Posts Tagged ‘Ellerby Lane School’

The Night they Bombed our old Richmond Hill School Down

February 1, 2019

THE NIGHT THEY BOMBED OLD RICHMOND HILL SCHOOL DOWN

 

 

Events of the landmark night for East Leeds March 14/151941 when Richmond Hill School was bombed is remembered by Barbara Blakeney (nee Reynard) and Betty Nevard (nee Gibbins) Eric Sanderson winds the entry up with a humorous finale.
At a recent East Leeds Reunion I spoke to Mrs Barbara Blackeny (Barbara) Her amazing memory can take us right back to the ‘blitz’ and that iconic night for East Leeds of the 14/15 th March 1941 when bombs hit our Richmond Hill School and the next morning the pupils of Richmond Hill School were transferred to other local school – mainly Ellerby Lane School or evacuation out of the city to places of greater safety. Betty Nevard, another of our contributors who has a story on the site was actually a pupil at Richmond Hill School says the bombing brought to an end her time as a school girl there she includes a picture of her classroom that took a direct hit. As it was though the night the school was empty and there was no loss of life. The next morning I visited the site, we girls were knitting socks and Balaclavas for the troops and remember seeing my knitting amongst the rubble my efforts looked so pitiful a khaki Balaclava on broken blue knitting pins I recall the same air raid resulted in the dropping of bombs on Butterfield Street. From then until I left school at the age of fourteen years of age I attended Ellerby Lane School.

Brian Monk who lived just off Lavender Walk remembers that night of the bombs the blast blew a sleeper right out of the deep railway cutting that hit the gable end of their house. Afterwards his dad cut it up and made part of it into an air raid shelter. Another of the stick of bombs hit the Woodpecker pub.
Note: as a result of bombing in Leeds 77 people died (65 on the night of the 14th March), 327 injured 197 buildings destroyed and a further 7,623 damaged.

Here is Barbara’s story
I remember the night Richmond Hill School and Butterfield Street were bombed during the blitz of 14/15 March 1941. My dad used to be a fire watcher and was based at Wardle’s in Butterfield Street at the top end going into Lavender Walk. Wardle’s did stabling and the business included hiring out carriages and horse drawn hearses. Dad was in World War One so he was too old for war service in 1939. Fortunately he was not on duty in Butterflied Street the night of the bombing. Many streets had their own fire watching equipment. St Hilda’s Mount where I lived included. The equipment consisted of: ladders buckets, stirrup pumps, shovels and sand, all to deal with incendiary bombs. Drills were often organised but no incendiary bombs were ever dropped in our street. There was a club to witch residents contributed three pence per week towards their cost at the end of the war when I was about twelve the residue of the money provided a street party and each child received a brass three penny bit. Tables chairs and benches and believe it or not pianos were carried out of people’s homes into the street and a bonfire was lit. I have one of the old stirrup pumps but the rubber tubing perished years ago. I have some shrapnel too from the blitz part of an exploding shell probably fired from the guns at Knostrop. St Hilda’s School was closed at the beginning of the war and some children and their mothers were evacuated to Ackworth School near Pontefract. I don’t know when they all returned but my cousin, Eunice Johnson and I were taken to Lincolnshire to stay with my grandmother’s relations in the small village of Swinstead twelve miles from Grantham and nine miles from Bourne, We arrived there on Sunday 3rd of September (The day war broke out) and only stayed there until the end of January 1940. I think we were home sick.

Other childhood memories are of the pleasure we had walking or cycling down Red Road to the lovely blue bell woods near Temple Newsam Golf Course and up to the mansion or down Black Road to have a paddle in the Wyke Beck at Red Walls. Sometimes we cycled further afield to Leventhorpe Hall and then onto Swillington; my weren’t we in the country! Seeing the billets where the German POWs were and the big guns at Knostrop in the encampment during the war, it was another world away. Eddie and Edna Pawson lived in a farm down black road and at the side of the farm was a derelict little cottage that Edna professed had a ghost to try and frighten us. Nowadays places like that would be out of bounds due to health and safety, there was no compensation culture then. I must have been about three and a half when I saw a German airship flying over the Copperfields in a north westerly direction . From reports it was June 1936 when I started in the babies’ class at St Hilda’s School under a Miss Williamson. Until I was nearly four we had to sleep in the afternoons in camp beds with a blanket over us ( I remember those camp beds too but I could never get to sleep it seemed unnatural) There was a flat sheet with corner ties underneath which our mothers had to take home and wash every weekend. Miss Powell had standards one and two Miss Duckworth standards three and four and Miss Fewster standards four and five.
Eric Sanderson rounds up with imaginary letters to the editor
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (from East Leeds)

Letters sent to the newspapers are often a huge & important source of local information, often reflecting the metrics of the time. These might include comments on local affairs, complaints, compliments , information, responses to others & in fact, almost any other reason you can think of.
A tongue in cheek selection of a few from the archives might just jog a few memories about the matters which occupied our minds at the time.

9th Sept 1943
Dear Editor
Kept awake again by those damned Luftwaffe types dropping their incendiary bombs. They’re so indiscriminate, dropping them anywhere & not seeming to have any concern for the damage they cause. Last week, one fell bang on top of our rabbit hutch but, thankful for small mercies in these times of austerity, the roast rabbit was delicious, even if slightly overdone. Hope you can write to Mr. Hitler requesting him to be less careless
Yours etc – Al. E. Looya – York Rd, Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Looya
Believe it or not, we’ve had lots of similar complaints. We’re going to start a petition requesting Mr. Hitler to train his pilots to be less careless & to try & drop them where they cause no damage
Yours – Ed

25th Dec 1944
Dear Editor
Why do the lights keep going out? It’s as though there’s a war going on. My Xmas lunch was ruined due to the loss of power; the squirrel casserole was almost inedible. Surely the odd bomb can’t interrupt the power supply, especially when it’s dropped without notice. Damned ungentlemanly if you ask me
Yours – B. Uggeritt – Cross Green Lane, Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Uggeritt
Great shame. Why not try hedgehog next time. If you’re caught out with a power cut, don’t worry, it tastes better cooked rare – Yours etc – Ed

May 1945
Dear Ed
Thank goodness the war’s over but when can we expect rationing to end now that we don’t have to send all that food to our troops overseas? It’s like giving foreign aid when we’re skint ourselves & I don’t wish to sound ungrateful to our glorious soldiers but why can’t they scrounge it from those ungrateful Frogs?
Yours etc. – G. Reedy – Easy Rd, Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Reedy
I think dried eggs, POM dried potato, hen’s foot soup etc. can be delicious & wholesome, especially with a cup of lukewarm Acorn coffee
Yours – Ed

Sept 1945
Dear Editor
I’m trying to fatten my pigs in time for Xmas but there’s a huge shortage of potato peelings, cabbage leaves & fish heads on which my hogs thrive. It seems some are being selfish & keeping them to make soup & blaming rationing. So to those people, don’t blame me if Pigs in Blankets are in short supply this yuletide
Yours etc. – (Mr.) Ed Bangor – Pontefract Lane – Leeds 9
Reply
Dear Mr. Bangor – Have you tried killing off a few of your pigs to feed the others. After all, pigs are cannibals you know

June 1948
Dear Ed
At last, an end to rationing. I’m sick of those darned PASHA fags. Why can the Turks get their hands on so much tobacco & we can only get dog ends
Yours etc. – M. Fiseema – Temple View Rd – Leeds9

Reply – Dried cabbage mixed with used tea leaves aren’t a bad substitute – at least it’s much better than smoking those dreadful Pashas – Ed

April 1949
Dear Ed
My war time pre-fab is damp & draughty in spite of stuffing old newspapers into all the gaps. What can I do to get out of this hellhole?
Yours etc. – Y. Bother – Ellerby Lane – Leeds 9

Reply – Dear Mr. Bother, You could become a £10 POM & get yourself to Australia. You might get bitten by poisonous snakes & spiders, swelter for 9 months of the year & contract all sorts of horrible tropical diseases – but at least , that’s preferable to living in a pre-fab – Yours – ED

June 1950
Dear Ed
I wrote to you in 1945 about my pigs. Well here I am again with yet another porcine problem. Someone left the front door open & all my pigs escaped from where I keep them in the bathroom. By the time I managed to recapture most of them, they’d run off much of their bulk that I’m now going to have to fatten them up again. As well, I’m sure one or two are missing & I suspect strongly that they’ve been “accidentally” , captured, slaughtered ,butchered & turned into bacon & ham shanks. I would be grateful if those people would own up & at least send me a couple of pork pies – Yours etc. – Ed Bangor – Pontefract Lane – Leeds 9

Reply – Dear Mr. Bangor – I’m informed on the very best authority that you shouldn’t keep pigs in the bathroom. Try the front room, it’s much warmer & cosier and besides , pigs don’t like running up & down stairs – Yours etc. Ed

