Posts Tagged ‘Knostrop Old Hall’

A Day in the Life of our old East Leeds (Knostrop) Gang

August 1, 2017


This month’s tale is A Day in the Life of Our Old East Leeds (Knostrop Gang)

But before that can I announce that this is the anniversary of The East Leeds Memories site and we thank WordPress for allowing us to air and beautifully archiving our tales since August 2007 = ten years at one tale a month 10 x 12 = 120 tales which have linked up old East Leedsers across the world and I hope given enjoyment to many. Thank you WordPress may we long continue.

Ten years is a long time for us oldies and during that period a few who added their tales here in the full flush of life have now gone to join that great story teller in the sky. While this site remains their tales can still be picked up as sort of an epitaph. Within their tales they can still live. I’ll try to list a few here that readers might like to revisit. I apologize for any who may have dropped off their perch without my knowledge.

Sept 07      Pauline Rushfirth (nee Brown.) Air Raids.

Jan 08        Stan Pickles  My Life Between the Wars.

Apr 08        John Gibbins       My Early Life in East Leeds

June 08      Brian Conoby  Memories of Brian Conoby

Feb 09       Denis Gudgeon   Memories of Denis Gudgeon

Mar 09       Brian Conoby      More Memories of Brian Conoby

Nov 10       Frank Shires     Memories of growing up in East Leeds

Feb 11       Gerry Thrussle  Memories of Gerry Thrussle

June 12   Kenneth Heptenstall  Kenneth’s Tale

Oct 12        Stan Pickles  Cinemas and the Leeds Shopping Centre

May 15      Barbara Curran (nee Tootle)   Barbara’s Tale 


I hope WordPress continues to allow us to parade our tale on their great site and that we all continue to enjoy. Can I point out that there are some great comments after most stories too, don’t miss the comments they are sometimes the best part of the tale.

And can I point out that there must be lots of you out there busting to tell us a story of your own – you know the type of thing we do – it doesn’t have to be about East Leeds – to put on the site. Send me a comment that you may have a tale we can use – we are always on the lookout for new contributors, the comment will have your e-mail address included and I will contact you ref your tale and we’ll take it from there. Thank you if you have waded through all this. Now for my tale.

Pete Wood

A day in the Life of Our Old East Leeds, Knostrop Gang

It was August 1945, the year the war ended, and I was seven years    old. The iconic Jawbone Yard was our adventure playground, it was the summer school holidays and we were all incredibly happy.

I awoke to the pleasant sensation of the sun beaming in through the bedroom window and the exquisite smell of bacon drifting up the stairs. I sprang out of bed and dressed in my short corduroy pants and a check cotton shirt, but first I had to put on those terrible white underpants with the gaping fronts and the little loops for the braces to hold them up. I bounced down the stairs as only a seven year old can. Mam had my breakfast on the table. ‘Come on lad, have your breakfast, your mates are already playing out in the yard.’

I needed no encouragement gulping down my breakfast and making for the door. ‘Here better take this’, she thrust a Bovril sandwich into my hand and I recalled how she had always tried to fatten me up in case the Germans managed to stop the Atlantic convoys getting through with food from Canada and America and we all starved.

‘Mam I can’t go out eating a sandwich they all laugh at me, I’m too fat already.’ But she shoved me out into the yard and closed the door behind me.

They were playing football with a tennis ball – we did well to get even a tennis ball with the war in full swing.

‘Look who’s here and he’s eating a great sandwich already. Come on Fatso you’re on our side, were getting beat four one, although I can’t see how you’re going be much good munching a bloody sandwich.’ It was Harold; he was such a great player he could keep even a tennis ball up on his ankle.

Somebody took a great swing at the ball and it hit me on the fleshy part of my exposed leg. It stung for a moment but even so it felt good; onto the ground went the sandwich.

‘Well done,’ called one of the Peters to the kicker of the ball ‘Now that sandwich is out of the way maybe you’ll get stuck in Woody.’ The stable doors were one goal and the shed doors the other. We went at it hammer and tongs for half an hour until we were exhausted and then we sat on the grass together for a breather. It felt good – really good.

‘Let’s make a den,’ said Brian and we all agreed so we wandered out of the main yard and into a tusky field (rhubarb to the uninitiated) sampling the red rhubarb sticks as we went. Rhubarb grew in gay abundance in the area so nobody minded us pinching the odd stick or two (in truth it was far too sour to eat without sugar and we rarely made it to the end of the stick without wastefully discarding it). Then we set about fashioning a den out of a bush in one of the hedgerows. We made blow pipes out of the green stick branches and pretending to make bows out of the more substantial ones; of course we rarely had string to finish off the job properly. Presently it began to rain, gently pattering on the top of our green canopy and activating the scent of vegetation mixed with the perspiration of youthful   endeavour, bringing us close to nature at its best.  We squatted there waiting for the rain to ease, telling jokes, making, plans and the general banter of carefree youth.

It stopped raining and we wandered out of the den and down the lane. We had an old wheel-barrow and took it in turns to push and alternatively be pushed.  When you were in the barrow you had to close your eyes and try to guess where you were. We had a daily rigmarole and that entailed returning home for dinner at twelve o’clock – mams were quite insistent on that. We all disappeared to our various homes arranging to meet again in an hour, in our ‘Wellies’, prepared for a visit to the pond field. We called our mid-day meal ‘dinner’ not the ‘lunch’ they had at mid-day in the south and even up here in the 21st century. At five o’clock we had ‘tea’ which was another man size meal. Lunch did not figure in our curriculum but we had supper too; it sounds as though we should have been even fatter than we were – eating four square meals a day, but of course we could only eat what we could get with the war being in progress so we had to stretch the food we had out a bit.

