Posts Tagged ‘East Leeds Cricket Club’

Historical and Romantic Messages in the Trees

June 1, 2018

Historical and Romantic Messages in the Trees.
Hidden away in a woodland walk within earshot of a busy East Leeds suburb can be found an intriguing record of historical events and romantic encounters carved in silver birch. Here to be seen is a treasure house of dates and messages – some of amazing antiquity – for anyone prepared to search ‘the graffiti of the trees.’ Remember to ‘click’ on picture3s to enlarge.


Until I chanced upon this magical grove I, like many others no doubt, had imagined tree carving to be a form of vandalism but on consideration after experiencing this magical place, I believe that perhaps we might consider tree carving rather more as a tablet of local history or an even more romantically, as a memorial to the carver made in their own hand, rather than one carved later on a tomb stone by the hand of another.

Since stumbling on this enchanted grove of silver birch I’m sold on the latter idea. My attention was first arrested by a date seen out of the corner of my eye as I wandered through the trees ‘1936’, I thought WOW! That carving was made even before I was born and I looked closer with more respect. All around were carved hearts, arrows and initials some contemporary, some of the 1950s, 60s.70s 80’s. ‘Legge 74’ had been particularly busy his name was carved on lots of trees. In between these I found the odd ‘gem’ such as one for 1922 I thought of the Charleston era in which that had been carved. Then one for 1926, I thought at that time folk were probably in the throes of the national strike. One for 1918, the Great War for Civilisation was ongoing. I became enchanted by the place, I should have been home by now but I couldn’t pull myself away.
On the same tree was carved ‘Teddy Boys’ and ‘Queen’ a sobering thought, these cults are now almost a generation apart. ‘Fat June’ must be an angry modern girl for her portrayal is in aerosol spray. Are they the genuine? Well I’m convinced they are. For a start the older ones are at prime carving height later ones are higher or lower, evidently the bark stays art a constant height it does not move up the tree as it grows later and carvers had to carve in any spaces that were left. The older letters have spread slightly as the circumference of the tree has increased and better seen from a distance and anyway who would want to fake a date on a tree?

What of the lovers who carved their names here like Billy, Jed, Liz and the rest in 1921? If one considers the optimum age for tree carving as say fifteen or sixteen then those carving in 1921 would be long gone by now but at that date they were probable young and beautiful. This spurred me on; I resolved to find the oldest date I could. Surprisingly carvings sixty years old didn’t seem much fainter than those carved ten years ago.
I found one for 1912 and marvelled that the wind and the rain had failed to erase the makings I wondered if those carvers knew that the war that would turn the world upside down was just around the corner, perhaps they were just happy in blissful ignorance? On one tree is carved ‘Miner’s Strike 1902’, ‘Master’s Mines Lockout 1926’ and on another tree ‘Miner’s Strike 1912’, ‘Hull Harbour War 17th April 193- The last figure unfortunately obliterated anyone recall this historical event?
carving –MM 1891


The tranquil spell is cast as the decades merge and one’s own problems can be seen for what they are worth, just another entry on a tree. Some of the dates seem incredible old but indistinct or over carved so I discount them in my search. Finally one is found as clear as crystal ‘1893’ The naughty nineties’ and then with only the nine carved the wrong way round’1879’ carved by the long dead hand of a Victorian lover, two world wars a depression and a recession ago.

I thought of how a primary teacher could take her charges for a nature ramble and unwind a history lesson at the same time.

I have no doubt that older carvings are there to find of those who lived and loved and passed this way.

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Just an update on the remaining pubs in our old East Leeds for the good old boozers among you: well there ain’t none left! They pulled the Cavalier down earlier this month and that was the last.
The Bridgefield, Black Dog, Yew Tree, Prospect, Waterloo, Dog and Gun’ and The Shaftsbury are history, The Spring Close is a derelict hulk, The Cross Green is a kid’s play house. The Hampton, and The Shepherd are nice blocks of flats and it looks like The ‘Fish Hut’ is going to be flats too, The ‘Slip’ is a supermarket, The White Horse seems to be sometimes open sometimes closed.
The Edmund House Club, East End Park Club and the Easy Road club (under a different guise) are still up and running but the nearest pub is probably the Hope Inn.
Some good news The East Leeds Cricket Club is still alive and well and they have put the clock back up outside York Road baths/library.