April 1960
Dear Editor
An establishment calling itself a “supermarket” has recently opened in our area. How can my small corner shop be expected to compete when they open all day, every day, even on Saturdays & don’t even have a mid week half day closing. They don’t even do “tick”, run a slate & their prices are ridiculously lower than mine. They even open up at 7am & go on ‘til 8pm instead of keeping sensible hours like I do, 9am to 4.30pm. Something must be done
Yours etc. – Hugh Shury – St Hilda’s Way – Leeds 9

Reply – Don’t worry Mr. Shury , it’s just a flash in the pan from America , they’ll never replace the much loved high street & corner shops – Ed

June 1970
Dear Editor
What on earth is happening to our precious local pubs? It’s becoming harder to find a decent pint of creamy, room temperature bitter these days. I thought we’d won the war but they’re all flogging some fizzy German stuff called Luger or Logger or something. I wouldn’t mind but it looks like a pint of p**s
& quite frankly, tastes like it too. It’s so cold, it nearly fractured my dentures. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Yours etc. – Al Kerhollick

Reply
Dear sir
We get hundreds of letters on this subject but don’t worry, it’s a passing fad. I feel confident we’ll not see the end of our Tetley’s, Melbourne’s, John Smiths, Ramsdens etc. They’ll be with us for years to come , just as will our local pubs. They’re part of our heritage & will never disappear.

June 2000
Dear Editor
Why are our libraries devoid of any serious literature? All I see on the shelves are fictional thrillers, romantic novels & rows & rows about someone called Harry Nutter.
Where can I find Proust, Nietzsche, Kafke, Solzenhitsyn, or even Tolstoy?
Yours etc. Hugh Jeego

Reply
Dear Mr. Jeego
You must be one in 10 billion who has a clue what any of those are on about and where each page doesn’t feel like having a pre frontal lobotomy.
If you like, I could lend you my well-thumbed copy of Rimbaud’s classic – “ My Week Long Pissup in the tap rooms of Middlesboro with my mate Horace“. That may fill the vacuum

Dear Reader
Letters to the Editor continue to this day, providing a window on current & locals affairs, giving a public voice to anyone who cares to participate & long may it continue.
Although the foregoing are obviously the (spoiled?) fruit of a tortured mind, some of the themes do reflect what were, & still are, concerns for some, then and now.
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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………….
***************************************************

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.

Barbara’s Tale

May 1, 2015

   Mrs. Barbara Curran (nee Tootle, niece of the legendary, George Tootle – ex boxer and Hunslet Rugby League player – blinded as a result of his sporting activities) has added her memories of Knostrop, especially her childhood times in Knostrop New Hall in the care of her grandmother, Mrs. Smith.                                             

Barbara’s Tale        My memories of Knostrop and the old mansion started when I must have been just a toddler and Granny Smith looked after me while Mam worked. I never remember getting bored down there, it was different world to me than being in the streets back home in Easy Road, there was always someone coming in for a natter (years later I found out that my granny was the caretaker). At the back of the mansion were some allotments and my dad had a fair patch including a greenhouse and a hut where he kept his tackle. I used to help my dad take caterpillars off the cabbages and my granny’s gooseberry and raspberry bushes. Then of course there was the rhubarb which I enjoyed after Granny had baked them into pies. I remember the courtyard that led to the wash-house and the huge weeping willow that stood in the centre of the grassed area bounded by the circular path at the front of the mansion. The whole was enclosed by high walls and huge gates. In my mind I still see Granny with her long black dress and extra long pinny complete with quaint old shiny boots, her long hair platted and pinned up at the side of her head. When she had a bit of time she would sit me at the corner of the table near her chair and ask me to comb her hair. I obliged because I liked doing it. I recall the huge winding stairs inside the mansion that led to the upstairs rooms where my Uncle George lived. I remember the long hot summer days and the darkness of the night around the place, there were just a few gas lamps on the lane outside. In the autumn I used to kick my way through the fallen leaves on crisp cold nights. When the snow had settled on the road and the moon was out some found it quite eerie but to me it never was. My Uncle Charlie and Aunt Ivy – Mam’s brother and his wife – lived in the Hall, My Dad’s brother, Uncle George, lived there too. He was blind and had two dogs, which everyone seemed afraid of. I never knew why because I didn’t see much of Uncle George. I was born in 1941 and went to school first at St Hilda’s while the war was still on. Things being tough where money was concerned Mam got me into St Hilda’s because they said I was too young at Ellerby Lane. The school virtually faced onto Knostrop lane where I felt so much at home. To me everything was mesmerizing, even as to how the seasons changed the scenery. In a nutshell I felt safe down there and never lonely. Although we had no toys there were lots of outside games; weather permitting. I never really settled at St Hilda’s School because all my mates from the streets where I lived went to Ellerby Lane School. So I too moved to Ellerby Lane School. I must have still been quite young as I was put into the last year of the infants. I still spent holidays down Knostrop with my Gran. Uncle Charlie came home in uniform with his hat perched on the side of his head, which made him look like an Aussie. He had lovely blue twinkling eyes; he was our Brian and Neville’s dad. A gang of us from around the streets at home spent lots of hours looking for frogspawn in Oxley’s Sports Field – not far from Knostrop. While the war was on I remember us all going down the cellar but being too young I didn’t really realize what was going on. I just accepted it as normal. I remember the flags going out in every window and people were laughing and everyone was happy I’m not sure but I think there was some sort of street party. My dad worked on the railway shunting wagons so he got concessions for free travel for us and we had a holiday in Scarborough or Bridlington most years. As the years passed I heard they were pulling down the mansion to make way for industry. I felt sad about that. I don’t believe they should have done it. It was lovely living just a stone’s throw away from the countryside. I suppose the people who lived down there have bettered themselves housing wise, but it took away the innocence of a special place for me. Although looking back I realize I was only a child and life was hard for the grownups: there was no electricity it was just gaslight and candles; there was a wash room for collecting cold running water to take back to the rooms but there were no baths in the place at all. Everyone had some job or other to do, rain shine or blow. I suppose its demise was for the best but I will never forget Knostrop New Hall. Much later I ventured down Knostrop Lane and looked at the site of the Mansion. I was aghast to see its place had been taken by a big ugly Trumix cement yard. The lane was the same and it looked out of place, somehow. I walked away but by the time I had passed Grumwell’s field at the top of Knostrop Lane it was the old memory of the mansion that had returned to my mind. Now I am older I can understand how the Bronte sisters came up with all their stories. As Howarth was in the countryside too they’ll have spent long hours on winter nights writing to pass time along. Perhaps their tales were part real and part fiction but like Howarth the memories of those who lived and experienced Knostrop will never die.

Thanks for a great tale Barbara.

While we have plenty of pictures of Knostrop Old Hall we have not as yet been able to locate any pictures of Knostrop New Hall, but Eileen, Barbara’s sister, has made a good effort of an impression from her memory.   Knostrop New Hall and Knostrop House (Riders) was both Georgian, Knostrop Old Hall was Jacobean and Thorpe Stapleton Hall was 14th century. No credit to us that these four noble buildings that had graced Knostrop for so many years were all four demolished on our watch.   The second picture (please remember to ‘click on pictures to enlarge) indicates the location of our favourite old Knostrop locations on a 21st century map.

new hall for blog revised

pink blobs for blog revised

More Memories of Dave Carncross

March 1, 2010

Blog Memories of Dave CarncrossMore of Dave’s dilightful memories, particularly: ice cream matters, Richmond Hill and Ellerby Lane Schools, the street May Grove, Emmett’s news agents and sledging

 

 

                            THE MEMORIES OF DAVE CARNCROSS

 

 

ICE CREAM MATTERS

Ice-cream usually took the form of a cornet, a twist or a sandwich.  Big Lena from Granelli`s used to push a handcart with two tubs of ice-cream -vanilla and strawberry – well, they were white and pink anyway – up and down Easy Road. She would station herself outside the Easy Road Picture House in time for the punters going in and out between the first and second `houses`. She had a peculiar accent and a very deep, resonant, hog-calling voice which could be heard for miles. It was only years afterwards that I realised she was Italian.

Walls` Ice Creams came into the picture around 1949 sold through the local sweet shops. Even so, initially they were only available on Fridays and over the weekends because of restricted availability.

Then came that marvellous Saturday afternoon when we found “The Box“ lying on the unmade road between Red Road and Black Road. The box was right in the middle of the path and Brian Cox first aimed a kick at it expecting it to be empty but, when we heard the dull thud,  we were all over it like hyenas. It was a very big, plain brown cardboard box and we were amazed to find it full of ice creams of all kinds and flavour – most of them being family sized cartons. Reasoning that it must have fallen out of the back of a van (vehicles would use this road as a shortcut to the Osmondthorpe estate because Red Road was blocked off to traffic) and that somebody would soon come back looking for it, we partly hid it and went back a bit later to find it still there. This time, we carried it back in triumph to Easy Road and shared it out. It all had to be eaten quickly because it was already going soft and none of us had refrigerators. I sat on our step eating my share from a baking bowl with a big spoon. That was the only time in my life that I ate ice cream in truly industrial quantities. I had very little interest in it for quite some time afterwards.

