Archive for the ‘St Hilda’school’ Category

Margaret’s Tale. Past times in Richmond Hill

December 1, 2014

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

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

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


our east leeds shops cross green lane

our east leeds shops

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

The Glencoe Railway Children

March 1, 2014

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

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

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

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

Navvy for blog

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


Navvy before railings fitted    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Computer Games V Mucky Knees

November 1, 2012


Am I an old fool to believe it was more fun to play out and come home with mucky knees than to stay indoors and play computer games?


By Pete Wood.

Way back in the 1940s the door of our house opened onto Jaw Bone Yard, a spacious earth compacted area complete with stables, sheds and dens. It was a magical world brimming with all the possibilities for adventure. When I was about four years old my mother opened that back door and shoed my out to join six other kids already into their adventures. All she said was ‘Go play’. And from that day my life began.               


JAWBONE YARD: was the heart of old Knostrop and the centre of our activities. Seven houses backed onto that yard and out of the houses came seven kids, augmented by the lads and lasses from the ‘ABC’ houses, the Hall, the Lodge and sometimes too; our friends who joined in the fun from ‘The Top’; which were the streets which sat at the top of Knostrop Hill.  This was the gang and didn’t we have a ball! We played every game under the sun in that yard: cricket, rounders, kick-out can, speedway bowlers (hoops) and all the general schoolyard games.  The lads and the lasses all mucked in together. We played football with a tennis ball – you were lucky if you could get hold of even a tennis ball while the war was in progress, for just about everything being produced by the nation was to going support the war effort – so proper footballs were out of the question. The positive side to this was: it certainly taught us how to control a ball. Some of the lads became so proficient that they could ‘keepy-uppy’ with a tennis ball. Harold Sedgwick could even keep it up on his ankle! This all made it that, much easier when we finally did progress to play with proper footballs. Was life less dangerous for us than for modern day kids? Well, the Germans regularly bombed us by night and we had to walk the lonely lanes in complete blackness due to ‘The Blackout’ but we had a freedom that seems to be denied to today’s kids and life seemed to be blissfully happy.

We, who played in that yard, were fortunate in that one of the dads, who worked on the land at the time, would find balls that had been lost down drains and had ultimately found their way onto the land. He would bring them home and leave them in a grate where we would find them. Mind you a ball had a short lifespan with us, especially when we were hitting out at cricket. Balls would fly into the long grass in the adjacent field and become lost. You were out if caught one handed off a wall or if you hit the ball onto a house roof. In the case of hitting it onto a roof the culprit would be the one to climb onto the roof and retrieve it.  The ball would usually be lodged in one of the gutters so you had to climb up onto the roof, via a coal house, then it would be necessary for you to lean perilously over the edge in order to reach it. Like kids all over we were oblivious to the danger. It pleasantly amazes me that trivial incidents can still be brought to mind after half a century and a lifetime of other more important experiences have elapsed. For instance Keith Gale, a participant in our games, can bring to mind an incident, which occurred when we were playing cricket in the yard. On this occasion Gordon (Oscar) Brown was batting – we could never get him out he was like a limpet. Ball after ball he would just play a dead bat: ‘podging’ as we called it. On this particular day Gordon must have had a rush of blood to the head for he smote a ball mightily, it bounced first on a house roof and then onto a coalhouse roof, finally to be caught one handed by Peter Whitehead. By our rules we believed this to have been have been out, but good old Gordon wouldn’t budge, he stood his ground claiming that as the ball had bounced twice this did not constitute being out! The beautiful thing about this little tale is: that although Keith had been out and about for over fifty years carving out a life for himself, with all the toils and tribulations entailed that most trivial of incidents had not been erased from his memory.

Oh the games we played in that yard: there was one particularly daft game that we played where one of us would stand facing the stable wall and the rest would choose a film star’s name without letting on what it was. We would form a line across the yard about thirty yards back and the one facing the wall would shout something like, ‘VeronicaLake take two giant strides’ or perhaps, ‘three fairy footsteps.’ Then the person who had chosen that particular name had to execute the ordered manoeuvre without being seen. Should the one calling the shots turn and catch one of us in the process of moving then the name of the culprit would be shouted and they would be out. The first person to reach wall without being seen won.