Don’t Let Our Old East Leeds Legends Pass Beyond Living Memory

May 1, 2018

DON’T LET OUR OLD EAST LEEDS LEGENDS PASSBEYOND LIVING MEMORY
The East Leeds I fondly remember includes a few folk notorious for their good works or perhaps their eccentricity that brought them to the attention of the rest of us. I take the liberty of including a few iconic events and places, including some from the greater Leeds area This is not scholarly research but just from my own memories or heresy. Please forgive my mistakes or omissions. These must be written down and remembered, many are about to pass from living memory and will be lost. Embrace them while you can.
*Means other tales on the site have reference to the entry.

Remember to ‘Click’ on pictures to enlarge
In no particular order:
*BIG ERNIE: Was commissionaire/chucker out at the Princess Cinema. Who does not remember Big Ernie in his green uniform standing outside the Princess organising the queues or sat besides the screen eating his sandwiches and balling out miscreants who went to the toilet too many times or for general quiet. As everyone in the forties and fifties surely attended the Princess Cinema his voice must have been heard by more East Leedsers than anyone else’s.

DORIS STOREY: Doris was a great local, international, swimmer who trained at York Road Baths. She won the breast stroke gold at that which was then called The Empire Games and it was said she would have won the Olympics if they had not changed the technicalities of the breast stroke. She later ran the family fish and chip shop near the Star Cinema.

14th  of MARCH 1941: Big date in East Leeds history: Richmond Hill School hit by German bomb. It was during the night so no casualties but the pupils were scattered about around other schools and some evacuated.

*WILLIE KNOTT: Willie was a school boy champion in everything he attempted. He was a giant of a lad at school complete with moustache and legs like tree trunks already at a time when we left school at fourteen. Attended Victoria School but he was a hero to East Leeds lads in general He represented Leeds City Boys and Yorkshire at football, cricket, and Swimming. He was the best at everything he attempted including fighting, which ranks highly among schoolboys – when Willie walked past we stood aside in awe. He ran in the English School Championship sprints, some say he won others say he came third but whatever, the school bought him a bike. When he left school he signed for Leeds United but ironically, as he had been so huge at school he must have had his growth spurt early and he did not in the end grow tall enough for centre forward or centre half and he drifted out of the professional game. But which of us would not have taken that to have lived Willie’s school days as a tiger?

Willie is in the centre of the back row
*JILL ROBINSON MBE: Jill launched a group of amateur artists: The Show stoppers who raised a shed full of money for good causes.

*EAST LEEDS CRICKET CLUB: still going strong after all these years when the fabric of old East Leeds in general falls away.

*ABE WHITE: Genial, Jewish, roly poly proprietor of the Easy Road Picture House. He was always attired in his dress suit and greeted patrons with ‘I hope you enjoy the show tonight’. He was strict on miscreants but always a gentleman. His two sisters looked after the pay box and the interior. The Easy Road Picture house was not the most salubrious of cinemas but always claimed it had the best ‘Talkie’ in Leeds.

PAUL REANEY: Attended St Hilda’s, Ellerby Lane and perhaps Parkside Schools? He played for Don Revie’s great Leeds United team of the sixties and seventies. He could run like a stag and went on to play for England.

*‘CLEGGY’: Woodwork teacher at Victoria School and absolute legend for creating fear amongst the pupils. I didn’t attend Victoria Day School but attended his woodwork class on Friday afternoons along with lads from other schools. If you misbehaved he let fly with the pieces of ‘two by ones’. Before you met ‘Cleggy’ you would be painted a picture by those already attending they would say he lays you hand on the desk and asks, what do you want the chisel or the mallet. If you say mallet he lays you head on the bench and hits the bench with the mallet a few inches from your head so your head bounces up and down, if you say chisel he lays your hand on the bench and goes in and out the fingers with the chisel if you move your hand you’ve lost a finger. I have to say I never saw him do that trick but we were all terrified of him even the usual villians. The upside was: if you really tried he’d help to make you into a good carpenter.

*THE PADDY ENGINES: Kitchener, Jubilee, Dora and Antwerp In their green livery and later Silvia.

*MARY/VAL MILNER: Director of the famous film ‘Brought to Justice’ made entirely by the children of Ellerby Lane School in 1953.

LEEDS RHINOS: won 16 trophies in 13 years: eight Super League Championships, three World Club Championships, two Challenge Cups, and three League Leader’s Shields. In 2015, their finest year they won all three trophies – the Treble.

