Posts Tagged ‘Victoria School’

Sights, Smells and Sounds: Memories are made of these

March 1, 2019

Sights, Smells and Sounds – Memories are made of these
The name of this site is East Leeds Memories, well sights smells and sounds – memories are made of these.
My old school teacher, should she be trying to put over a difficult concept to us, would say; ‘See it in your mind’s eye.’ Well even today I still try to see things with my mind’s eye. I tend to see different places in two separate states, as they are today and as they used to appear in the past. For instance: when I think of Knostrop where I spent my childhood I see it as a semi-rural ideal with its fields, farms, ponds, rhubarb, woods, Grand houses and pleasant little lanes. Not as it is now a concrete industrial estate with barely a blade of grass.

Similarly when I see the former Snake Lane playing fields, now cut by the East Leeds Express way and dominated by a builders car park. I see in my mind’s eye how it used to be: A football pitch with its two terracotta dressing rooms and us playing football twenty a side, three grass tennis courts, a prize winning bowling green complete with drinking fountain and a grove of poplar trees. We remember these sights but when we are gone who will remember them then? Sometimes I turn a corner and expect to see a familiar friendly old building but it’s been swept away and something new and unfamiliar is in its place. I suppose those who were custodians of the area a hundred years before us would have seen an even more rural scene I wish I could look through their mind’s eyes and see what our area looked like in the 19th century

And folk: I see them as they are now with the age of years upon them but in my mind’s ye I see them young and virile, handsome or pretty
There are other sights our generation experienced good and bad that are etched into our memories and although we didn’t realise it at the time they were special occurrences and unlikely to be repeated in the future: for instance the sky filled from east to west with winking Lancaster bombers off on a thousand bomber raid, a special sight for us but not a happy outcome for their destination. The liberation of Paris, Good but awakening awareness of the concentration camps, not good the mushroom cloud, bad, our lovely old paddy engines: Kitchener, Dora, Jubilee, Antwerp and Sylvia, dressed in their green livery, lovely. Fond memories of congregations beneath mellow gas lamps great.

I find it amazing how much the memory has stored which you thought you had forgotten: a film you thought you hadn’t seen until a scene comes up and jolts your memory and you realised you had seen the film before after all, I remember coming across a type of stile I hadn’t seen or even thought about for years but I was reminded where it was that I had seen a similar stile years before.
And have you noticed the amount of folk you dredge up in dreams. Folk you have not even thought about for years, where had they been hiding?
Now we come to smells: The smell of worked pine has me back in Cleggy’s school woodwork department at Victoria School.
Cattle smells and chicken bran and I’m back at Aunt Nelly’s cottage on my short wartime evacuation.
The smell of the ‘dope’ used in powerful motorbikes and I’m back at Odsal Speedway in the 1950s.
The special smell of wartime chocolate (which due to shortages had to be made without sugar), and the delicious smell of fresh wartime green paint and I’m back in wartime.
Chalk dust and sour milk smells, it’s Monday morning at primary school.
The smell of engineering soluble oil reminds me of my overalls hanging behind the door. I’m an engineering apprentice and Monday mornings is approaching.
Finally Sounds: they waft you back to places where you used to hear them.
The ‘All Clear’ siren – it’s safe to come out of the air raid shelter.
‘Moonlight Serenade’ by Glen Miller – introduced me to grown up music.
‘Jumbalay’ (and a cod fish pie etc.) waft to back to my first job where a lad sang it from dawn to dusk.
The beautiful purring tone of a Spitfire’s Rolls Royce Merlin engine, I’m looking up into the sky while at play.
‘I talk to the trees’: a song I would sing to myself, walking my bike up the hill to ‘Miggy Clearings’ to play cricket. I was very happy.
‘Volare’: a holiday with good old mates in Austria.
‘Every day’; sung by Buddy Holly: ‘Every day it’s a getting closer going faster than a rollercoaster’, winding down to demob from National Service.
Fifties ballads and I’m back under the glitter ball at the Scala Dance Hall
Last Night of the Proms: is still ongoing: Nimrod, Jerusalem, the Maritime pieces, Elgar, Rule Britannia. Their magnificence has an enormous capacity to lift the spirit to a higher plane. I’m proud as a nation we still seem to be able to do these grand ceremonial occasions so well. I suppose the generation before us: the greatest generation – would have looked back to the sound of horses hooves on cobbles, miners clogs, factory hooters ands steam train whistles.

And not forgetting unique statements: sounds that we heard for the very first time they were ever spoken:
‘One small step for man, one giant step for mankind.’
‘Never Before in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.’
‘They think it’s all over – it is now!’
‘Mafeking has been relieved’, no not even I can remember that one but the staid Victorians let their hair down for once when they heard the news in 1900 and it’s a statement that rings down the years
I hope by substituting your own sights sounds and smells you can empathise with mine.

