Archive for the ‘South Accomm School’ Category

Muriel’s tale

January 1, 2015

Muriel’s Tale Mrs Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey) attended South Accommodation Road Primary School in the 1940s and later Ellerby Lane School. As Muriel’s tale this month is quite short it gives me space to tell you about my Cousin Teddy. (My un-hypnotisable Cousin Teddy) Muriel’s Tale Lost in Leeds aged five When I think back to my school days I recall that when I came home on Mondays the washing would be being done – ironing Tuesdays and so on yet my mam always seemed to find the time to get on the sewing machine to keep us in winter clothes or summer dresses, all made from other things that we had worn out, she was a marvel. Baking was always on Friday, we could smell the flat cakes cooling on tea towels when we were half way down the street. Life must have been hard for women during the war years but you didn’t hear them moaning. We kids would play out in the street as long as there was daylight and never get bored; there was always something to do or somewhere to go. Going to the picture house was alright during the winter when it was dark and you couldn’t play out, but summer Oh! We did love the summer we were never indoors. I even got lost for eight hours when I was just five years old! I had been on the local park with two of my friends and we didn’t know the meaning of time. The park keeper was shutting up the park and he turned us out but he didn’t turn us out from the usual gate – the one that we knew he turned us out of another gate which must have been on the other side of the park and we didn’t know our way home from there so we walked and walked asking everyone we met, ‘Can you tell us the way to South Accomm?’ but no one seemed to know. Then we saw a lot of people at a tram stop – dare we ask? But before we could get the words out a lady came up to me and mentioned my dad’s name and asked if I was his daughter? She took us onto the tram with her and got us home. It seems everyone had been out looking for us. We had ended up outside St James’ Hospital – how I’ll never know but we were lucky the lady worked at the same place as my dad and must have recognised me. But for three five year olds to get from Clarence Road in Hunslet over to the Becket Street area was quite an adventure. As you can imagine it was quite a while before I was allowed to go to the park again.  

