probably sometime in the late 1940s?

dave's bourne chapel group

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

ALISTAIR’S TALE

January 1, 2013

ALISTAIR’S TALE
Alistair is a true Scot who now lives in America but in the late 1940s/early 50s we had the honour of having him as part of our little East Leeds gang.

Exile from Fife to East Leeds
And
An introduction to cricket
By Alistair Duckworth.

When I came to Leeds at the age of 10 in 1946, it was to enter a very different world from the Fife of my childhood. In chauvinistic Scotland, the English were the auld enemy. At school in Cellardyke my friends and I compelled a new pupil from England to forsake his allegiances. We made him admit that the thistle was better than the rose, that Wallace and Bruce were the true heroes of history, that Bannockburn was the greatest victory of all time, and that the saltire of St Andrew was a superior banner to the red cross of St George. We even made him agree, against all evidence, that the Scottish football team was better than the English team and–incredibly!– that Wullie Waddell was a better outside right than Stanley Matthews. When one day my mother casually told me that we would soon be leaving for England (so that my father, on leaving the Royal Navy, could find employment in Leeds), I was horrified, believing it would now be my turn to give up my most fervent beliefs.

Of course, nothing of the sort occurred. In Leeds I learned that though the Scots were aggressive towards the English, the reverse was not true. Coming from cold, bleak Anstruther, where fights were common in the schoolyard, to warm and friendly Leeds where fights, as I recall, were nonexistent, was a revelation. My father was from Leeds, and I had visited the city at an earlier age, even attending St Hilda’s school (Mrs Duckworth’s class). But the change was great nevertheless—from a Presbyterian kirk to a high Anglican church, from John Knox and Calvinistic austerity to Pusey and Anglo Catholic ritual, from fishing village to industrial city, from bracing ozone to pea-soup fogs, from the “taws” as an instrument of punishment to the cane.

In Leeds, I was introduced to fascinating new games that changed with the seasons: conkers, top-spinning and marbles (another kind of taws) for boys; jacks and rope-skipping accompanied by songs for the girls. I encountered boys with amazing skills. “Bools” in Fife had been a mild affair played on a concrete surface with vividly coloured glass marbles. Taws at St Hilda’s was played on a dirt surface with stone-hard, dirty-white marbles that had little aesthetic appeal. But in the knuckles of Harold Sedgwick, the game was played at a level of skill that had to be seen to be believed. Rather than rest the marble on the middle joint of the index finger and propel it with his thumb nail, Harold (in a way I could never repeat) lodged the marble between the knuckle of his thumb and the point of his index finger. He could then propel it with astonishing speed and accuracy at the target marble, which would be sent into the middle distance far beyond the circle drawn in the dirt. Harold’s marble, meanwhile, would stay, rapidly spinning on its axis, in the spot once occupied by his opponent’s marble.

Leeds at that time was a dirty city with more than a passing resemblance to Dickens’s infernal Coketown in Hard Times. Born in rural Fife, I at first missed grass, trees and fields. Stone-slab pavements and tarmac or cobbled roads seemed to cover the earth everywhere. From the soot-covered windows of our red-brick house I saw a Lowry landscape of chimneys belching out smoke and carcinogenic particles. The actuaries put the early 60’s as an average life expectancy for men. Soon, however, I found that fields existed, only minutes from St Hilda’s church. To the east Snake Land had two football pitches, a bowling green and tennis courts. And to the south was the village of Knostrop, which time seemed to have passed by. At the bottom of the hill leading from Cross Green Lane, and close to the River Aire, the hamlet was, I believe, a part of the Temple Newsam estate. Its Jacobean hall was still precariously in existence and inhabited by a man named Benn.