Miserable gits

January 1, 2017



Another great tale from Eric Sanderson

As you meander through life, the rich pattern of different personalities cross your path in a continuous stream, some for a fleeting moment and yet others leave a lasting impression.
Sometimes it’s for the better, at other times it’s for the worse and I think it applies universally, whatever the community.
I suppose that this is one interpretation of eternal life, some of those characters of 60 years or so ago are still as vivid after all this time. In our minds eye, they still look and sound the same and so have lived on unchanged in our memories.

Many were bright, cheerful, friendly folk whom you were happy to know and enjoyed coming across :-


But there were the perennial moaners, whingers and downright unpleasant characters – the “Miserable ’Gits’ “ who were never happy unless they were being miserable.


These were the ones you tried to avoid at all costs , especially if some of the grubby rumours were to be given house room, but it wasn’t always possible.
Here’s a few I came across over the years in our area and without mentioning any names, the descriptions might just strike a chord.

The first are really a group rather than individuals. These were the folk who lived in end terrace houses and used to complain to us lads that thumped a football endlessly against their wall end
We just couldn’t understand their mean-ness and animosity towards this perfectly innocent pastime.
In a similar vein , one chap used to become really ratty when we used his garden path as the run up, bowling to the cricket stumps chalked on the opposite terrace end wall.
Some people are so unreasonable.

Then there was the cinema usher and attendant. He ran his fiefdom with a rod of iron and woe betide any miscreant who didn’t obey his strict rules. They would be thrown out, unceremoniously for the slightest infraction such as talking ,fidgeting or moving from your allocated seat. The youth of the day lived in fear of him but outside of the cinema, he was a quiet, unassuming man whose demeanor completely belied his reign of terror inside the cinema.
Trying to ingratiate yourself with him was a complete waste of time. In fact it seemed to have the opposite effect by making him suspicious of your motives, resulting in being kept under even closer scrutiny and at greater risk of forcible ejection.

A shopkeeper on Temple View Rd ranks near the top of the most miserable git list. His was a general grocery store and he would greet customers with a snarling demand of “what do you want “ ?.
With a trembling voice, meekly and respectfully stating your needs , he would mutter & sigh before slamming your purchase onto his wide counter. If you had the temerity to not offer the correct amount of money, he would roll his eyes and quite literally throw your change at you across the counter top. I dreaded going there and even my Mother, who could hold her own with most, was wary of him – that’s probably why she used to send me !.
Such behavior was/is completely inimical to running a service business where the vendor should surely go the extra mile to encourage his customers to come to him with repeat business.
Although this particular establishment was an extreme example, many corner shops were not known for their friendliness , seeming to think they were a cut above their customers – their vanity being the quicksands of their reason.

The Park Ranger at East End Park in the 40’s & 50’s could hold his own on the miserable git league. It must have been part of the job spec for all Park Rangers, for they all seemed to be the same, that a deep seated hatred of people, particularly young boys , came naturally to them.
This particular guy was a quite small and wiry which made him a formidable challenge because you couldn’t easily run away from him. He always carried a stout stick and he wasn’t averse, or even slow to give a swift whack to any errant youth.
At the time, it was forbidden to walk on the wide sweeps of grass (crazy or not ?) but it was a source of mischief to do so, calling to the “Parkie” to attract his attention and encourage a chase. Even if he didn’t manage to catch you, he had a good memory and would often extract his reprisal a few days later.
Another forbidden practice was riding your bike along Victoria Avenue , which went from one end of the Park to the other. Of course, this was another activity which the youth of the day just had to do. One time, a group kept sweeping up and down , dodging the Parkie who was obviously furious, shouting and waving his stick. His control finally left him and thrusting his stick into the spokes of one rider as they swept by once again, the unfortunate cyclist took a tumble and suffering a badly damaged wheel. But it brought the practice of the mickey taking cyclists to an abrupt halt.
Yes, “Parkies” were in the first division of miserable gits.

Schoolteachers had their champions in the miserable git stakes. I can only speak of Victoria but there was at least three there in my time who would quickly and readily administer corporal punishment at the earliest opportunity. Although some were good at actually teaching, there was often this underlying ,habitual code of strict discipline and little of the pastoral care prevalent in many schools today. But, every silver lining has a cloud, maybe the more “friendly” schoolteachers of today don’t gain the respect they once enjoyed and some people’s desire to do the right thing considerably exceeds their ability to discern just what the “right thing” is.

A nearby chippy was owned by a real grump. Fish and chip shops abounded in the area and everyone had their favourite. In those days, they would close for two or three weeks in the summer whilst the owners took their holidays so you had to switch allegiance for that period. This particular chippy knew you weren’t a regular and wouldn’t hesitate to let you know and disapproved of your using his establishment for convenience. On more than one occasion, I heard him tell customers to take their trade elsewhere. Unbelievable.