*HARRY BENDON: Who, who lived in our area in the forties and fifties will not have memories if Harry? He was a character and a half. He was a good singer around the local pubs and clubs but often could not resist blotting his copy book with vulgarity. I remember Harry in a smart camel coat with his a concertina. He is once said to have put his window cleaning ladder up against a bus standing outside the Corn Exchange and while whistling away started to clean the upstairs windows. I recall a night in the Scotsman Pub, a fracas was going on and the police were called, things were beginning to look really nasty. I expected fists to fly and arrests to be made when out of nowhere Harry turned up the middle of them all and started playing his concertina. The whole melee erupted into laughter and the situation was saved.

*TUSKY: (rhubarb). Our staple diet.

The 61,62,63,64 bus routes.

ROCKING HORSE: Rocking Horse was a bit before my time but those older than I remember him as a policeman with a rocking gate who had his beat in our area. This was at a time when gambling was frowned upon. ‘Pitch and toss schools’ of which there were many in the area were illegal. Rocking Horse would try to catch the culprits but the neighbourhood was friendly and would allow culprits to run into their houses and out the back door, if there was one. He was old school policeman and warmed to the locals by administrating a cuff behind the ear rather than to arrest.

REG PARKS: (Mr Universe) lived in the Saville’s.

*SOUTH ACCOMMODATION ROAD SUSPENSION BRIDGE: with its great, bowed, green, parapet that Jimmy Thrush daringly crossed on his bogey.

MR SHAW: Scary manager at York Road Baths.

DOLPHUS: The park ranger on east End Park in the 1940s.

MULLIGAN’S MANSIONS:  (Bridgefield Place)

*THE OLD PRIMAY SCHOOLS; Hilda’s, Mary’s Vicky, Ellerby, South Accomm, All Saints Saville Green, Charles’s, East End Park Special School. York Road board School, the Bombed out Richmond Hill School. All with their teachers good and bad.

*THE NAVVY: our dangerous playground

*THE PUBS: Gone but not forgotten: Cross Green, Bridgefield, Black Dog, Fish Hut, Waterloo, Prospect, Slip, Hampton, Shepherd, Yew Tree, Spring Close, Cavalier, Shaftsbury and Dog and Gun.

*HARRY: Waiter extraordinaire at the slip, He would come waltzing through a busy concert room balancing a tray of seven or eight pint glasses on a tray above his head without spilling a drop and he would have already calculated the note you were going to give him and have the correct change already worked out and ready in his top pocket.

*AGNES LOGAN STEWART: (Mother Agnes) opened St Saviour’s Institute a school and home for girls from dysfunctional families in Knostrop in 1872 and staffed it with sisters in holy orders. She wasn’t in holy orders herself but wore the dress of one. She was a woman of private means and boundless energy and also opened the St Hilda’s School for boys in Cross Green Lane, all from her own funds.

RED ROAD AND BLACK ROAD: Portals to adventure.

*EAST END PARK: Happily spruced up and still with us

*SNAKEY LANE: One pitch now instead of the two we had but it’s a good ‘un.

CHARLIE ATHA: Had a bicycle repair shop near the Princess Cinema. He could just about build your bike up from a single spoke but you had to catch him when he wasn’t in the Shepherd pub.

THE CHURCHES AND CHAPELS: St Hilda’s, St Mary’s, All Saints, St Saviours, St Patricks, New Bourne Chapel, Richmond Hill Chapel, Zion Chapel and others long time closed with their great incumbents that looked after our wellbeing and tried to keep us on the straight and narrow. Lots attended then, few now.

*THE KNOSTROP EXPERIENCE: Knostrop House, Knostrop Old Hall, Knostrop New Hall Knostrop Institute, Thorpe Stapleton Hall, The Humbug House, The ABC Houses. Most of them stood for hundreds of years but all sadly demolished during our watch.

*STOURTON SCHOOL FOOTBALL TEAM: a tiny school by modern standards but one year in the 1930s they became school football champions of all England.

*THE BASINS AND THE BLUEBELL WOOD: Pleasant features on the walk from Cross Green to Temple Newsam.


*ATKINSON GRIMSHAW: a bit before our time – born in 1836 but he lived in Knostrop Old Hall and was a wonderful moonscape painter – The way he deals with artificial light passing through windows onto wet pavements makes him my particular favourite painter. His pictures of Leeds, Liverpool and Whitby in particular hang in Leeds and national galleries and now sell for ‘telephone number’ prices.

WOODBINE LIZZIE: Lizzie was not particularly an East Leeds woman but probably the best known lady in Leeds in the 1940s. She would stand in the entrance to the Whip Public House In Duncan Street – near the three stumps – in a moth eaten fur coat and hat and ask you for a Woodbine when you passed , if she didn’t get one she’d let you have a barrage of obscenities not usually heard from the mouth of a lady.

