Archive for the ‘St Saviour’s’ Category

WENDY’S TALE

October 1, 2013

                                                      WENDY’S TALE

 

                                           East Street Day Nursery.  1956

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let me describe my workplace, this grand detached house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Tweenies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the winter, night descended around four pm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wendy Carew's pic of nursary

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Kenneth’s Tale

June 1, 2012

Kenneth’s Tale

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

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

 

                          The Memories of Kenneth (Hawkins) Heptinstall

                                                 ***********

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

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

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

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

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

Some of the things I remember

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

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

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

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