SCHOOLS

 

RICHMOND HILL SCHOOL

I went there to Infant’s School along with my pal, George Hargreaves. My Mam says I went quite willingly as long as she promised to sit outside on the wall and wait there all day until I came out after school. Well, you always believe what your Mam says, don’t  you ?? Apparently, George was a different matter, however. His mother had to be dragging him there every day for quite a while until he got used to it. He would walk normally until they got to the Yorkshire Penny Bank and then dig his heels in. My Mam said it was easiest for her to take us both because he didn’t play her up as much and being with me also distracted him a bit.  The only clear memory I have of Richmond Hill is of lying on my back on a folding type cot in the hall looking up through the windows at the clouds going by and wondering why the grown-ups wanted me to go to sleep during the day. The cots were on caster wheels and George remembers that we would propel them around the wooden floor while we were laid face down using our hands as paddles.

ELLERBY LANE SCHOOL

 

We all migrated to Ellerby Lane from Richmond Hill but I can’t remember the transition itself. It was a seamless operation somehow. I remember Miss Sheridan very well. She always seemed nice to us. One day when we would be about eight or nine years old, she was talking to us about the wartime and we got onto the subject of bombs and explosives. She asked us if we knew any of the different names and one of the kids said `dynamite`. Any more she asked?? I think she was hoping for TNT but not many of us could say `trinitrotoluene`. Anyway, I had a vague idea of another name which was `gelignite`. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember it properly and came up with `gelatine`. She fought valiantly not to laugh, God bless her, but she had to give in and leave us on our own. I can still hear her howling uncontrollably in the corridor to this day – no doubt visualising the Luftwaffe trying to subjugate the natives of East Leeds by carpet-bombing us with pink blancmange and incendiary jelly. “Tonight ve vill use ze  strawberry and if zat does not do zer job zen tomorrow ve vill finish zem off mit der orange und apricot  !!!  “

Chuck Holmes was a stern taskmaster who firmly believed in getting his retaliation in first. He wouldn’t take an ounce of cheek from anybody – most of the lads got caned at one time or another and I was no exception. I got it lots of times before concluding after much deep thought that my best strategy was to stop being an idiot. There was an unspoken acceptance that being caned was a rite of passage for the lads and it was not the done thing to show you had been hurt. There was an unusual, multi-coloured form of stone freely available in vast quantities down the navvy which was reputed to possess magical, pain-barrier qualities if rubbed vigorously on the palm of the hand. The kids all called it  `Cane-Snap`. With enthusiastic co-operation from Old Chuck, I conducted controlled experiments with this rock and I can conclusively state that it didn’t work.

Chuck remains a hero to me though because he decided that he was going to teach us Spanish which, in 1948/9 was astoundingly inspired forward thinking. We didn’t get very far through our text book (which we had to buy and which I still have) “Primeras Lecciones D`Espagnol“, but he awakened in me an interest in foreign languages which served me very well in later years.  He had taught my older brother and sister before me and many, many years later, he would sometimes bump into my parents in Crossgates and ask after us and he remembered all of our names as well.

I remember Mr. Consterdine very well as, I should imagine, does every lad who went to Ellerby around that time. His fearsome reputation preceded him by a considerable distance – about the length of Easy Road, I’d say. He frightened me into being a model pupil from minute one. I definitely did not want the cane from him – he was said to use a drumstick rather than a cane but it looked more like half of a billiard cue to me. There was another teacher whose name I can’t clearly remember (Conway??) who used a rubber soled gym shoe or runner as we called them then to belt you across the backside and the backs of the bare legs (we all wore short pants then). That hurt far more than the cane and called upon one’s last reserves of determination not to be `soft`. I copped for a couple of breath-taking, eye-watering doses of that and found them to be more than sufficient.

The Headmaster, Mr. Wood was a lofty figure who didn’t have much to do with us on a day-to- day basis. I was taken into his office one afternoon for first aid treatment when my left thumb was smashed between two brass-bound swing doors and came out with the injured digit bandaged to about the size of a Zeppelin. Somebody took me to the dreaded Dispensary in a Morris Eight and left me there awaiting the anaesthetic-free insertion of seven stitches and the eventual arrival of my Mam. It seemed a long way home on the bus counting my heartbeats through my thudding thumb.

One year our class teacher was youthful Mr. Bacon. His nickname was “Egbert` (egg but no bacon).  In that classroom was a tropical fishtank and I remember being very envious of the monitor who came in periodically to clean the tank out, He used to drain the water off into large buckets by sucking the rubber drain tube to promote the down-flow siphon effect. My mental processes could not at that time reason out how this worked and I thought he was a genius unsung. The thought that getting a mouthful of dirty, fishy water might be a dubious privilege never occurred to me at all. I thought that that job was a really desirable one – maybe even on a par with ringing the dinner gong or being the milk monitor.  `Egbert` once tried to explain to us how sucking the air from the rubber pipe was able to induce the water upwards first of all and then downwards into the bucket. Since this involved variations in volumetric pressures, he might as well have been speaking in Urdu and eventually he gave up.

I used to feel aggrieved that I never got a free daily dose of malt and cod liver oil. There was a perception that the kids who got it were a favoured few – certainly not that they were deemed to be poorer and more in need of it than the rest of us. I used to ask my Mam to get some for me and she always said she couldn’t afford it either ??  At this distance, however, I do wonder at the wisdom of giving them it all from the same spoon which remained unwashed from one day to the next as far as I can remember.

Immunisations were a terrible trial. Word would get round that “The Nurses“ had come. We couldn’t have been more terror-stricken if Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes had ridden up East Street astride prancing, coal-black stallions looking to press-gang child soldiers. The medics would set up shop in one class-room. We would sit in class feverishly trying to persuade ourselves that they hadn’t actually come for us but they always had and we would be called out, ashen faced, in twittering twos and threes to receive our injections. The hypodermic syringes then were gleaming; fearsome tools with finger-holes for leverage big enough to accept pork sausages. No attempt was ever made to hide them from our view – far from it; they were joyfully wielded in front of us in all their functional, stainless steel and glassy glory.  The same two needles were used on everyone and would be pretty blunt after a while. A perfunctory swish in surgical spirit and then a refill with one while the other was being drilled into someone’s arm. You could fair hear the skin pop under the pressure.  There was one occasion when they gave us two injections at the same time – one in each arm. We were outraged – that was cheating, that was. Not a Christian thing to do at all. The other thing I noticed was that the nurses always seemed to be amused and that didn’t sit very well with me.

The only thing I was ever afraid of at Ellerby was being put `in the locks`. Occasionally, a marauding gang of seniors would chase some poor unfortunate kid around the playground until they caught him and threaded his arms in and out of the iron railings and held him there.  Once in that position, he would be helpless and the ensuing indignities went from being rib-tickled until you cried to being de-bagged in front of the girls who, I must say, always took a keen interest in the procedures.  It didn’t do to just stand and watch because, if the original quarry proved to be elusive, the gang were quite happy to swap targets. Somehow, I always managed to escape selection as a victim but it was literally a near-run thing sometimes.

We got full use out of Ellerby because we even used to go during the school holidays and ride our

bikes around the yard to our hearts` content. We never did any damage and nobody ever sent us out.

I left Ellerby Lane in 1951 at 11 years old having passed my `Scholarship` along with what was then a record number of schoolmates apparently. From memory, there were about eight or nine of us (boys and girls).   I do dimly remember having previously been taken out of our normal classes for different lessons but only a few times. Nobody gave us a reason for this so perhaps it was extra preparation. I don’t really know but, if it was, it worked.  When we got the official `pass` documents, our parents were asked what preferences they had i.e. technical or grammar school. I wanted to go to Central High Tech because it was where I sat my exam and was the only High School name I knew. My parents were summoned to see Mr. Wood, however, and he told them I would be best off at grammar school and they took his advice. He was right because I always struggled and just got by at science subjects. He must have given the same advice to all the parents because all the lads ended up at Leeds Modern and the girls went to Lawnswood Girls next door.

It did occur to me vaguely that I might come in for some stick locally when wearing my red and black Leeds Modern blazer and cap and carrying a satchel but, in the event, it didn`t make the slightest difference. To get to Lawnswood on time, we had to catch a bus down to Town at around eight a.m. and were later home also because of the travelling time so we rarely saw the kids from Ellerby at either end of the day. I kept all my Easy Road pals just the same and had another set of mates at Lawnswood as well.