At one time we had an old wooden wheelbarrow, we would take in turns to sit in the barrow with our eyes closed while some other member of the gang would spin it around and then set off in a series of changing directions. The idea was for the one having the ride to try and guess where they were. In the middle of the yard there stood a huge wooden shed, it had three large gates at the front to accommodate flat four wheeled carts. We would use the gates as the goals in winter or the central palings as the wickets in summer. We could shelter inside the shed when it rained and perhaps play with the large wooden boxes which were intended to transport the vegetable produce to market; cabbages, cauliflowers and especially rhubarb. The boxes could be fashioned into all manner of constructions, houses, cars, whatever we fancied at the moment.  Pauline (now Mrs Rushfirth) and  one of the gang, remembers a particular night when the bombs were dropping and the ack-ack guns from further down Knostrop were making the windows shake in the little cottages, and how her mam ran out to the shelter, which was across the yard and ran straight into a parked black car which was unseen in the dark. The shock was so great she thought she had been hit and shouted out, ’They’ve got me! They’ve got me!’  In the morning after an air raid we would hunt for shrapnel from the shell casing. Mam said to me, ‘Don’t go picking up anything nasty.’ I thought from her description she meant something like dog droppings but she really meant the ant-personnel mines the Germans were dropping.

Pauline remembers that big shed that bisected yard too and another game we played called ‘Escape’. Someone would stand on top of the granary steps with a torch or a bike lamp, shining it on the shed gates and moving it backward and forward and we would try to escape in the dark bits. Pauline recalls it as: quite frightening. We had obviously been brain-washed by watching prisoner of war films. .

There was another shed in the yard too, one in which sacks were stored – I believe the sacks must have been filled with soot for when we climbed about in there we’d get ourselves ‘black bright’. On other occasions we played whip and top, conkers, hula-hoop. We had phases when we played with potato guns, catapults or sped around the yard with bowlers in impromptu speedway races. We had dens everywhere, sometimes in the bushes where we could pull off the ‘green stick’ branches to make weapons. One type could be hollowed out for to use as a blowpipe while another ‘springier’ type could be fashioned into the bow for bow and arrows. Sheltering from the rain under a den’s green foliage is among   the sweetest experiences life has to offer. We all had nick names and virtually usad a language of our own. Now I’m told The Scout Movement has banned nick names as they may lead to bullying. Corr!

We were a bit light on girls but the ones we had were great, Pat and Pauline from the yard, Brenda and very occasionally, Lizzie, from the ABCs. Later there was Rita from the ‘New Hall Lodge’ all the rest were lads but the girls all mucked in and pulled their weight especially when we were collecting wood for the bonfires. You could tell which were the girls: they were the ones who practised their pirouettes when there was a lull in the game and did ‘crabs’ up against the wall with their frocks tucked in. Girls wore frocks or gym slips (no trousers or jeans) and we wore short pants ‘long ‘uns came along when we were about twelve but my mam said lads in long trousers looked like little old men hence she kept me in short pants to an embarrassing fourteen.

At one particular time everyone seemed to be wearing wooden clogs – I think they may have been an attempt to offset the problem of shoes wearing out too fast, or was it that being made out of wood they did not attract clothing coupons? Whatever, the idea was a fad and went out within a few weeks. Then of course there were the bikes, Denis Harrison had a bike on ‘fixed wheel’, it was unforgiving, if you put you feet on the ground before the bike had properly stopped it would punish you by trapping the back of your legs with its pedals; that was really painful. There was another bike which had a bell as big as a teapot and yet another, a butcher’s bike, which had you scared for the basket bit didn’t turn straightaway when you turned the handlebars giving the impression you were not going to make a corner. Peter Whitehead later organised ‘East Leeds Wheelers’ a proper cycling club. Meetings were held in a little building where the dustbins were usually kept. Membership to this club was quite exclusive and mainly taken up by a more ‘up market’ class of cyclist than us ‘yardies’, who rode ‘drop handlebar’ bikes and mostly lived at ‘the top’.

