Posts Tagged ‘Hunslet’

Dandy Row (Dandy Island)

September 1, 2015


A visit to the mysterious Dandy Island was always an adventure, with no little danger for us East Leedsers in the 1940s.Mr Leslie Fielding has supplied these excellent pictures of the enigmatic Dandy Row and Mrs. Maurine Fielding (nee Horn) fills in the provenance
Remember to ’click’ on pictures to enlarge
But first I want to sketch you a picture of the Waterloo ‘paddy line’ system that allowed us access to the island. While working on this sketch it became apparent to me that anyone new to the area today would have no inkling of how it used to be when we were kids in the 1940s. All the ‘paddy lines are gone, so too the ABC houses, two of the bridges and even the huge Skelton Grange Power Station has been and gone since the early fifties; so you couldn’t get to Dandy Island by our daring routes now even if you wanted. But then it doesn’t matter that the bridges are down Knostrop has no inhabitants who would wish to cross now and today’s kids are into i-pods, tablets and lap tops, whatever, which give them virtual adventures but not the real life ‘daring do’ adventures we had.

dandy sketch revised

From the sketch it can be seen that there were at least four coal staithes where the paddy trains from Waterloo Colliery disgorged their coal, There was one at the bottom of Easy Road, one at Hunslet Goods Yard, presumable one at Neville Hill for a branch line went there and one on the canal bank on Dandy Island . This was obviously defunked even as early as the 1940s as the bridge that crossed the river in order for the train to reach the canal bank was devoid of many of its sleepers and probably only held up by the train rails themselves leaving gaping gaps to the raging torrent bellow, these we leapt over with the abandon of youth but our parents would have been horrified if they had known what we were doing. There was another way to access the island for us which was no less dangerous, probably more so. This was by walking across the weir, which was alright when the water was low but the weir was somehow controllable and water could be released which would wash away an unwary crosser. Even when it was low when crossing it could become a torrent when you wished to return that way marooning you on the island. From this it can be seen that a visit to Dandy Island was an adventure albeit a dangerous one and not for the faint hearted. On one occasion a couple of miscreants stole a chick from a bird’s nest they had found and bore it home in triumph at which their aunt went ballistic and made them take it back to the nest immediately, which meant they had to dice with the weir or the bridge four times that day. One of our number who lived in the cottages at Skelton Grange would ‘island hop’ Dandy and the locks at Knostrop on his way to visit the cinemas in Hunslet. I dread to imagine what it must have been like returning by that way in the dark – obviously he wouldn’t have been able to use the weir in darkness but on one sad occasion he remembers seeing them pulling a body out of the river on his way home.
Once on the island the western end seemed quite desolate and unwelcoming the soil was deep black from the river often overrunning it and you wondered if it would hold your weight, strange roots and vegetation abounded and then we always had the feeling we were trespassing, which we surely were. But if you could make it passed the mill, which was a putty producing mill at the time spewing out loads of white ‘gunge’ you were then into the eastern end of the island which was a different proposition, quite a green and pleasant land in fact and there we would encounter the enigmatic Dandy Row. Who lived there? How did they Exit the island? Where did the children go to school? Mrs. Maureen Fielding (nee Horn) has some of the answers, pictures provided by Mr. Les Fielding.

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It was the Horn family who operated Thwaite Mills and Maureen lived in one of the cottages in Dandy Row until she was eighteen. Maureen’s grandparents lived in that which is known today as the ‘Mill Owner’s House’. Maureen’s father was the highly skilled millwright and engineer who maintained the whole of the mill including the two waterwheels single-handed. The fact that the mill is now the water powered, working, Thwaite Mills Museum – is a testimony to the quality of his workmanship. Maureen’s uncle saw to the business activities and also lived in two adjacent cottages (made into one) at the other end of Dandy Row.
The residents and of course the mill traffic used to exit the island close to mill house where the canal narrowed slightly and it was served by a hand operated swing bridge during the working day by a gentleman called Billy Beck who occupied a cabin alongside the bridge and he would open and shut the bridge to allow pedestrians and traffic to cross and close it to allow boats to pass through. Of course a lot of supplies for the mill used to arrive at their wharf just before the bridge and the barges were unloaded by the steam crane which is still there today.
Thwaite Farm and the surrounding rhubarb fields, which were run by the Wade’s family and their fields stretched as far as the Ida’s, which were the streets next to Stourton Primary School on Pontefract Lane, another community now totally obliterated to provide storage for a sea of shipping containers.
Mr. Leslie Fielding has supplied three great pictures of Dandy Island. The top picture is of Dandy Row Cottages. Because this picture was taken from the other side of the canal it appears as if the cottages were adjoining the power station. However they were situated on Dandy Island with the river flowing behind the cottages and in front of the power station. There were eight cottages in the row and each had its own small garden area at the front and its own entrance gate. Although the cottages and the mill were so close to the power station they were never connected to the mains electricity supply.
The lower picture shows the steam crane and wharf where the barges used to dock when bringing in supplies to the mill, together with the narrow private access road to the cottages along the water’s edge. This picture was taken standing on the hand operated swing bridge which allowed access to the mill from Thwaite Lane. Just above the gable end of the first house on Dandy Row can be seen Skelton Grange Farm, which was on the other side of the river.
The third picture is of Thwaite House – nowadays referred to by museum staff as the Mill Owner’s House. The front downstairs room shown to the left of the entrance steps was used as the office for the mill and the rest of the rooms as family accommodation.
All three pictures were taken by Mr. John Horn (the engineer for the mill).
The original mill at Thwaite was built in 1641 and rebuilt in1823-25 along with the Dandy Row cottages. Dandy Row was demolished in 1968.