Looking back on the place, I see Knostrop as a cross between Cold Comfort Farm and a Grimm’s Fairy Tale landscape (it had a “humbug house”). But I enjoyed going down to this other, rural, world. In the autumn we gathered chestnuts to pickle into conkers. We also played rugby in the pond field next to the old hall. Jack, Benn’s dog, would accompany us. He was the wicket-keeper when we played cricket and the goalkeeper when we played football. But he disapproved of rugby. The ball was the wrong shape, and he was left with nothing to do. Jack is long dead, and so is Knostrop, swallowed up by industry and business parks. But it has an enduring existence in the published memories, written and collected by Peter Wood, an old friend at St Hilda’s School.

An Introduction to Cricket

When I came to Leeds, I was introduced to cricket, a game not often played in Fife and never with the skill and enthusiasm displayed by my new friends in the summer of 1947. When we had time, we played with stumps and a proper cricket ball (but not pads) on a grass pitch at Snake Lane. More usually we played in the streets (still mostly free of traffic) with a tennis ball or a solid composition-rubber ball. If a box or similar object were to hand, it would serve as a make-shift wicket; if not, a man-hole in the tarmac would do just as well. Someone would supply a bat, sides would be selected, and the match was on. On Sundays we played outside St Hilda’s church both before and after Sunday School. I was surprised by the lack of bickering over “out” decisions. A catch was obvious, of course, but appeals for lbw, if credible, would be accepted by the batsman without demur, and if he were beaten by a ball that passed over the manhole within the imagined dimensions of the stumps, batsman, bowler, wicket-keeper and fielders would generally concur that it was an out. A basic fairness prevailed.

Cricket was a topic of much interest in my father’s family, particularly to my Auntie Alice, who followed the fortunes of Yorkshire and England throughout a long life, at first on radio, later on TV. From my father and my aunt I soon acquired a strange new vocabulary; I learned about cover point, long on, and silly mid-off, about off drives, hooks and late cuts, about yorkers, googlies and chinamen, about in-swingers and out-swingers. I came to understand the importance of the weather in determining whether the pitch at Headingley would be favorable to batsmen or bowlers on a given day, and if to the latter, whether it would be best to use fast, medium-fast, or slow bowlers. If slow bowlers, the question would then be debated whether to use an off-spinner or, much more dangerously, a leg-spinner.

But it was not only the terminology of cricket that made it fascinating to me. The history of cricket was also a common topic of conversation. The Duckworth adults knew about the great players of the past stretching back to W. G. Grace and Jack Hobbs, and held strong opinions about the best opening partership (Hobbs and Sutcliffe), the best all-rounder (Wilfred Rhodes, a Yorkshireman, of course), and the best fast bowler (grudgingly conceded to be the Australian Lindwall). They told me about England’s controversial (“bodyline”) tour of Australia in 1932-33, in which the fast bowler Harold Larwood had aimed “bouncers” at the bodies and heads of the Australian batsmen. In an attempt to disarm persistent Australian criticism of England’s tactics, the MCC banned bodyline bowling and called on Larwood to apologise. Larwood refused on the grounds that he had been told to bowl in this way by the team’s captain, Jardine. Jardine, in common with all captains of England until Len Hutton, was a gentleman amateur, whereas the working-class Larwood was a professional. In consequence of his refusal to apologise, I was told, Larwood was never picked for England again. For my father, uncles and aunts, this was a deplorable action on the part of the establishment.

In the late summer of 2009 the Enland XI won the test match over the Aussies at the Oval and by so doing regained the Ashes. Living in Boston, Massachusetts, I was only able to follow the state of play on my lap-top. Even so the thrill of England’s victory was palpable. I was taken back to England’s Ashes victory in 2003, which my wife and I followed on TV while living in London (my wife was in Trafalgar Square when the England team, featuring a very drunk Freddie Flintoff, appeared on the top-deck of an open double-decker bus). Even more evocatively, I recalled an earlier series, the tour of the Australians in 1948. At that time I was a fervent fan of Yorkshire and England. Len Hutton, master of the cover drive, was my hero. And when matches against Yorkshire were not at issue, I could also enthuse about Cyril Washbrook of Lancashire (who opened with Hutton), Bill Edrich of Essex who came in number three, and the dashing Denis Compton of Middlesex, who came in number four.

