Archive for the ‘trams’ Category


July 1, 2014


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



When We Didn’t Have Much Brass

February 1, 2014

Thanks to this excellent site provided to us by wordpress we have now managed to publish more than eighty tales. In the process it has been necessary to widen the subject matter sometimes beyond our East Leeds mandate. So for this month’s offering I return to our roots for a few basic East Leeds tales of the first half of the 20th century. They are snip-pets I have collected over the years and unfortunately I cannot contact the authors for their approval as some I don’t know and sadly others are no longer with us but I’m sure they would approve of us sharing their tales of a time;

By our old East Leeds Mentors

Joyce's Parants Butchers shop

Joyce’s Tale
My maiden name was English and I was brought up by my grandparents, Mr and Mrs Hillyard at number 101 Cross Green Lane (by the bus stop). I lived with my grandparents because mam and dad had two butcher’s shops: one was next to the Maypole in Upper Accommodation Road and the other was opposite St James Infirmary in Beckett Street. You will see the picture was taken around Christmas time but not many turkeys or even chickens were on display it seems in those days. My grandmother would say that the poor people from the Bank area would come up Ellerby Lane to the shop but could only afford rabbits or if they were lucky a piece of pork for their Christmas dinner. Grandma said she would tell the women with prams to wait outside while Pa went into the shop and then she would fill their pinny pockets with carrots and onions ‘buck shee’ to help feed their families.

John’s Tale
Seeing the picture of the Bourne Chapel March with the big York Road School in the background brings back memories. I attended that school but on the outbreak of war the building was taken over as an ARP station. All around the base it was sandbagged to a height of 10-12 feet. Next to the school on York Road it was a shop selling fruit and veg; it was owned by a Mr Jordon. We used to put our arms through the bars and knock on his window at the school break and he would come with apples and other fruit for us to purchase. Down the road from the sewing machine building was Bolton’s fish and chip shop – it faced straight down Shannon Street. On the same block was a barber’s shop; tupence for a haircut! My father worked at Temple Newsam pit which part of the Waterloo main Colliery. I used to meet him off the paddy train and ride on his bike to Great Garden Street. We lived opposite the Providence pub. He was killed in a roof fall on the 5th of March 1937.

York Road School

York Road School

Mr Farman’s tale
My grandfather used to live in Walkers Place. They were all one up and one down, he told me the water closets – as they were called – were a long way down the street and I can remember Grandfather calling out to a neighbours as she was carrying the slops down the street, ‘Sup before slop, Lizzie’ Also in the street was Bradley’s coal yard. I remember you bought coal and they loaned you a barrow to wheel it away in. My father was a maintenance man at Waterloo pit. I can see all the miners now packing the wooden trucks, all with black faces, no pit baths in those days, only the tin baths in front of the fire at home, I also remember the 1928 collier’s strike when mounted police were charging the strikers at the coal staithes on the corner of Easy Road and Cross Green lane.
I left school at fifteen and was accepted at Duffield’s as an apprentice printer. Starting at 10/- a week I was not happy there as it turned out the boss was a slave drier. You couldn’t talk or sing. Everything was done at the double. He even stood at the time clock and if anyone was five minutes late he would say ‘We’ve done without you for five minutes – you can go home for the day.’ As soon as you came out of your apprenticeship and came onto full money £4 a week you got the sack and there was no unemployment pay.