dandy row crain

dandy row large

dandy mill owners hous

Baths and Bladders

April 1, 2009

blog-baths-and-bladersThe author remembers school swimming lessons at Joseph Street Baths at Hunlet, Leeds and School Football training on Snake Lane in East Leeds 



                                                 Pete Wood

In the Course of the week we had two sports lessons at St Hilda’s. The first was swimming on Monday mornings. Pupils of Ellerby Lane and Victoria schools tell that they attended York Road Baths but we had our swimming lessons at Joseph Street Baths in Hunslet.  We didn’t set off until after playtime, so it would be approaching eleven o’clock already and we had to be in and out of the bath by twelve! Note: I said ‘playtime’ not break or recess – good old playtime – that’s what we had. How often have you heard someone say: ‘You’ve had it now – I’ll get you at playtime!’ Anyway we’d set off walking in a crocodile, no school buses for us. We had our trunks rolled inside towels and under our arms – you were a ‘geek’ if you had a shoulder bag! Then we were off down South Accomm, Atkinson Street, Goodman Street, across Hunslet lane and so the baths. You changed two to a tiny cubicle, it was a bit of a tight squeeze, and you were lucky if you managed to get your own socks on at the end of the lesson. Then we were through the slipper baths and lined up along the side of the pool.

Those who were training for certificates were allowed in first – first class certificate candidates had to execute life saving procedures, diving for the brick and a neat dive in addition to the actual swimming. Then it was the turn of those taking the second-class certificate – three lengths breaststroke and one length backstoke. Finally, the last of the certificate takers had their chance – those who were going for the third class certificate, which was just the one length of the bath. There was also the advanced ‘bronze medallion’ but I cannot remember any of our lot attempting that one although Pat Brown who lived next-door to us and attended Mount St Mary’s was successful in achieving such a medallion.

There was also a seldom attempted fourth certificate, if my memory serves me correctly this was a speed certificate which necessitated completing four lengths of the bath (100 yards) in under 110 seconds. There was just one lad at our school capable of achieving this: Norman Gibbs. Norman was a great lad but somehow or other he always seemed to have a note from his mother excusing him from the swimming lesson, which meant we hardly ever saw him at Joseph Street, making it all the more extraordinary that he was an absolute fish when he actually managed to get into the water. I can only remember being privileged to see him swim a couple of times in all the years we attended swimming lessons but when we did it was an absolute treat, he would churn up and down that pool – over arm crawl – just like a motor boat. As he hardly ever seemed to go to the baths it was a puzzle as to how he managed to be the best swimmer among us!

By the time we ‘gash hands’ were allowed to have our thrash about in the pool it was time to come out and make the long crocodile trip back to school. 

            Our other physical training lesson – the one we all liked – was football practice on Wednesday afternoons. We didn’t get set free on Snake Lane until after ‘playtime’ for that either. But as the footballs needed to be prepared – they had invariably deflated from the previous week – a couple of lucky lads would be given the task of making sure the balls were ready for action; it was a bit of a ‘skive’ that we carried out in a cloakroom away from the classroom. The leather footballs we had then could not be re-inflated, merely by sticking in an adaptor and blowing them up, for us it was a work of art. First the lace had to be removed and the neck of the bladder fished out from under its protective piece of leather. The neck had then to be untied and the ball re-inflated, then the neck had to be doubled over and retied with string, this completed the neck of the bladder had to be tucked back in beneath its leather protection and the ball re-laced. There was a special tool to facilitate the re-lacing of the ball, which had to be carried with the expertise of a surgeon as the ball had to remain perfectly spherical even though it had a neck and the lace must be so neat that it did not pose a danger when the ball was headed. The whole ball then had to be covered in ‘Dubbin’ to protect the leather.  With a bit of guile you could make the job spin out for the whole of the first period if it were a lesson you didn’t fancy. School footballs were only supposed to be size four (normal men’s footballs are size five) but we had to make our footballs last and as they were leather they tended to stretch and get bigger, so by the time we had worn them out they were probably size six! There was as bonus with our footballs though: if they sustained a puncture you could pull out the bladder and mend it like a bike inner tube and you were up and running again. Today if they burst they have to be sent away for a panel removing the puncture mending and than the panel stitched up again, as you can imagine it all costs a bob or two and you can be without a ball for weeks; plus the balls cost twenty times more to buy in the first place! I see them kicking those modern plastic balls they can tickle them in from the corner flag or to the half way line from a goal kick and they bend and swerve all over the place, you had to give our footballs a real ‘thwack’ to get them moving but if you hit one right they went as straight as a canon ball; when Alfie Duckworth hit the woodwork with one of his shots on Snake Lane you could hear the noise Easy Road!