     Cousin Teddy

       You’ll like Teddy – Not a lot There was no sadness in Teddy’s ‘lack of marbles’, indeed he went out of his way – and was never happier than when an opportunity presented itself for him to prove his daftness.   My first recollection of him is of a walk we had in the garden beneath the hawthorn trees on a balmy summer’s evening long ago in Knostrop. He poured out his heart to me as to how his marriage was falling apart and what would I advise him to do? Not so strange a request one may think until one considers that at the time he was an adult and I merely a five-year old child. His bizarre antics however, the least savoury of which were spared my tender ears, did not endear him to the rest of the family, they obviously knew more of his history than I. Should he appear in the vicinity word was quickly passed round to give the house an appearance of ‘emptiness’. Early memories then centred around hiding under tables and the like because ‘Teddy was around’. His favourite tale for many a year, which he would relate to any ear who would listen, concerned his employment as a dishwasher at a five star hotel. It made front- page headlines when the managing director of the hotel was fished out of the river. What the world didn’t know, according to Teddy, was that on the previous evening he’d given his notice in and that was why the MD had ‘done himself in’. Later, now as a teenager promenading with friends and eager to catch the eye of the girls my plans would often be baulked by the arrival of Teddy, now middle aged, sparse and balding. He seemingly found it necessary to tag along with us at a loping ‘Grouch Marx’ type trot. Lads will be lads of course and it was the done thing to good naturedly put each other down at every opportunity. Teddy became a perpetual ‘Achilles heel’ for me, should I try to set up a date with a member of the fair sex the lads would say, ‘Don’t go out with ‘im love, he’ll bring his cousin Teddy along, there’s madness in ‘is family yer know!’ Teddy however, saved his best performance for a packed house at the Leeds City Varieties where a world famous hypnotist was performing. His advertised claim was that he could hypnotise anyone of sound mind. The show had run for a full week and tales of the hypnotist’s extraordinary powers had filtered through the whole of the city by the time we filed in for the Saturday evening’s performance. Midway through the first half the hypnotist called for volunteers and a gaggle of the public from out of the audience were persuaded to line up along the front of the stage. The sparse figure at the end of the line seemed ominously familiar. I searched frantically for a means of escape but I was in the middle of the row, the exits were far away and anyway the lads had already sensed something was up by now and they weren’t going to let me out on principle. The hypnotist repeated his claim that he could hypnotise anyone of sound mind. He then said, ’In a moment I’m going to put you all to sleep.’ Immediately the figure at the end of the line detached from the rest and dropping onto the boards began to snore with great intensity. This was all before the hypnotist had actually started! The ominous notion I had harboured for several minutes, became manifest, it was Teddy! This realization quickly became apparent to my friends too, who joyfully acclaimed in vocal unison – for all to hear. ‘It’s Teddy!’ Well, now aware he had an audience Teddy really went to town, He quacked like a duck, flapped around the stage like a bird – all without being asked. He threw himself all over the stage. The audience was in stitches. Not so the hypnotist, who finally had to ask Teddy to leave the stage as ‘un-hypnotisable’. He took his leave of the footlights to a great ovation milking the audience with a great many bows. It was the highlight of the show, after that the rest seemed to fall quite flat, nothing could follow Teddy! The last time I saw him he’d hitched his bandwagon to a rich old aunt who was almost as eccentric as he was. She wore a hat with curls attached to the edges. When she removed the hat the curls came off as well, which was a great source of amusement for the children. ‘He’s after her brass,’ they all said. Well I hope he got it, for she certainly made him work for it. Aunt Ada, as we called her had at one time been a woman of property, whether she still was or not I’m unsure, she talked money in telephone numbers but wouldn’t spend a penny. She would make poor old Teddy push her around for miles, in and out of the traffic, in an ancient bath chair rather than pay the bus fare. To add to the show she was deaf but still talked a great deal in a shrill voice. While this was going on teddy would stand behind her, where she couldn’t see him and contradict everything she said; ‘the mean old b…’ he would mouth, ‘she never did anything of the sort!’ After that I lost touch with Teddy, I never did find out if he got her brass. I hope he did! Sometimes when I hear a tale about an eccentric millionaire, I wonder – could that be Cousin Teddy?

 005

Hunslet

July 1, 2014

Hunslet

Our Neighbours across South Accomm Bridge

By Pete Wood

(Don’t miss some great little tales from my old mates near the end)

‘Click’ into pictures to enlarge them

When you passed over South Accommodation Road Bridge from East Leeds into Hunslet you passed from Leeds 9 to Leeds 10. But it was more than just a change of post code that we old East Leedsers met as we moved over the bridge on our way to work or leisure in industrial Hunslet in the 1940s/50s, for we moved out of our own albeit shabby Victorian/Edwardian housing stock into streets already in their death throes with demolition well in progress. A large percentage of the population had already been moved out into new estates particularly at Middleton and Belle Isle. Bit in spite of its decaying habitat I always perceived Hunslet to be full of character and the folk to have a wicked sense of humour and pride of place. I was annoyed that the demolition of that iconic old green suspension bridge which had stood for a hundred years with its great bowed parapet that Jimmy Thrush daringly crossed on his bespoke bogey, was demolished without any great notice of its passing, I would have liked to have recorded it before it went. There were tram lines still situated in Accommodation road and indeed there had sometime been a dedicated track for them but although trams didn’t cease running in Leeds until 1959 they had finished down South Accomm a lot earlier than that. So if you wanted to go ‘down Hunslet’ it was either on a bike, ‘Shanks’s pony’ or the number 64 bus.