JOHN CHARLES: John was not an East Leeds lad not even a Leeds lad he was Welsh but he played for Leeds United in the 1950s and his standing was so high amongst we East Leeds youngsters I feel he warrants and entry. He was 6ft 2ins when, not like today, when 6ft 5s are not abnormal. He was a giant on the field. A sight not to be forgotten was John dropping the ball down from his chest and accelerating up the field tacklers more or less melted away rather than getting a tackle in and there would be john tucking the ball into the corner of the net and walking back and he was impervious in the air – one season he scored 40 goals. When he was transferred to Juventus lads cried openly In the street. The £65,000 we got for his transfer (what would he have brought today?) helped us build the new West Stand He was always a gentleman into the bargain. Big John, the Gentle Giant.

ALMA: Genial conductress on the 61/62 bus and member of the Showstoppers troop

*THE CINEMAS: The Picture House Easy Road, Princess, Star, Regent Shaftsbury, Hillcrest, Victoria, Premier, Strand and Regal. (The Shaftsbury had double seats at the back for courting couples)

*THE QUARRY: Located at the back of the Easy Road Picture House. Dirty, but An adventurous playground for the Easy Road gangs.

*DAVID WILSON: He jumped all the way down the navvy for a bet, five comics and six pence. He didn’t get the comics or the six pence; he did get a broken arm but also legendary status for the feat – look he’s mentioned here sixty years later.

BOB BATES: Ran Mount St Mary’s football teams for years and years and better years and the boy’s club too. He could be seen marking the Snake Lane football pitch out before a match all on his own with little thanks, the lime we used to use for the job blowing all over his good suite. Sometimes his best players let him down and didn’t turn up but he just got on with the job. To me he was a prince among men.
NEVILLE HILL HOPPER AND SHED WITH CLOCK:

RED WALLS: Where we would paddle and fish for tiddlers, and sometimes get glass in our feet..

*THE ARMY AND POW CAMPS DOWN BLACK ROAD/KNOSROP: With their ack ack guns an barrage balloons.

*CHUMPING: They only seem to have communal bonfires today.

*THE GREAT WINTER SNOW SPORTS OF 1947.

AIR RAID SHELTERS.

THE CANE FROM THE TEACHER.

LEEDS UNITED : THE REVIE YEARS: We won the cup in 1972 and the league championship in 1969, 74. And two European trophies. We won the championship again in 1992 but not under Revie.

TRAMS:

*THE MARKET DISTRICT BOY’S CLUB: It was supposed to have been opened by The Parish Church to keep us lads off the streets but it became much more than that.

THE RICMOND HILL WHIT WALK: Disappeared with the demise of the pubs but before that it was run from The Cavalier and later The Prospect pubs. It went down Dial Street and on to a couple of circuits of East End Park. Crowds would turn out to cheer the walkers. There was a money prize and I can remember Jimmy Croll won it on a couple of occasions.

DOLLY DAWSON: legendary Hunslet rugby League player and genial ‘mine host’ of the Hampton Hotel.

THE PREFABS: Much better accommodation than the properties they replaced.

THE MONKEY BRIDGE: Iron bridge where dare devils would trapeze hanging above the navvy.

GEORGE TOOTLE: George was blinded by his time in the boxing ring, he too was an old Hunslet ruby league player’ He was a popular figure who lived in Knostrop Old Hall during the war. Knostrop was very dark during the ‘black out’ and George endeared himself to the folk of Knostrop by singing in a low rumble when he came home in the dark with his three littler guide dogs. so that females of the area knew it was only old George and not to be afraid.

THE GINNEL: Spooky little tunnel between Fewston  Avenue and Easy Road to allow the paddy train to pass overhead on its way to the coal staithe.

THE RED HILLS and the THE BLACK HILLS: The Red Hills at Knostrop the Black Hills near the Shaftsbury.

EDGAR STREET CLINIC: ‘Our own Little place of horrors.’

:

YORK ROAD LIBRARY AND SWIMMING BATHS: Have been closed for a long time and I thought we were going to lose them but they have put the clock back up and they say it’s going to be a gym

I’m sure there are more that deserve a mention if you can think of any please send them on a comment

Mary’s Tale, The X Factor

February 1, 2016

Mary’s Tale
The X Factor
Mary Milner sometimes known as Val directed the iconic 1953 film, Brought to Justice produced and played entirely by the children of Ellerby Lane Primary School while she was still a pupil at the school herself. This was very innovated for the day. Later Mary studied at Leeds University. In this tale Mary tells of her time in the East Leeds show group The Showstoppers who put on variety shows in aid of charitable causes. I was lucky enough to take in the show myself – they were excellent performers.