MAY GROVE

We lived at number 4. It was a short street with five houses on one side and four on our side which included Rockets` greengrocers` shop on the corner next door to us. They were old terrace houses and ours was back to back with my Aunt Minnie’s, my Mam`s sister at 3 May Terrace. This was a very handy arrangement because if they wanted each other for anything they could knock on the wall and shout through to each other. We had two bedrooms and an attic upstairs. Downstairs there was a scullery (kitchen) and one multi-function living room. We also had two cellars – one for coal and the other which again was used pretty intensively to keep food cool, keep mice, chop firewood, mend shoes, bikes etc etc. The only source of heat in the whole house was the old coal fired cast-iron oven range in the living room.

There was a set-pot boiler for washing in the corner of the kitchen. We never used that and it had a board over the top of it which was a work-top of sorts. Eventually, this was knocked out and we had a bit more useful space then. We graduated from a tin bath to one which was fixed in the kitchen. Fixed meant that it was plumbed into the drains. We didn’t have a fireback boiler so no hot water on tap but we had a free-standing gas boiler and when it was bath time (once or at most twice a week) the hot water had to be bucketed from the boiler into the bath. We had a rubber pipe which joined onto the cold tap in the sink. I was lucky in that my brother and sister were much older than me and had both got married and left home by the time I was eleven. I was always the last into the bath but at least there was only Mam and Dad preceding me. When not in use, the bath was covered by another oil clothed board so an extra work-surface was available albeit one which was custom-built for those under 4ft. in height or anybody else who was prepared to kneel down to butter the bread. We had three shelves on the wall at the back and these were quite sufficient to hold the few foodstuffs and condiments which we had in hand at any one time. That was the nearest we ever got to a fitted kitchen.

 In the mid- fifties most people had the old cast iron, black-leaded oven range fireplaces taken out and installed a tiled fireplace. Eventually a gas-fire would replace coal and that was a major step forward in easy living. This was contemporary with having the old panelled interior doors flushed with hardboard which was stained, varnished and extravagantly grained to resemble the finest walnut. Throw in a bit of painting and decorating and a hearthrug which wasn’t “pricked“ and you were acknowledged as being a social climber.

No home was complete in summer without a couple of sticky, scented fly-papers hanging in strategic positions. These quickly became encrusted in flies and it was usually my job to take them down and hang new ones up. I think most of our bluebottles and flies came from the Quarry where there were myriad piggeries and hen runs. Maybe they flew further afield to where there was less competition. Rolled-up newspapers formed part of our armoury against them as well. In those days, I was quick and accurate enough to knock them down in mid-flight although, it has to be acknowledged, that if you missed the one you were aiming at, there was usually another in the same area.

By choice, I slept in the attic for most of my younger life because it was more private and much bigger than the little bedroom. It was boiling hot in summer and freezing cold in winter. What we would have given for a high Tog rating duvet then. I had an ancient eiderdown and several old Army blankets which were incredibly heavy – I sometimes think they were the reason I am a bit pincer-toed. In the coldest weather, we used to take one of the cast iron ovenplates from the fireside range wrapped up in an old sheet to pre-warm the bed. This was luxury indeed but it was as well to move it to one side before going to sleep otherwise you woke up in the middle of the night with your feet resting on cold metal. The other bedroom windows would ice up with Jack Frost patterns on the inside in the winters.

Our street was off Easy Road and directly opposite the end of Dial Street.  We had every shop you needed within a few minutes walk which was handy because nobody had a car. A motor bike was a rarety. The top of the street was fenced off to a good height by “The Boards“. Behind them was the railway track for the coal train which plied between Temple Newsam pit and the coal staith at the end of Easy Road. I always thought it was called the coal “stay“ until I was in my early twenties and found out the real name.  We used to sometimes climb over the boards and cross the track to climb over the boards at the other side to save walking right around through the ginnel down Easy Road. This must have startled the neighbours at the other side to see us suddenly appear over their “boards“but nobody ever said anything to us.

All the local shopkeepers and trades people were characters. None more so than Barber Nelson whose shop was just a few yards down Easy Road from our street. Young lads only had one hair-style then. My Dad’s standard instruction was “ ask for a short back and sides and a lot off the top`. This was just as well because it was the only style Mr. Nelson could do. He used hand-operated clippers for the sides and back of the neck. These were invariably blunt and he also had the habit of finishing each cutting motion with the blades closed together instead of released. This meant that, every time he did it, he rived out a clump of shortened hair. This was extremely painful and every tortured visit seemed to last about a day. I don’t know which was the worst – actually having your hair cut or waiting your turn for what seemed like hours while trying not to be unnerved by the stifled, pitiful  whimpers of the preceding customers.  When you had survived this ordeal, he used to ask if you wanted any hair lotion on. I think it cost a penny extra. By that time, I would have let him anoint my head with Yorkshire pudding batter and/or boiling chip fat as long as it got me out of the chair. This lotion was like liquid soap and used to set rock hard so the trick was to run home and comb the hair into a semblance of good order before it did. When I was a bad `un, my Mam used to threaten me with a visit to Barber Nelson rather than say she’d tell my Dad. Came the day when we started to go through the ginnel to Fletchers` Barbers. This was a father and son business and they used electric clippers. Mr. Fletcher Senior, however, was a bit old school and preferred the dreaded hand clippers sometimes so, even though his clippers were better than Barber Nelson`s, for me it was always a bit of a lottery going there as well.

Emmett’s Newsagents

It paid to be polite to Mr. Emmett if you fancied a paper round.  I did and I got one eventually which covered a fair area including the streets over the Princess bridge and right up to the `Slip Inn` pub.  I used to leave my bike at the shop and do all the local stuff thus lightening my bag and then ride up to do the top area. My time-and-motion re-organisation of the round didn’t sit well with Mr. Emmett because he liked everything to be done his way and his way was to do the top end first. He used to grumble a bit but couldn’t actually rollick me for it because everyone always got their papers and nobody complained. I did the round for about a couple of years but gave it up when my homework demands from Leeds Modern School became heavier.

Emmett’s used to have an agency for Wallace Arnolds coach travel and I remember going en masse to Butlins for a week’s holiday when we were seventeen years old. There would be just about a full coach load of us and the bus actually picked us up and brought us back to the shop itself. Looking back, that was a pretty enterprising idea for a local shopkeeper and bus company.

SLEDGING

We used to start off from home all wrapped up warm and with our woollen scarves turned part-way inside out and pulled down over our ears. If you were lucky, you had some long fishing / football socks which were pulled up and folded back down over the top of your wellies. This was recognised as being a good `look` but was not very practical. By the time we’d been up and down the run two or three times, the head would be at volcanic temperature and prickling with sweat while the feet were going numb with the cold because your wellies would be half full of ice and snow.

Our favourite sledge run was “Ducky Hill“ just below Mount St, Mary’s Church. It started off above the old recreation ground and there was a long, slope down to a sharpish left hand bend and then the gradient increased very quickly going all the way down to East Street. There was no traffic on an evening there and, apart from the risk of being hit by another sledge, it was pretty safe.

The favoured sledging position was lying down head-first and the best sledges attained very high speeds on Ducky Hill. Braking and steering was done by shifting your weight about, spragging the feet out at the back and pushing your toes down into the snow. If it was hardened ice, this had little effect and sometimes you had to literally roll off the sledge sideways to make certain you didn’t end up in East Street.

Billy Rocket who ran the green-grocers shop next door to us had a monster sledge which had been professionally purpose-built for delivering his  `orders` on in 1947 and subsequent hard winters. It would have been at least six feet long and could comfortably seat four of us in a line or any two of us laid face down side by side. We used to borrow it from him sometimes but even we weren’t daft enough to go down `Ducky` on it. It was very heavy, rode high off the ground on beautifully bevelled steel runners and was virtually uncontrollable at speed. Fully loaded down Ducky, we could possibly have been the first to break the sound barrier on a sledge. The only place we used it was on East End Park where there was sufficient room and more gentle slopes to use it in comparative safely. It would set off slowly but gathered pace at an alarming rate and then it was best to just shut your eyes and wait for it to stop. I once went solo on it in the macho head-first position down through the trees -a still, small voice inside my head speculating that this might not have been such a good idea as it reached terminal velocity. On the final slope there was just one tree well away to the right but the sledge aimed at it like a wood-seeking missile, dismissing my puny attempts to steer it and rammed it head on. I shot down the sledge and hit the tree with the side of my face and shoulder. My facial grazes formed an interesting wood-cut type pattern from which an arboriculturist could have identified the genus of the tree itself. 