Stan’s Tale
I remember going to Hutton’s, the druggist, in Dial Street for one pennyworth of gunpowder for Mother to clear the flues under the set-pot. I liked this operation – Mother would wrap the gunpowder in a big wad of newspaper and place it in the fireplace under the set-pot and after lighting the ends of the paper she would put the long brush pressed tightly against the door and wait for the big bang, accompanied by a cloud of smoke from the fireplace. That was exciting for us kids.
Another job was for Dad to change the flimsy gas mantles after one of us had knocked them off. They were very flimsy after they had been in use and easily broke. The little corner shop (Gozzard’s) sold them in a tubular box and it was a masterpiece to fit them into position. I can see Dad now, standing on the table with his tongue partly out, placing the flimsy fibre over the stick and fitting it gently into position. Then the moment we kids had waited for. A light was placed at the foot and the mantle blazed nearly up to the ceiling. Then the glass was put back into position and all was ready for use again, with a warning from Dad to be careful in future.
Another big day in our lives was the day we got our ‘long ‘uns’. In those far off days until we were about sixteen years old we showed our knees in short pants and sported a fancy pair of socks with coloured tops turned down at the knees. It was usually a Sunday morning when you would be given your last inspection by Mother and with neighbours at the ready you stepped out into the street. As you passed they would call, ‘You do look nice! You’re a man now! How does it feel?’ of course then you would have to stand a real rigging. Yes we fellows have come a long way since those ‘britching days’.
Until we were about three years old in fact we were dressed like girls then all at once you were changed into a little boy, at first with short trousers, coloured jerseys with a fancy collars and a tie to match. It was a big day for you when at last you got your ‘long ‘uns’
Sundays were very different between the wars, the older folk would be seen taking bunches of flowers to the cemetery whilst teenagers would gather in the lovely parks and do a little ‘flirting’. After tea we would listen to gramophone records playing the latest tunes, play cards or perhaps dominos with a little flutter of a halfpenny a game.
I would like to give a special mention to my mother who died in 1943 – when I was thirty years old. She died as a result of TB in Rothwell Hospital after much suffering at the age of fifty-four. She had worked hard all her life to bring up her family: she never managed to eat the same meals she cooked for us. Many is the time after dad had gone to work I would go to the a little confectioner’s shop off Ellerby lane for a custard or a curd tart which she would eat along with a pot of tea and then back to the washtub. I often think of Mother with love and wish I had been kinder to her.
Sally’s Tale
At thirteen I went to work at Lister’s Mill. Half a crown a week and me mother gave three pence pocket money, that’s what I got. In the war [WW 1] when Barnbow were there – I worked at Barnbow and I drove a horse and four trolleys full of shells right up to the station. I was there when the war finished and I were there when explosion come. We were on afternoons and it went off at two o’clock, and me and my sister came back home.
Then in the Second World War I worked at Ellerby Foundry with a hammer and chisel for five years. We didn’t get as much as the men – I had about four pounds a week. I stayed at the foundry while war were over and then when war were over I got my old job back the Black Dog Mil, because they didn’t want us women anymore. The men come back do you see?
Maud’s Tale
The best bit of fun were at pawn shop – top of Ellerby Lane. One poor women, she had nowt to take, see, but she’d been to butchers and got half a side of lamb. True tale this. It’s a long time ago but it’s true. She got this half side of lamb from the butchers and wrapped it up and the pawnbroker man was so used to seeing her he never used to examine her parcels. So he gave her the same as last week and put her parcel on the shelf. Well, weeks go on and all of a sudden the gasman comes up. ‘Summat wrong with the drains.’ Well they had all the pavement up and everything. They were that bet with it. Then one day this pawnbroker, he was looking around and he says, ‘You know I think it’s coming from here,’ and it were lamb on top shelf. So she daren’t go there anymore and had to go to one up Richmond Hill.
We always had tingaleri man. Aye but I loves a bit of good music. We’d have a penneth of chips and be sitting outside singing Pasadena with the tingaleri, up Ellerby lane, where the grass is greener. And there would always be a couple of lovers under the shop window. You know but we were lovely when we were young weren’t we? We didn’t have scraggy hair did we? And we didn’t wear breeches.