Edward Blackwell also reminds us that 2016 is the centenary of the explosion that killed the 35  ”Barnbow Lasses’ on Dec 5th of that year and gives us some simple verse in commemoration

X Factor

By Mary Milner

Recently reading about ‘The Showstoppers’ variety group that started off as St. Hilda’s Road Show, has reminded me of the years I spent with them. Once a year we put on a week’s show at St. Hilda’s, then throughout the following months we took a version of it around hospitals, old people’s homes, churches and charities. After a while, the group encouraged people to join from other areas of Leeds and the name St. Hilda’s Road Show became less appropriate. Because we were led by Jill Robinson (nee Baldwinson) as choreographer and producer, Father Houghton at church (humorously or seriously, I never knew which) suggested the title ‘The Jillettes’ – only to be dismissed out of hand as sounding too much like a well-known brand of razor blades. And so we became ‘The Showstoppers’.
Father Houghton had a good sense of humour. At one of the St. Hilda’s concerts I had to open the show in front of the drawn stage curtains, dressed in a long black skirt and a very sparkly ‘showbiz’ top, belting out the opening song for all I was worth, ‘Everything’s Coming up Roses’.
I dashed off stage to where Alice Padgett was waiting in the wings to dress me for my next number. There was no time to go backstage to change at leisure because meanwhile the curtains had opened to reveal the company dressed as nuns, singing just one number from The Sound of Music.
There was scarcely time for Alice to pull a nun’s habit over the top of my sparkles before the curtains closed again on the company and I was pushed onto the stage.

I stood there dressed as a rather dishevelled nun, all alone, fixed in a brilliant spotlight facing an ever increasingly puzzled audience. I smiled at them – they smiled patiently back at me – I’d forgotten what to sing. Alf, our pianist, was no help, though it wasn’t his fault – the piano introduction gave no clue to the melody whatsoever.
For some obscure reason my song was ‘Doe, a deer, a female deer’.
Eventually from the wings came a muttered oath from Jill, our producer, and a cross-sounding hiss,
‘Doe, a deer, a female deer’!

After our last performance that week, Father Houghton thanked us and presented each of us with a carnation. He said I’d done well and I told him he wouldn’t be saying that if he‘d been there on the Monday night.
“Oh”, he said, “you should have struck up with ‘I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair”!

Sometimes nerves do interfere and the mind goes blank. I had to learn a very old music-hall type song about a man who sells balloons. As I waited in the wings for my turn, I panicked and grabbed the lad helping backstage – did he know what I was due to sing?
He looked at me fearfully, surveyed the large halo of balloons that were tied nodding round my head, and said, “Is it something about balloons”?

How soon we adapted to our amateur stage life, learning the showbiz jargon – stage curtains became ‘tabs’ so we could remark knowledgably on things like ‘Are we behind the tabs for this”?
The stage space in front of the tabs was ‘the apron’ and so on.
The many venues we visited throughout the year were all quite different and we would ask, ‘Is there a stage or are we on floor?’ meaning a stage or a ‘a la cabaret’ performance.

I used to put a bulldog clip on the centre parting of any stage curtains – there’s nothing worse than not being able to find a way out through closed curtains in front of an audience.

When we had a show booked I used to go straight from work to Alma Hitchen’s house where Alma kindly kept my suitcase of costumes. Jill liked us to wear plenty of make-up for stage and to SMILE,
“I don’t want you all looking as if you’ve got TB”!
Alma usually asked me to apply her stage-makeup, even allowing me near wielding that tortuous implement, the eye-lash curler. She was very brave, I wouldn’t trust me!
Alma died in December 2010, aged 88. She was a lovely lady.

I recall on the first night of one of our new weekly shows at St. Hilda’s, we were all ready to start before a full ‘home’ audience, when Jill had an idea. The theme of the show was travel and countries overseas, so she got Jean Thackray to stand in front of the tabs with a clipboard in air hostess mode to greet passengers. Alma was instructed to come walking through the audience as if checking-in – this was to be the show’s new opening. Jean took up her place, the lights dimmed and the audience was settled and quiet when Alma came charging down the aisle with her suitcase.
One elderly lady on the front row shook her head, tut-tutted and was heard to remark to her friend, “Oh dear – typical – that Alma’s always late”!