South Accomm Bridge revised

It hurts me to have to admit that the lads from Hunslet, perhaps due to their hard environment, always seemed ‘tougher’ than us. When the Plevna lads or Pottery Field gang came over the bridge we didn’t get in their way and when we tried to cross the river by the lock gate at Knostrop the Stourton lads were liable to shower us with half bricks from their vantage point on the great green railway bridge (the swing bridge that never swung). The Stourton lads had plenty to be proud of, their school, tiny by modern standards, had a football team that won all the local honours and one year in the early thirties were crowned football school champions of all England. Please see photograph of the victorious team from the YEP. archives. Unfortunately the onset of WWII probably put paid to many of them having professional careers.

stourton football team

Within my own memory (born 1937) I recall that there were many other fine schools in the Hunslet area. My father, William Wood was born Hunslet 1903. He told me how he fell over the railway bridge in Beza Street and he had a great dint in his head, luckily he didn’t lose his hair so it couldn’t be seen. He had quite an adventurous life, my dad, as later, at age seventeen, he ran away to Liverpool to join the Royal Navy without parental consent. He went all the way from Hunslet to Liverpool by tram because there was a train strike ongoing at the time. It was quite possible to do that at the time alighting at the terminus of each conurbation and catching another tram at the next. Later he went to Egypt on the same boat as Lawrence of Arabia. Dad attended Low Road School and Later Jack Lane School. He told me how Hunslet Carr and Bewerley Street Schools and Hunslet Nash always had strong rugby teams and I remember myself how Hunslet Moor and St Josephs had good football teams not to mention the iconic Cockburn High School. And I recall with pride scoring my first goal for our St Hilda’s School team against Hunslet Lane School on Farmer Ward’s field.

the swing bridge that never swung

We lads from St Hilda’s school (on the other side of the bridge) ‘crocodiled’ down to Joseph Street Baths every Monday morning. We didn’t set off until after playtime, then with our trunks and towels rolled up under our arms – you were a geek if you had a shoulder bag in those days – we were off down South Accommodation Road, Atkinson Street, Goodman Street, Hunslet Lane and so to Joseph Street. By the time we got in the water it was nearly time to set off back. I think the girls from St Hilda’s attended the baths at Hunslet Lane School.  Many great lads and lasses enhanced our St Hilda’s and Ellerby Lane Schools when they had to leave South Accommodation Road Primary School and pass over the bridge at age eleven.

Of course we recognise that Hunslet had once been a thriving township in its own right with a theatre and sporting venues before being included in the Leeds conurbation. Folk who were old when I was a young man would talk about Hunslet in its heyday when Waterloo Road on a Friday night could rival Briggate. Pawn shops would disgorge suits for the weekend revelries – no doubt to be re-pledged on Monday mornings and under bright lights anything could be bought from Tripe and pigs feet to hardware.

I worked at three Hunslet companies during my career and worked at a furniture manufacturing company in Anchor Street for twenty years. Just after I had started in the early 60s they were demolishing some houses round the back, Powell Street I believe, there was a couple of little pubs: The Robin Hood and The Harrogate somewhere around there and a tragedy occurred when those doing the demolition work did not realise an elderly couple were still in situ and when they severed the gas pipes the couple were unfortunately gassed and died.

It was while working there I was given a copy of poem called Old Hunslet by an elderly work colleague, I had, it pinned to my wall for years than alas, it was lost in transit to another company and I thought I would never see it again but lo and behold thanks to the Hunslet rememberedweb site I found it again. This is an excellent site which I highly recommend for those who seek more than just this oral history of Hunslet from an East Leeds perspective. I hope Ms Sheila Gamblin will not object to me recreating the poem here for our enjoyment.

Old Hunslet

Have you ever been to Hunslet or walked down Hunslet lane,

Mid the dirt and grime of Church Street or heard the folks complain,

Have you seen the little houses with breadcakes at the door,

And found a real Leeds welcome with the folks who live next door,

Have you been to Stillhouse Yard on a Friday night,

To fix the kids with boots or clothes by flickering paraffin light.

Have you walked past Tolston’s tripe shop and along to Penny Hill,

Or had a drink in the Garden gate – the pub that stands there still.

Have you been on Hunslet Moor or in the Anchor Pub.

Or visited the old Swan junction or been in the Liberal Club.

