Posts Tagged ‘Leeds Fireclay Co’

Saville Green, Torre Road and Leeds Fireclay Company

November 1, 2016

Saville Green… Torre Road and The Leeds Fireclay Company Ltd.

Another great tale by Eddie Blackwell

Anyone remember the Quarries in Saville Green area, where the old Boyles Brickworks used to be, as lads we played for hours around there. I had a school boy friend called Kenny Walker, I’ve mentioned him before in my tale about East end Park, he lived in Bickerdike Street which was off York Road and ran right the way down to the wreck area and Torre Road. The quarries were originally owned by Boyles Brick Yard, and then bought out by Leeds Pottery later taken over by The Leeds Fireclay Company Ltd, who had a works which overlooked the wreck and quarries.
There was a pub called the “Glassmakers Arms” in the area, where my Mum and Dad spent many happy hours. Dad worked at the Leeds Fireclay Works in Torre Road, and although we lived the other side of York Road it wasn’t that far to walk, in those days we couldn’t afford a car and Dad never had any desire to drive. There were two Quarries one still had the remains of a railed track that had been used to haul the clay corves from the Quarry, the other one always seemed to hold water and we tended not to play in that area because the sides were too steep and it was too dangerous if you fell in it was unlikely you would get out on your own.
There was a grassed flat area opposite Bickerdike Road, which was adjacent to where Kenny lived, with pig sties on the edge of the quarry, and a container with feed collected from the waste that people in the area discarded, there was always an old man with his clay pipe who fed the fire and tended the stock, we asked him one day why he boiled the pig feed and he said, the pigs are fed with waste food we collect that people don’t want, and germs can breed in the waste food, which if fed to the pigs would make them poorly, then if we ate that meat it would make us poorly as well, so we always boil the feed for at least two hours to kill the germs before it’s fed to the pigs and then the meat is safe for us to eat. I seem to remember he was called Old Mr Emit, and some of the lads and lasses we played with in the area were called Emit, so it all seems to fit in.
I recall some of the games we played were quite dangerous, for one of them we would set three 50 gallon oil drums on their side one on top of two, and the competitors in the game had to lay side by side at far side of the drums, then the player who had been lucky enough to be dipped out (one potato, two potato, three potato, four, five potato six potato seven potato more.) had to run and jump the barrels and the players laid on the other side, if he or she cleared them then that was OK and he or she went again, but if they landed on the group then they formed the end of line and the first in line had a go, both lads and lasses took part, sometimes you suffered a few bruises but never anything serious. I was quite athletic in those days so I was OK but Kenny always hit the barrels and landed in a heap, old Mr Emit used to look on with a smile on his face, and say get out and find some firewood the stocks getting low.
Boyles had been a brick yard and there was an area where all the rejects had been dumped so we devised a game not unlike conkers, where you selected a brick and your opponent selected a brick and then when it was your turn you slammed your brick down holding it edge on, into your opponent’s brick, if it broke the other brick then your opponent chose another brick and tried to break yours, and on and on it went, the winner was the one who’s brick lasted the most number of hits, There were plenty of bricks to go at and some of the bricks had a black core which meant they were not dry in the centre when they had been fired, oddly enough they seemed to be the strongest.
We got up to all kinds of fun and mischief in that area, but never anything of a serious nature, because the watchful eye of old Mr Emit was always upon us, and kept us in check, and he never missed much of what we were getting up to.
Glassmakers Arms.
I mentioned earlier that Mum and Dad spent many happy hours in the Glass Makers arms, well I must tell you this, they had a Ladies Trip, where all the Ladies went to the seaside in a hired coach, as you will have already gathered I was quite a live wire and one of my objectives was to reclaim materials that I could make into things, to this end I would get wooden boxes from Mrs Fenton’s knock them apart and reclaim the nails and wood for my projects on this particular occasion I had knocked the nails into a piece of wood to use at a later date and left this on the Chamber steps, Mum was going on the Ladies Trip that Saturday morning so she was up early and went down the stairs, suddenly we heard her shouting Joe come and help me, and Dad jumped out of bed only to find that Mum had stepped on the piece of wood that I’d knocked the nails into, Dad pulled it off and Mum shed a few tears, but it didn’t deter her she went on the trip and enjoyed it, and brought some rock back for us all to share, but that incident had a dramatic effect on me and I never knocked nails in wood again for a long time.
Dad was a good dart player and played for Glassmakers Arms team, he used to make Dart boards from wood, wire and staples, they were singles and doubles boards, as was the custom in those days, no trebles like there are today.
As you would expect I used to help him, we had an old zinc washing tub in the back yard, in which the boards were soaked for a few days until they were saturated, then Dad would mark the board out using an adjustable steel divider that had a screw so that you could fix the distance set, and he would then set out the bulls eye and the doubles rings working the segments from the centre of the board, my job was to make the numbers from wire. He had a clever way of fixing them by turning down the starting point and finishing point about five eighths an inch, this enabled the numbers to be fixed using the turndown as a nail and lightly hammering it into the perimeter of the board. But before I could do any serious work, I had to memorise the sequence of the numbers I did it by remembering the top bottom and quadrants then filled them in from there, it took a while but I got there in the end. Then Dads arm went he couldn’t let the darts fly, he held the dart between his thumb and forefinger with the point on his forth finger the keeping his elbow as still as possible he threw from the elbow, spinning the dart as it went into flight, he was very accurate, but suddenly he just couldn’t release the dart, he was devastated. Eventually he developed an under arm release it looked odd but he could still play better than me.