THE ABC HOUSES: As an alternative to playing in the yard we would often join the gang from the ABC Houses on their patch, they had lots of places on their doorstep to explore. There were two plantations; which we unsurprisingly called; the first wood and the second wood, the ‘Red Hills’- which were in fact red shale slag heaps from anold mine. This shale could be seen forming a good hardcore base for paths and minor roads throughout the district, tagging them as ‘Red Roads’ due to their colour.   The old mine itself: ‘Dam Pit’ was located between the two woods and would find us messing about dangerously in the brick filled shaft. Wagons from the pit would be left shunted onto a branch line allowing us to climb all over them. The lads from the ABC Houses always seemed to be more agile than us ‘yardies’ they could shin up the trees in the plantation like monkeys. We were allowed to cut down the dead trees for our bonfires but all we had to do it with was that which we called a ‘hunting knife’ so you can imagine it was a long job and oh those calluses.

SCHOOL: Now, alas, in my seventies, I pass our local primary school on the way to collect my morning paper. The surrounding roads are absolutely clogged with the cars of mums taking their kids to school (Chelsea Tractors) some of the kids seem to be at least nine or ten; they’ll be back again to take them home at 3.00.

With deference to busy working mams, who I know have to drop off their kids before going to their own place of work, I still have to hark back to, what happened to walking to school and giving kids space to learn responsibility for their own safety. I know there are a lot more cars around today and ‘strangers’ (there were always ‘strangers) but I recall that our mams took us to school on the first day at five years old and after that we were on our own and getting to grips with the world of lonely rural roads and busy crossings for ourselves and it made us responsible and street wise long before we were ten!

SCHOOLYARD GAMES: Once we had started school we were introduced to a host of new games either played in the schoolyard itself at playtime or immediately outside the school gates before school started. The staple diet for the boys was always going to be football, played twenty odd a side with a tennis ball and coats for goalposts. In summer cricket took over, the wickets being chalk marks on the wall and three or four balls on the go at once. The whistle for the end of playtime always seemed to blow when it was your turn to bat. I spoke to an old school mate at a reunion recently, he recalled playing football in that old school yard (we called it the field) and how a workman who had been mending the road outside the railings had come over with a whimsical look in his eye and said to him very sincerely: ‘Do you know lad, these are the happiest days of your life’. The old schoolmate said he’d remembered those words all through the years and he thought the old guy was just about right.
As alternatives to football and cricket and to suit the seasons, more individual games would be played. Ice on the ground meant a giant slide and everyone having a go, in the process causing the road to become like glass and a hazard to any unwary pedestrian.   At Whitsuntide, the girls, mainly, would play whip and top: colouring the tops with chalks, so they would make pretty pattern as they spun around. In the autumn it would be conker time and bruised knuckles all round for each time you missed your opponents conker you tended to hit your own knuckles (no namby-pamby ‘elf and safety then)  Each player kept a score of how many other conkers his conker had broken. For example, if your conker broke a conker that had, say already broken two itself, then you added his two to your score as well. Lads would try to make conkers harder by baking them or pickling them in vinegar. Sometimes they had become tiny hard things like the kernel of a walnut but provided they hadn’t broken away from the string hole they were considered to be still ‘live’. When a crack occurred the shout would go out, ‘It’s laughing!’ Last year’s conkers were like iron and would not be played against if recognised: ‘It’s a laggie I’m not playing against that!’ would be the cry.
Another game was played with cigarette cards or the big bus tickets of the day, which all had a sequential number on the back. In this game a lad would take a ‘wadge’ of cards or tickets of roughly the same thickness in each hand, and another lad would take a similar number in his hand and ‘bank’ on one or the other of his opponent hands. Then the bottom card or ticket would be turned over in each hand; if the lad had banked correctly on the wadge with the highest number he would win his opponents cards. If he had banked on the lower number then he would have to surrender his. As school bags were a ‘no – no’ in those old Victorian primary schools a lad’s pockets might well be bulging obscenely with his winnings.
Marbles or ‘taws’, as we called them, was another favourite game. There were several different types of marble: ‘allies’ (coloured marbles), ‘milkies’ (opaque marbles) ‘bottle washers’ (clear glass) and ‘stonkers’, which were made out of stone. Some lads had become real experts and had calloused knuckles to prove it. These experts would have a favourite marble, which they always used when playing – normally it would not be a pretty one but rather a gnarled old thing that gave give a good grip. Should they loose they would surrender any of their stock of marbles rather than give up their ‘player’. I recall some were so expert they could hit an opponent’s taw at three paces, firing from the knee.  The rules of the taw game we played were as follows: two lads would play with a marble each – more could play if required. A small hole was excavated in the earth and called the ‘knack’, the idea was to take it in turns to try and hit the other lad’s marble. After a hit, it was still necessary for the opponent’s marble to be not a ‘needer’; a ‘needer’ meant the opponent’s marble still ‘needed’ to be hit more than two shoe lengths away from the hole. Big shoes were an asset if you wanted it to be a ‘needer’, smaller shoes were better if you didn’t want it so. To complete the game it was then only necessary to roll your marble into the hole. If it missed then the other lad had a chance to ‘un-needer’ himself.
The girls had their own playground at our school (St Hilda’s) it was a concrete affair in an elevated position above our ‘dirt’ field.  From this lofty position they would carry out their skipping games: pitch, patch, pepper etc. Or dance around singing traditional schoolyard songs like: ‘The wind and the rain and the hail blows high, the snow comes travelling from the sky. She is handsome she is pretty she is the belle of the golden city; she goes a courting one, two three: pray can you tell me who it can be?’ Then they would shout some lad’s name, say: Tommy Johnson says he loves her.’ Then they would let out a great scream, silly beggars and then continue, ‘All the boys are fighting for her’ and so on.  The lad in question would probably be playing football in the field below and would blush to the roots of his hair but secretly be pleased – alas it was never I.  Sometimes, to the annoyance of the girls we would sing along with a much ruder version of the song.


