Posts Tagged ‘Black Road’

Where Did All Our Tuskey Go?

January 1, 2016

Where has All Our Tuskey Gone?

When we were young and had no care
Tuskey (rhubarb) sticks grew everywhere,
One has to wonder where they’ve gone?
Under concrete, every one!

In an earlier tale Sid Simpson relates our typical ramble from East End Park to Temple Newsam: When we were young boys a few of my schoolmates and I would meet up and go on an adventure to Temple Newsam. We were all pupils of Victoria School, York Road and about ten or eleven years old at the time, money was always scarce for us which meant to get to Temple Newsam we always had to walk. The easiest way to Temple Newsam was either down Black Road, which was the longest way, or down Red Road which was the shortest way. Four or five of us would meet up and set off on our way. Black Road and Red Road formed a triangle near to East Leeds Cricket Club. In the triangle was a field of wild rhubarb (tuskey) we would nearly always stop at this field to have our sweet. The tuskey grew so tall and the leaves were so huge we could sit underneath and keep dry if it rained. Out would come the sugar – for those who had been able to pinch some from home – and we would eat our fill. We avoided the thickest stalks as they were the

sourest

.rhubarb sheds
Molly & Peter Smith working in the rhubarb sheds in wartime.

When we rambled the area in the 1940/50s tuskey seemed to grow out of every nick and cranny all the way from Cross Green Lane eastwards to Temple Newsam, Knostrop, Skelton Grange, Thorpe Stapleton, Newsam Green and then on to Morley and Wakefield which formed the golden triangle of rhubarb growing. Rhubarb flourished it was said because the soil in our area liked the soot which fell from industrial Hunslet. So Rhubarb growing flourished due to the legacy of the previous phase in the history of the use of the land use which in our case was coal mining. The land itself is timeless but the nature of its use changes through the years and each phase leaves its fingerprint on the next hence soot produced from the industry that used the coal in the mining phase helped to grow the rhubarb in the next phase – the market garden phase. Academics call this process ’Synthesis’.
Taking an historical snap shot of area eastward to Thorpe Stapleton the earliest settlement recorded is probably the exposure of a Viking long house near Skelton Grange. This places it earlier than the Norman Conquest and this is substantiated by the Danish name ‘Thorpe’ –Thorpe Stapleton, Knowsthorpe etc. After ‘The Conquest’ William gave large tracts of land south of Leeds to his loyal military commander, Ilbert de-Lacy, who had successfully engineered the crossing of the swollen River Aire for William’s army on its way to York.
In the 13th/14/ century large areas of land were the property of ‘The Lords of the Manors’ and the so called ‘breadbaskets’ of Leeds and district were at Woodhouse in the north and the fertile area of Knostrop in the lower Aire Valley in the south. The Lord of the Manor of Leeds was at great pains to stop Knostrop falling into the hands of The Abbott of Kirkstall who was mopping up fertile land wherever he could. At Knostrop the fields were worked by ‘villeins’ no not ‘ villians’ they’re the ones the police are after. Villiens in this context were known as ‘bondsmen’ not slaves and yet not free men, they were the bottom of the pile in the social order, they were obligated to serve The Lord of The Manor and cultivate his land without any payment. For this they were allowed to live in a small cottage on the master’s land and have use of a small strip of land to grow their own food. They had to ask the lord’s permission for their son to become a monk or for their daughter to marry. In addition they had to supply 4 hens and 40 eggs to the lord at Christmas for his table. (Burt & Grady The Illustrated History of Leeds, 1994)
The Black Death Plague which devastated Britain in the 14th century was a two edged sword, it killed 40% of the labouring population but labour became a scarce commodity so those that were left were able to negotiate better terms for themselves and heralded the end of the ‘bondsman’ era. The legacy of this age was that it left us with the great estates and grand houses at Thorpe Stapleton (12thcentury), Swillington Hall and later the Elizabethan/Jacobean Temple Newsam Estate, still available for our 21at century leisure.
The next phase to dominate our land area was the winning of coal to service the industrial revolution. Coal mining was recorded in Knostrop as early as the 16th century but it really got underway with the sinking of Waterloo Pit – the first sod of which was turned on the eve of the battle of Waterloo in 1815. By 1825 there were seven pits a complex of wagon ways and an iron works in the area. A pit village, aptly named ‘Waterlooville’ built by Fenton to service his collieries and had two streets a square and a school between the river and the canal near Thorpe Stapleton is now completely disappeared. (Click to enlarge)