Not sure of author
My dad used to make coffins in the attic. There was only one thing Dad didn’t like and that was wearing top hat and tails. He liked all the other parts. He liked making the boxes and the tassels but when it came to going with ‘em he didn’t like that. They used to wear that hat and the old frock tailed coat with the buttons on covered in cloth. This black coat was shiny and so was the hat. He let Johnny go, his mate. And he looked after a firm that were called Binn’s undertakers for a long time – that were down South Accomm. As a boy I used to sleep up in the attic with the coffins, In fact we had a habit of getting in there and sitting in the coffins with two pieces of dowelling and telling myself I were in a rowing boat. Till one day Johnny Walker put the lid on me. And I never went in a coffin no more after that. He shoved me in and put the lid on.

                                                                                                           The cost of a funeral in 1903

The cost of a funeral in 1903

Hilda’s Tales
My best job were on the trams, Oh it were a lovely job were that. I were out at Torre Road but we went to Lower Wortley, Upper Wortley Temple Newsam and then back, including Halton and Cross Gates. I remember once going to cross gates, you know we used to look outside when we were upstairs to make sure everyone had got on. Anyone used to ring the bell to save us having to run downstairs. And this were about half-past seven in the morning – we had long wooden ticket racks then and I dropped mine out of the window. I gave him five on the bell to tell him to stop but he thought I were telling him I were full, so he went off hell for leather and I’m there ringing the bell all the way. When we got to Nell Bend there was this tram coming the other way realized what was the matter and told him to stop. They had to get somebody in a taxi to take me to get my ticket rack back.

When we were rationed during the war, they gave us some ration cards. And one day my sister was washing step, you know and she says, ‘Mother this scouring stone is awfully hard!’ and mother said, ‘Silly B…. It’s cheese!’
During the war there were a barrage balloon came over Leeds and it had deflated at one end you know and there were rumours that the Germans were going to invade England. We were all frightened to death that there were going to be an invasion. And my mother used to get up right early and she gets up right early this morning and looks out of the window and over the town and you can see from the Bertha’s this balloon. She went over to my sisters and she says, ‘Get up! Get Up! Gerrup! They’re here, they’ve invaded us!’ She went in house and got her little poker out, she says, ‘They’re in the passage – come out! she says, ‘I’ll kill you stone dead – I’m not frightened of you!’ and my sister got up and said, ‘What’s up!’ she says, ‘What’s up!’
‘You – you’ll die in your beds, you.’ Mother says. ‘They’re here – they’ve invaded. Look you can see the balloon, they’ve dropped out of that end – look!’


Last week’s picture was the old ‘Fish Hut ‘pub on Ellerby Lane. Now, alas, derelict.

Here is something a bit different this month. Can anyone find an earlier tree graffiti carving than this: 1891? At the time this was carved man did not have powered flight and Victoria still had ten years left to reign.

tree for blog

Seen in the old Newlands Estate near Stanley Ferry.


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




September 1, 2013


Alan was a pupil at Ellerby Lane School but before that a pupil at the iconic South Accommodation Road School. You had to leave ‘South Accomm’ at age eleven and move to high school if you passed your 11 plus or failing that to, usually, St Hilda’s or Ellerby Lane Schools who profited by inheriting some great footballers

Close your eyes and go back to a time before the internet, joy-riders, and crack. Before SAGA and Nintendo. Go way back to:
Hide and seek in the park.
The corner shop.
Football with an old can.
Beano, Dandy, Twinkle and Denis the Menace.
Roly Poly.
Hula Hoops, Jumping the stream, building dams.
The smell of the sun and fresh cut grass.
Bazooka Joe Bubble Gum.
An ice cream cone on a warm summer night from the van that played a tune
Watching Saturday morning cartoons, short commercials or the flicks
When around the corner seemed far away and going into town seemed like going somewhere.
Playing marbles, ball bearings, big un’s, little un’s
Making igloos out of snow banks
Walking to school, no matter what the weather was like. Running till you were out of breath, laughing so hard your stomach hurt.
The embarrassment of being picked last for the team
Water balloons were the ultimate weapon.
Football cards in the spokes that transformed bikes into motorcycles.
Eating raw jelly, orange squash, ice pops.
Vimto and Jubbly Lollies, Curly Wirleys..