A well known barber on York Road, near Victoria school was the scourge of young boys. He would enforce silence whilst waiting your turn to have your haircut in the style he decided. He took no notice of your requests and would only condescend to let you in the chair when all the adults had been seen to first. I’ve even known lads, in mid haircut, to be removed from the chair to allow a later arriving adult take priority. Not only that, he was a nasty piece of work to boot and one to steer well clear of.

Another cinematic nightmare was the manager at the Star Cinema. In the fashion of the day, he always wore a tuxedo , sported brilliantined hair and a clipped moustache. But boy, was he a piece of work. He would fix you with a gimlet eye and if he didn’t like the cut of your jib, might not even let you in. To be fair, it was mainly teenagers in groups that attracted his wrath but it wasn’t always fairly administered and protest merely justified his draconian justice.

I had a friend whose Mum was not so much miserable but intensely house-proud. Our friend used to have piano lessons at home but to be truthful, anyone less musically talented would be difficult to imagine. However, when we called for him, he would sometimes be in the midst of his piano practice and although she invited us in, she would place a newspaper on the floor and insist we stand stock still, not move onto the sparkling lino floor or speak so as not to disturb the budding pianist whilst he practiced his ear offending scales. I’m no musician but my god, there are limits. Shoes were inspected prior to entry and naturally, sitting on the highly polished leather suite was strictly forbidden.

Some neighbours also figured on the miserable git list but they were far outweighed by the many friendly people who lived in the area ,who were kind and tried hard to make the lives of young people much better. And in the end, that’s what made the old East Leeds community the great place to grow up in that era – after all is said and done, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years and Old East Leeds was the place to do that.

Bernie’s Tale

September 1, 2010

Bernie’s Tale
Bernie Finn has recently returned to Yorkshire having spent thirty three years in Australia. Bernie tells us great tales of life in the Glensdales and at Victoria School, York Road, Leeds, in the 1940s.

The Air Raid
During the war when air raids were in progress my family, along with lots of others, took refuge in ‘The Slip Inn’ cellar. At the time our family consisted of: baby me, my mother, two aunts, and my grandmother (my father was killed in France two weeks before I was born). I had a carry bag crib thing which also had gas protection. So when the sirens sounded, I along with whatever necessities I needed was placed in the carrier bag. On this particular night off goes the sirens and on comes the usual ensuing panic and the fifty yard flight to the Slip. Apparently it was very much shoulder to shoulder in there and the warden, when there was one, would shut the door when it was full. Well they had been in there for a while when someone says, ‘Bernard’s quiet tonight’ (me). A glance in the bag showed that everything was in there for me but no me. So my mother is off like a shot fighting her way to the steps leaving the girls to argue who was to blame. When she gets through she then had to fight the warden who said he was not allowed to open the special door until the all clear. Anyway she got out of there with the help of the others with him shouting after her, ‘I can’t let you back in’. I’m told he ended up with a bloody nose but nobody knows from whom.

So to put this into perspective, there was little me at the tender age of about one year old left alone to defend the area from attack until reinforcements arrived (my mother). I did a good job too not a single bomb got dropped anywhere near the area that night. I will never understand how come I wasn’t decorated or got a commendation or something. I was just one of the many unsung heroes of the war I guess.

The Slip Inn
The Slip was always part of my life for different reasons I saw it grow as I grew. The only time it upset me was when they extended it and built a concert room. The original (New Regent) was quite small and the local kids were quite mad because we used to have our bonfires on the vacant land they used for the extension. Later on in life I became a patron and loved it for the entertainment, it provided a second home for me in the1960s. It was one of the first places I visited when I returned after 33 years in Oz. I didn’t find it a nice place at all, it was very run down and the concert room was closed off. I took a nostalgic walk around the area few days before my 70th birthday and it was all boarded up but at least I got to see it again unlike my old school (Victoria) which was already demolished.

[At the time of writing I believe The Slip is open again for business]

The Dreaded White Line
In the Victoria School playground there was a white boundary line which ran from the toilet block to a recess in the corner of the main building; this was to stop us fraternising with the girls. There was a set of cricket stumps painted on the wall in the recess and hitting the ball against the wall meant it would go into the girl’s playground and so a good chance for interaction. It also formed a convenient meeting spot out of the vision of the teacher on playground duty. Anyway crossing the line during playtime carried very serious consequences. I had the dubious honour at one time of having most punishments for playground infringements. The toilet block was one building but divided in two for boys and girls. I got caught once climbing over just for the devilment of it. I got caught by a teacher who shouted, ‘What’s the weather like up there Finn?’ I also recall a grave injustice of one punishment. I was doing a ‘Johnny Cash’ … walking the line, sort of showing off I suppose. A group of girls pulled me in… for using that as an excuse I got a double whack. Happy days but gosh we hated that line.

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’. 



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.