Posts Tagged ‘Waterlooville’

Waterlooville the Lost Village

September 1, 2018

WATERLOOVILLE THE LOST VILLAGE
My old school teacher, who knew a bit, said that Leeds was at the most northerly point of the Yorkshire Coalfield. We were at the last point of ‘The exposed Coalfield’ where coal was relatively easy to win before it went much further underground to that which was known as ‘The Concealed Coalfield’ and became much harder to mine.
It would seem the earlier Victorians and those who mined even earlier (coal was mined in the area since the 17th century) made the most of coal being at hand and sank shafts all over the place, unfortunately they were reckless in their infilling of them and neglected to mark their positions on maps, the result is: they keep opening up. I recall one opening up on East Street another in the precincts of Mount St Mary’s Primary School which caused them to re-locate to Porta Cabins in the old Victoria School Yard. Others were found when excavating the railway cutting for the line from Richmond Hill to Neville Hill and yet others halted the construction of St Saviour’s Church. Further evidence of coal extraction is also to be seen by the pit spoil heaps at the Shaftsbury (Black Hills), Knostrop (red Hills) and in East End Park itself, also in many streams in the area running with orange mineral water from the old mine workings and the smell of leaking methane gas.
We were all used to seeing pit head gear at: Allerton Bi-Water, Rothwell, Swillington, Featherstone, Stanley and Lofthouse but our last and most familiar pit was Waterloo (Temple Pit – 1913-1966). This was the pit from which our lovely old paddy engines: Kitchener, Jubilee, Dora, Antwerp and later Sylvia were familiar sights delivering coal to the staithe on Easy Road or ferrying the miners to work at the pit itself. Temple Pit was located to the south east of Temple Newsam House near to a little road Called ‘The Avenue’, now disappeared too and not far off Bullerthorpe Lane at Swillington. The shaft was located in a deep cleft in the land so it was hard to even see the pit head gear; they sunk them in places where the land was lowest so they didn’t have so far to dig down to the coal seams.
There were three old shafts at Knostrop when I was a lad, two behind Knostrop Old Hall had not been filled in at all and had crumbling brickwork housings across the top which foolhardy kids would climb up and look down to the water which always rises to the height of the water table in old shafts. One was broken away at the side and I once saw a chimney sweep getting rid of his soot down there. The third shaft (Dam Pit) was located between the two plantations at Knostrop and the provider of the red shale spoil that hard cored our two ‘red roads’. The shaft was brick filled to about five feet from the top and there was still a bit of the pit head gear in place. We would dangerously play in the shaft oblivious to the fact, we later learned, that the shaft had only been capped off with timber that would probably have started to rot. I have visited that site lately, it was where the rifle club used have its pitch so that the red hills was a back barrier for its bullets, the whole area has been grassed over now but I can see a little ‘dimple’ forming where the shaft is. I wonder if anybody realises what that is? I wonder if anybody cares about the danger?
Now I’m coming to the disappeared Waterloo village. The first sod for Waterloo Colliery was taken on the eve of the battle of Waterloo, (1815), hence the name. Many shafts have been and gone between the first shaft and the end of mining in 1966. I have made a study of the shafts in the area and made my own map, as you can see there were a lot of shafts. I must point out that the map is a composite of several maps and covers a time period of over a century; they were not all in production at the same time. Please ‘click’ on maps to enlarge writing. In later years open cast mining has dredged the whole area. Once that has been completed they put the land back and leave it in good order but any historical landmarks are gone for ever. I did read where a Viking settlement had been found near to the River Aire but I cannot see any evidence of that been left for us to see. But I did speak to one of the operators on the open cast scheme and he said they had opened up galleries where the old Victorian miners used to work, he said they were like worm casts and he had recovered an old green bottle left by a miner after having his ‘snap’,

REMEMBER TO CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE

In David Joy’s Regional History of Railways in Great Britain he tells of a rail service to service the pits in this area as early as 1750, that began as wooden wagon ways that ran from Thwaite Gate to Temple Newsam that a decade later there were seven pits a network of wagon ways and an iron works.
A further search of the records showed that a pit village – the earliest purposely built pit village in West Yorkshire was built on a site between Thorpe Stapleton on one side of the canal and river and Rothwell on the other side.

The village originally called Waterloo colloquially grew the name ‘Waterlooville’. Although I must point out Temple Newsam in their guide book seem to refer the village as ‘New Market’ and they ought to know but I always thought Newmarket to be the colliery at Stanley. Anyway I shall continue to call it Waterlooville and it has completely disappeared. It is not unusual for pit villages to die when the mine is exhausted that is the nature of the beast but in the case of Waterlooville, on our very doorstep there does not seem to be a stick of evidence that it ever existed, no ruins, nothing. I have placed the village on the map (Please see map) as seemingly between the river and the canal, there were two streets a square and a school cum Sunday school. It is quite obvious there was a connection to the Temple Newsam Estate as the square is called ‘Irwin ‘Square’, the Irwin family were incumbents of the estate at the time and probably had a financial input into the village especially the school/Sunday school. There was also a bridge ‘Waterloo Bridge’ across the river to allow miners from the village to cross over the river on their way to work on the north side of the river. Of that too there is no trace.