Remember when…
There were two types of trainers – girls and boys and Dunlop Green Flash. The only time you wore them at school was for PT. and they were called: gym shoes or if you were older: plimsoles.
You knew everyone in your street and so did your parents.
It wasn’t odd to have two or three ‘best friends.
You didn’t sleep a wink on Christmas Eve.
Nobody owned a pure-bred dog.
Five bob (25p) was decent pocket money.
You would reach into a muddy gutter for a penny
Any parent could discipline anyone’s kid, or feed him or use him to carry groceries and nobody, not even the kid thought a thing of it.
When being sent to the head’s office was nothing compared to the fate that awaited a misbehaving pupil at home
Decisions made by dip dip dip.
The worst thing you could catch from the opposite sex was germs
and the worst thing in the day was having to sit next to one.
Getting a foot of snow was a dream come true
Older siblings were then worst tormentors but the fiercest protectors.


South Accomm School

Alan Price

Alan Price – The Theatre of Dreams – at South Accommodation Road School


Does anybody remember the ‘film’? I think at Ellerby Lane we were the first school to attempt anything like this. When we went to the flicks we had to stay while the credits stopped rolling, while we wrote down the various occupations of the people behind the making of the film i.e. the director, camera man, gaffer etc. Then there were the endless rehearsals. The star of the film was to be Eric Isotta, who believe it or not got the part because the looks of his dark skin were said to have made him look like a villain!!! Of course that wouldn’t have been tolerated in today’s PC world (and I don’t mean the computer store!!) Apart from Eric, and I think, Billy Findley, I don’t remember the rest of the cast.
To this day I still remember the opening night. All the ‘boos’ when Eric arrived – I can still see Eric furtively peering around the corner after the theft of the silver and then all the rest of the class were chasing him. Then of course, all the cheers and foot stamping after Eric was captured. I often what happened to the film and if still exists stored in an attic somewhere?
Another tit bit about Ellerby Lane School. I believe it was the first local school to teach a foreign language outside of the usual: German, French and Latin. We were taught Spanish. I believe this was an attempt to show that primary schools were as intellectual as the grammar schools. Somebody told me there was a Spaniard working at the Ellerby Lane Foundry and I followed him about for weeks bucking up the courage to speak to him in his native language and when I managed it he told me to f… off in no certain manner. To this day I don’t know of he was a Spaniard or not.

And of course that film ‘Brought to Justice’ directed by Mary Milner a schoolgirl herself has recently and magically come to light. It has no sound it’s jerky –
it’s bloody marvellous!
Thanks for bringing the past back to life for us, Alan.

Last month’s picture was the former East End Park Special Needs School. The building is still there but no longer with the same use

We should all remember this one even though it was bombed by the Germans on March 14th 1941.Richmond Hill School


I don’t want to give the name of this school away but I can’t help including this great little gem written by a lady called Edith it would seem many years ago. I’m sure everyone will love it, Edith.

Edith’s Tale
I well remember the old Richmond Hill Council School. There will never be another as good or as well loved as that school. I became a pupil in 1903 and left to start work on the 12th of December 1913. The school itself was large and at the time, very modern, having good classrooms and washing facilities. The lower hall was shaped exactly like the top one with classrooms all around a central hall for pupils to be mustered for lectures of all kinds. When I attended the headmistress of the infants and juniors was Miss Bowker, a short plump, motherly person, who had about eight teachers under her authority.
In the early 1900s Leeds began to run tramcars. Such an event had to be noted, so a little game was organized. Some of us were lined up and taught a little song, which we sang as we trotted around in a line.