Have you ever been down Balm Road where the steel works used to lie

Now they’re pulling down old Hunslet and we must watch it die

 

 

And coming down it was. I made this sketch sat in the car one lunch time of Norwich Place – near the old Hunslet Lake in the 1960s/70s a stoic lady is still trying to dry her washing amidst all the devastation.

goodbuy Hunslet

‘click’ on picture to enlarge

Mainly I remember Hunslet in the 1940s/50s as being ‘the boiler house of the world’ there were so many great manufacturing firms: Coghlans, Fawcett’s, Bison’s, Kitson’s, Yorkshire Copper Works, Henry Berry’s, Clayton’s, Hudswell Clark’s – where my aunt worked on munitions – Fowlers and McLaren’s, they were joined so closely that it was difficult to see where one started and the other finished, I worked at McLarens and there was a tale that an officious guy caught two men loafing about and said, ‘Haven’t you two any work to do?’ whereupon one lad said to the guy, ‘Who are you then?’ and he replied, ‘ I’m the new works manager of Fowlers’ and the guy replied ‘Well….off then this is McLarens!’ Hunslet Engine Company struggled on into the 90s and I believe at the time of writing Braims, in some capacity and Lax and Shaw still continues Many of them had cricket teams and either played on the iconic ‘Miggy Clearings’ or had their own bespoke sports grounds – swept away as takeovers found sports grounds not conducive to a balance sheet even before the firms themselves became defunct. My own engineering apprenticeship was carried out with a bunch of great guys at Midgley and Sutcliffe’s (Richmond Machine Tools) on Hillage Place, we would pour over the tiny bridge across the railway to play football on Hunslet Moor at lunch time. Later the building became the car auction rooms. When the factory hooters sounded at five o’clock thousands would flood out of Hunslet factory gates on foot or on bikes, there weren’t many cars for us in those days.

Hunslet had many great pubs (there’s a list of them at the end). I remember one night in the Adelphi, there was a trad jazz band playing in the upstairs room, I was facing the door and it opened and in walked Peter O’Toole. Sometimes when you see a famous person in an unfamiliar situation you don’t recognise who it is at first but on that occasion I recognised who it was straight off. Of course being a Hunslet lad he was on home ground.

My dad, being a Hunslet lad too, introduced me to Rugby league at Parkside in the ‘Alf and Walt Burnell’, era.

Hunslet Rl

We walked all the way there and back from East Leeds. At Parkside apart from the rugby there was also cricket and a dog track and the site of the famous Hunslet feast that annually would draw back old Hunslet residents. And although we then resided on the other side of the bridge he would regularly take us on Saturday nights to the Regal or the Strand cinemas. When we were a bit older we crossed the bridge on our own to visit the Premier Cinema in South Accommodation Road. The Premier was even down market on our own Easy Road ‘bug hutch’ we sat there on wooden benches and if I recall there was sawdust on the floor but it was only five pence (old money) and there always seemed to be lots of pretty Hunslet lasses to interest we eager pubescent lads.

Concrete seems to have taken over from character in Hunslet now but I still manage to have annual reunions with my old apprentice mates when the conversation invariable comes around to old Hunslet, when it was the ‘boiler house of the world’. Then as we are all over seventy and five of them are Hunslet lads I persuade them to tell me tales of old Hunslet

Barrie remembers: Maria, she lived in Varley Square just off Church Street. Her job was to go round Hunslet’s Anchor Street, Carris Street, the Askerns’s and Gordon Road knocking people up for work from 4 a.m. onwards. She used a clothes prop with a couple of socks on the end so she wouldn’t break the windows, all for six/nine pence a week. She was a right character not to be crossed. A case of déjà vu Maria also looked after a lad who fell off the same Beza Street Bridge as Pete’s dad. It must have been a favourite bridge for tippling off but this lad, Alec, was quite seriously injured but happily, he recovered and years later became my next door neighbour.

Gills (milk man): he had a house at the top of Anchor Road. He only had a small round but he was very reliable. He delivered milk from a milk churn on a special barrow. He poured milk from a ladle into a jug or similar. He delivered to my gran If she went out she would leave a jug on the window sill – large for two gills small for one gill. She covered the top of the jug with a lace cover with coloured beads round the edge to stop flies getting in. The jugs were safe from theft in those days.