Gordon “Baggy“ Carrier decided one year that he would improve his sledge by fitting a front extension carrying a pivoting axle complete with short metal runners . He confidently anticipated that this “bogey“ inspired modification would mean that his sledge would then be fully steerable without recourse to spragging one’s feet out sideways. The prototype trials took place on a short but vicious slope leading down from the `Quarry` towards Easy Road. Gordon naturally claimed his rights as the designer and insisted on being the first to try it out. Rick Chappelow was allowed to sit behind Gordon. The chosen route aimed directly at the boiler room at the rear of the East Leeds Club and Gordon reasoned that, at the last moment, he would steer off to the left onto the short street adjacent to the Club. His calculated coefficients of weight distribution, friction and tractive forces were somewhat adrift, however, and the sledge plus occupants did not divert one millimetre from its original path. A crescendo of strangled cries and oaths rang out but were swiftly stifled by mouthfuls of snow and the coke which was piled at the back of the building for use in the boiler.  Pilot and co-pilot rose painfully slowly from the snow and splintered wreckage, brushing off pieces of smokeless fuel from their clothes, hands and foreheads. Rick was his usual sanguine self with regard to bodily injury but Baggy was pretty incoherent for a while – his visions of executing effortless figures of eight at speed on Hill Sixty at Roundhay Park condensing wraithlike into the cold night air.

Eileen’s Tale

October 1, 2009

Eileen’s tale is a delightful little tale of life in East Leeds in the 1940s, including time spent with her grandmother in Knostrop New Hall and as a pupil at St Hilda’s and Ellerby Lane Schools.

Eileen’s tale

Eileen’s Tale

Mrs Eileen Ramsey (nee Tootle) is the niece of the legendary George Tootle and sister of Barbara who has herself written her tale in these pages.

Until I read the pages of this book I thought Knostrop was just my magic place and never realised there were other children like myself who understood the magic of Knostrop and the way of life of the community as well as me. Although Knostrop New Hall was a wonderful place for me the owners had left the property to rot and decay instead of the upkeep it deserved. Every flat should have had a bathroom, toilet and even the electric light was late to arrive although there was the massive Skelton Grange Power Station just down the road.  Why do they call it progress to allow small communities like Knostrop to be wiped off the face of the earth to make way for concrete monoliths? Lord Halifax had long resisted building on his land on the north side of the Aire. Industry used to be in Hunslet on the south of the river and the fresh air that the people needed on the north. What happened?

                                                        ******

This is my story. I was born on the 27th of April 1932. My father was Roland Tootle, whose mother was Charlotte Wright before her marriage. My paternal grandfather’s name was Christopher Howard Tootle. My first memories are of being looked after by my maternal grandmother, Ellen Maud Smith, whilst my mam, Hannah Tootle, went out to work at J.W. Plant and son Ltd (flag and bunting manufacturer), Elsie Crescent, Upper Accommodation Road. Leeds 9.

            My gran lived with her second husband, Thomas Smith. They had two children, a boy Charles and a girl Ellen, or Nellie as my mother used to call her and who tragically died of a mastoid in the ear aged ten. This is what was told to us when we asked Mother if she had only brothers and no sisters. She said Nellie was her half sister – she died in 1928 the year before my eldest sister, Celia, was born.

My maternal granddad Thomas Byron Holmes and Grandma came from York to Leeds seeking employment as they had a young family of six to support. My granddad was from Southwark in London and served as a soldier in the 26th Scottish Borderers. My grandma Ellen Maud Holmes had a position of nanny, at which she was very good. Granddad (Thomas Byron Holmes) was tragically killed in a freak accident at Waterloo Pit on the 8th of January 1913 aged 36 years. He had been working with another man on the surface, loading and unloading when a sharp gust of wind suddenly arose as they were untying a tarpaulin cover from one of the wagons; it snagged my granddad and carried him up to the wheel of the gantry, which took him round and round. When they finally got to him he was left in just his socks and boots. The inquest was held at the Irwin Hotel, Halton, Leeds. Compensation amounted to just £157. 2/- and 3d to be paid to his widow (my granny) at the rate of £2 per month. 

My gran eventually re-married Thomas Smith, who was a widower twenty years her senior, they moved into the big mansion, Knostrop New Hall, as caretaker and wife. Among their duties were: the collection of rents, upkeep of the interior, cleaning the upstairs and downstairs toilets etc, also the wash-house, hen-house and stables.  

A pony trap was kept in the stables and a gentleman would arrive with a horse, which was stabled elsewhere, and ride around the countryside in the pony and trap. There was a large weeping willow tree, with initials carved upon its trunk on the front lawn facing the lodge (better known as The Round House). I used to climb the huge tree and sit reading my comics within its branches and leaves. I would follow with my eyes the flight of birds into the thick ivy that covered the ten foot high boundary walls and then I would head unerringly and find the nest with tiny eggs inside, usually about four of eggshell blue. They were very high walls to a child and it was only when I was older and more daring that I managed to scale those high surrounding walls of the New Hall Estate and stare over at St Saviour’s Orphanage, where the children would emerge in a long crocodile with one lady in front and another behind.

            I had a sister three years older than I her name was Celia and somehow we only really got together when I was about three years old. She must have stayed with a neighbour while my mother went to work as a sewing machinist. Celia had an accident as a child after coming downstairs very early one morning and playing with matches. She had climbed up on a buffet and reached up to the high mantelpiece for the matches and her pyjamas went up in flames. Her screams brought my dad running downstairs but the naughty girl had slid the bolt on the downstairs door and it took precious minutes before he could kick the door open. He wrapped her in the fireside rug to douse the flames but she had to be taken to the infirmary as she had sustained bad scaring on her chest and arms.

            I don’t know why but I had lived with my grandma for as long as it was possible and I couldn’t pronounce my sister’s name properly, it was nearer to ‘Ceeley’ than Celia. I must have been a two year old at the time for I can remember my gran wheeling me up and down Knostrop Lane in a pram and then through the ginnel into Easy Road and up to Archie Place.

            It was Knostrop Hall that I regarded as home along with Grandma and Granddad Smith. My uncle, Charlie Smith married Ivy who became my aunt. Their first child, Brian, arrived and I had a cousin. Gradually I was taken back to live with my sister Celia and Mam and Dad in Archie place and began to attend Ellerby Lane Infants School. It was a really bad winter and when we were sent out to play Mam came to the school railings in the snow to bring us hot drinks of cocoa from a flask. She was more than loving towards us; she would give me a ha’panny to ask at the grocer’s shop at the bottom of Easy Road for broken biscuits for my morning break to have with my little bottle of milk.

            Mrs Nelson used to take the infants class and around two of the walls were little linen bags that had embroidered animals on them for us children to pop in our biscuits. Unfortunately for me I always forgot which bag I had put my biscuits in but Mrs Nelson wouldn’t wait for me to find them, she would clap her hands and usher us all out of the room at playtime no matter how hard I protested. Well, in my little mind I thought that was most unfair and I was also fed up of having to lie on a hard camp bed with just one grey blanket in the afternoons. So I decided not to go to school at all. I hid away in the passages and only joined the kids when they were coming out of school at tea time. My sister, Celia, said the teachers had played pop with her because I had not turned up at school and it was her responsibility for taking me to school. So my mam sent me back to my gran’s down Knostrop – or Knowsthorpe – to give it its posh name.  My sister thought I was causing her trouble and upset her, so any explanation of mine was unacceptable. I did eventually begin to attend school again and happily they had started giving us things to do in the afternoons to keep us occupied.

            I remember going for walks in a crocodile down Knostrop to the big house at the entrance to Jawbone Yard to see the monkey on its little stand and the parrot of many coloured feathers that her sailor husband was supposed to have brought her. They also had had a grey/white/brown/black sheepdog or collie with a blue eye and a brown eye {Rex}. Just around the corner on Knostrop Lane was the petrol station yard where huge tankers full of petrol would come and go. Grandma always taught me to walk on the pathway and listen before crossing the road.

            When I was back in Archie Place my sister and I would make numerous trips to The Premier Picture House down South Accommodation Road on Saturday afternoons to see Flash Gordon. The friends my sister had were: Teresa Towning, May Beckwith, Audrey Smith and Margaret Headley and they attended Ellerby Lane School. Jean Clapham attended Mount St Mary’s. Celia being three years older than I didn’t want me around her and her friends so I played with their younger sisters and my own school friends: Sheila Thrush, Maisie Wilcox, Dorothy Jackson and Marion Eastman. We bought two comics a week each and then we swopped them so that we managed to read them all eventually.

            When I was seven years old war broke out. Dad said it would begin with air strikes so we ran out and looked up at the sky but all we saw was a large barrage balloon. Then we had to practice putting on our gas mask, which we carried in cardboard boxes suspended by string around our necks. They smelt horrible and I couldn’t breathe down or up my nostrils anyway because I was a mouth breather like my mate Maisie Wilcox.  

            My sister and I were evacuated to Market Rasen along with lots of others. Celia and I and another two sisters who lived in the Cavalier House Flats in East Street were sent to a posh house. We were allocated attic bedrooms and after being scrubbed down in hot baths and given dry cream crackers and cocoa, with no sugar, we were sent to bed.

