The very different lives of residents in Cemetery Road Beeston and Cemetery Road Yeadon

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One street name. Two places. Same city. Different lives.

As part of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s A City Divided special report Emma Ryan takes a look at life on Cemetery Road - in the inner city suburb of Beeston and west Leeds market town, Yeadon.

The booming Leeds city centre district in the Beeston background.

The booming Leeds city centre district in the Beeston background.

The sun is out. It’s the start of the school holidays and yet the main road through Beeston seems deserted.

Contrast with a blustery and rainy afternoon in Yeadon and the road that links the town with open countryside sees dog-walkers, fishermen and children taking part in watersports on the sparkling Tarn.

A pensioner chats over the fence to a neighbour while he waters his colourful, home-made garden displays.

Back in Beeston, save for a couple of people at a bus stop, a man gardening at his mother’s house, a drunk and an argument going on through a bedsit window it feels lonely, brow-beaten and subdued.

Cemetery Road in Yeadon.

Cemetery Road in Yeadon.

Imposing bars adorn front doors where the paint has faded and flaked and yellowing net curtains fall halfway down the windows.

As part of the Yorkshire Evening Post’s A City Divided series we look at the increasing issue of social inequality across Leeds and how the lives of people living just a few miles apart in a vibrant city like Leeds can be so, so different.

Beeston

Beeston sits in the shadows of the Leeds United football ground and from the rows of back to back terraced houses and converted bedsits the booming Leeds city centre financial district rises from the skyline.

Dog walkers and fishermen in Yeadon make the most of what is on their doorstep.

Dog walkers and fishermen in Yeadon make the most of what is on their doorstep.

However, in the vicinity of Cemetery Road, figures show a larger than average concentration of residents have no qualifications. The demographic of the population is broken down as ‘Semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers; those on state benefit/unemployed, & lowest grade workers’.

The pub has closed down and on the main road there is a church and health centre.

The cemetery that the road is so-called after is hard to find - and it feels like a long time since anyone did. Many graves are collapsed and adorned with over-growing ivy.

The last house to be sold there, according to property website Rightmove, was a terrace in August last year for £168,000. There are houses to rent and rooms available in house-shares or bedsits but just one listed for Cemetery Road at £390 per month.

Plane-spotting near Leeds Bradford airport.

Plane-spotting near Leeds Bradford airport.

According to crime data for June this year, there were 353 crimes recorded for Cemetery Road and the nearby area within half a mile. The two main types of crime were classed as violence or sexual followed by vehicle crime.

However, there are pockets of people who are proud of their homes with perfectly preened privets and neat net curtains. Buses are on hand to take passengers as far as Gildersome, Morley, St James’ Hospital, the White Rose and the city centre.

However, when I asked local people to talk about where they live - no-one would.

Councillor view

Coun Angela Gabriel has been the ward councillor for Beeston and Holbeck since 2004. She said: “The reason that people live here is the cost of houses. They are quite big houses but there is a lot of house for your money, it is one of the main roads into town and it is good for the transport facilities. The problem is, a lot of other people travel through that area and we get a lot of air pollution.

“On one side of the road there is the vicarage and on the other side you have got big semi and detached four, five and six bedroomed houses. A lot of them have gone into multiple occupation with the way that the benefits are. You get less if you are over 35 so instead of having a house they have to have a bedsit or a flat.

Is life here an uphill struggle for residents at Cemetery Road, Beeston?

Is life here an uphill struggle for residents at Cemetery Road, Beeston?

“There is a mix of people from all over the world. We have a Polish and Lithuanian community and a lot of southern Asians but also white, working class people who are born and bred Beeston and want to stay.”

Yeadon

Meanwhile, 12 miles away, Cemetery Road in Yeadon is a hive of colour, activity and is also a direct link with the rest of the world with the airport on its doorstep.

The last census recorded around 22,000 people living here - a little more than that of Beeston which was 20,000.

From one end of the road to the other, you will find a car repair and sales business, a motorbike dealer, a country pub, corner-shop, fencing and shed business.

In the middle of all this is the Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre and, the affectionately known, Yeadon Tarn.

When the YEP visited, the boating lake was shared by ducks, swans, a flock of Canadian Geese, dog-walkers, fisherman and youngsters taking part in summer holiday organised water sports.

The houses are in neat rows of stone, slate roofed terraces with colourful plant pots on each of the stone doorsteps and nestled within them is a Sisters of Mercy Convent, allotments and the cemetery the road is named after.

It is overlooked by an imposing, historic stone building and graves are largely tendered and well-kept.

But there is a leisure activity of a different kind taking place here. In a lay-by next to the cemetery there are rows of parked cars with children and adults hanging out of car windows plane-spotting as aircrafts land and take off at Leeds Bradford airport.

Such is the spectator sport that an ice-cream van parks up each day but last year plane spotters were slammed by a bereaved mother.

Hundreds had gathered in viewing areas around the airport to watch the Canadian Air Force C17 aircraft depart in May last year but she said people were seen enjoying picnics, allowing children to ride bikes and play football around the burial ground. She added that men were even seen urinating on headstones and children played football near graves.

Whether this featured in the local crime statistics at the time is unknown. But for the month of June 2019, there were 65 crimes for the half mile vicinity of Cemetery Road. Shoplifting was the most recorded crime, followed by violence/sexual crimes.

Transport may not be as easy to come by on Cemetery Road as its Beeston namesake, with one bus serving Greengates, Eccleshill, Bradford, Bolton and the nearby eye hospital.

Lifeline

It might explain why there are more obvious amenities in Yeadon and for 87-year-old former builder Ron Watson and his wife Shirley who live in old folks bungalows just off Cemetery Road they are a lifeline.

He said: “We have only lived here five years but we love it. We lived in Guiseley but my wife is impaired and has to have care so we moved here. We have just come back from Morrisons and there is everything here that we need. I cut through over the road and I am on the Tarn and that is lovely as well.

“There are one or two shops that we use, a hair-dressers. There are most things that you need and I am getting to an age now where I need that. I am 87 but there are lots around here that are well into their 90s.

“I have done all this and made a lovely garden. The lad next door is disabled and I have cleared his garden for him so he can have a ramp down and will be able to come and sit out the front.”

Statistics

This latest look at the gulf of life in Leeds follows a four day series last week in which the Yorkshire Evening Post launched a special series highlighting the growing level of social inequality that exists in Leeds in 2019.

We took an in-depth look at the most affluent council ward in the borough, which is Harewood, and compared it to Gipton and Harehills, an area which is one of the most deprived in the city, if not the country.

It came after figures high-lighted the ten year life expectancy difference which faces babies that are being born in Harehills compared to Harewood.
Over the next six weeks we will be shining a spotlight on the different factors that contribute to the levels of social inequality within our city.

Residents in Beeston have extra health services in the heart of their suburb.

Residents in Beeston have extra health services in the heart of their suburb.

Many of the big houses in Beeston have been converted to flats and bedsits.

Many of the big houses in Beeston have been converted to flats and bedsits.

Yeadon Cemetery.

Yeadon Cemetery.

Beeston Cemetery.

Beeston Cemetery.

Ron Waterson tends to his garden in Yeadon.

Ron Waterson tends to his garden in Yeadon.