YEP Letters: October 24

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Plenty to be proud of in Hunslet

Ernest Lundy, by email

I was more than interested to read the comments of M Eastham (YEP October 22) on Hunslet Carr and the fact that very little is heard today of Hunslet and Hunslet Carr district and past events.

Here are a few to prod the memories of those still surviving from the old days, or others who would perhaps like to hear a few.

In sport we had the great Hunslet Carr schoolboy rugby teams of the 1920s who took all before them, including Billy Thornton, Ken Traill, Sonny Rushton, and many others who played with Hunslet as professionals.

The bowling team of Hunslet Lake, mentioned by Ms Eastham, British Parks’ Champions in 1969, consisting of many players who also went on to achieve great things in the bowling world. Sadly the green is now abandoned, overgrown and the club dissolved.

Characters in other walks of life were such as North Allerton Jim, with his metal scrapyard behind Catchpoles shop in Balm Road.

Another character and entrepreneur, Sammy Sweeting had his first electrical business, up steps near the Railway Pub, opposite the Mill Yard. Not far from the fish canners, which my wife left (couldn’t stand the smell) after working there for half a day.

The barber, Bob Johnson, also a bowler, had his shop next to the old post office, which I took over to run a camping business in later years.

Friendly, stocky and immensely strong, Percy Blackwell would roam the area, and a dropped penny would provoke him into a rush to pick it up and it was better to move aside.

Near the Lakeside on Cotton Mill Row, lived one time park ranger, Lake Jim. He could move at lightning speed to discipline young ruffians merely by waving his stick.

On the same row lived another Rugby league great, Oliver Morris, later killed in Italy as an officer in the Welsh regiment.

Yes we had the cuckoo steps, we also had the beck behind Norwich Avenue, where we fished for red throats (sticklebacks) frogs and tadpoles, and often got severely chastised after falling in. There was a regular pitch and toss school near the Engine Pub, where the men gathered to chance their luck. What used to be the premises of East Hunslet Labour Club, near Balm Road Bridge, became those of Bill Fotherby, a St Joseph’s school old boy, who in turn had taken over from Hipps clothiers. Those of us old enough remember the Graff Zeppelin in the air over Hunslet Moor, and later the fire destroying the premised of Jappa Blinds, near Royal Road.

In those days the place was a hive of industry, where Claytons boiler makers had premises in Pepper Road and Moor End. We had a jam works and later muffin making establishment off Lakeside. Old Mr Stockwell had his rag and bone yard near the men’s urinal, close to the premise of local undertaker, Percy Wood, the man who buried most of the Hunslet dead, including my own family members.

Dennison’s weighbridge manufacturers was (and still is) on Moor Road opposite the bowling greens of Hunslet Lake.

A place where many of my acquaintances used to work, including family, and the father of author Willis Hall, Walter. There is a great deal more, but perhaps that’s enough for now; other than to say that even though some say it was a time of hardship, and at times deprivation during the general strike, there was always a spirit of community, honesty and pride, the like of which is rarely seen today.

Yes that little community, an annexe if you like of its larger neighbour Leeds, has still much to be proud of.

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Cuckoo Steps: a special place

John Roberts, Wakefield

It was really good to see mention of the Cuckoo Steps in the letters pages of the YEP.

I know exactly what Ernest Lundy meant when he wrote about ‘a kind of magic’ at this location. It was one of those special places, a place of adventure and atmosphere.

By the time I knew this footbridge the Great Northern goods line had closed (1967) but I would ‘lake’ with a group of lads from Cross Flatts Primary on ‘the alps’ (the name given to part of the tip heaps which were like a strange, Martian landscape.

Ashe wrote, a whole generation of Hunslet lads and lasses knew ‘the steps.’ I caught them at the tail end (they were demolished in the early 1970s). Why Cuckoo Steps?

My own theory is that it is to do with the whistle code given by steam engines when they reversed a train of coal wagons towards Broom Pit (now the extremity of the Middleton Railway).

The driver would give a whistle to the signalman at Parkside signalbox which resembled a cuckoo’s sound.

I wrote a poem about The Old Run which the YEP published some years ago. Also I made an oil painting of the Cuckoo Steps in 2000 from photographs and my own memory.

‘Absurd’ parking fine

Michael Mooney, by email

I am in receipt of an invoice for an £85 parking ‘charge’, relating to my use of the car park at Morrisons Supermarket, Yeadon, on October 14 2015.

This is apparently due to using the car park for 36 minutes in excess of the ‘permitted’ two hours. I have lodged a formal appeal against this charge.

I understand Morrisons wishes to ensure its car parks are for the use of legitimate customers, and are not abused as ‘free all day parking’ by non-patrons.

There is a big difference between that and a regular customer who will on rare occasions be unavoidably detained by other appointments in the area, before or after shopping in the store (as was the case on 14th October).

My wife and I have been regular users of Morrisons’ supermarkets in the Rawdon-Guiseley-Yeadon area for over 18 years.

I have no idea how much money we have spent in those stores in that time, but it will certainly run into many tens of thousands of pounds.

After this rather absurd and short-sighted ‘fine’ incident, we will be seriously considering whether we wish to continue using those stores in future.In a climate of ruthless competition in the supermarket sector, it will not have escaped notice that Morrisons have been much in the news lately for falling profits.

If the company applies similar intelligence to its general management as it does to matters like this, I can’t say I’m surprised.

YEP Letters: September 23