High-ho, see the trams go,
ride into town for a penny.
Jump on the car.
Hold onto the bar,
You’ll get there much quicker than any.
The school clock was a landmark. It had a very noble way of striking, especially at nine o’clock in the morning. The upper floor will be the one remembered by most. Mr. Luther Wilkinson was our headmaster, he signed his name with a flourish – I remember it well. All the schoolteachers were good and did their best to make schoolwork interesting for us. There was Mr. Reilly, who was killed in the First World War. Mr. Crue was the music teacher, Mr. Beaumont my own master for a few years and Mr. Turner. There were lots of women teachers who must have been very good to turn out so many good scholars. The Richmond Hill Football Team of those early years were real champions and were once invited to Copenhagen to play schoolboy’s teams over there.
A final little poem:
In days gone by, when I was young
Some folk went out collecting cow dung.
It was good for poulticing they said
For aching backs and thumbs hard and red.
But my mum believed in other things
Like bread poultices for boils and stings.
After that she fed it to the cat,
Who always had kittens in an old felt hat.





Memories of Growing up in East Leeds by Frank Shires

November 14, 2010

Memories of Growing up in East Leeds (Frank Shires)

Frank remembers his early life in East Leeds in the 1930s/40s: the street games, the ‘black-out’ the ‘knocker-ups’ and particularly the air raids. I love his great little tale of – how, when the sirens went off for the first time, one father soaked all the bed clothes in the bath to seal up the doors and windows in case of a gas attack. When the all-clear sounded there were no dry clothes to put back on the beds.

                              Of course no one really knew what to expect from  an air raid.


When you think back to life in those back-to-back streets of East Leeds it makes you appreciate how the quality of life has changed since the days of the 1930s and 1940s. Television, DVDs, ‘fridges, family cars, mobile and even hand held telephones were unheard of. However I am not sure that the luxuries enjoyed by the youth of today contributes to a happier life! Certainly my early memories are full of fun and good times when we largely made out own entertainment.

Playing marbles or ‘taws’ as we called them on the ‘oller’. The oller was a small rectangle of rough ground facing onto Easy Road at the end of Archie Place and Dial Terrace. Legend said that at one time it had been a builder’s yard.

Having mischievous ‘doggie’ nights when, along with a group of contemporaries, we played practical jokes on the houses in the area. The blackout was a great help. During the war years (1939-1945) there were no streetlights and houses were banned from showing any light after dark. The resulting blackness was a great aid to our nefarious activities. Unlike modern times our pranks were never malicious.

In the warm weather we made gas tar balls from the sticky black substance, which oozed up between the cobblestones of our streets. There was always trouble when you went home with it sticking to your clothes. Then there was playing football, cricket, French cricket, kick out ball and rounders in the street ‘openings. Yes, happy times indeed. To understand what ‘openings’ were you have to understand the topography of the back-to-back streets of houses. They were usually arranged in blocks of eight or four. Between each block there was a small block of toilets – 1 toilet to each 2 houses. The toilet blacks were separated from the houses by ‘passages’, which also gave access to the dustbins, stored between 2 blocks of 4 toilets – toilets and dustbins under one roof. At the other end of each block of 8 houses and before the next block started was an opening, which occupied the same area as 2 passages and the small toilet/dustbin block. Sometimes the openings had 1 or 2 upright posts in the centre.

Way back in my memory I can recall the dustbin areas being ‘middens’. All the refuse was thrown through window into the space behind. When this was to be cleared the refuse collectors or ‘midden men’ had to climb through the window and shovel out the refuse. When this arrangement was modernised the windows were made into open doorways, the space behind was cement rendered and dustbins placed inside. Progress!’ 


We used to amuse ourselves by fishing for ‘tiddlers’ or sticklebacks at Red Walls in Black Road. I believe the official name for Black Road was Pontefract Lane and the Red Walls was a bridge, which spanned a small beck. Other sources of amusement was doing ‘duffs’ or dares around Black Road and Knostrop areas and exploring the ‘Quarry’. The quarry was what seemed a vast area with numerous  tables,pigsties,sheds,garages,ect.between the Easy Road Picture House and Clark Lane Methodist Church. It had a variety of pathways running between the ramshackle buildings.It was wise to be familiar with these pathways in case a fast exit was called for.