I’ve done my share of perplexing audiences, as the time at the old people’s home where we performed in their spacious lounge. With my song over and dressed as a 20s flapper, complete with a long fake cigarette holder and cigarette, but minus my specs, I turned to leave only to be confronted by about four (blurred) possible exits – but which one was the door to our company’s changing room?
I short-sightedly chose one which turned out to be an actual, real telephone box, where to the astonishment of the pianist, the next act and the audience, I pretended to make a telephone call!

Amongst many other things we’ve dressed up as Dutch girls, Russians, Spaniards, twenties flappers, cowboys, Scottish dancers, gypsies, old time musical hall turns, London pearly kings and queens, minstrels, Hawaiian hula girls, military, Christmas, and many more. The quality and creative thought behind our costumes enjoyed a good reputation, on occasion drawing spontaneous applause.

It was during a ‘gypsy’ number at a show at Menston Hospital that I featured in a song about gypsy golden earrings.
“If you wear these golden earrings,” I warbled, “love will come to you”.
From somewhere in the audience came the heartfelt call – “Hey, send ‘em down here, luv”!
Great fun………….
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Great tale Mary

The Barnbow Lasses by Edward Blackwell

Edith Sykes was a 15year old girl who lied about her age and went to the factory that night to replace her sister, Agnes, who had flue and was ill.

My Mum’s sent me because my sister’s not well,

she said I should come and make these shell,

I’ve got a funny feeling I don’t like it in here, so it’s only for tonight lets make that clear,

what is it exactly that you want me to do?

hang on for a minute I’ll have to tie my shoe,

then in an instant an explosion occurred,

those were the last sounds she ever heard,

she was only 15 not long out of school,

pretty and intelligent she was nobodies fool,

her remains, unfortunately, were never found,

incinerated in an instant with all else around,

it’s a very sad story from a hundred years ago,

when 35 lasses were blown up did you know?

people rallied round to give a helping hand,

but very little remains as you will understand,

as credit to their tenacity they all worked on,

their loyalty and patriotism holding strong,

When you buy a poppy think of these lasses,

with their long ringlets and false eyelashes,

they gave their lives so that we could be free

that deserves respect from both you and me,

it’s a hundred years ago and memories fade’

when the drum beats the piper must be paid,

we should always be grateful for their sacrifice,

our country needed them and they paid the price,

wherever you live now if you from around here,

remember those brave lasses we lost that year.

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

 

Working for my Dad in the Butcher’s Shop

June 1, 2010

blog butcher’s shopEric Allen relates tales of working in his dad’s butcher’s shop – being told off for using all the sausagre meat meant for the whole batch on one giant sausage – and carrying the bag for East Leeds Cricket Club.   

Working for my Dad in the Butcher’s Shop

My dad was a butcher and when I was a lad I used to help make the sausages. First I had to collect the ingredients. We hadn’t a car at the time so I had to take the butcher’s bike to Stoke and Daltons for the rusks, which went into the sausage meat. I’d have to collect a full sack and it was very large and heavy. I’d put the sack into the basket of the bike but it was so big and heavy I couldn’t then turn the handlebars properly. This of course made it dangerous to ride   but then being stupid I always did try to ride – Well You never push a bike if there is chance to ride it do you? That bike was like a taxi. I’d regularly take our Brenda home to Knostop in the carrier; it was all down hill so we could make good progress. In actual fact, if just kids were involved I could get five on, three in the basket, one on the cross bar and myself.

When I had the ingredients back to the shop I’d begin to make the sausages proper.  First I’d mix the ingredients, which made up the insides of the sausages (the sausage-meat), in a mixer. Then it was a matter of stretching the skin over the outlet of the mixer and turning a handle to force the sausage-meat into the skin. We used beast’s intestines for the skins in those days. The problem was they were not consistent in size. One day I got a really big skin – it was really huge. Undaunted I continued winding the handle to fill this huge skin until it had taken virtually the whole of the contents of the mixer, which was supposed to be enough to fill a whole batch of sausages and I just had this one giant sausage. When my dad saw it he went mad, ‘Silly b…..,’ he said, ‘who the b…. hell would want a sausage as big as that?

Gordon Brown and I were joint scores and bag carriers for East Leeds Cricket Club. The bag was a huge affair – it was bigger than us and heavy too being full of bats and pads and all the rest of gear wanted by the cricketers, it’s a good job it had two handles so that we could hold one handle each with both hands to get it off the ground. We had a real job manhandling it onto buses and trams for away matches, for this we would be paid two bob and our tram fare.  We took it in turns to be scorer. Only one could be the scorer along with a scorer from the opposition. The beauty of being the scorer was you got a free tea. The one who was just the bag handler for the day had to ‘whistle’ for his tea or spend six pence of his bag money on a sandwich and a cup of tea. When East Leeds was playing at home it was always the highlight of the day for the scorer to have his tea in the pavilion along with the players.