pit map correct size

I have constructed a map of all the named pits in the area from a variety of sources. It has to be pointed out that this map shows the existence of coal shafts across the extent of the mining years, and not all in production at any one time. Some of the land owners who made vast profits from allowing be coal to be mined under their land became too greedy and in the case of Swillington and Methley Halls they allowed coal to be taken from directly below their grand houses and the subsequent subsidence resulted in the Halls themselves having to be demolished. The legacy we have from the coalmining era is the danger of old shafts opening up the odd bit of railway line the red shale from Dam Pit, located between the two plantations at Knostrop which furnished us with the red shale for Halton Moor Road (red Road) and the narrow red road which ran from Black Road past the end of Snake Lane, and down to Knostrop. Of course and the pit hills now landscaped at East End Park which were great for our sledging forays.
So to the market Garden phase the source of our lovely ‘tuskey’ The land left after the mining phase was not the uncluttered fertile fields of earlier and more suited to small farms and particularly market garden enterprises we remember Allinson’s, Austin’s, Craven’s, Tillotson’s, Horner’s, Bickerdike’s, and Grumwell’s etc. Cabbages, cauliflower, Swedes and turnips were the staple diet of these small holding and of course rhubarb (tuskey) it grew wild in the fields where it was allowed to ‘bolt’ for a couple of years and then split and taken into low dark forcing sheds where it shot up to provide the lovely pink stalks for market. The legacy from this era is the odd tuskey root lurking in some forgotten corner or those taken and cultivated in private gardens.
So, moving to the 21st century. The army camps erected in the 1940s to house Italian Prisoners of war and our soldiers to guards them have gone and finally the open cast coal mining that followed the deep mines and blighted the area for most of our lives have also finally been exhaust but in their case they have left us a favourable legacy in the form of St Aiden’s Country Park – a huge pleasant area for water fowl and wild life and thankfully for us to roam. I thoroughly recommend St Aiden’s for a pleasant Sunday morning stroll either just a mile around the lake or a longer three miler around the perimeter But generally I see this as ‘the concrete age’. Personally I’m not a great fan of concrete, concrete production accounts for 5% of global carbon emissions and flattens everything in its path. I suppose it’s a necessary evil. The Cross Green Industrial Estate enveloped all of Knostrop, which has no inhabitants now. Skelton Grange Power Station Built in the 1950s has already been and gone.
To replace our lovely old primary schools: St Hilda’s Ellerby Lane and Victoria etc, a new school was built in the late fifties/early sixties first called, Cross Green School but later morphed into ‘Copperfield’s School’ with the slogan ‘Roots to Grow Wings to Fly’. It has already flown away leaving as its legacy a few Tarmac patches where the tennis courts used to be and a habitat for travellers’ horses. Black Road, our gateway to Temple Newsam is now an urban motorway with factories all the way down, engulphing Austin’s farm where we turned left for ‘Temp’. A huge incinerator is being constructed at the time of writing and there is a 300 foot plus wind generator to service the sewage works. Don’t look at this picture of today’s Black Road if you want to keep our great old Black Road in your mind’s eye. But hey! East Leeds Cricket Club stills stands proudly at the top!
Pity this generation of kids and those who follow on who will never have the pleasure of walking down Black Road to Temp and to feed on wild tuskey. They don’t know what they’ve missed

black road

Black Road today

 

Advertisements

The Stepping Stones

October 1, 2014

The Stepping Stones

This month our tales are not really about Old East Leeds but as they are both by old East Leeds lads I hope that’s ok. They both concern adventures crossing stepping stones: Dave Carncross’ antics on the River Wharfe at Burnsall reminded him of his great friend and hero, Ricky Chappelow, who although a great lad had a tendency to be injury prone (see ‘My Hero’ tale in the archive for December 2011) Dave’s tale is followed by Eric Allen and Pete Wood’s perils on the stepping stones across the River Crimple near Harrogate.