AFTER SCHOOL: In the evenings after school we would be out again even in the dark nights of winter – no computer games for us. I think our absolute favourite game was one we just called ‘chasing’. We could play ‘chasing’ in all seasons; it was fun whether it was the light or the dark nights. To play the game; first a couple of sides were picked by the old ‘dip-dip-dip’ method, then one team would run off and after a prescribed period the other team would run after them and try to catch them before they could return to base. In the process of this game we covered miles and miles, over fields through woods, haystacks, rhubarb sheds. We had the lot at Knostrop. The area we covered was so vast that when I consider the game now it astounds me how we ever managed to locate individuals who had run and hidden often several miles away and sometimes in the dark too, but amazingly, we did.  When the game was over we would congregate around one of the gas lamps and talk. Sometimes there would be road works and a night watchman – perhaps we would sit with him for a while around his coke brazier watching the blue red flames and choking on the fumes. Maybe we’d tell a few yarns and then accompany the watchman while he checked his lamps.  Pauline remembers being scalded when one of the lads, tried to jump the brazier and knocked the boiling water from the big iron kettle all over her legs, causing here to miss school for a while. When we would finally come home in our frocks or short pants, happy but tired out by our games, it was then time to have our mams sit us down and wash our ‘mucky knees’ .

Which would I prefer – a computer game or my mucky knees back?


Alex had last month’s mystery building correct. It was of course The Parkie’s House on East End Park. Now for this month’s mystery building. What did we  better remember this building as? look out for another Audrey special next month.

Evacuated from East Leeds to Ackworth

November 1, 2010

Evacuated from East Leeds to Ackwoth.

This month’s tale revisits the experiences of two East Leeds school girls: Mrs Kathleen Fisher (nee Lane) and Mrs Molly Browning (nee Smith) evacuated in 1939 from East Leeds to Ackworth, and their slightly differing  ‘take’ on their adventure..