My dad didn’t go into the army but he was drafted into the ARP (Air Raid Patrol)

I remember they had their headquarters in a shop in Easy Road, near the picture house. They would assemble there, sit around a while and then go out on patrol. If there was an alert on he could be out all night.

Eric Allen

More Tales of Between the Wars byStan Picklesl

May 1, 2009

blog-stan-pickles-22Stan tells of te custom of ‘britching’ when a lad got his first pair of long ‘uns. And of his first delightful holiday provided by th village of Barmby Moor for the ‘poor children of Leeds’. Stan completes with two sporting moments: The RL Cup Semi Final of 1936 between Leeds RL and Huddersfield and the 1928 Hepworth Cricket Cup Final between East Leeds and Hunslet 

At Last the Britching day Arrives

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 our 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.

 

 

 

My First Holiday

 

A memorable school holiday in the depressed year of 1924 is still treasured in my life. Recently as I was returning from a holiday in Whitby with my twin eleven year old grandsons, my mind went back to that holiday many years ago. I was thirteen years old and Silverdale had been providing holidays for Leeds school children for a number of years but a new venture had just got underway. Yorkshire villages such as Nun Munkton, Barmby Moor and Bishop Wilton opened their doors to many under privileged poor children of Leeds, who throughout the hard times never had a holiday from one year to the next.

            Along with two other boys from my class I was chosen to have two weeks at the delightful Barmby Moor. You can just imagine our excitement as the wonderful day in August arrived. Children from various schools in the city grouped on the station platform for their big adventure, what a scene it was with about a hundred boys and girls all carrying pillow cases packed with a change of clothing and the other essentials for our holiday. Many of them had never been on a train, let alone a holiday. Eventually, the train pulled in to the excited chatter of our party, with our parents waving us goodbye and a last word from the officials we were on our way to Pocklington station where four or five farmers with horse-drawn flat carts took us to our village about a mile and a half down a lovely country road, where the local children greeted us and took us to our ‘digs’ for our stay.

Barmby Moor was beautiful; we stayed in a cottage by a stream with an elderly couple who were so kind to us. The three of us shared a bedroom with a big double bed and we soon made ourselves feel at home with the nice couple. Each morning we came down to breakfast at 8.30 to the smell of fresh baked bread in the neat kitchen where a pot of tea, a boiled egg with bread butter and jam awaited us. Then it was outside to walk around and explore, sometimes accompanied by the village children who had become our friends. Each day a very nice lunch and tea were ready for us and always there was a glass of milk at bedtime.

Each Sunday we went to church and on the first Sunday the vicar gave a special welcome to the ‘Leeds children’ and wished us all to have a happy holiday. An optional pleasure was a ride in the cart to our host’s hayfield to pitch haystacks. It was all new and interesting to us – quite a novelty – and I learned something I had never known before and what an appetite it gave us! Our kindly hosts gave us an apple each during the rest periods. On the two Saturdays we were there we were taken to the pictures in Pocklington which made a change

I can still see the little stream rippling its clear water through the village. Yes! and the walks on the moors, trips into Pocklington, services in the beautiful church, our work in the hayfields and the welcome we received. To have it all and to be blessed with good weather made this a holiday always to be remembered.

However, all good times have to end and the day of our departure arrived and after we had been given a bunch of flowers each for our mums we said goodbye to all the friends we had made and we were on our way back to Leeds. It had been indeed a special treat for us in those hard times. 

My First Girl

                                       (A Little Love Story)

I met Elsie on that lovely Barmby Moor holiday. We hit it of right from the start when we stood side by side on that farmer’s cart taking us to that lovely village for those lovely two weeks. ‘Which school do you go to? Where’s that? What’s your name?’ etc. We had made our first tentative efforts to be acquainted. Although there were about thirty boys and girls in our party we were always in each other’s company. We even managed to go to the two Saturday picture matinees in Pocklington together.

            Elsie lived in Hunslet and I knew it well as I often went to the rugby matches at Parkside and to Hunslet feast on the moor. During our holiday a few kisses and cuddles passed between us  and on our return to Leeds we said goodbye at the station and Elsie ran off ran off to greet her mother who had come to meet her and I was met by Father. What an excited crowd was on that platform as we went off in all directions to our homes

            I never thought I would meet Elsie again but a few days later as I was leaving the street with my pals to play football on the park a voice called out, ‘Hello Stanley.’ I looked around and there was Elsie looking very smart. She told me she was on her way to visit her aunt and after a few words with her I rushed off to catch up with my pals, nothing but sport was on my mind at the time. Alas, I never saw Elsie again. We were both thirteen years old at the time.

