The Sun pub was a very busy place even during the war. You could smell the smoke and beer a good few yards away. They had special rooms like Men Only, a non-smoking room, a snug for women, and a room called a taproom (whatever that meant). You could see the smoke coming out in great clouds when the doors were opened.  Further up the side of the Sun was the off-licence, part of the same building. That’s where I would take a jug for a pint of beer for Mrs. Farnham who lived in our street, Bridges Place. Mild or the odd pint of draught Guinness was her tipple. I had strict instructions not to get too much froth as this cheated her out of beer when it settled.

At the top right, near the lamp-post at 17 Cariss St., was the white painted fish shop, the best fish and chip shop in Hunslet. This was at the corner end of Bridges Place and Cariss St. where I lived until 2nd January 1953, when I joined the army in Guildford.  This again was one of the very strange triangular shaped ends of Hunslet buildings that I noticed in our area. I believe there were more in Leeds. At the back corner of the building in Lytton St. out of sight was a greengrocers shop.

Next to the side of the Sun pub was a nice smooth area of road.  I and other girls used to play whip and top there. The road sloped slightly towards the pub, an advantage to getting a good speed on when whipping the top. There was a day called Whip and Top day, but I do not know why or when.  Whips are easily made: a piece of dowel and a long leather shoelace that must be very flexible for the lash. The wooden top is a different matter; it must be balanced and about 2 ˝ inches wide, flat on top and tapering in ridges to a special pointed metal stud at the bottom.

You could buy larger tops but I preferred the smaller version as it whipped faster. When the tip went blunt you would shape and sharpen it on a stone step. Colour chalking the top with dots, circles, lines, any design you could think of would give the top when spinning the most incredible patterns to delight your eyes, and to compete with others to see who could make the best and most intricate patterns.  Winding the lash around the top, putting it on the ground then jerking it away took some skill to get a good spin to give a kaleidoscope of colours as you whipped it furiously to keeping it going as long as possible, before deciding to change the design to give more wonderful patterns.

There was very little traffic on these small side streets so we could play happily there. We would play elsewhere on the days the dray horses would deliver Tetley’s beer to the Sun, probably at the same time as the Robin Hood pub which was further back up Cariss St.

I used to swing and do acrobatics on the metal bars outside the pub in the yard. My mam sang in the evening in competitions here to win tins of apricot jam and peaches. This was during the war. I loved going in there. It was exciting: all the music and lots of people laughing and talking, sitting at tables in the summer evening. The smell of the beer and cigarettes, plus the fish and chip shop fumes wafting over the wall, seemed like heaven to me. There was a room where small children could play, and when the weather was bad to be allowed in the special room was a treat as I had Tizer, and sometimes I'd be given a tiny sip of shandy. I still went there when dad came back from the war, and mam still sang now and then. This was their local. There was a snug for women, and tap room for men only.

We mostly watched the dray horses and wagons from the end of our street at the back gates of the pub. You got a better view there. This gate on the right in the left hand photo is the back entrance to the Robin. Enormous beautiful dray horses would pull up there. They were dark brown or dark chestnut, with white hair around their hooves.  My brothers Jeffrey, David and I used to watch the men take the wooden barrels of Tetley's beer off the cart and roll them up the yard. The back of the Robin had a special sloping ramp to roll the barrels down right down into the cellars. This was always enjoyable to watch. The draymen warned us not to get too close to the shire horses as they could be a little touchy around young children.  Our Jeffrey didn't care, he would run under the horses' bellies and wasn't frightened at all. Mind you he got a telling off from mother. A neighbour told on him. The draymen would show me how to hold my hand flat to give the horses a carrot or a slice of bread or a bit of apple. When the horse nibbled your hand for the food it was really exciting and scary; their noses and mouths were hairy, warm, moist and so velvety. You had to approach them properly as they had blinkers on and so could get spooked easily. It was a real thrill to stroke their noses. The only problem was if you stood too near the horses: when they had been there a while you would get splashed, as they used to get rid of more water than Balm Road beck, and it hummed to high heaven.

Happy Days. Bring back whip and tops and dray horses!
Hunslet remembered
The businesses listed on both sides of this 1932 map are from a 1936 trade directory.
Waterloo Rd
Church St
Grove Rd
Balm Rd
Church St
Church St
Church Street photo gallery. Click to open a pop-up
1 Parish Church (1970s)

1 Parish Church (1970s)

2 Beetham's and Pease's (1970s)

2 Beetham's and Pease's (1970s)

3 The Anchor pub (1970s)

3 The Anchor pub (1970s)

4 Temperance Hall (1971)

4 Temperance Hall (1971)

5 A sad Spotted Dog (1973)

5 A sad Spotted Dog (1973)

6 Urinal, Church Street (1927)51852053

6 Urinal, Church Street (1927)51852053

7  George IV pub on left (undated)

7 George IV pub on left (undated)

8  Co-op at Penny Hill (1970s)

8 Co-op at Penny Hill (1970s)

9  Shop, Beza Street (1950s)

9 Shop, Beza Street (1950s)

10  Site of Bell's Buildings (1936)

10 Site of Bell's Buildings (1936)

11  Stoney Yard, Church Street (undated)

11 Stoney Yard, Church Street (undated)

Images 4, 6, 7, 9-11 copyright of Leeds Library and Information Services
2 C.H.Beetham was a pawnbroker and also sold clothes and shoes.
J.Pease sold newspapers, confectionery and toys.

3 Next door to the left was Tom Sinclair, saddler. Further left was Pease's, and at the end Beetham's.

6 The urinal was known as John Spurrs memorial, named after a local character who was always up for local elections but never got onto the council.

8 See Church Street (2)

9 Bridge across railway on right.

10 Site of Bell's Buildings, where Hunslet feast was held here up to 1888. J & J Ingham, nail manufacturers (Hunslet Rolling Mills) to left.

11 Stoney Yard Church Street. Houses are at 88-92 Church Street, between Anchor Street and Gordon Road and opposite St. Mary's Church. The notice on the wall reads "Sons of Temperance Friendly Society. The Society with a Future". See Temperance Halls.

Back to top
Scale one inch to about 100 yards
More information about the photos
Church Street (1)
Continue to Church Street (2)
You are here: Home > Places > Centre> Church Street (1)
Back to Centre
Whip and tops and dray horses
© Audrey Ann King (nee Naylor)
Sun Inn (photo 2009)
Delivering beer with Tetley's dray horses.
184 years of tradition ended in 2006
        Robin Hood pub, Powell Street (1964)
Images copyright of Leeds Library and Information Services