Over a period of time I searched both sides of the river and the canal bank for the merest sign of Waterlooville, nothing. I did find some huge blocks on the side of the canal which I thought might have at one time been anchor points for the bridge but they were inconclusive. I regularly asked folk I met along the canal bank if they had ever heard of a disappeared village but without success, then speaking to the lock keeper at Fishponds Lock I finally stuck gold, he said he had once heard about the village from an old timer who had said there were remains of the old school wall beneath the old cement bridge, the one carried the trains that took coal from Fanny Pit at Rothwell to Skelton Grange Power Station, but that he hadn’t seen them himself. So I clambered across the Paddy bridge to the north side of the river and had to descend the steep banking at the other side which looked quite treacherous but some kind soul had attached a rope to a tree to make the descent just about possible and there looking back to the south side of the river I saw the old brickwork that the lock keeper said was the remains of the old village school wall. I took this photograph – I have had to whiten the brick work on the photograph so it would show up.
On another occasion I attempted to climb down the other side of the river onto the top of the wall that I could see from the north side to see what else I could find but the bank was very steep and slippery and covered in brambles and I could see the river was running very fiercely at the bottom and I could sense that a slip, and I’m not as nimble as I used to be, would have seen me washed away in the torrent, so I decided the better part of valour was to abort that particular quest

Thankfully some kind organisation has now built a bridge across the river near to that old cement bridge making it easier to see across to the remains of the wall of the old Waterlooville School building also making it possible for walkers from Woodlesford and Rothwell to walk all the way across to Temple Newsam.

Advertisements

Where Did All Our Tuskey Go?

January 1, 2016

Where has All Our Tuskey Gone?

When we were young and had no care
Tuskey (rhubarb) sticks grew everywhere,
One has to wonder where they’ve gone?
Under concrete, every one!

In an earlier tale Sid Simpson relates our typical ramble from East End Park to Temple Newsam: When we were young boys a few of my schoolmates and I would meet up and go on an adventure to Temple Newsam. We were all pupils of Victoria School, York Road and about ten or eleven years old at the time, money was always scarce for us which meant to get to Temple Newsam we always had to walk. The easiest way to Temple Newsam was either down Black Road, which was the longest way, or down Red Road which was the shortest way. Four or five of us would meet up and set off on our way. Black Road and Red Road formed a triangle near to East Leeds Cricket Club. In the triangle was a field of wild rhubarb (tuskey) we would nearly always stop at this field to have our sweet. The tuskey grew so tall and the leaves were so huge we could sit underneath and keep dry if it rained. Out would come the sugar – for those who had been able to pinch some from home – and we would eat our fill. We avoided the thickest stalks as they were the

sourest

.rhubarb sheds
Molly & Peter Smith working in the rhubarb sheds in wartime.

When we rambled the area in the 1940/50s tuskey seemed to grow out of every nick and cranny all the way from Cross Green Lane eastwards to Temple Newsam, Knostrop, Skelton Grange, Thorpe Stapleton, Newsam Green and then on to Morley and Wakefield which formed the golden triangle of rhubarb growing. Rhubarb flourished it was said because the soil in our area liked the soot which fell from industrial Hunslet. So Rhubarb growing flourished due to the legacy of the previous phase in the history of the use of the land use which in our case was coal mining. The land itself is timeless but the nature of its use changes through the years and each phase leaves its fingerprint on the next hence soot produced from the industry that used the coal in the mining phase helped to grow the rhubarb in the next phase – the market garden phase. Academics call this process ’Synthesis’.
Taking an historical snap shot of area eastward to Thorpe Stapleton the earliest settlement recorded is probably the exposure of a Viking long house near Skelton Grange. This places it earlier than the Norman Conquest and this is substantiated by the Danish name ‘Thorpe’ –Thorpe Stapleton, Knowsthorpe etc. After ‘The Conquest’ William gave large tracts of land south of Leeds to his loyal military commander, Ilbert de-Lacy, who had successfully engineered the crossing of the swollen River Aire for William’s army on its way to York.
In the 13th/14/ century large areas of land were the property of ‘The Lords of the Manors’ and the so called ‘breadbaskets’ of Leeds and district were at Woodhouse in the north and the fertile area of Knostrop in the lower Aire Valley in the south. The Lord of the Manor of Leeds was at great pains to stop Knostrop falling into the hands of The Abbott of Kirkstall who was mopping up fertile land wherever he could. At Knostrop the fields were worked by ‘villeins’ no not ‘ villians’ they’re the ones the police are after. Villiens in this context were known as ‘bondsmen’ not slaves and yet not free men, they were the bottom of the pile in the social order, they were obligated to serve The Lord of The Manor and cultivate his land without any payment. For this they were allowed to live in a small cottage on the master’s land and have use of a small strip of land to grow their own food. They had to ask the lord’s permission for their son to become a monk or for their daughter to marry. In addition they had to supply 4 hens and 40 eggs to the lord at Christmas for his table. (Burt & Grady The Illustrated History of Leeds, 1994)
The Black Death Plague which devastated Britain in the 14th century was a two edged sword, it killed 40% of the labouring population but labour became a scarce commodity so those that were left were able to negotiate better terms for themselves and heralded the end of the ‘bondsman’ era. The legacy of this age was that it left us with the great estates and grand houses at Thorpe Stapleton (12thcentury), Swillington Hall and later the Elizabethan/Jacobean Temple Newsam Estate, still available for our 21at century leisure.
The next phase to dominate our land area was the winning of coal to service the industrial revolution. Coal mining was recorded in Knostrop as early as the 16th century but it really got underway with the sinking of Waterloo Pit – the first sod of which was turned on the eve of the battle of Waterloo in 1815. By 1825 there were seven pits a complex of wagon ways and an iron works in the area. A pit village, aptly named ‘Waterlooville’ built by Fenton to service his collieries and had two streets a square and a school between the river and the canal near Thorpe Stapleton is now completely disappeared. (Click to enlarge)

