Hunslet remembered
"Sons of Temperance Friendly Society. The Society with a Future"

Hunslet may have had around 50 pubs  in the 1930s, and several Working Men's Clubs, but the Temperance movement stood out against the demon drink.  The first Hall was built on Church Street near Low Road. It re-located to opposite the Parish Church in 1923. The old premises were taken over by  Bromley’s Coffee works.
See Church Street map.
A local doctor, Dr. Wylie, and a group of other people established the club in 1940 to give local boys the opportunity for recreation and friendship. Its motto was "Fitness for Life". In 1945 it moved from the old school opposite the Strand cinema on Jack Lane to the former Sunday School building on Waterloo Road. These premises were compulsorily purchased by Leeds City Council in the 1960s as part of the redevelopment of the area, and the club moved to Hillidge Road in 1971. This is where it is today, now called The Hunslet Club, and catering for both young boys and girls. Its website has an interesting decade by decade history. The Club was the subject of two short BBC films in the 1950s. Click here to view them.
The Teddy Boy era in the second half of the 1950s had many negative sides to it, but the advent of rock an' roll along with different ways of dressing and hairstyles were a watershed in teenage culture. Before this time teenagers were still regarded as larger children; it was considered they hadn't any adult attributes until they were 21.

With the film Rock Around The Clock the crowds poured into the cinemas packing them out. I went to see it at the Strand in Jack Lane, Hunslet. There were bouncers on the doors and in the cinema, not for trouble, but to stop the teenagers bopping in the aisles: the dance was regarded as worshipping the devil! After throwing out a few they were overwhelmed as the film progressed, finishing with the aisles packed with dancers. From that day on teenagers have been listened to and catered for in the retail market and society.

The Boys' Club was just that, no girls, except for the Saturday night dance
(it would have been a funny dance without them!) and at Club Week events, which I think took place in the autumn. I joined the Boys' Brigade and the Club in 1953. No-one could join the club until they were 14 without joining the Boys' Brigade. n those years I must have marched all over Leeds a hundred times in the Boys' Brigade.

The old chapel was perfect for the club with a large space which hosted table tennis tables, snooker table, gymnastics, Boys' Brigade parade nights, Sunday evening service etc.

The dance nights consisted of waltzes, foxtrots, Gay Gordons, spot waltzes, etc. All ages were in attendance with some really experts dancers. For a boy to ask a girl for a dance required real courage as you generally had to walk across the dance floor with all your mates watching, your heart thumping, and hoping you wouldn't be turned down - generally you were not.

When the rock records started coming out, with the hit parade on the radio, some of the boys started slipping the odd rock record on with bopping the result (the music was provided by a record player through amplifiers). Cliff Goodyear, the club leader, wouldn't have rock at any price, so, of course, the lads put the records on while he was otherwise engaged! He heard the music and used to march into the middle of floor and stop the proceedings. It was like Canute against the tide. The lads persisted, week after week.  Cliff used to stop it but he eventually agreed to a half hour rock session and peace reigned.

The dances were packed, a cafe run by volunteer mothers provided refreshments, and a good time was had by all. It all sounds very staid by today's standards doesn't it, but it wasn't, it was full of the excitement that only teenagers feel.

On a Sunday night there was a service when Mr Goodyear would deliver a sermon. He often said he had met an old boy who told him that he now realised what a great service the club had provided, and how he had so greatly benefited from it. That is how I feel now. After the Sunday night service there was always a full film show with cartoon, newsreel and main feature in the cinema which was in a room just off the balcony. If you didn't attend the service you couldn't see the film.

During Club Week in 1956 a camera team from the BBC came to film events at the club for Children's Newsreel. It was a major event because in 1958 there was only the BBC, just the one channel and very limited hours, so everyone in the country watched it.
Frankie Vaughan, the top British singing sensation of the day and great supporter of boys' clubs, paid a visit to the club and sang a few songs to a packed audience of screaming girls and (at least one) bemused boy!

The club was selected, along I believe with one in London, to pioneer the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. I was on the pilot when we were setting the standards. I was no athlete, and went on an orienteering trip up Wharfedale. Sir John Hunt (later Lord Hunt) the leader of the 1953 expedition which was the first to climb Mount Everest, was in charge of the scheme and came to the club and had a private meeting with our group. I was well impressed with him.

There was a cookery class every week, in which I participated, in the well equipped kitchen; two young ladies from the domestic science college in Leeds would come voluntarily to educate the boys in the art of cuisine. We made sausage rolls, buns, sponge cakes, and Swiss Rolls. I won first prize at the Northern Arts Festival at the Joseph Rowntree Centre in York for my Swiss Roll. To my great embarrassment my certificate was presented by the great John Charles, guest for the evening, in front of a full house of girls and boys before the Saturday night dance!

There was also a drama class where we put on various productions, including one at the Arts Festival which won a third prize. We also performed it for senior citizens at their Christmas party thrown by the club. We had weeks of rehearsals and really put in a lot of work.

The gymnastics classes were of a very high standard and the team gave demonstrations all over the North. My mother, who was very demanding, insisted I join the team and got fit.  I was terrible and could only just get over the horse! It brght a few catcalls from the balcony but one night Mr Goodyear stopped proceedings and asked if any of the jeerers would care to come down and participate. End of jeering.