Eddy Remembers: When we worked at Richmond Machine Tool Co on Hillage Place we didn’t have much time to get home for dinner and back, so Curly Lonsdale and I we were off on our bikes down Hillage Road, and down Anchor Street. A lady had been hanging her washing out – she had taken the washing in but left the line across the street; Curley ducked underneath it, but it caught me around the neck and pulled me off the bike buckling my wheel.

Brian, who attended Hunslet Nash, remembers a school teacher throwing the heavy board rubber at a lad; it hit his head and bounced out of the three story window. The teacher then blamed the lad for the loss of the rubber and made him go look for it. It took him three hours searching before it was found.

Gerry Remembers: the School Dentist in Bewerley Street. You went on your own; mams didn’t take kids to the dentist in those days. The waiting room was a place of purgatory. You slid along wooden benches listening to the screams from the inner sanctum moving to the front when it would be your turn. Often kids lost their nerve when it was there turn next and went to the back of the queue again. When you got into the surgery they put a horrible green mask over you face and a metal clip into your mouth to keep it open, if you needed the drill it was a foot treadle affair. When they had finished with you, you passed into another room with a line of sinks where kids were spitting blood. Everyone moved up a sink to accommodate the new arrival

On my way home from school Gerry said I had to pass a little yard where a guy kept ducks and chickens. One day I spotted two duck eggs could be reached under the wire. I pinched them and took them home. Mam gave me a right telling of for stealing – but we still ate the eggs.

Barrie Remembers: A foot coming through the ceiling at Hunslet Nash belonging to a lad who was foraging in the loft for bird’s eggs or something. Of course he shouldn’t have been up there in the first place but he was caught bang to rights because everyone recognised the shoe. Another time in Hunslet Church when they were ringing the bells one lad didn’t let go of the rope and it took him up and he hit his head on the ceiling where the rope passed through a hole.

General Banter: A guy walked into the Omnibus pub looking down in the mouth. His mates asked him what was the matter and he said his father had died that morning. They said he shouldn’t really be in here but he said he was trying to drown his sorrows. So the guys bought him his beer all night but just before closing time his dad walked into the pub. Then there was the guy in the Friendly pub in Holbeck he had a ‘Bobby Charlton’ type comb over which he used to keep in place with black boot polish. An old rugby league player had the Spotted Ox pub. He wouldn’t stand any nonsense from miscreants. On one occasion a guy continued to misbehave and the land lord had no option but to throw him out. He caught hold of his collar and the base his jacket and ran him into the door, they bounced back so he ran him into the door again after the third time one of the regulars said, ‘Alf the door opens inwards.’

Thanks to: the Yorkshire Evening Post, Hunslet Remembered, Leodis, Hunslet R.L.F.C.

Hunslet pubs

 

 

Growing up on the other side of the bridge.

November 2, 2007

Life on the Other Side of the BridgeThis is an account By Mrs Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey) of living in Hunslet, attending South Accommodation Road School and Later Ellerby Lane School in the 1940s. Coal Collecting in Winter, Jam jar collections  and the joy of Children’s Day at Roundhay Park, Leeds.   

Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey)

Growing up on the Other Side of the Bridge

I don’t suppose growing up on the either side of South Accommodation Road Bridge was much different, after all most of the kids from Leeds ten finished up going to Ellerby Lane School anyway. I only ever made two real friends the rest were just girls in the class. I remember one Saturday, it was about a week before Children’s Day; teacher asked if we would sell flags, another girl and I spent all Saturday morning standing on the corner of Ellerby Lane and Dial Street – mind you we did non-stop business as Saturday was the best day for shopping even through some food was still on ration. It was all a far cry from that which we have today. The five years we had to spend without Dad, who was in the army, seemed to be forever; but we had to get on with life and somehow manage without him. The only boys and girls I played with at first were those belonging to Mam and Dad’s friends but once school started I mixed much better.

