Archive for the ‘Victoria School’ Category

Barber Shops and The Steamroller

February 1, 2015

In 2014 the most accessed tales on the East Leeds Memories site were Eric Sanderson’s, tales Train spotting and Washday Blues. Here is another great pair from Eric for us to enjoy : The Barber Shop and The Steamroller.   THE BARBER’S SHOP   Although barbers shops were numerous in the 40’s & 50’s ,only four readily come to mind. The first was Saxon’s (later Danny Green’s , of the well known local “boxing“ family), located on the York Rd close to Victoria school. The proprietor ,Mr Saxon sported a huge blonde (almost certainly dyed) handlebar moustache, waxed to stick out several inches either side of his face. He also had a gleaming bald pate which must have been buffed with beeswax , Pledge ,Mansion Polish or something similar. In his emporium, young boys had to sit up straight, keep quiet and were not allowed to look at the papers/magazines whilst waiting , always having to give priority to adults such that you could have a long wait before you got into the chair. I even recall having to vacate the chair mid haircut to allow an adult to take his rightful place. Mr Saxon only knew one style for boys & that was “short back & sides”. Any attempt to get him to moderate his efforts was futile & you were left with what today would be called a No 1 but in those days looked as if you had a serious scalp disorder , especially when over enthusiastic application of the hair clippers had lacerated it. Things did improve when Danny Green took over & it became a more friendly place altogether The second one was Big Bill Campbell’s on Temple View near the Ascot Terrace junction. His wasn’t a conventional “shop” in that he operated his business from the upstairs of (presumably) his house. He maintained his energy & unflagging chatter by swigging copious amounts of beer throughout the day, replenished from a jug , frequently topped up by sending one of the waiting boys to the Jug & Bottle outlet of the nearby Slip Inn ( then called The New Regent but always known as the “Slip”). The best time to go to Big Bill’s was early morning because as the day wore on, his hand – eye co-ordination skills became increasingly impaired, deteriorating to the point whereby you could never guarantee the shape of the outcome. The several jugs of Hemingway’s bitter he’d consumed during the course of the day might just have had something to do with this loss of motor skills There was one huge advantage of going to Big Bill’s (apart from it‘s closeness to home & being cheaper than anyone else) & that was on completion of your haircut, he would blather you hair with what he called “concrete”. Once combed ,your hair stayed in this condition for days, defying wind & rain & not needing to be combed again for at least a week. I think in fact that many of the local barbers did a similar thing. The next establishment was Pape’s Ladies & Gents salon , located on East Park Rd near the Pontefract Lane railway bridge. The gents (downstairs) ,was run by Mr Pape whilst upstairs was a ladies section run by Mrs Pape both of whom were friends of my parents. Their son Gerald who was about our age was more an acquaintance than friend but I came across him many years later when I dropped into a barber shop in Crossgates. Not immediately recognising me, Gerald greeted me in a faux French accent “ az mushyewer ave ze appoin-ter-ment”. I replied “it’s me Gerald & why are you speaking like this?”. Instant shock & recognition appeared on his face & he hastily shuffled me in ,whispering in his original accent, “ for **** sake, keep your voice down, I’m now known as Gerrard-Henri in this area”. Reverting to his phony French accent , no doubt for his unsuspecting public, “I will skwezz mushyewer into my ver ver bizzi personal sheddle myzelf” said Gerald . Busy? , I‘m sure he‘d been reading the Reveille when I walked in. On completion of my trim he said loudly, again for the benefit of his clientele “ peraps mushyewer will make ze appoin-ter-ment for ze nex times”. I never bothered but I believe Gerald’s business later became quite successful . And then there was Fletcher’s ,which was on a short parade on Cross Green Lane near the bottom of Easy Rd. This shop was a two chair father & son business & I think they were both called Bert. Most of the young men preferred the son to do their hair because he was more au fait with the styles of the day whereas the father was your more traditional short back & sides man & unless you were very explicit in your instructions to him, your carefully nurtured locks would be shorn in double quick time, tumbling to the floor in great lumps. Sideburns (the name of which I believe was derived from a U.S.Civil War Union General – Ambrose Burnside , who sported huge mutton chops & popularised them ) were very popular amongst young men at the time but Bert the elder was no respecter of these carefully cultured adornments & would whip them off before you could blink. The father also suffered from an occasional Jack Douglas type of involuntary muscle spasm which resulted in a rapid hand/arm jerking movement. This was especially disturbing if he happened to be trimming your neck or around your ears with a cutthroat razor at the time- very scary. For this reason, you’d often prefer a short wait to be attended to by Bert the Younger whilst the father’s chair was empty, but it never seemed to bother him too much, it gave him time to study the day’s racing selections. What’s more, the wait was far safer than finding yourself shorn like a lamb & with your ears lopped off. All this for the princely sum of 2 shillings (10p in todays money). Compare this to a well known City Centre salon where currently, the “first consultation” is £100 & a subsequent trim £65.How times have changed. Finally, & although not strictly in East Leeds the only other one I can easily remember was Sweeny Todd’s at Leeds Bridge on a short balcony overlooking the river Aire .This was an establishment that, even in later years, I was nervous of entering. I had a fear, instilled & deeply rooted in me by the horror stories of the demon barber of Fleet Street. I couldn’t even face a pork pie ’til I was 25. The local barber shop was ,in addition to it’s obvious purpose, an important means of social contact & a local gossip exchange because barbers were often a fount of such knowledge, with many people obviously willing to entrust them with their confidences . Another piece of the social fabric that has all but disappeared from the landscape. Papes barber's shop004 I think this is the site of the original Pape’s barber’s shop                                  


