We moved from Belle Isle to Hunslet sometime after the Queen’s coronation in 1953. I was 5, my brother 2. My dad said we had moved so he could be nearer work, mum said it was because he didn’t like gardening. I tend to believe mum. We moved into 20 Balmoral View, a two up two down back to back with toilet block down the street. Our dad must have really hated gardening. The house was like hundreds of others in Hunslet: living room, small kitchen, cellar and two bedrooms. We were lucky being in an end house because it also had an attic; not that it ever got used, though my brother kept a pet mouse up there for a while.
Despite living in Hunslet there from age 5 to 16, when we moved to Belle Isle as part of the slum clearance, you only tended to know the street names in your immediate area. We used to roam all over the district and could find our way home with our eyes closed probably, but never took notice of the street names so the Hunslet web site is an excellent tool for putting names to pictures.
A few shops I remember include Johnny Stead's general store that was at the bottom of our street. We used to stand looking in the window when he had a new load of stock in, dreaming how we would buy Penny Arrows, Black Jacks, Bubbly Gum, Sherbet Dips, Gob Stoppers - no wonder the school dentist was always busy.
I also remember Geoff Beadnall's Off Licence. I used to have an evening job there, Monday to Friday, keeping the cellar tidy and doing deliveries for him on my bike. One was for the owners of a tailoring factory that was in a mill across Low Road, opposite Pepper Road. I used to be mesmerised watching the chap who cut the cloth bolts to produce the panels that went to make up the jackets; one slip and the cloth would be ruined as the cutter was so sharp, or it would do serious damage to his hands. Once a week I would collect an order of meat for them from the butchers at the end of Belinda Street. Five evenings a week, all weathers, for the princely sum of half a crown; I thought I was rich.
I also remember the rag & bone yard on Low Road. It was like stepping back in time. It was also a knackers yard and it was upsetting to see the horses who had outlived their usefulness being walked up the yard. You would never see them again.
This 1847 map below shows that the Grove Road area was only lightly developed at this stage, and to the east of Grove Street (later Grove Road) it was completely open. Grove Cottage seems to have had large landscaped grounds, with many trees, two "hothouses" and a summer house marked. Seven years earlier the Midland Railway had arrived, marked on the bottom left hand corner of the map. Hover over the red circles for more information.
Grove Street (later Grove Rd)
A 1901-2 advertisement. The firm was founded in 1844 at the North Midland Glass Works
Grove Road area (2)
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The coffee house on Belinda Street still had the aroma of coffee but was a wire spinner’s when we lived in Hunslet.
One thing that always confused me was the large empty area to the south of Bower Road; we always called it the steel works but it was only on finding ‘Hunslet Remembered’ that I discovered that is what it was. The slag wall was still there; in fact I had proper belting from my mum one Whitsun Sunday after I had been climbing on the wall in my new Whitsun clothes.
One of the treats of the week was fish & chips. There were two chippies in our area: one at the end of Belinda Street the other on the corner of Plevna Terrace. Mum always said the old chap who ran the Plevna chippy was a bit of a tight fist as she reckoned he used to count the chips. Come to think of it there was another on the corner of Grove Road facing the ‘Boxing Ring’.
The other thing I remember was the Grove pub. The landlord used to let us buy a pint there as long as we sat in the back room and kept quiet. We didn’t have to pretend we were 18 because he knew we weren’t but it was a few bob in the till each week and you never saw a copper checking on under age drinkers; if they did they would have had to close most of the pubs in the area. I used to go to the Jug & Bottle’ at the Britannia on Belinda Street, when mum or dad had run out of cigs and the shops were closed.
One of the major events whilst we lived in Balmoral View, was when the G & F (Golden Feather) furniture factory burnt down. The flames and fire engine bells woke people in the middle of the night to find the factory ablaze from end to end. Mum said it was like the Blitz. The wives kept bringing out pots of tea for the firemen who battled the flames all night. There was a real racket going on before they had it under control. When I went to call on a friend who lived on Balmoral Road (their kitchen overlooked the factory) and asked him what he thought of the fire, he asked what fire -he had slept through the entire thing.
I also remember two shops on Waterloo Road: Longbottom's for sweets and toys, and Broughton's for electrical and bikes. My first proper bike came from Broughton's: a Raleigh with drop handle bars and a three speed gear change.
Bill Scott, born in Belle Isle 1948, moved to Hunslet, moved back to Belle Isle, joined Royal Navy, spent 22 years seeing the world, lived in Hampshire until 2002, moved back to South Yorkshire near Barnsley, do not plan on moving again.
Balmorals area in the 50s and 60s