When the sun shone tar would melt up through the cobbles, nice and shiny. We would  wrap the tar round a match (being careful to avoid getting it on our clothes, though never careful enough), add a cap from a toy gun , and throw it into the air and see if it would ignite. It certainly went off with a bang.

I did handstands outside Hunslet Tabernacle on Low Road and read upside down "Camwheat Pie Machines".


Macfarlane was the doctor on Hunslet Road, and Dr Jesse Cooke (might have been Jessie), Dr Delaney and eventually Dr Shapiro. The school dentist was on Jack Lane opposite the Salvation Army. It was the last thing kids saw before succumbing to the gas.

The white building featured at the foot of the webpages was Hipp's factory on Balm Road, owned by "Nippy" Hipps. When my mum worked at Hipp's she was in the "scent club"; each week on payday the women put in a few pence and each week it was someone else's turn to spend it. I loved going to the chemist when it was my mum's turn to spend it in the hope of a lolly.

We used to go up Pepper Road and wait for the great steam trains to run under the bridge. We would climb on the parapet and get a face full of smoke and soot and then run across the road to get another face full as the train emerged at the other side. It had a unique smell and if ever I see a steam train and get a whiff of the steam, I am transported back to my childhood.

My most long-standing friend, also from "down Plevna" said once, "the thing we all had in common was nowt". When I was a child I thought we were rich, though looking back now and comparing it to what we have achieved as baby boomers, we were far from rich, except in love and a great sense of belonging. We are extremely fortunate to have lived in "mucky Hunslet" and to be honest, I think people in the more affluent areas of Leeds have missed out. Our bellies may not have been as full as theirs, but what fun we had, scratting about in the muck. And what shared memories we all have.


Where two buildings met (Wilson and Jubb and The Golden Feather Factory), there was a gap which led to the Balmorals. We used to squeeze through it, calling it "the squash hole". In later years a grill was put across the gap to keep kids out. Outside Wilson and Jubb the lorries used to leak petrol and I would look at the rainbow caused when it rained.

We used to play cricket in the summer with the bloke next door and his two kids. His name was Jack Sigsworth and his kids were Margaret and Susie. We used to draw wickets on Wilson and Jubb's wall. I remember getting smacked in the face as I got too close to the bat. They were kind people, and they took me and my sister all over during the school holidays. He used to give kids cross-bar rides on his bike around the playground of Low Road. It was uncomfortable but we all queued up for a turn. He used to polish the metal on the slides in the park so we could have a faster ride. We used to take all our meat scraps to the bloke down the road to Harry Shepherd, for his whippet called Gyp. In exchange his son, also Harry, used to give us his old comics.

Just up Lupton Street was Acrow. We used to do tipple over tails across the railings outside. There used to be what looked like tin coins all around, but sadly that is all they were - round bits of tin. There were two old rusted structures in the steel works yard. We pretended they were ships and would shout "land ahoy!" from the top of them, and play houses amongst the rubble, using tin cans as utensils.

I was a frequent visitor to the rag yard on Low Road. I loved it though it must have been ridden in fleas. We called it "the rag ole".

A purple tram, done up for the coronation, used to go past. I still have my Coronation mug. It rained the day of the party so we went to Hunslet Nash ("meat and tatie ash", was the rival taunt).
N
Hunslet remembered
John Bromley & Sons Ltd, coffee essence manufacture (previously Temperance Hall)
Wilson & Jubb (Leeds), lead piping manufacture, Balmoral Works
St. Mary's church
Black Horse pub
Leeds Steelworks - click for its story

The map below shows the street pattern in 1932.
Hover over Red circles to show places listed in a 1936 trade directory. Yellow circles denote pubs. Click on Blue circles to open up detailed maps and articles.
Balm Rd
Grove Rd
Bower Rd
Church St
Low Rd
Grove Hotel
John Nicholson & Sons, Hunslet Chemical Works (sulphuric acid manufacturer and copper smelter)
George IV pub
The Red House pub
Green Man pub
Click to see Church Street in detail
Grove Road area photo gallery. Click to open a pop-up
1 A. Brooke's shop, Grove Road/Church Street (1950s)