Two Sporting Events

I would like to record here two memorable matches: one rugby and one cricket that gave me lasting memories.

The Rugby League Cup Semi Final at Wakefield 1936

Leeds v Huddersfield

On a sunny March afternoon before a large crowd of 30,000 Leeds and Huddersfield turned out in their smart amber and blue and claret and gold to a great reception in that which was to be the greatest game of rugby I ever saw. Here are the details:

The game commenced with booth teams coming close to scoring, then on fifteen minutes, after some clever back play, Huddersfield took the lead with a good try between the posts. It came after a brilliant passing movement left Leeds bewildered and allowed Fiddes to race over to score. Scourfield added the goal to make it 5 points to nil. Leeds fought back with good moves but could not get the final touch.  Play continued to thrill us with forwards and backs alike giving everything. Then five minutes before half-time it all happened – a quick break from the scrum by Williams saw Fred Harris take the ball on the half-way line and into his stride with Eric Harris in support. As on many previous occasions before Fred showed the ball and Eric went inside then with opponents all hesitating Fred went inside himself with Eric switching to the wing, Fred still showing the ball made a sudden dart and Huddersfield at last realising what was happening went to tackle Fred who slipped the ball to Eric ten yards out and he made no mistake with a clear run to the corner. Williams levelled the score with a fine touchline goal and both teams held out for the next five minutes to half time to make it 5-5 at the interval. It had been a great first half with more to come.

            The second half started just as thrillingly – both teams throwing the ball about with forwards all linking up and tackling their hearts out. On and on it went and just when it looked like being a replay Leeds scored the vital try ten minutes before time: a kicking dual between the full backs: Eaton and Scourfield  saw both sets of forwards waiting to pounce. A huge kick by Eaton made Scourfield lose the ball and John Hall the Leeds hooker was on it like a flash but not having much time he threw out a long pass to Eric Harris’s wing and Eric ran onto it and went over a few yards from the corner, Williams obliged again and despite Huddersfield’s pressure Leeds held out to win a thrilling game ten points to five. At last Leeds were Wembley bound. It was a pity there had to be a loser. For me it was the greatest game I ever saw.

Now for the best game of cricket I ever saw.

The Hepworth Cup Final at Burmantofts 1928

 

 

The picturesque little ground behind The Dog and Gun public house, York Road, was the setting between for the Hepworth Cup Final between two great rivals: East Leeds and Hunslet. A lovely August afternoon saw Hunslet win the toss and decide to bat. Billy Newton and Wilkinson opened for Hunslet to the bowling of Fisher and Beverley. It was a steady start that had the big crowd watching every detail. At 17 the first wicket fell, Wilkinson bowled by Fisher for 7. That was quickly followed by Bill Newton – 25 for 2. Les Philips went around the 40 mark and with Shuttleworth soon out Hunslet were 55 for 4. Fisher, taking two wickets, Beverley one wicket and one run out. Hunslet found runs hard to get and continued to struggle against Fisher who was taking wickets and keeping the batsmen quiet. Eventually after a thrilling three hours of play Hunslet were all out for 115. Horace Fisher taking 6 for 31.

            Now it came to East Leeds turn to bat, the openers Walt Maskill and Herbert Brooks made a steady start but lost Maskill at 20. Number three went with the score on 22 – Billy Newton claiming both wickets. Fisher came in to join Brooks and the pair gradually took the score along into the fifties but good Hunslet bowling made East Leeds fight for every run. Watched intently by the thrilled crowd the pair took the score to 90 before Fisher fell, LBW to Newton, who had just come back, on for a score of 29 and then another blow, probable the biggest for East Leeds, Herbert Brooks was caught behind for 45 after a really good innings – 92 for 4. By now Billy Newton was bowling like a man inspired and those 24 runs to win were going to be hard going when two more wickets fell on the 100 mark. Alf Reynolds and Wade were scratching and scraping, Reynolds getting a lucky edge for four and a single here and there saw the score creeping along until a quick taken run by Wade, the stumper, saw East Leeds home by four wickets – what a thrilling match enjoyed by all and a more exciting game of cricket would be hard to find. Well done East Leeds and congratulation to Hunslet for making it such and enjoyable game.

 

more tales of between the wars

May 1, 2009

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