When my aunt Alice asked my cousin Peter and me if we would like to go to see the Australians at Headingley, I was ecstatic. That summer the Aussies had a formidable cast of players: the legendary batsman Donald Bradman, who had played in the bodyline tests, the charismatic all-rounder Keith Miller, the fast bowler Lindwall. We went on the fourth day and were allowed to sit on the grass next to the boundary opposite the pavilion. Australia’s first innings’ tail was quickly dismissed in the morning, and then Hutton and Washbrook opened England’s second innings. They made an excellent 129 for the first wicket. By the fifth morning, whenYardley declared at 365 for 8 wickets, Australia were left with what seemed to be an impossible target of 404 runs for victory. But Bradman and Morris made a very fast and record-breaking partnership of 301, and Australia won the test, with Bradman scoring 178 not out at the end. I did not see Bradman bat, but he was in the field on the fourth day, not far from where we were sitting, and as captain he could be heard directing the fielders where to position themselves.

In the final test at the Oval, Bradman needed only 4 runs to end his career with an average of 100 per test match innings; ironically, he was bowled out for a duck. No subsequent batsman, however, has come anywhere close to his Test Match batting average.

A great tale, Alistair – thanks for letting us use it.

Did you guess last month’s picture? I know many of you did. It was of course the remaining front façade of York Road Baths and Library

Now for this month’s pic – a power house for boy meets girl – especially on Sunday nights in the 1950sStar York Road

In Defence of Our Old East End Park.

October 1, 2011

In Defence of Our Old East End Park

In the next couple of month’s the champions of our Old East Leeds will be replying on this site to a circulating book with the title: Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew by Bernard Hare. The author portrays our area in the 1990s as a very dark place filled with crime and drug abuse – and the resident ‘Easties’  are describes in the credits by Christopher Cleave of the Sunday Telegraph as,

‘A true story of a terrifying joyride through Britain’s hell-bound underclasses.  

 

Was this the legacy we set down for them in the 1940s/50s? Were we ever an ‘underclass’? Whatever happened between the fifties and nineties? Read it and weep – or better still leap to its defence with your comments as I hope our champions across the world who enjoy this site will strive to do in the coming months.

 

In the meantime here are a couple of tales of East End Park in better times. Stan Pickles sets the scene in the 20s and 30s and Eric Sanderson in the 40s and 50s.And I take a nostalgic Sunday afternoon stroll around the park today.

 

 

 

Remembering East End Park in the 20s and 30s

By Stan Pickles

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 troublemakers.  You will note I didn’t say ‘vandals’. There were no such people in that day and age.

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’.

 

Remembering East End Park in the 40s and 50s

  East End Park- a Neighbourhood Gem.                                  By Eric Sanderson.

Those familiar with East End Park will be remember its extent and facilities – always very well maintained by a team of groundsmen and patrolled by a very strict “Parkie”.

From the wide, sweeping lawns, well used tennis courts, bowling greens and beautiful Rose garden to the extensive football pitches, garden allotments and large children’s playground complete with paddling pool/model boating pond, it was a paradise. There was even good train spotting facilities for those so interested as the Neville Hill sidings ran alongside the southern edge of the park.

A wide tree lined avenue crossed the park fromEast Park  Parade Railway Bridge to link up withVictoria Avenue at the other end. At each end was a huge set of wrought iron gates which were always locked & I never saw any traffic passing through. Indeed, it was prohibited to ride your bike within the park boundaries in those days.

During the late forties & early fifties, it was even forbidden to walk on the grass and the lawns were littered with signs enforcing this.

Of course , these two prohibitions provided endless opportunities for a bit of harmless fun & to tease the Parkie, who as I remember was a feisty little chap who always carried a stout stick with which he could whack any errant youth who happened to cross his path. In those days, he would think nothing of such treatment & most parents felt he was fully justified in exerting such discipline.

We would run across the lawn, shouting from a safe distance, to attract his attention and then disappear into the hills before he could catch up with us.