Hope they make you smile

The next Old East Leeds Codger’s reunion will be on Tue Nov 4th 2014 around noon at the Edmund House Club Pontefract lane Leeds. All welcome.

DOING A CHAPPELOW

By Dave Carncross

During the school holidays we look after our two youngest grandchildren, Matthew and Lucy, while their Mum and Dad are at work.

Yesterday, we took them off to Burnsall for a picnic and an afternoon by the river. We walked up the river a good way until we got to the suspension bridge -this is an old triangular affair which is pretty wobbly and springy and quite novel to walk on.

Just before the bridge there is a row of stepping stones which cross the full width of the river. These have been deliberately put there and, in fact, are pinned to the river bed by metal rods right through them. My wife and I were resting at the side of the river and Matthew who is just 13 years old and very tall for his age ran at a great pace across the stepping stones. It was great to watch because he seemed so graceful and effortless and was going so quickly he seemed to be only stepping on every third stone or so.

Naturally, my mind went back to a time when I could have and definitely would have been doing exactly the same thing so I resolved to at least go over the stones but not running of course. If I am walking any distance, I always use my walking stick these days (ever since I had my knee replacement). So I carefully got onto the first stone and using my stick as a forward brace against each stone as I went proceeded in a stately and ,though I say it myself ,competent fashion appropriate to a gentleman of my advanced years. I got to the middle and stopped for a general look around realising that the water was pretty rapid and noisy at that point. I reached with my stick for the next stone and found what I thought was a dry secure position to use as a brace point and stepped confidently forward. The stick slipped and I plunged into the River Wharfe up to my waist in the gap between the two stones and ended up with one foot on the bottom and the other leg half on the next stone. I was not unduly alarmed but was aware that if I misjudged my next move I could end up completely under water. Anyway, I scrambled up successfully but realised that I had had to let go of my stick and damaged my right hand more than somewhat. I looked for my stick and saw it sailing merrily downstream about ten metres away towing my dignity with it line astern. For a brief moment I considered plunging after it on the basis that I couldn’t get much wetter but the thought occurred just in time that there might be hidden depths which I would most assuredly plumb if I tried.

I carried on to the far bank and returned over the bridge already mentally rehearsing my explanation as to how this mishap had occurred. I was conscious that the expressions on the faces of the onlookers had changed from expressing “good on yer, Grandad” when I first set out to cross to “silly old bugger” when I fell in. My wife`s initial concerns seemed to relate to my wallet, car keys and mobile phone in that order. Once assured that these vital signs had not suffered she noticed that the thumb of my right hand was bleeding copiously where the nail had been bent back and torn away from the nailbed. I am aware that this problem amounts to a phobia in the fairer sex so wrapped it up as tight as possible with a tissue. My main problem was that my two middle fingers had been bent back to an unfortunate extent and were turning purplish and swelling rapidly. Taken all round it could have been a lot worse but I didn’t feel that I had got away with it either.

We set off walking back downstream – my shoes squelching with every step. My left trouser leg was two tone because part of it was still dry so it was obvious that either I had been in the river or was alternatively tragically incontinent. The riverside path forms part of the Dales Pathway and is well used so I was never short of cheery walkers enquiring about my “paddling”. It wasn’t a very warm day so I was hard put to share their merriment and was thinking that my condition brought a new slant onto the expression “chillin` out with the kids”. We had done about quarter of a mile or so when my wife spotted my stick floating in a becalmed stretch of the river. Matthew soon had his shoes and socks off and, with the aid of a very long piece of tree branch which his sister had found, managed to bring it to the edge. I would think the odds against finding it again must be as high as winning the lottery.

I was well pleased naturally but felt obliged to remonstrate verbally with the stick for collaborating in my dunking. Since this was attracting the interest of other walkers I thought it was best to carry on walking and got back to the car without further incident. My fingers were now like over- inflated pork sausages and I had some pain when gripping the steering wheel. It seemed to take a lot longer to get home than it did to get there.