pit map correct size

I have constructed a map of all the named pits in the area from a variety of sources. It has to be pointed out that this map shows the existence of coal shafts across the extent of the mining years, and not all in production at any one time. Some of the land owners who made vast profits from allowing be coal to be mined under their land became too greedy and in the case of Swillington and Methley Halls they allowed coal to be taken from directly below their grand houses and the subsequent subsidence resulted in the Halls themselves having to be demolished. The legacy we have from the coalmining era is the danger of old shafts opening up the odd bit of railway line the red shale from Dam Pit, located between the two plantations at Knostrop which furnished us with the red shale for Halton Moor Road (red Road) and the narrow red road which ran from Black Road past the end of Snake Lane, and down to Knostrop. Of course and the pit hills now landscaped at East End Park which were great for our sledging forays.
So to the market Garden phase the source of our lovely ‘tuskey’ The land left after the mining phase was not the uncluttered fertile fields of earlier and more suited to small farms and particularly market garden enterprises we remember Allinson’s, Austin’s, Craven’s, Tillotson’s, Horner’s, Bickerdike’s, and Grumwell’s etc. Cabbages, cauliflower, Swedes and turnips were the staple diet of these small holding and of course rhubarb (tuskey) it grew wild in the fields where it was allowed to ‘bolt’ for a couple of years and then split and taken into low dark forcing sheds where it shot up to provide the lovely pink stalks for market. The legacy from this era is the odd tuskey root lurking in some forgotten corner or those taken and cultivated in private gardens.
So, moving to the 21st century. The army camps erected in the 1940s to house Italian Prisoners of war and our soldiers to guards them have gone and finally the open cast coal mining that followed the deep mines and blighted the area for most of our lives have also finally been exhaust but in their case they have left us a favourable legacy in the form of St Aiden’s Country Park – a huge pleasant area for water fowl and wild life and thankfully for us to roam. I thoroughly recommend St Aiden’s for a pleasant Sunday morning stroll either just a mile around the lake or a longer three miler around the perimeter But generally I see this as ‘the concrete age’. Personally I’m not a great fan of concrete, concrete production accounts for 5% of global carbon emissions and flattens everything in its path. I suppose it’s a necessary evil. The Cross Green Industrial Estate enveloped all of Knostrop, which has no inhabitants now. Skelton Grange Power Station Built in the 1950s has already been and gone.
To replace our lovely old primary schools: St Hilda’s Ellerby Lane and Victoria etc, a new school was built in the late fifties/early sixties first called, Cross Green School but later morphed into ‘Copperfield’s School’ with the slogan ‘Roots to Grow Wings to Fly’. It has already flown away leaving as its legacy a few Tarmac patches where the tennis courts used to be and a habitat for travellers’ horses. Black Road, our gateway to Temple Newsam is now an urban motorway with factories all the way down, engulphing Austin’s farm where we turned left for ‘Temp’. A huge incinerator is being constructed at the time of writing and there is a 300 foot plus wind generator to service the sewage works. Don’t look at this picture of today’s Black Road if you want to keep our great old Black Road in your mind’s eye. But hey! East Leeds Cricket Club stills stands proudly at the top!
Pity this generation of kids and those who follow on who will never have the pleasure of walking down Black Road to Temp and to feed on wild tuskey. They don’t know what they’ve missed

black road

Black Road today