1 A. Brooke's shop, Grove Road/Church Street (1950s)

2  Barber and grocer, Grove Road (mid-1950s)

2 Barber and grocer, Grove Road (mid-1950s)

3 Slag wall, Bower Road (1944)

3 Slag wall, Bower Road (1944)

4 Balm Beck, Bower Road (1949)

4 Balm Beck, Bower Road (1949)

5 Ward's shop, Bower Road/Pepper Road850406

5 Ward's shop, Bower Road/Pepper Road850406

6 H.(Horace) E. Greenwood's butcher, Ashton Terrace/New Pepper Road (1964)

6 H.(Horace) E. Greenwood's butcher, Ashton Terrace/New Pepper Road (1964)

7 Grocer, Windsor Place/New Pepper Road (1964)

7 Grocer, Windsor Place/New Pepper Road (1964)

8 Windsor Terrace (1964)

8 Windsor Terrace (1964)

9 St. Chad's Mission, New Pepper Road (1964)

9 St. Chad's Mission, New Pepper Road (1964)

10 Ginnel to Pepper Road (1964)

10 Ginnel to Pepper Road (1964)

11 Wilson & Jubb, Balmoral Lead Works (1964)

11 Wilson & Jubb, Balmoral Lead Works (1964)

12 Stead's sweet shop, Balmoral Road (1963)

12 Stead's sweet shop, Balmoral Road (1963)

13 Plevna Grove (1961)

13 Plevna Grove (1961)

14

14 "Boxing ring", Grove Road (1943)

 
 
All images copyright of Leeds Library and Information Services
 

1 Brooke's was a confectioner and tobacconist. Next door was Leeds Motor Factors, selling replacement parts. Run by Rowland and Malcolm Allen.

2 Co-op just in shot on the left, then Jimmy Bleasby's hairdresser, then Lizzy Turner's grocery shop.

3 and 4 These show the slag wall, part of the boundary of Leeds Steelworks which closed in 1934.

5 Ward's was a grocer and confectioner.

7 E. & V. Allott grocery on the corner. An advert for Fry's chocolate can be seen through the door. Products advertised include Tizer, Craven 'A', Wills Woodbines, Lyons Maid ice cream, Senior Service cigarettes and Lyons tea.

8 St.Chad's on right.

9 St. Chad's was built in 1891. As well as being a Mission Hall, Brownies and Guides used to meet there.

10 Balmoral Lead Works (Wilson & Jubb (Leeds) Ltd ) on left. Chimney belongs to furniture works. Plevna Place and Grove on right.

12 On the corner is Stead's grocer and sweet shop. Children at Low Road  often called in for frozen ice drinks and lollies.

14 David Skerrett says after the war, when this water tank was empty, it was used by the locals as a boxing ring. "We used to sit on the wall of the tank and watch the men and older boys boxing. As far as I can remember it was done in accordance with Queensberry Rules. I can certainly remember boxing gloves. After the tank was removed the spare ground would, on a Sunday morning, be used for a Pitch and Toss school, providing there were no police about. Many is the time you would see the police arrive and arrest any men they could catch, although they would disappear through the nearest open door."

Low Road County Primary School
Hunslet National School
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Scale one inch to about 100 yards
More information about the photos
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Go to Hunslet Carr map
Grove Road area (1)
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St. Chad's Mission
At the end of our street lived the Slag. No, not a woman of ill-repute but four acres of waste from the extinct Leeds Steelworks. Rearing like the North Face of the Eiger, about 30ft, from Pepper Road, it stretched 50 yards in a mountainous range of huge slabs of rock, caves, valleys and ravines, then gentle foothills to Depledges. It ranged from Keelings and the Cold Storage to Bower Road (the area known as Plevna).

In my first ten years, from 1942, it was my playground, along with my mates. We had secret caves which we climbed up to, collected wood and lit camp fires, made tools and played adventure games, blind to the horrible industrial blight around us.

A path went diagonally across to the middle of Bower Road which cut off the corner. I remember a rumour that a rat had leapt at the throat of Bobby Wilkinson, who lived in our street, as he took the short cut. I was always hesitant to follow in his footsteps after that.

Along the side of Keelings (which was a war surplus depot that burnt down later in a spectacular fire I watched in my pyjamas from the end of the street) was a path that led to Balm Road Bridge. A consequence of Keelings was that a box of detonators found its way onto the Slag and a boy from Plevna had his hand blown off when one exploded. In those days we used to roam round in the yards of factories and storage yards, playing and seeing what we could pick up for our games.