One of my earliest memories must be the local ‘knocker up’ I presume alarm clocks  had been invented but probable couldn’t be afforded by the proletariat who lived in the back-to-back houses in my street, Dial Terrace. Our local knocker-up was Mrs Connor who lived at number six and for four pence a week she who would rise early and using a long bamboo pole tap on the bedroom window of each of her customers until they responded. Good timekeeping was obviously more important in those days       


                             Air Raids


There is a tale about a family (Who will remain nameless).  The first time the sirens went off, and bearing in mind no one knew exactly what to expect, the father of the family ripped all the bed clothes from the beds and soaked them in the bath. Then he covered all the windows with the wet blankets to stop gas from entering. When the ‘all clear’ went, they had no dry blankets to put back on the beds.

            I have many memories of the war years. The ‘black-out’ brings probably the most vivid memories. After dark no lights could be shown and when the air raid sirens sounded local volunteers who had not been called up into the armed forces would patrol the streets to ensure the ‘black-out’ was maintained. These men were known as ‘air raid’ wardens and wore a broad armband with lettering to denote their position. Most houses had a thick curtain to seal off the entrance door from the rest of the house; this was to facilitate entering or exiting the premises without showing a light. If a light was allowed there would be an immediate cry of: ‘Put that b…. light out!’ from the air raid wardens, this was to avoid guiding enemy aircraft to the area.

         Moving vehicles had covers on their lights to dim the beam and point it to the ground. Gas lamps, which at the start of the war were the main street lighting, were turned off. It is difficult to imagine how eerie it was walking out after dark – a good knowledge of the area was essential as everywhere was pitch-black, you literally could not see your hand in front of your face.  Any shops which were open after dark (fish and chip shops for instance) had to have a suitable curtain to allow entry without displaying light. There were many black eyes and bloody noses etc. from walking into lamp posts.

            The public transport- trams and buses – had lace curtains glued to their insides to prevent injure to passengers from flying glass should the vehicle be caught up in a bombing raid. It was compulsory to carry gas masks at all times even when at school or visiting the ‘pictures’ as we called the cinema in those days. Thankfully, we never had to use the gas masks in earnest. Certain equipment was distributed amongst the houses in the area, such houses were identified externally. For instance, if a house had a stirrup pump left for emergency use, the letters: SP was pained on the outside of the wall. I have my doubts as to how effective the stirrup pump would have been in a dangerous situation as they were had operated to pump water from a bucket or similar vessel

            The cellars in our back-to-back houses were reinforced by building a brick pillar in the centre to support a RSJ across the ceiling. This was to make the cellar safer to use as a shelter in the event of an enemy air raid, in fact when the alert sirens sounded we invariably sat, suitably padded on the steps that led down to the cellar. That is all except my father, a veteran of the First World War, I’m sure he said he would only get out of bed when it was necessary. The only night he joined us on the cellar steps was the night bombs were dropped on our neighbourhood. I remember seeing the damage caused in Debt Street (Richmond Hill) and a large crater in the ground behind the Prospect Public House. And of course one of the bombs damaged and eventually closed Richmond Hill School. It was believed the bombs were intended for the nearby Marsh Lane Goods Yard. I can still picture the searchlights scanning the skies and the exploding shells from the anti-aircraft barrage attempting to destroy the enemy aircraft. For its size and concentration of industry Leeds suffered comparatively little damage from air raids during the war. I was once told this was due to its position in the air Valley. The resultant fog made it hard to detect from the air. Presumably the navigational instruments were not too sophisticated in those days.    









The Daily School Run

October 1, 2010

                                              THE DAILY SCHOOL RUN

                                                     By Eric Sanderson

Eric was able to walk to his primary school – Victoria School, York Road Leeds – but when he aspired to study at The Leeds Central High School he needed to take to public transport and an adventurous walk through central Leeds which helped to put him in the right frame of mind for the potentially troublesome day to come. Eric here relates his typical ‘Daily School Run.’ 