                                                         Kathleen’s Tale

I was interested to read in the Yorkshire Diary (YEP) about children who were evacuated from Leeds at the beginning of the war and note they mostly went to Lincolnshire and the Dales. It made me think about my own experiences of evacuation – we went as a school group to Ackworth, just outside Pontefract. My seven-year-old brother, Michael, and I (aged 10) attended St Hilda’s Junior School on Cross Green Lane, Leeds 9. Early in September 1939, we walked down from school to the railway goods yard near the river Aire at Hunslet, with our belongings and boxed gasmasks over our shoulders. We got on the train and were taken to Lower Ackworth School where we were given a carrier bag containing, amongst other things, a tin of corned beef and sticks of barley sugar. People then came into the school and ‘chose’ which child/children they wanted – boy or girl, two boys or two girls but nobody seemed to want a boy and a girl whose mother was arriving next day with two babies!!

After much discussion, we were taken to stay in the headmaster’s house overnight (the house was called ‘Graystones’) and a home was found the following day with room for us all to stay together. This was the house of a lady who ran it as a private school and I think we were unwelcome guests!

            My brother and I had a long walk across the field to the village school and were glad to meet up with our pals from Leeds, we all soon made friends with the local children – but back in our ‘billet’ it was not so good. The house rules had to be obeyed, no speaking at meal times, no noise around the house, early bed (thought the sirens went occasionally so we were up again). My mother was very unhappy and took the three younger children back to Leeds. After as couple of weeks (most of the other children were returning too) but as our school back in Leeds was still closed my parents decided I should stay at school in Ackworth to continue my education.

            One morning I woke up to find I was covered all over in spots and wrote to tell my mum (no mobile phones then!) She quickly contacted the lady of the house who was quite cross when she realised I had chickenpox. I was put into strict isolation – away from the girls in the private school and life was even more lonely and difficult. A couple of weeks later I returned home and went to Richmond Hill School. This suffered in one of the air raids and St Hilda’s School was reopened.

            Looking back I think our evacuation to a venue so close to Leeds was an expensive mistake made in panic and to send children away from home to stay with strangers would not be considered a safe idea now. I have talked to some people who were happy and stayed with very nice families, all I can say is – they were the lucky ones!!


                                   Molly’s Tale

On the 1st of September 1939, with only a few days warning and not knowing our destination, we were marched in crocodile fashion to Hunslet Goods Yard to catch a train, carrying only our gas masks and a change of clothing. Before we got on the train we were handed a brown paper carrier containing a sandwich, an apple and to our delight some chocolate, which I still believe to this day was Kit-Kat or something similar. This was supposed to be for emergency but most of it was consumed by one and all before we arrived at our destination – Ackworth, near Pontefract!!. I was one of the older evacuees and had the responsibility of counselling the younger ones, who were totally confused.  I found it hard to hide my own fears.  we were taken to the local C of E school, where prospective foster parents came to choose who they would like to have. My friend (Mary Pearson) and I lowered our heads if we thought we were going to be picked by anyone we didn’t like the look of. It must have been late in the afternoon when this warm looking man and his wife for us – the last two left. We were later to discover that, as they couldn’t get there until late and wanted two girls we had been held back for them.

Mr Taylor was the caretaker of Ackworth Quaker School and Mrs Taylor was the cleaner. They were kind and jovial and we loved to go the Quaker school to help out and pretended we were posh pupils there! Apart from missing my mother and brother I quite enjoyed the luxury of being billeted at a house with a bathroom, as our home, number 12. St Hilda’s Road didn’t have one. I very much enjoyed the country life, picking fruit etc. One downside of the evacuation was that my best friend, Audrey Smith was evacuated to South Africa, which was a closely kept secret at the time because a few weeks earlier the Germans had sunk a ship carrying evacuees to America. I stayed at Ackworth until the following Easter, most of the other evacuees had returned long before that, some only staying a week.  I never returned to St Hilda’s School, which had closed because of the war, but went to Cockburn High School in the following September.