Tragic accidents befall some unfortunate people but, whilst not diminishing the short term discomfort & pain, after a reasonable period many can be looked back upon with amusement, astonishment and downright disbelief. Some such incidents befell acquaintances of mine , as well as myself.   In the late 40’s, I experienced what it must be like to be a stunt man whilst sitting in the front seat of my father’s car, an old Jowett on which the front doors were hinged at the rear. Negotiating a sharp right hand bend , perhaps somewhat faster than was strictly necessary put the disastrous chain of events into motion. The door catch on my side was either faulty or had not been fully engaged ,with the result that the door flew open, launching me sideways through the air at , I would guess, about 25/30 mph. The roadway had recently been freshly gravelled with those ferociously sharp granite chippings which made my landing far from comfortable, not dissimilar to sleeping on a Blackpool boarding house bed of the era. My father fortunately had the alertness of mind to quickly swerve & avoid running over me and fortune favoured me further by landing neither on my head nor face as well as no other traffic being around. After rolling and skidding for some distance, I lay in the road, winded, bruised, but otherwise pretty much unharmed. My mother’s hysterical screams as my father ran back to pick me up were more upsetting than my minor injuries, which after a visit to the LGI, turned out to be limited to gravel rash on my arms and legs. A lucky escape indeed and ever since I’ve always being a little paranoid about ensuring that car doors are properly closed. I can therefore rightfully claim to be a semi successful (or failed ?) stunt man.   The Fun House at Blackpool Pleasure Beach was often a rich source of gallows humour. One device consisted of a large flywheel, around 8ft diameter, mounted on a slope of about 30 degrees, the object being to get the large disc spinning, thereby acquiring a lot of momentum and then trying to jump on and off whilst attempting to remain upright. Most of the young people seemed to manage this fairly easily but my father was anxious to prove his gymnastic capabilities, unfortunately whilst the disc was spinning rapidly, and insisted on taking a flying leap onto this diabolically innocent looking instrument of humiliation. He managed to completely misjudge his timing and the instant his feet landed onto the wildly rotating disc, he was flung into the air like a backwards facing rag doll and came crashing down into a tangled heap , much to his huge embarrassment and the gales of laughter from everybody else. Not surprisingly, he didn’t find it in the least bit amusing, being made much worse by my mother’s inability to control her laughter for hours ( even years, because we laughed at his misfortune for a long time afterwards). In fact, a bad shoulder which he developed later in life he attributed to this incident and never could bring himself to see the funny side.   Another acquaintance, now deceased and admittedly not always the most alert of people, managed to get himself run over by a steamroller. I know, this sounds incredible , given the noise, speed and size of these leviathans. I don’t to this day how he survived and when we heard the news, we expected to hear that he’d been transformed to a one inch thick by 15foot long being. In the event his injuries were confined to badly crushed legs from which he made a complete and quite swift recovery, although I believe the driver was given the revolver and bottle of whiskey. He never lived down the ignominy, nor could he explain just how he came to be wandering distractedly straight into path of an old fashioned steam roller which , for being bizarre, ranks with another story I heard of a young man being trampled by an circus elephant.   Bringing this tale to a close involves a friends attempt to light the coal fire in preparation for his parents coming home from work. Several attempts were unsuccessful , eventually running out of readily combustible material before the “chips” & coal caught fire. Searching for something which might help, he discovered a bottle of what he thought at the time was light oil and should do the trick. Pouring this onto a lighted piece of paper in the hearth, he quickly discovered it was something much more volatile, either paraffin or petrol, I don’t remember which. However the result was that the spark ran up the stream of fuel to the bottle neck and erupted into a flamethrower with a jet of flame about 6 ft long. Panicking, he swung around whilst clinging to the bottle ,directing the jet all around the living room whilst the rest of us dived for cover. Oddly enough, the first thing I remember catching fire was the wallpaper, followed swiftly by the settee and the table cover, By this time, we’d had the sense to open the front door and toss the potential bomb out into the street , managing to douse the flames inside the front room and bringing the whole disaster under control. The damage was fairly superficial but we expected an almighty rollocking which, much to our relief, never materialised. Our parents were more concerned over our safety, but it didn’t stop us having a good old laugh once the terror had subsided.   So even potentially serious incidents can, with hindsight become amusing recollections, even though it makes you shudder to think what might have been possibly fatal consequences. Still, I suppose there are worse things than death, especially if you’ve ever spent an afternoon scraping spuds at Scout Camp. That’s a nightmare for another time.   Thanks for two of the best, Eric.

Margaret’s Tale. Past times in Richmond Hill

December 1, 2014

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

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

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


our east leeds shops cross green lane

our east leeds shops

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

In Defence of Our Old East End Park.

October 1, 2011

In Defence of Our Old East End Park

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

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


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


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




Remembering East End Park in the 20s and 30s

By Stan Pickles

East End Park  had a little duck pond with railing around it, which was so attractive with mothers and young children throwing titbits for the swans and ducks to dart after. The flower gardens, the grass with its neatly cut verges and the lovely landscaped floral arrangements all combined to make the park a delight for everyone. All presided over by Dolphus, the ‘Parkie’ who kept a lookout for any mischief-makers and woe betide any troublemakers.  You will note I didn’t say ‘vandals’. There were no such people in that day and age.

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

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


Remembering East End Park in the 40s and 50s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Stroll around East End Park Today

By Pete Wood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

               Brass band near tennis courts                                 Parkie’s house still stands