From 1951 onwards, my school was located in the centre of Leeds. This required a daily journey on public transport and, as my home was roughly equidistant from the York Rd system and the No 62 bus route running along East Park Parade via East St etc, a good choice of regular, if usually crowded transport was available.

At the beginning of each school year, we were all issued with our own copies of the year’s text books & for the first couple of years, lock up desks were not available to us. This meant that we had to cart the text books for each day’s timetable as well as the corresponding exercise books. Woe betides anyone who tried to avoid bringing the full complement & share with a companion. Along with the compulsory hymn & prayer book, it was a heavy load so a ride was a necessity rather than a luxury.

I normally chose to travel by Tramcar, primarily because in those days it was cheaper than the bus fare. Taking the tram from outside Victoria school, the fare was 2d (less than 1p) from there to the Central Bus Station, the furthest I could travel for 2d. I guess today’s equivalent would be over £1 – some 120 times greater! The next stop, Corn Exchange cost another 1d and the eagle eyed conductors were always on the lookout for anyone trying to hitch the extra stop for free.

As the tram track ran down the middle of the road, passengers had to flag down the tram and swiftly move to the middle of the road, dodging the traffic in order to board. Admittedly, traffic density & speed was infinitesimal compared to today but even so, it could still be a little risky, bearing in mind vehicle braking systems were much less efficient , especially on slippery surfaces or if the day was a pea souper ,which was not uncommon at the time.

Some of the older trams still had an open front and rear on the upper deck which was not too friendly in bad weather, especially if you were trying to make a start on or complete your homework. These trams were gradually being replaced with the “London” type which were much more comfortable with upholstered seating, better suspension (giving a smoother ride such that your scribblings were less spidery) and much quieter. The 10/15min journey was a good opportunity to put the finishing touches to uncompleted homework, especially if this involved just cramming up on a couple of pages of The Merchant of Venice prior to being grilled  during Eng Lit later in the day. The trams swayed, trundled & clanged their way down the hill & at the bottom of York Rd, at the Woodpecker junction, they’d make an ear piercing, screeching turn round the very sharp bend before passing into Marsh Lane. I also seem to recollect a turntable being located here because the older, long fixed wheelbase trams couldn’t negotiate this curve whereas the newer, double bogied ones could, even if noisily scrubbing off half of the wheel flanges.

Dropping off at the Central Bus Station, after jumping onto the floor mounted conductor’s bell, I’d often wander thro the nearby old slaughterhouse, only occasionally being stopped or ejected and even at 8 o clock, the slaughter was in full swing.

I’ve often thought about my fascination with this horror & ritual but it was probably not dissimilar to that young boy’s experience these days watching Rambo slaughter half of South East Asia in a single afternoon, with the added dimension of the smell of fear & death. Now and again, a poor crazed beast would break loose and stampede around the place and this was a little scary, being the signal for me to beat a hasty retreat.

Leaving the scene of carnage behind to enter the Market Buildings, starting at the lower end which was the fish market. At the time, the Leeds fish market was second in size in the country only to London’s Billingsgate and had a trainload of fresh fish delivered each market day, direct from Hull & Grimsby.

A friend, who had left school early, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer,  had a job boiling crabs somewhere in the bowels of the market and early morning would  see him pushing a barrow load of steaming crabs for delivery to all the fishmonger’s stalls . I have to say he always seemed very happy in his task which he doubled up with a job as an ice cream salesman, pedaling the 3 wheeled contraptions with an ice box on the front, all around the district. Jackie was always good for a few minutes light hearted banter & even for the odd free iced lollipop for his old pals.

Leeds Market was the first place I ever heard adults using what might be called “industrial language”.