The house was owned by the misses Kelly and had its own orchard and lawns and a cook and servants. It was like living in a dream world, far away from all we had known. But the older girls were rebels and they said it was like living in a jail. They caused trouble and the Miss Kellys wrote to both our parents asking if they could keep the youngest sister of each family because we were the quietest. We attended church twice on Sunday and travelled in luxury in a chauffeur driven car with one, or sometimes both of the Miss Kellys (I think now it was probably a taxi).

            But no! Our parents would not split us up and my dad said Celia and I would have to stay with a young couple who had a baby daughter. They were Mr and Mrs Saunders, they were a lovely couple and I used to rock their baby daughter to sleep on Saturday afternoons. I was seven years old and I still couldn’t read but I promised to try harder if the teacher would try to teach me how to read. It was hard for me as I had missed a lot of my early schooling. Gradually though it sank in and I was over the moon it was like solving a very hard puzzle. It didn’t come easy for me because the classes were so big as a result of the evacuees, and most of the village children could read already, so the teacher just wrote things up on the blackboard and expected us to understand. what was expected of us.

My mum came for us eventually and took us home to Archie Place, Leeds.           We then attended Richmond Hill School; that was a great school. They put on a pantomime at Christmas. In 1941 the German planes bombed Richmond Hill School while we were sleeping in the cellar at home. We were frightened and Mam started taking us to the Princess or the Easy Road cinema just to give us some light relief from the war which was going on around us. We then had to attend Ellerby Lane School and as I couldn’t sleep properly on a night I often fell asleep in school. Miss Gibbins was the teacher in that all girl’s class. Then in standard three we had an awful teacher (we shall call Miss W) who caused one girl to wet herself because she would only let us use the toilet at play-time. On one occasion she sent me to see Mr Dennis, the headmaster, because I had accidentally broken my wooden ruler. He was teaching a boy’s class next door and I was so terrified, not of being caned but of being shown up in front of all those boys. I broke down a sobbed, but surprise, surprise, Mr Dennis realized it had been an accident and how dreadfully I felt about it all so he sent me away with a stern caution.

            Thank Goodness my next class was standard four and the teacher was Mrs Darnell, her husband was in the armed forces and we were all given wool to knit scarves for our soldiers, sailors and airmen. Ellerby Lane School for me holds memories of lads waiting to snowball us as we went out of the big gate.

My mam said that now I was going to go to St Hilda’s School so that I could take Barbara to school and bring her home at dinner time. Barbara was two years old at the time and I was eleven. That was 1943 and the war seemed far away from us kids but by that time we had become used to eating ‘specky’ apples, raw carrots, ‘tusky’ (rhubarb) and liquorish twigs from the chemists, cough lozenges were treats

My granny had us climbing the trees within the New Hall grounds and shaking down the fruit so she could store it for the winter months. While we were at Ellerby Lane School we had cooking lessons one day a week, I enjoyed that. We also used to march down to Joseph Street baths. Although Maisie Wilcox and I used to enjoy Joseph Street Baths we learned to swim at York Road baths after school. Then we were sent to the Dispensary because the doctors were doing a mass cull of enlarged tonsils and adenoids. When we came round the pain and the blood we had swallowed was horrendous. Our swimming days were over after that, water used to go up our noses and straight down our throats, that was something that had not happened to us before, we were choking and spluttering if we let our heads go under the water. Both Maisie and I were devastated. Maisie came to live in Cross Green Lane, so she started to attend St Hilda’s School too. Our teacher was Mr North. He wore a cap and gown and sat on a high chair at an Edwardian desk. Behind him was a bookcase filled with books and I enjoyed reading many of them. We could borrow them to take home but we had to return them for others to enjoy. There was no one checking the books in and out but we were honest and our parents knew what we were up to most of the time so we had to accept their code of honour.

            The one thing I look back with in sorrow was that some of the other girls caused Maisie and I to quarrel and we never really sorted it out satisfactorily and that makes me sad. I had another friend, Joan Hitchen, who lived across Easy Road; we called for one another to go to school together. Then she moved to Blackpool with her parents and little brother john. We also visited Easy Road Picture House together, regularly. Frank Sinatra had just started out in films (1943) he had a nice singing voice but from what we saw of him he was thin as a skeleton. It was four pence for children on the front seats, even in front of these were about six wooden forms where kids could sit for a penny at the Saturday children’s matinee. My favourite star was Mickey Rooney he played in a saga which would now be described as a ‘soap opera’ on television. In these films Mickey’s father was called Judge Hardy and Mickey had many different girl friends, one was Judy Garland. The seats further back cost sixpence and those right at the back for adults, nine pence.

            My dad had started a large allotment off behind Knostrop New Hall with the help of Mam, Celia and me. He had made a hut, greenhouse, cold frame and a lean-to shed for the horse-muck we had to collect from the stables of a funeral director in Lavender Walk, Richmond Hill. He had huge black horses and we paid him five shillings for him to fill our wheel-barrow with horse-muck for us to wheel back down Knostrop. I wanted to go by way of the Long Causeway as I didn’t want my mates at St Hilda’s to see me wheeling a barrow load of horse-muck. I was ashamed in case they would laugh at me at school because unlike me they didn’t have to work at an allotment.

            We supplied quite a few of our neighbours with food produce. I had a list of customers to supply in summertime with: lettuce, radishes, potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, cabbages, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers. In winter it was Brussels sprouts before the first frost set in. And we grew beautiful chrysanthemums too. Dad had us working all the summer holidays clearing the land and double digging the soil. He said we had to carry the stones away in buckets and pile them up inside the twelve foot walls of the estate. There must have been a well because we moved so many stones they piled up to within three foot of the top of the twelve foot wall. We could then look over at Farmer Allison’s fine detached house and the little ‘Humbug House’ close by. We could also see the ABC Houses further down the road. When the farmer came home with his big shire horses he would let them out of the cart they had been pulling and into the field beyond the New Hall walls and they would kick they heels up and run about in a happy way because their work was over for the day.

My Uncle Charlie was a soldier who served in Burma during and after The Seconds World War. I stayed with my Aunt Ivy and Brian for a while after my tonsillectomy, while she was living in the Lodge or The Round House as we called it.

They had a tiny black, white and tan rough haired terrier called Paddy. Brian and I were sent into the Hall to live with Grandma when another baby was due.  I didn’t know any of Brian’s mates and Grandma would not allow me out of the gates of the grounds to seek new friends while I lived with her. When Grandma was busy cleaning she would often send me up to keep Mrs Barker company for an hour in her rooms upstairs. Mrs barker was a lovely lady who smelled of flowers and talked and talked about her family who had all died either in the First World War or later. The stories she told me about them meant she loved them and didn’t feel lonely talking about them it was as if they were still with her. She gave me a book to read, it was called ‘Little Women’. I really enjoyed reading that book: Mrs Barker was a grand lady, she died at Christmas 1952.

My father’s brother, George, lived in the Hall too. My dad told me George had      been brought up by his granny and his father made him chop up wood into chips and take them around the streets selling them to householders to start off their coal fires.  Later I was told he had been blinded by being repeatedly hit in bare knuckle fights. He took in stay dogs for company and he would walk them the front lawn every couple of hours. He was a giant of a man well known to all and always cheerful in spite of his blindness.

My grandfather’s name was Christopher Howard Tootle and he had a mule in a shed behind Ellerby Lane School. He would get wooden crates and chop them up for firewood then get an Ellerby Lane School lad, I think his name was Ginger Rhodes but I was never sure, to jump up on the cart and sell the chips to householders as they drove around the streets.

Life was full of people, some relatives that you didn’t really know and some you didn’t acknowledge as being related to you. It was very confusing to a child, especially if you were always sent out to play if mothers came to gossip together, ‘Hush! The kids are coming in.’