            Shelters began to be built for the use of families in the street but we never used them. There was one neighbour across the street who had her cellar converted into a shelter and we always asked if we could shelter in hers if there was a raid. That particular lady’s husband had not been called up into the army, instead he patrolled the streets in his tin helmet and an armband on which was written: ARP. One morning while I was on my way to school I found a large piece of shrapnel near to our step; I still have it to this day, wrapped in newspaper and stored in a drawer.

            I began by attending South Accommodation Road School, where I made loads of friends; you couldn’t help but make friends as we all lived in nearby houses. When I was about seven there was about a dozen kids in our street: Albert Street – it was a great place to grow up there. A new girl came to live next door and I grew to like her very much. Her Dad had been killed in the army and her mam and my mam became firm friends. We were the two oldest in the street and played all the kid’s games together: kick-out-ball, rounders, and hide-and-seek, whip-and-top, hop-scotch and every other ball game there was, and skipping too of course, there was very little falling out and if we did it was all forgotten the next day. During the summer we would take sandwiches and bottles of water to East End Park; we knew how to have fun.        The park wasn’t as it appears today, there were shrubs and the big gates where you entered were locked at night. There was a paddling pool, a sand pit, swings, round-a-bout, and a water fountain; I wonder how many mouths went over that? The park was so full of kids you could always guarantee to be waiting your turn to get on anything. A large board told of all the ‘do’s and don’ts’ you had to adhere to while in the park.

          Folk in other stories have mentioned ‘Red Walls’ our name for the little bridge across Black Road was ‘Red Bricks’ One day we all went there and I went into the stream, stood on some glass and had to walk ‘tip toeing’ all the way home without my shoe. The glass was fast in and Dad had to remove it with pliers. As I was a year older than most of the kids in our street they tended to treat me like the boss, so along with my friend (Pat Towers) we decided to ask the other kids if their mams would give them a halfpenny every Friday, which I then saved in a tin box. When they had saved enough I would take them all round to the café where Mam worked to have buns, tea or lemonade. It was a real treat and the kids loved it.

Coal Collecting

1947 was a very hard winter, we had icicles all way down our drainpipes: one particular day it was so cold and as there was no heating on in the classrooms at schools we were sent home. When I arrived home even though it was snowing like crazy Mam and Grandad were all togged up ready to go out. I asked where they were going; they looked at each other, then at me and said, ‘Down Black road coal picking.’ I was thirteen years old and had never heard of coal picking. ‘Can I come?’ I asked. And I was allowed to accompany them but Black Road in the freezing winter was a lot different to the summer outings we had down there. There were lots of other folk collecting coal on prams and barrows, anything that came to hand. We managed to get enough coal from the outcrop to keep the fire burning.

            When I first started at Ellerby Lane School I was terrified, I had heard from my aunt, who had also been a pupil there; that just the look of Miss Kelly was enough to make you shake. Anyway I had three years to go before I would be in her class. Miss Darnell was my first teacher; she was okay but could be very strict on occasions.

Children’s Day

I hadn’t heard of Children’s Day until I attended Ellerby Lane School, but that very first year at the new school, Barbara Burton; our head girl, was chosen to be the Children’s Day Queen. Some of the other girls were also doing some kind of display in the arena and I asked Mam and Dad if we could all have the day out in Roundhay Park.  The day finally dawned; it was the 6th of June 1946, we packed sandwiches, cakes and a little stove on which to boil the kettle. It was to be a day I was always to remember – we still have some photographs of it somewhere of those girls in their white blouses and blue gym shorts. I don’t know what it was about that day but I felt so proud, maybe it was because it was my first year in the new school and we were lucky enough to have Barbara Burton in our class. The next year we had Miss Grinstead; she was a small teacher and I always tried to keep out of he way. If any of us girls got anything wrong she would grab us by the chin and rock our heads backwards and forwards. As I was quite small I usually had to sit in the front desk alongside my friend from South Accomm, Jean Parker. For my final year at school my teacher was to be the dreaded Miss Kelly. Unfortunately, I was hospitalized for a while to have my tonsils out that year and while away they had a jam jar collection. By the time I got back to school they were already on the last day of the collection so my contribution was very small. Naturally I came bottom of the collection class and Miss Kelly really laid into me as if it had been my fault that I had been ill. After that I made sure that I would be well prepared for any future jam jar week by collecting jam jars every week and putting them washed and away in Grandad’s cellar. 