Somewhat naively, I thought bad language was the province of young men, probably because I never heard my parents swear in their lifetime, at least never in front of me. So to hear such ripe language in everyday use was a revelation & slightly exhilarating. Wandering along the “top row”, admiring the stacks of highly polished apples and other exotic fruits set my mind wandering to distant lands like The Sudan, Morocco, Spain & Hawaii that I feared would never be my good fortune to visit.  However, unaccompanied young boys were unwelcome in the market in those days, I suspect the stallholders were suspicious of opportunist young thieves & when simply wandering through, would often be told to “**** off out “in no uncertain terms. A police constable also patrolled the aisles & would similarly kick young boys out with a warning not to return. I always thought this to be rough justice as I was, for the most part, only daydreaming.

Crossing into King Edward St, to gaze enviously into J.T.Roger’s ‘bike shop, followed by a stroll up the County Arcade where there was a large toyshop, just above the old Mecca Locarno, & always worth a few minutes dalliance.

Many will remember the fair haired flower vendor who was invariably wore a long camel coat & plenty of gold jewellery. For many years he stood in Briggate near the Queens Arcade & when I passed, he would be just starting to set up shop. This gave me another opportunity to indulge my travel dreams by reading the labels on the flower boxes – Holland, Scilly Isles & even Lincolnshire sounded attractive.

For a salesman, he was never too friendly and even after several years of wishing him the occasional good morning, he would still retort with a rather unpleasant expletive. I made my mind up during those years that I would never buy any flowers from him & I never did.

A few years ago, I saw in the YEP that he’d died after something like 60 years of trade, mainly just around that pitch.

Onwards through Thornton’s Arcade where there was an exclusive fountain pen shop (it’s still there).At school we were only allowed to use cheap fountain pens or the old “dip” pens.  Ball pens (or Biros as they were then known) were strictly forbidden as they were deemed inimical to good handwriting. Still, the Parkers, Waterman’s, Swans & Conway Stewarts with their tortoiseshell casings & golden trim were rare jewels to behold.    One day!

A slight diversion around the corner would lead to the City Varieties showcase where grainy, black & white photos of Phyllis Dixie’s semi nude tableaux added a little spice to the start of the day but this could only ever last for a few fleeting seconds because passing adults would often admonish leering young boys for having “filthy minds”. I wonder what they would think of the sexual maturity of today’s youth?  

Woodhouse Lane was a little different to now & divided roughly where the St John Centre is now. At this junction was Rowland Winn’s Central Garage with a glittering showroom, exhibiting the very latest shiny new Austin/Morris models. It was here that I first saw the new “Mini” (I think about 1955) and a few minutes of mouthwatering window shopping was never wasted.

Past Lindley’s gun shop in Albion St (where a murder took place during an attempted robbery around 1952/3 & thereafter became a scene of morbid attraction for many schoolboys) & round the corner into Great George St (only Masters, prefects & 6th formers were permitted to use the Woodhouse Lane front entrance) for a short game of touch & pass or a final round robin check on last nights homework.  All in all, a great start to the day I always thought, but then it was into the fortress for a day of 7 periods of Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Eng Lang & other such less interesting diversions, all guaranteed to kill off a few more brain cells.

The Town Hall clock striking 4-o-clock ( it did strike in those days) was music to my ears when a rapid scamper down one of the central staircases , a swift dash down the Head row , with luck, would see me home just after half past four, even if a further hour or so of homework beckoned.

For several years, this start to the day, with a few variations on my route to view other attractions (including the railway station to gaze at the destination board & indulge my travel fantasies), was my usual routine apart from a short period when a serious fire at the school resulted in a temporary relocation to another school, but I never tired of those meanderings which prepared me for the mind numbing rigours of the school day.

I doubt very much if today’s usual ride in the car to the school gates is anything like as fascinating for most youngsters.

My Life Between the Wars by Stan Pickles

January 2, 2008

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

This Was My Life Between the Wars

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


Ellerby  Lane School and Local Football


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


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


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

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

Childhood Days

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Sporting ’Bank’

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

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

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


Easy Road picture House and East End Park

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


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

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

Ho! Those Trams

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

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

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

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

Those Back-street Bookies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

snack and a cuppa is available. What changes indeed!

The Monkey Walks


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

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

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

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