I had to go up and down Knostrop to collect the greens and potatoes from the allotment for the neighbours because Dad was working on the night shift and Mam said I would need my own bike as Dad needed his to go to work; he was head shunter at  Hunslet Goods Yard. On one occasion when I was about eleven or twelve I was sent to the allotment by my dad at dinnertime and I nearly ran down a string of children who were holding hands across the road just around the sharp bend on Knostrop Hill. I raised my head and prayed to anyone up there to help me for in the seconds that I saw them I realized I couldn’t stop the bike in time. Suddenly a gap appeared in the line of children and I managed to get through but I finished up down on the cross bar of my dad’s bike and crashed into the brick wall on the right hand side of the road. A panic attack or an adrenalin surge stopped my feeling the pain immediately and I ran back towards the little children who were only about six or seven years old, they were dazed too, apart from one little girl who had started to cry, with shock I suppose, because I examined her and there were no marks anywhere on her arms or legs and I didn’t see any marks on any of the other children either. They must have seen me, grazed and bleeding from the wall, and asked what they should do now. I told them to knock on the door of one of the little white cottages and someone might look after them for I still had to carry on to the allotment and get my dad the cabbages he was taking to work and I still had to get his bike back to him in time for his shift. If only I could have got the bike going again but the wheel was buckled and kept catching as the wheel went round. My arm, elbow and knee on my right side were hurting too but I carried on. Upon reaching home I was more worried about what my parents would say about the bike. They finished up arguing, Mam saying that Dad should have made the trip down Knostrop himself and not sent me. He said he would have to catch the bus now or he would be late for work and he would look at the bike wheel later. So Mam said to me, call at Benn’s shop and ask him to make you up a bicycle for ten shillings. I already knew Mr William Benn from Knostrop Old Hall and his sons, Alf and Bill. Bill had a shop at the bottom of Easy Road dealing with bicycles, batteries and tyres etc. So I called in and asked him about getting me a bike for ten shillings and he said he would see what he could do as he knew my granny and knew that if I had a bicycle I could do errands for her. Within weeks he had a bicycle for me; it was a light blue man’s bike with drop handlebars. I thought it was a beauty and I didn’t mind it having a crossbar as I was used to riding my dad’s bike anyway.

I started working full time on my fourteenth birthday. My mam got me a position at Lewis’s on the Headrow in the town centre. Monday to Saturday with a half day off on Wednesday for the sum of twenty two shillings and six pence. I thought I was in prison! I had to pay my own bus fares, for my dinners and still give Mam fifteen shillings. When I found out that I could leave at two minutes notice I took the chance after working for three months there just taking money out of the little containers and putting in the change then putting them back into the tubes that used to shoot them back up to the shop counters. I told my mam that I had been working in the cellars, where they took all the money and at first we used to get a break in the morning and an afternoon break as well as a dinner break but the adults conveniently forgot about the breaks and we were too young to speak up for ourselves so I left there at two minutes notice. My mam was furious with me and took me down to Great George Street Junior Employment Exchange and I landed a job at Joseph Kay and Son, Accommodation Road, as a junior clerk 9 am to 5 pm with one and a half hours for lunch, five and a half days a week. They also paid for me to go to Osmondthorpe Night-School to learn typing.

At St Hilda’s School Vera Wood and Joan Dobson were in the same class as me and the twin sisters, Sheila and Shirley and the greengrocer’s daughter, Pat. As for the others I can’t recall their names only their faces. We were all in Mr Child’s classin1945/46. I recall a party at school when the war was over. Our mothers had been baking and spending their precious food coupons, there were jellies and custard trifles as well as sandwiches but I was appalled when the boys starting a bun fight after they had scoffed everything else. I thought what a waste of food after all that effort our mothers had put in and how they had deprived themselves of their precious coupons. I came away disgusted. I suppose boys will be boys but we girls couldn’t understand them at all and I thought it would be a long time before I looked at them in a different light.

About this time coloured plastic wire became popular at school. The girls would thread different colours into designs and made them into bangles for themselves. And I remember going to the St Hilda’s playing fields to play near the tennis courts.

Happy days!

It was disappointing to me when I returned to the site of Knostrop New Hall in 2008. I had hoped to take a photograph of that lovely old weeping willow tree but it had long gone beneath the concrete jungle.

So sad! 

Knostrop New Hall.

Drawn by Eileen from memory. On the left of the picture can be seen the northern servants entrance, carriage house, wash house, inner yard and backdoor entrance,

More Maud

October 31, 2008

blog-more-maudI promised more Maud – here she is. is she a star or is she a star? 

More Maud

                                       (Is she a star or is she a star?)

We all worked. We had to do. We didn’t get summat for nowt then you know. I were thirteen when I left school – an I’m talking about work. Just listen to this. It were World War One, t’others had got wed and there were only one left and it were [me] Maudie and young ‘uns were too young. So she had to go in shop with her mother, fish and chip frying. And in those days you know, you didn’t get it filleted, you had to cut it, carve it and cut it again. Oh, it were hard work yer know!  Then all of a sudden we couldn’t get any dripping, so me mother had to shut up. So I had to go out to work then, I went to work at match mill.   In them days they always filled the boxes of matches up. They don’t now you know; you pay five pence for a box and its half empty. True!

Then at sixteen or seventeen I started running around with lads, you know and it were hard working and I had to go back and work in the shop at night but I got one night a week off, got one night only and it were Wednesday and did I make good dos of that Wednesday? I came in when I were ready. Me and my pal, we got two postmen and we never told them what we did for a living. One said summat to me one day and I said I worked at Burtons. And she said same, because we didn’t want them to know you see. And they were postmen both of ‘em. Weell, every Good Friday, on my life, did that kit ‘o’ fish get lost. So I had to go lookin’ for it. So, me mother had give me a kit bag and I had to get on bus and get to Marsh Lane Station to get fish, see. When I gets to Marsh lane Station they said it wasn’t there, it’s at other station you know. So, up to other station I go. And when I gets there, there’s this big kit ‘o’ fish you know. Well, I couldn’t carry that. So this man that was on says, ‘I’ll tell you what to do love,’ he says, ‘I‘ll cut so much out of the barrel and you can get back to your mother with that and your mother can be cooking it while your father comes for some more.’ So, Maudie’s getting these big haddock out and you know and a GPO man comes in, driving one of those little things with all the parcels on. Well I sees it’s me chap. Oohh! I didn’t know where to put myself. I hid myself behind ‘o’ piece ‘o’ haddock but that wouldn’t do, neither. Oh, I thought to myself, he hasn’t seen me. So off I goes and then comes back and collects some more. Saturday night in shop, in shop with mother you know, telling tale of me life as usual, well she were awful for talking, that young Maudie – I’ve grown a bit quieter of lately. I’m frizzling away like, turns round, both chaps were in.  ‘e says, ‘This is a funny place to work,’ he says, ‘I though you said you worked at Burtons!’  That were one romance, oooh!    

            Then another time I missed the last bus home. I only had one night a week out and I came home when I was ready you see and it were awful for none of the others ever did. They were all prim and proper do you see and I were the black sheep of the family just because I liked a jig. And I missed all the buses, and I’m in York Road and at that time you could come home late, it didn’t matter nobody mugged you. You could come up Richmond Hill it wouldn’t matter would it? Well, I were right tired and a 32 seater came and stopped again the Hope Inn you know and ‘e says, ‘Do you want a lift up Richmond Hill?’  And I say, ‘Yes.’ So, I sat in bus, it were a 32 seater and he brought me right to Ellerby Lane stop. Now wasn’t that good of him? But then you know, they didn’t do no mugging then, did they? That’s a new name, that mugging, int it?

                                            

The Memories of Doug Farnill

October 1, 2008

blog-dougs-complete-storiesDoug emigrated to Australia in the early 1950s but fondly remembers his early days in East Leeds particularly at Ellerby Lane School 

THE MEMORIES OF DOUG FARNILL

Doug emigrated to Australia in the early 1950s but fondly remembers his early days in East Leeds and particularly Ellerby Lane School

Should any ‘Old East Leedser wish to contact Doug, he would be happy to receive you on e-mail

dfarnill@bigpond.com  

 

The Gong

Pupils of Ellerby Lane School in the early 1940s and perhaps those of earlier and later years will remember the gong sounded for play time and home time. The brass gong, about the size of a dinner plate was kept in the corridor between Mr Consterdine’s classroom and the teachers’ staff room. Its sound brought relief to many a bored or struggling student and there was little hesitation in alerting our teachers to the gong in case they had not heard.

            The gong was usually sounded by a lad from Mr Banwell’s class, and it was an honour to be chosen as the gong monitor for the day. If Mr Banwell said it was time to sound the gong and no one had been appointed there would be lots of hands in the air and lots of ‘Sir, Sir, Please Sir’ kinds of clamour. I was proud to get the job of gong sounder on one or two occasions. Sounding the gong was quite an art. With one hand you held it suspended on its cord at shoulder height and with the other hand drummed at it with a padded leather knob on the end of a drumstick. The art was to hit it gently at first so that it didn’t swing away too far and then catch it with another hit as it swung back, and then over about 10-15 seconds, gradually work up to a crescendo before ending with a stylish two or three big ding dongs. I can hear it still, the distinctive sound of the gong, the blessed sound of the gong, the ‘relief of Mafekin’ sound of the gong, lingering as a fond memory. I wonder who holds the gong today – I am sure it sounds somewhere still.