 

The Stepping Stones Over the Crimple

By Eric and Pete.

The guidebook clearly stated: beware of the stepping-stones across the River Crimple; they are libel to be slippery and dangerous in winter. They were indeed; I took one look and didn’t like what I saw at all. Eric, my walking companion, who was the proud possessor of a walking stick proddled about testing the depth of the water; as proddlers with walking sticks always tend to do. The problem was: there were a couple of a major gaps between the stones, which must have been all of four or perhaps even five feet wide. Sure there were a couple of tiny stones, now underwater, bisecting these ‘giant leaps’ which would have probably served all right in summer when the water flow was low but this was mid November, we’d had a lot of rain and the water was now gushing through in a raging torrent.

Eric, with his stick was making unnecessary progress over the stones towards one of these chasms. ‘Let’s go around the road way.’ I pleaded, ‘It’s only about a mile further according to the book.’ But proddlers with walking sticks are never satisfied until they have caused injury or mayhem. He proddled into nothing with his stick and was in up to his knee, miraculously pirouetting on one leg and narrowly avoiding a full-length fall into the icy water before managing to hoist himself, soggy leg and all onto the next stepping stone and screeching in mortal anguish from the cold all the way to the other side.

This dismaying sight made me less keen on making my own crossing than ever. However another problem now confronted us in that he was on one side of the river and I on the other. There was no chance of him coming back and I preferred dry land on this side. Stalemate! Contemplating our position I saw we had a dilemma in that neither of us had done this walk before and if I now went round the road way and he carried on from the stones we had no idea where we might meet up: if at all. On the other hand the gap between the stones looked awfully wide and the stone to land upon looked green and slippery. I mentally saw myself, jumping, landing on the catching stone and tippling backwards and slightly to the left to go full length into the deepest part of the river – probably smashing my knee in the process – finally I’d have to drag myself the many miles back to the car, injured and soaking wet. ‘I’m going around the road way,’ I shouted across while at the same time making the same mistake that Eric had made – in that even as I spoke I had advanced to the very stone from which Eric had made his desperate attempt. Meanwhile, our accompanying dog crossed and re-crossed in the river itself, barking and obviously wondering what all the fuss was about. Eric had by now retraced his steps to the stone immediately next to his side of the chasm and held out his stick in a futile attempt to aid my crossing. At this point I made the amazingly fearless but foolhardy decision to shout: ‘OK I’m going for it – catch me.’ But his big feet were taking up almost all the catching stone, especially the part where I was aiming to land. ‘Shuffle back a bit,’ I said you’re taking up all the b… stone!’ So I leapt, a great majestic leap, instinctively he made a grab for me. ‘Whooa!’ we swayed backward, we swayed forward, we swayed to the east we swayed to the west; a great battle between man and the forces of nature was being played out, observed by none but the bemused dog. For many seconds our fate was in the balance but gradually the swaying became less frantic, the ship was steadied; the day won and the two intrepid walkers, one limping and with a wet leg the other thankful for his deliverance and of course, a wet dog, waddled off to face other of natures trials.

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

Look, they’re building a ruddy great incinerator on our lovely old ‘Black’ Road.

Iicinerator

Memories of Brian Conoby

June 1, 2008

blog-brian-conoby Brian relates his early life in East Leeds, particularly: air raids, trips down Black Road to Red Walls, the Princess cinema and the local pubs. And local characters: Charlie Athe and his bike shop and Bog Earnie ‘chucker out’ at the Princess Cinema. 

The East Leeds Memories of Brian Conoby

I was brought up at 65, Charlton Road from the age of two years until we left in 1950. My grandma Mrs Bridget Conoby lived at 3, East Park View. Near to the ‘Slip Inn’. Near to my grandma’s house was a flat roofed house on the corner of Temple View and the Grove. It was more like a farm than a house, a Mr Sowery kept hens and there were some stables too. There were some flat roofed houses in Temple View known as the ‘Sharp and Thornton’s’. Times laundry was just across the way in Glensdale Mount, next was Wrigglesworth’s shop, which sold bags of coal. At the junction of Glensdale Road and East Park Road near to the railway there was a vinegar works called U.L.Y.C.U.M.