Dad arrived home from work for his dinner too and we set about a real plateful each. I was pleased that today it was to be  sausage and a veritable mountain of lovely mashed potatoes big enough to make Alpine tunnels to allow passage for my lovely gravy. Dad told me off as usual for reading my Beano comic while I was eating. After dinner the gang met up again to go to the pond and collect frog spawn. Passing Knostrop Old Hall to the rear.


The girls, Pat, Pauline, Brenda and Rita had elected to bring some jam jars from home. We would collect frog spawn in the jars; watch it turn into little tadpoles, watch the tadpoles, lose their tales and turn into frogs – than we would let them go. Of course this metamorphosis didn’t all happen in one day. As usual we all ended up with wet feet and a telling off from our mams, ‘Just time for the chasing game before tea – remember we are off to the flicks tonight, it’s a cowboy,’ said Michael. We all liked cowboys.

We picked two captains and then two equal sides. We “dipped” to see which captain had the first pick:  ‘dip-dip-dip-my–blue-ship-sailing–on–the–water-like-a-cup-cup-and-saucer-you-do-not-have-it. The one who won the dipping contest had first pick and would pick the best runner and the other captain would pick the next best runner alternatively until everyone had been selected. There were: three Peters including myself (Peter must have been the in name at the time) Brian, Michael, John, Malcolm, two Denis’s Harold and the girls: Pat, Pauline, Brenda and Rita.

Off sped the first team and ten minutes later off sped the chasers. Miles and miles we ran; The idea was for the first team to run and hide and then make it back to base without being caught. We ran for miles – over fields, through woods, across streams and hay stacks, we were completely free to roam. It was wonderful to have young lungs to fill with air and feel the cold wind hitting above the knees. By the time the game was over it was tea time and arrangements were made for our evening visit to the ‘flicks’. It was to be at the Easy Road Cinema (the bug hutch) and as it was going to be an ‘A’ film children had to be accompanied by an adult. Pat, who was only a couple of years older than us herself said she would put her hair up to make herself look older and get us all in. It was a quite transparent ruse of course but Abe White, the roly-poly proprietor, wanted a full cinema and the place would have been empty if he had looked too closely at kids passing as adults to take their mates in. Lone urchins without an adult would accost strangers with the plea. ‘Tek us in, Missus.’ We were on the wooden sixpenny seats on the front row, so the actors were all long and thin and either walking up hill or down. You virtually got sand in your eyes when Roy Rogers rode across the screen on Trigger and we always got a little song from him when they were finally seated around their camp fire eating baked beans. It was brilliant. Then we were out running down Easy Road with our gabardine raincoats strung around our necks like cloaks and firing our fingers off like six guns at passing strangers. I loved it. Nearing home we saw there were ongoing road works and a watchman with a coke brazier. We sat with him for a while and ‘chewed the fat’ with the coke fumes permeating our nostrils. Then we accompanied him while he checked his lamps. Finally, my lovely day was ending and it was time to go home. As we entered the yard I felt a wet nose pushed into my hand. Joy of Joys it was the first dog I ever loved: ‘Peggy Parker’ a neighbour’s mongrel come Labrador. We were inseparable mates and Mam allowed her to come into the house and lay by the fire for a while until I went to bed, then she would have to go home. After the darkness of the night (there were no street lights because of the War-time black out) the gaslight in the sitting room was brilliant. One of my aunties was tinkling away on the piano, an uncle was playing a musical saw and a game of darts was ongoing. It had been a day of perfect freedom, one of many pure gold days. Weren’t we of our generation the lucky ones?

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

Susan’s Tale

March 1, 2015

  SUSAN’S TALE   Mrs Susan Ibbotson (nee Dalton) lets us into a quaint tale told to her by a relation who lived a cottage previously owned by Atkinson Grimshaw (the moonscape painter) Susan follows on with a charming little tale of a fall into Knostrop Pond.   Did They Throw Away a Grimshaw Painting? It seems that Atkinson Grimshaw used the first of the little cottages in the Old Hall Yard (which ran adjacent to the Knostrop Old Hall) as a store for his materials and a drying room for his paintings. After Grimshaw’s time at the Hall a family called Beanland came to live in the cottage. Susan, a distant relation of the Beanland family, was told of how when they moved in there a painting was left in the cottage from Grimshaw’s time. They lived with it for a while and then thinking it a bit dowdy, they threw it away! Remember to ‘click on pictures to enlarge  Knostrop 34 Charlie Beanland           Knostrop Pond     . It was one Whitsuntide and Auntie Bertha (Beanland) had as usual made a brand new set of clothes for Diane Chadwick (my cousin and her granddaughter) and me. We thought it would be a good idea to explore (she would be about eight and I five) so off we set in the direction of the pond. When we got there we decided to swop clothes – we were different sizes – then, disaster! I fell in the pond wearing her new clothes, so she waded in wearing mine and dragged me out! She then proceeded to dry me using dock leaves, thereby staining her clothes green! We squelched back to Aunt Bertha’s where she made us cocoa and dried our ruined clothes and new shoes by the cottage fire! It must have been heartbreaking for her to see all her beautifully made clothing spoiled. No health and safety in those days either! We did live to tell the tale. knostrop for susans tale Remember to ‘click’ on pictures to make them bigger.