 

 

The Christmas Plaques

Like many other kids I was scared of Mr Consterdine. Going through the mill backwards with bare back being slapped by all those lucky or quick enough not to be the slowest was a not too pleasant memory of physical training in the hall. His method of teaching was sometimes a bit harsh too. He put up two or three hard sums on the board – say a pounds, shillings and pence amount to be multiplied by 17 and then go around to cane every boy who had got it wrong. One poor lad got the cane for every sum on the board on most occasions. In Mr Consterdine’s class I was very well behaved and quick on the sums but I got his cane across the palms of my hands too many times for my liking. But it was not always pain. Leading up to Christmas was the fun of pouring and painting the plaster-of Paris wall plaques. He had a store of brass plates pressed into Christmas scenes such as holly, a sleigh, a Father Christmas and so on. When inverted and surrounded by a containing ring they could be used as moulds into which to pour plaster-of Paris, He would do a variety and enough for every one in the class. The plaques would sit on the floor drying out and we would be vying for the first pick. They were given a coat of size to seal them and then we could paint the moulded scene in bright colours. Ribbons glued onto the back in a loop would make a hanger and a piece of green felt glued onto the back would finish the job. Each of us ended up with a Christmas present to take home to our Mam. Thank you Mr Consterdine.

Now the Day is Over

After assembly on Friday afternoons, often included singing the hymn ‘Now the Day is over, shadows drawing neigh’ we would be marched off out of the hall to exit into the playground and home for the weekend. Mr Banwell was often at the piano, and to march us out he would strike up a brisk ‘Colonel Bogey’ march. As soon as we were into the corridor and close to the outside door we would start to sing a rude ditty: ‘Where was the engine driver when the boiler burst? They found his body (not really body but rather b*****s hanging on rusty nail, on a rusty nail. A teacher used to push past to catch the culprit but I don’t remember anybody being caught. It seemed to happen regularly and so I suppose the teachers must have thought it was fun too. To this day, whenever I hear a band strike up the Colonel Bogey march the scene and the words come back to me vividly. I wonder did you sing too?

 

Bangers

Every time someone refers to sausages as ‘Bangers’ my mind summons up vague memories of a general Election in the mid thirties. I would be about five or six years old and I’m struggling to remember he details: it would be nice if someone could add their memories of ‘bangers’.

            A banger was a tight roll of the Yorkshire Evening Post, surplus to the fire- lighting needs of the next day, tied to a string about four foot long This could be whirled around the head to make a lovely swishing sound, and could be a very threatening weapon if offence needed. A gang of us led by an older lad would patrol our neighbourhood streets looking for a similarly equipped bunch of kids. Our colour was red and on encounter we would shout, ‘What colour are you?’ I vaguely remember that red was for labour, Blue was Conservative and Liberal was yellow. The idea was that if we met a gang with a different colour we would have a battle with our bangers. All the kids that we met during our patrols were red like us, or perhaps they just said that when they saw we out numbered them or could make louder whooshing sounds with our bangers. I was never tested in an actual skirmish but it was exciting and a bit scary to be on patrol in danger of one’s life.

In the same period I can recall a car in the street with a man shouting, ‘Have you voted yet missus?’ My mam said, ‘Not yet,’ so she took off her pinny and hopped into the car to get a free ride there and back to the Victoria polling booth. I just wished I had been old enough to vote.

 

The Friday Penny

I was a lucky kid in the 1930s. My Dad had a steady though low paid job from my birth in 1931 to the mobilization of the Territorial Army in 1939. I think we were slightly better off financially when he rose to be a sergeant in the ack ack defence of Black Road and then London. My Mam supplemented the family income from time to time with a couple of nights frying fish and chips. During the 1930s my dad used to bring his pay packet home every Friday night and would take an agreed amount for his cigarettes and other discretionary spending, Mam would salt away a shilling or so in the teapot to save up for the August Bank Holiday, usually camping at Cayton Bay or a week in a boarding house at Scarborough or Bridlington, seven and six would be put away for the rent and the rest of the wage packet was for living expenses. A big weekly event for me and my older brother was the Friday penny from Dad: it could be counted on without fail. I would dash off immediately to gaze into the lit window of Taylor’s shop on the corner of East Park Drive and spend minutes of indecision as I salivated before the offerings. Sometimes it was a liquorish pipe that could be smoked for a while and then chewed. Sometimes it was a small bar of chocolate or toffee. Sometimes I just gave up and asked Mr Taylor for a ‘pennuth of something you get a lot of, please’. On occasions I chose to gamble by asking for a penny punch. This was a card marked with little dots. The gamble was to hover over the dots with a little metal punch and then select a target dot, to cut out the top layer of card to reveal a colour underneath. The colour you happened to reveal determined the kind of sweet that you had won, usually worth less than a penny although sometimes more. On returning home I would invariably ask, ‘Does anybody want some or a bite or a lick?’ whichever form of sharing was appropriate, but always hoping that the answer would be no, and sometimes I had already had a suck or whatever it was to influence the answer.

The Gas Meter

Down our cellar was a gas meter that took pennies. You slotted a penny in and turned a knob so that the meter would swallow it and allow another measured volume of gas to flow into our pipes. The best thing about all this was the visit of the Gas man who would come every few weeks to empty the meter.

He would read the dials, reckon the amount of gas consumed and then count the pennies from the meter box. Usually there were a few pennies over and the Gas Man would return these to Mam. It was a bonanza because Mam would often treat us kids to an extra visit to the corner shop. I suppose the meters were set to err a bit towards yielding a small rebate to the consumer. It never occurred to me as a kid just how much trust there was between us and the Gas Man. In these more suspicious days you would be asking how many pennies a potential twister could extract on the side. Was it childhood innocence or did we trust each other more in those days?

Catch Your Dad on the Way Home

I am ever grateful for having a good Mam and Dad who coped very well with very little. Finances were tight enough, however, for cash to run out now and then before provision had been made for Friday’s tea. When this happened Mam might say to me when I got home from school: ‘Go catch your Dad on his way home from work and ask him to open his wage packet and bring some pig’s trotters from the pork butchers.’ When there happened to be a spare sixpence over at the end of the week it was a joy to be asked to run up to Calvert’s confectioners  shop at the top of Kitson Street to bring home four coconut macaroons, or two vanilla slices that might be cut up to share. It was a hand-to-mouth existence in those days but I never felt insecure, this I think is a real tribute to the soundness of the working-class culture of the day, and to parents who budgeted so well.

Christmas Baking

A week or two before Christmas my Mam used to do her baking. It might be two dozen jam tarts, a dozen lemon curd, and perhaps two-or-three dozen mince pies. These would be set out on a stone slab at the bottom of the steps that led into our small coal cellar. It was usually a hated chore to be asked to ‘bring up a shovel of coal from t’cellar our Douglas’ but when there were tarts on the slab I was as keen as anyone to have a good fire burning in the grate. After extracting a tart from the slab and gulping it down quickly the art was, I figured, to rearrange the pattern of tarts to cover the full area of the slab so that no one could notice that one was missing. The problem was that I used my geometric ingenuity too many times and worse still, my big brother and Dad both had the same idea so Mam soon noticed the depredations. Naturally, I was the one who got into trouble being the youngest and admittedly the most prolific thief. But Mam would make a new batch in time for Christmas so all would end well. The moral of the story was, don’t do anything so stupid as to get caught at it.

 

 

 

The Lucky Dressing room Saga

September 2, 2008

blog-lucky-dressing-room2Alan Allman relates the tale of the lucky dressing roomsaga which concerns the 1952 Leeds School’s Cup Final of 1952 between Ellerby Lane School and Victoria School two great East Leeds rivals and the battle for the ‘lucky dressing room’. 

THE LUCKY DRESSING ROOM SAGA

by

Alan Allman

The School’s Cup Final was the pinnacle of the Leeds schools’ football year. In 1951/52 the finalists were: Ellerby Lane and Victoria – two East Leeds rivals The match was to be played at East End Park’s ground at Skelton Road. In those days the dressing rooms consisted of a large wooden hut at one end of the ground and consisted of: a large tea room, a dressing room for the officials and two dressing rooms for the teams; one of which were deemed to be the ‘lucky dressing room’ and was twice the size of the other. Folklore had it that it that the victorious team would be the one that changed in this dressing room.

I was ordered by Brian Monk (our school captain) prior to the match to go sit in the ‘lucky dressing room’ and save it for the Ellerby Lane team. I was only a young lad and in awe of Brian, I did exactly as I was told. It was to be an evening match and I was in position in that ‘lucky dressing room’ an hour before the kick-off but before our team arrived the Victoria team turned up and one of the Victoria team, Terry Renouccie (who in later years became a footballing colleague and good friend) turfed me out and told me in no uncertain matter to go sit in the smaller ‘unlucky dressing room’. When Brian and our team arrived he was furious that I hadn’t managed to keep the Victoria lads out but what chance had I, a thirteen year old, against the whole of the Victoria team?     Folklore held good, Ellerby Lane had been the favourites to lift the trophy but Victoria playing out of the lucky dressing room won the match two-one.

      Although there is more than one version of this tale the lucky dressing room saga is still a bone of contention between Victoria and Ellerby lane former pupils on occasions of reunions for old East Leeds folk even through more that fifty years have passed since that legendary match.