Table tennis was the staple diet of action with plenty of really classy players. A much under-rated sport. There was also a wood-working class but I kept well clear of that! Rugby League was the main field sport and the club produced many professional rugby players over the years.

Club camp fortnight was at Danes Dyke near Flamborough. The first week was the Boys' Brigade and second week for the older boys' club lads. I was sent for both weeks.

When we arrived we got a canvas to fill with straw from the farm and that served as a mattress. The milk at the farm, still warm from the cow was wonderful, twopence for a pint glass, I believe. We were four to a tent. Every morning the bugle sounded reveille and we had to get everything out of the tent, all our blankets, folded properly, with our kit on top. Then on with vest and shorts and off on a run along the cliffs to Flamborough village and back along the main road. Breakfast was then served in the marquee on wooden tables and benches, porridge, bacon, eggs, sausage and lots of huge wedges of bread. Then there would be tent inspection with points awarded all week in the Best Tent Competition. Then a parade, marching all over the place. A packed lunch, afternoon free to go into Bridlington or the beach via the precarious cliff descent. There were porpoises in the bay and one day a whale.

After tea there would be races or the theatre night when each tent provided their entertainment and were marked accordingly. Or some nights into Bridlington again with all its attractions, last bus back to Danes Dyke and the long walk down the lane through the woods, when someone would say they thought they saw something and we all ran for it, remember the 50s was the decade of the horror film! Supper consisted of cocoa and huge slabs of dripping and bread, not the unhealthy diet of today! The cub chaplain, the Rev. Thomas, would then tell a ghost story, and could he tell them! We had a night guard of three people: I fell asleep about 3am, it was a long night. The club camp the following week was more relaxed but still had the morning run with lots of physical exercise and games, plenty to keep you occupied. Fishing trips from Bridlington were also on the menu. I went on the advance party one year, two days before the main camp started. We had to erect everything, tents, marquees, toilets, and dig a latrine trench - enough said!

My teenage years, and also those of many friends, were full of things to do every night except Monday, when the club was closed and we kicked our heels. No more wandering around the dark, grim streets and ginnels, kicking gas lamps alight and wondering what to do . . . idle hands etc. The 50s were anything but boring, as I hope for all the lads that followed in later years. If I had my way every area would have its youth club, a wonderful facility for those difficult teenage years.

Geoff Tebbutt, who now lives in France,  was born in 1942 in the Peppers
Have you any stories about the Working Men's Club's up to the 1960s? The characters, the seaside trips, the evening's entertainment?

Send them to:   
New Temperance Hall (photo 1971)
Image copyright of Leeds Library and Information Services
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I was almost born on Hunslet Moor in 1947. My Mam thought it would be a good idea to have a go on the Waltzers at the Feast, which broke her waters! I made my debut a few hours later at the new NHS maternity Hospital, St Mary's in Bramley.
The Vic's entry in the Hunslet Carnival of 1928. My Aunt Blanche Grunwell (nee Harrison 1915-1973) is centre with the headgear, her brother Jack Harrison (1918-2004) stands left in the topper and my Mam, Alice Elliott (nee Harrison 1920-1979) is next but one to him.
My first home was The Hopewell Inn (pictured above, in 1939, on the left ) in Glasshouse Street. My paternal grandparents kept this pub during WW2 until about 1950.

My maternal great grandfather was Thomas Arthur Cole (1873-1942). He was born in Hunslet and was a blacksmith until about 1909 when he and his wife Lilly Jane took The Victoria in Hunslet Road. In the mid-1920s Thomas and Lilly moved to The Black Bull in Black Bull Street. My grandmother and her husband James Henry Harrison (also born in Hunslet;1888-1975) then took over The Victoria.
James Henry worked for Fowlers and was quite an adventurer. He had contracts with Fowlers as a steam wagon driver in such far-flung places as Valparaiso, Manilla and Tanganyika. I distinctly remember visiting him at the pub one Whit Sunday (it must have been 1950) and the Tingalery man* was playing in Victoria Street. I was amazed by his monkey!

The pub was demolished in 1929-30 and John Smiths rebuilt the place. The Vic was a Lodge for the RAOB and my grandmother was Ladies President of the Leeds Licensed Victualers during the war until her death.

My Dad, Eric Elliott (1920-2003) was a keen Parksider and would often take me there as a tot. He played as well, although I don't think he ever made the first team. Ken Trail was one of his drinking chums and was a frequent visitor at our house.

I think Keith Waterhouse's City Lights should be compulsory reading for all Loiners and its story certainly parallels my own history in so many respects. Oddly enough my Mam worked at Spencely and Goughs in New Station Street, right over the undertakers shop where Waterhouse was doubtless penning this and other works as he struggled to become a journalist.

Enjoying retirement in far off New Zealand, I am sometimes struck by how different it is from my origins in "mucky Leeds" (as Alan Bennett calls it). However, I still have a great love for Hunslet which to me, will always be home.

                                         Stephen Elliott
The Victoria in 1929-30 with my grandmother standing outside
The re-built Victoria, with my grandfather standing in the Victoria Street entrance
My grandfather finished up back at Hunslet Moor where he had the Off-Licence on Beza Street (photo below shows him with son Jack).
* The Tingalery Man had a brightly painted barrel organ, with a little monkey.
Hunslet Boys' Club Hunslet Boys' Club in the 1950s Memories from New Zealand Memories needed Temperance Halls
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