            By 1948 I was seeing less of the kids in the street, my sister was now ten, the same age I had been when I looked after the street kids and I was fourteen and doing the grown up jobs to help Mam around the house. I also met my first boyfriend and with my parents consent we used to go to the nearby picture houses (later I became an usherette at the Premier Picture House). We were together until I was eighteen and then I lost him to national service – and another girl!

            During my teenage years in Hunslet I discovered what it was like to go into the pubs, not to drink beer, just shandy, at first as I was only nineteen. There was the Albert Inn at the end of our street, the Queens on the corner of Clarence Road – where I celebrated my wedding and the Prince of Wales on South Accomm. Towards the end of the road there was Billy Walton’s fish shop where I would get fish and chips five times every Friday dinner time for Mam and Dad, my two sisters and I and all for half a crown 22 ½ pence in today’s money. 

            I have saved my ration book too and photographs taken of us all in our Whitsuntide clothes, you knew you would not get anymore clothes until the following year as our parents were too busy trying to keep up with our school clothes. I was glad I had parents in the tailoring trade. Like most folk now in their seventies, I believe we grew up in better times than the kids today. They may be better off but take it from me they don’t love their parents like we did!

 

 

 

Muriel Parkin (nee Bailey)

Growing up on the Other Side of the Bridge

I don’t suppose growing up on the either side of South Accommodation Road Bridge was much different, after all most of the kids from Leeds ten finished up going to Ellerby Lane School anyway. I only ever made two real friends the rest were just girls in the class. I remember one Saturday, it was about a week before Children’s Day; teacher asked if we would sell flags, another girl and I spent all Saturday morning standing on the corner of Ellerby Lane and Dial Street – mind you we did non-stop business as Saturday was the best day for shopping even through some food was still on ration. It was all a far cry from that which we have today. The five years we had to spend without Dad, who was in the army, seemed to be forever; but we had to get on with life and somehow manage without him. The only boys and girls I played with at first were those belonging to Mam and Dad’s friends but once school started I mixed much better.

            Shelters began to be built for the use of families in the street but we never used them. There was one neighbour across the street who had her cellar converted into a shelter and we always asked if we could shelter in hers if there was a raid. That particular lady’s husband had not been called up into the army, instead he patrolled the streets in his tin helmet and an armband on which was written: ARP. One morning while I was on my way to school I found a large piece of shrapnel near to our step; I still have it to this day, wrapped in newspaper and stored in a drawer.

            I began by attending South Accommodation Road School, where I made loads of friends; you couldn’t help but make friends as we all lived in nearby houses. When I was about seven there was about a dozen kids in our street: Albert Street – it was a great place to grow up there. A new girl came to live next door and I grew to like her very much. Her Dad had been killed in the army and her mam and my mam became firm friends. We were the two oldest in the street and played all the kid’s games together: kick-out-ball, rounders, and hide-and-seek, whip-and-top, hop-scotch and every other ball game there was, and skipping too of course, there was very little falling out and if we did it was all forgotten the next day. During the summer we would take sandwiches and bottles of water to East End Park; we knew how to have fun.        The park wasn’t as it appears today, there were shrubs and the big gates where you entered were locked at night. There was a paddling pool, a sand pit, swings, round-a-bout, and a water fountain; I wonder how many mouths went over that? The park was so full of kids you could always guarantee to be waiting your turn to get on anything. A large board told of all the ‘do’s and don’ts’ you had to adhere to while in the park.