The Leeds Fireclay Co. Ltd.
Burmantofts Works.
Leeds 9.
I started my working life at LFC, in the early 1950’s as an apprentice draughtsman, at the Burmantofts Works, we specialised it making Faience and Terra Cotta for the building industry and I was to train as an Architectural Draughtsman. The drawing department was on the first floor of the office block which faced onto Torre Road, and I had a drawing board by a window that looked out over Saville Green Wreck, Boyles’s old brickworks and the Quarries where we had played as children, I could see York Road and the Trams dashing up and down either going into town or out to Gipton , Crossgates, Halton or Temple Newsome, and some of them would terminate at the Lupton Avenue Depot. We lived in Osmondthorpe at this time. I used to walk to and from work every day, up the pathway that started the other side of the little Railway Bridge at the end of Wykebeck Avenue on past the pit hills to Osmondthorpe Lane over the road and down through the ginnel by the UMI football pitch onto Skelton Road then passed the White Horse Pub across York Road onto Lupton Avenue passing the Spread Eagle, down Torre Road and into work. It’s strange that this particular area of Leeds seemed to play such an important role in your everyday life, but things were about to change, plans were announced to demolish much of the area and redevelop it for housing. the Quarries were to be filled with domestic waste, and the old houses including the much loved Glassmakers Arms would to be pulled down. Things didn’t happen overnight of course I was 16 years old and deferred from National service until I was 21 and in that 5 years no new housing was anywhere near being ready to be occupied, although the Quarries had been filled in there was no way that area could be built on, or so we thought, domestic waste tips usually stand for a number of years to allow densification to take place and the Methane gas generated by rotting vegetation is usually burnt off. However a number of incidents did occur whilst these changes were developing, one in particular that I recall which could have been quite serious was, as the houses were knocked down and families left the area a lot of the pets were just left behind, in particular dogs, being pack animals they followed their instincts and banded into groups, and would roam the area looking for food well on one particular afternoon about 2 pm, Mrs William’s the works Managers wife, who lived in a house on the works had been to town shopping, got off the tram in York Road and decided to walk down across Saville Green Wreck and to her home at the end of the works, we had a good view of her from the Offices. Well I don’t know what was in her shopping bag but the smell of whatever it was attracted the attention of one of these roaming packs of dogs and they came charging after her, she began running but she was no match for them and they started nipping at her heals, fortunately enough of us saw what was happening and went racing across to her aid, this slowed them down but they weren’t afraid, until we were joined by some people who were walking down Torre Road, then they backed off and Mrs Williams fainted.
The police and an Ambulance were quickly on the scene to sort things out and a team of dog catchers from the RSPCA arrive to round the animals up before it got dark, they said that once they had gone wild enough to attack an adult, a child would have very little chance, eventually all of the dogs were caught, about twelve in all were carted off and presumably destroyed, but the incident made the local papers and people were warned to avoid the area if on their own, until it was deemed officially safe.
Shortly after this incident, groundworks for the development were started, foundation were excavated and long strips of deep reinforced concrete foundations were cast. We were all staggered at the size and depth of the foundations, which were literally just a couple of hundred feet away on the other side of the road. Mr Mowthorpe our Chief Draughtsman, said there’s something wrong here, you can’t put foundation blocks down that size for houses, and he had his plumb bob out sizing things up through his window which faced onto the workings, and there’s one of those blocks that’s not plumb it’s all skew whiff, we were all doubtful of the purpose of these large blocks of reinforced concrete. The sight surveyor turned up with his Dumpy Level, and sure enough a couple of days later a breaker and machine arrived and started breaking out the block of concrete that Mr Mowthorpe had said was not plumb, I told you something was wrong with that he reiterated, and we all said yes Mr Mowthorpe you were right. It was unfortunately my time to go and do National Service so I had to leave it all behind and get on with other things.
Some years later I revisited the area where the old L.F.C. offices had been, and found huge multi-storey Blocks of flats had been erected, in the area we had known as Saville Green Wreck, which is now Ebor Gardens, the area that was the old quarries was never built on and forms a green area in the centre of the estate.
Thanks for another great tale, Eddie