These “hills” were another attractive feature with winding, foliage lined footpaths through perhaps a couple of acres of elevated landscape giving fine panoramic views over south Leeds & beyond.

At other times, we would sweep along the avenue on our bikes, much to the parkie’s rage but he could never catch us until one day, he managed to put a savage & final stop to this particular piece of sport.

As one group whizzed through and passed him standing in the middle of the avenue, he jabbed his aforementioned stick into the wheel of one of his tormentors. This brought the offending cyclist to a sudden halt and accompanied by a hefty cuff around the head brought the practice to an immediate & abrupt end.

            The undulating terrain of the park provided many grassy embankments and slopes & many’s the time we were laid back, taking in the sun & gossiping whilst watching Skelton Grange Power Station being erected.

Yes,East End Parkwas truly a gem in those days and many an idyllic summer day was whiled away within its treasured grounds.

A Stroll around East End Park Today

By Pete Wood.

I am happy to relate thatEast EndParkhas lately had a spruce up and is now looking in fine fettle. The children’s play area has had a make over as have thebowling greenfacilities and the tennis courts’

I love a wander around the old district on a quiet Sunday afternoon.  I park as near as I can to the site of oldSnake Lane. There is a beautiful new rugby pitch on the site of ‘the top pitch’ all level, railed and well grassed – far superior to that of our old ‘Snake-pit’ days. If it’s the rugby season the East Leeds Rugby Club may be playing a game on here that I can stop and watch for a while, or if it’s summer perhaps East Leeds Cricket Club will be playing at home. Well done East Leeds CC – top in the longevity league amongst the East Leeds Institutions – still batting away after all these years.

Continuing my walk I find the Copperfields standing much as always but the line to the coal staithe has gone along with the ‘MonkeyBridge’ and the ginnel. Daredevil lads still scale the precipitous navvy but now with the aid of ropes. Several of the streets in the Cross Green’s and St Hilda’s have been removed leaving grassed spaces in between giving a less cluttered look and the housing stock has been renovated. The Charlton’s, Glensdale’s, Londesbro’s and Garton’s are tidy but metal grating door securities are much in evidence.

The ‘watering holes’ have been severely culled. The Bridge field, Black Dog,Waterlooand Prospect pubs are down. The Cross Green, Hampton, and Fish Hut are closed.  The Spring Close and Cavalier are open but ‘to let’ and the slip is a supermarket leaving the Shepherd and the Yew Tree to stagger on alone. The old school buildings of St Hilda’s,Ellerby Laneand Victoria are no more. TheEast EndParkSpecialNeedsSchoolis ‘last old school building standing’ but put to a different use. I believe there are bits of old Mount St Mary’s Primary School in the old Victoria School yard and bits of old Victoria Primary on the Shaftsbury playing fields. There is a modern All Saints Primary School near toYork Roadand a Richmond Hill Primary near to the site of the old Zion Chapel. Mount St Mary’s still flourishes as a major college. The Easy Road Picture House of course is long gone; the Princess is a fish and chip shop, the Regent a tile warehouse the Star a health gym and the Shaftsbury a shell.     

            So I wander onto the park itself. The Parkie’s House remains unchanged. Sometimes there is a bowls match in progress, I set myself down in the bowling-green and watch for a while. Better still if there is a brass/silver band playing near the tennis courts. I settle myself down beside a tree and listen to the band and let my mind drift back to a time when the park had a proper band-stand or when we chased the girls on here, diced with death on the mighty long-boat on the way to Cleggy’s woodwork department at Victoria School on Friday afternoons, or perhaps the times we played tennis, sometimes with the hell of having only one ball, or played football a hundred a side on one of the three football pictures near to the railway on Sunday afternoons. I remember on one occasion when the referee did not turn up for a formal match that I had to referee the game myself – timing the game by the clock on the old engine shed in lieu of a watch and waving a handkerchief in lieu of a whistle.

My life unfolds before me and I’m thankful to have spent some of the best bits of it here on good oldEast EndPark.

               Brass band near tennis courts                                 Parkie’s house still stands

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