          Folk in other stories have mentioned ‘Red Walls’ our name for the little bridge across Black Road was ‘Red Bricks’ One day we all went there and I went into the stream, stood on some glass and had to walk ‘tip toeing’ all the way home without my shoe. The glass was fast in and Dad had to remove it with pliers. As I was a year older than most of the kids in our street they tended to treat me like the boss, so along with my friend (Pat Towers) we decided to ask the other kids if their mams would give them a halfpenny every Friday, which I then saved in a tin box. When they had saved enough I would take them all round to the café where Mam worked to have buns, tea or lemonade. It was a real treat and the kids loved it.

Coal Collecting

1947 was a very hard winter, we had icicles all way down our drainpipes: one particular day it was so cold and as there was no heating on in the classrooms at schools we were sent home. When I arrived home even though it was snowing like crazy Mam and Grandad were all togged up ready to go out. I asked where they were going; they looked at each other, then at me and said, ‘Down Black road coal picking.’ I was thirteen years old and had never heard of coal picking. ‘Can I come?’ I asked. And I was allowed to accompany them but Black Road in the freezing winter was a lot different to the summer outings we had down there. There were lots of other folk collecting coal on prams and barrows, anything that came to hand. We managed to get enough coal from the outcrop to keep the fire burning.

            When I first started at Ellerby Lane School I was terrified, I had heard from my aunt, who had also been a pupil there; that just the look of Miss Kelly was enough to make you shake. Anyway I had three years to go before I would be in her class. Miss Darnell was my first teacher; she was okay but could be very strict on occasions.

Children’s Day

I hadn’t heard of Children’s Day until I attended Ellerby Lane School, but that very first year at the new school, Barbara Burton; our head girl, was chosen to be the Children’s Day Queen. Some of the other girls were also doing some kind of display in the arena and I asked Mam and Dad if we could all have the day out in Roundhay Park.  The day finally dawned; it was the 6th of June 1946, we packed sandwiches, cakes and a little stove on which to boil the kettle. It was to be a day I was always to remember – we still have some photographs of it somewhere of those girls in their white blouses and blue gym shorts. I don’t know what it was about that day but I felt so proud, maybe it was because it was my first year in the new school and we were lucky enough to have Barbara Burton in our class. The next year we had Miss Grinstead; she was a small teacher and I always tried to keep out of he way. If any of us girls got anything wrong she would grab us by the chin and rock our heads backwards and forwards. As I was quite small I usually had to sit in the front desk alongside my friend from South Accomm, Jean Parker. For my final year at school my teacher was to be the dreaded Miss Kelly. Unfortunately, I was hospitalized for a while to have my tonsils out that year and while away they had a jam jar collection. By the time I got back to school they were already on the last day of the collection so my contribution was very small. Naturally I came bottom of the collection class and Miss Kelly really laid into me as if it had been my fault that I had been ill. After that I made sure that I would be well prepared for any future jam jar week by collecting jam jars every week and putting them washed and away in Grandad’s cellar. 

            By 1948 I was seeing less of the kids in the street, my sister was now ten, the same age I had been when I looked after the street kids and I was fourteen and doing the grown up jobs to help Mam around the house. I also met my first boyfriend and with my parents consent we used to go to the nearby picture houses (later I became an usherette at the Premier Picture House). We were together until I was eighteen and then I lost him to national service – and another girl!

            During my teenage years in Hunslet I discovered what it was like to go into the pubs, not to drink beer, just shandy, at first as I was only nineteen. There was the Albert Inn at the end of our street, the Queens on the corner of Clarence Road – where I celebrated my wedding and the Prince of Wales on South Accomm. Towards the end of the road there was Billy Walton’s fish shop where I would get fish and chips five times every Friday dinner time for Mam and Dad, my two sisters and I and all for half a crown 22 ½ pence in today’s money. 

            I have saved my ration book too and photographs taken of us all in our Whitsuntide clothes, you knew you would not get anymore clothes until the following year as our parents were too busy trying to keep up with our school clothes. I was glad I had parents in the tailoring trade. Like most folk now in their seventies, I believe we grew up in better times than the kids today. They may be better off but take it from me they don’t love their parents like we did!