Halfway across the Slag Balm Beck emerged from underground for about 50 yards before disappearing again under the lone house that stood between the Slag and the Hollow in Plevna.
A somewhat one-sided (to me) intermittent war took place between the Plevnas’ and the Peppers’ kids. Gangs roamed around their area recruiting kids to take the other side on. When the lines were drawn like Waterloo the Pepper Road gang had the high ground some 15ft above the beck and the benefit of a 4ft wall of slag to hide behind, along with unlimited ammo from the slag. The Plevna gang were exposed below and had virtually no ammo. There was much stone throwing like cavemen.

















Above the Hollow in Plevna the Slag was bounded by a 12ft wall that ran all the way to Depledges. There was an opening in the wall known as the “Hole in the Wall”.
One Sunday I witnessed a legendary Hunslet incident. On my way home from Sunday School at St Chad’s in Pepper Road (I was a good lad sometimes), I ran into a schoolmate who excitedly drew my attention to the Slag. As usual a gambling school was taking place at the far end on a concrete square; I guess there must have been about 40 or 50 men there. They played a game of tossing the coins, two pennies, and the gamble was whether they came down heads, tails or head and tails.
At that time the chief constable of Leeds was on an Eliot Ness campaign of shutting down gambling in Leeds. All round the gambling school we could see helmets bobbing up and down. Suddenly whistles started blowing and all hell let loose. The men started running all over the place and the police with truncheons drawn chased after them like the Keystone Cops.

Many of the men ran straight for the Hole in the Wall, it having been put there for escape purposes. Unfortunately for them the police had backed up a Black Maria to the hole and they ran straight into it! When one was full another backed into position. The Black Marias parked on the Hollow but mysteriously someone crept up to the back of them while the police were distracted and opened them up. Everyone ran out again and ran all over Plevna, into houses and sat down pretending to read papers and such. It certainly livened up a boring Sunday.

The Slag was eventually levelled somewhat, the rumour being it was going to be a bus depot, but it was left in that state for many years. It is now housing of course. I wonder how many of the residents realise what history they are living on!
The Slag
 
Near Low Road School on the main road was a rag and bone yard paved with rounded cobbles. When the big wooden gates were open you could look inside and the cobbles always looked to be slimy and the whole place from today's perspective was like a scene from Charles Dickens days. During a particularly hard time when my father was away in Africa and his pay had not come through on schedule, I went in with a bag of clothing rags to be weighed on the huge iron scale to receive a few shillings to be used to buy food for a family meal.

       Valerie Swanson (nee Ward) born in 1945 in Thwaite Gate
Rags and bones
 
              Part of the slag wall (1944)
I
mage copyright of Leeds Library and Information Services
Geoff Tebbutt, who now lives in France,  was born in 1942 in the Peppers
We lived in Plevna Place, in the end house near the ginnel.  In the cellar my mum kept a ginger beer plant. Everyone had one and it made the most wonderful fizzy drink, which often used to explode. If one bottle went, they all followed suit. She would feed the plant daily with ginger and sugar and every so often would divide the plant and add water and more sugar to the retained half. The other half was given to friends and neighbours so they could make their own. It was kept cool on the stone slab in the cellar. Looking back I wonder whether this drink may have been alcoholic.

No one at that time had electric sockets, at least not down Plevna. In our bedroom we still had the redundant gas lights on the wall. When it was ironing day my mum would climb up to the light socket, take out the bulb and put in a twin-bayonet adaptor. The light went back in one and the iron in the other. When she ironed it used to waggle all over the ceiling; how it never came down I do not know. The flex was covered in like a woolly covering which used to wear off. When we got our first TV it was plugged into the light socket and draped across the room to the corner with the light bulb in the other, and at Christmas our Pifco lights were also plugged into this socket.

Our Christmas tree was made out of bottle brushes which used to rust at the ends near the stem and each year another would drop off,making the tree look less like a tree with every passing year. I remember one year someone broke into Low Road Girls' School with a saw and took the top out of the tree in the hall leaving just the stump with a few branches.

My mam used to make a tent for us: in good weather the clothes-horse was taken outside and one end put on the window ledge and the other weighted to the flag stones. It was then covered with a blanket, which went back on the bed at night after it had been dragged around the street.
Plevna Place in the 1950s
Sheila Gamblin (nee Barrett) was born in Hunslet in 1950 and now lives in York
 
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