East End Park before the war had a small lake where the playground is now and there was a café near to the bowling green. The park was locked up on a night. The park ranger also looked after the ‘Rec’ located near Welbeck Road.

Black Road 

I fished at ‘Red Walls’ in the Wykebeck. Black Road was a good road in the 50s. I achieved 75 mph on a 350cc BSA down there! During the war, the army camp was equipped with big guns and searchlights. On a moonlit night, ‘Jerry’ would follow the river Aire up to bomb Leeds. Then the guns would start up. In the 60s, the TA used the camp for a few years.             You could sit out at the back of the Bridgefield pub on summer evenings. Opposite the Bridgefield, miners would catch the train down to the Waterloo Pit. The track followed Black Road past the Red Walls.

            I recall prisoners of war clearing the snow on East Park Parade. They had a big patch on their overalls. This would have been the very bad winter of 1947 when 12 inches of snow fell.

 

 

 

Charlie Atha

Charlie Atha had a cycle shop at the junction of Pontefract Lane and Lavender Walk. He lived in a house next door to the shop. He would build cycle wheels in the window of the shop on a jig – he could do anything with a bike! When I left St Charles’s School I started work at Bellow Machine Tool Company in Ellerby Lane, as an electrician’s mate. On one occasion a sewing mechanic who worked at the firm came off his bike in the wet tramlines, he was OK but the tram went over the back end of his bike and tore the backstays to bits. He gave the bike to Charlie who fitted new stays and re-sprayed it; it finished up ‘just like new’.  I have often gone to his shop about 2.00 p.m. and there would be a note on the door: ‘Gone to the Shepherd pub, back at 3.00p.m!  Before he moved to Pontefract Lane I was told he had a shop on ‘The Bank’ where he would hire out cycles.

            Bellow Machine Tool Company made sewing machines and steam presses for clothing firms. When I worked there, Ronnie Hilton, the singer worked there too before he made singing a full time career.

            For many years there was a small engineering firm at the junction of East Park View and Charlton Street we called ‘Tippingsis’ I still have some tools from there, a spanner bears the name ‘Tipco’ on its side.

           Mr. Jim Stanton lived next door in Charlton Road. He was just too old for service so he became our local ARP man. I remember him coming round with small incendiary bombs, lighting them against the toilet walls and then showing folk how to put them out with the aid of sand and a stirrup pump. I often wondered how we would put them out if they became wedged in a gutter?  I had been told that in time they could burn right through slates. At the end of many streets there was a square, brick water tank. One was at the end of Charlton Road and another across from the Bridgefield pub – a steel one, which remained long after the war had finished. Houses with gardens were usually issued with ‘Anderson’ type shelters, which had to be sunk half way into the soil, with the extracted earth heaped on top.  My uncle, Mr Frank Muntage, an Irish Man, was a foreman for Mary Harrison, the building company. As Harrisons were extending the munitions factory at Barnbow he was exempt from front line service: he drove a Harrison’s lorry (which were always red). One Saturday morning he arrived with four other Irish men and dug out the Anderson shelter and built a proper bunker below ground level placing the actual Anderson shelter at the back. I don’t know where they got all the sand and cement from but they were at it all day Saturday and Sunday and the next weekend too. It was so strong other folk preferred to use it as being safer than their own shelters. Later my uncle had to work up the East Coast, near to Hartlepool, where Harrisons were building the Mulberry Harbours ready for the invasion. After the war my dad put two feet of soil on top of the shelter and grew vegetables on it. As far as I know the shelter may still be there!

Big Ernie, commissionaire at the Princess cinema, lived three doors up from the junction of Welbeck Road and Everleigh Street, facing the Rec. When I visited my grandma at number 3 East Park View I would see him about to go on duty at the Princess.   When he was on duty he would sit on a chair at the front, near to the screen. If you went more than once to the toilet he would shout: ‘that’s twice you have been to the toilet. If you go again I will throw you out!’ I recall there was a passageway down the side of the Shepherd pub, where you would queue for the cheapest seats.

                                                                                                Brian Conoby