Memories by the tram load

BY JOHN THORPE Phew! Now I know lots of you hanker for the day of the tram but the response to Jack Baker's observations from Vancouver Island, Canada, have been amazing.

Jack, who hails from Leeds, was unsure of the location of this print by artist Peter Lapish which recently arrived at his home in Canada.

One of Jack's relatives told him it was somewhere near the Regent Street/York Road junction. Wrong! Of course it's looking down North Street towards Sheepscar. The distinctive building still stands. It was the Midland Bank.

Colin Wilson was the first to be in touch via e-mail: "It is clearly the Golden Cross, which was the namegiven tothe junction of North Street, Chapeltown Road and Meanwood Road.The junction was probably named after the Golden Cross public house, a Bentley's Yorkshire Brewery house which was situated on the corner opposite the bank building.

"In the late fifties and early sixties I walked that way hometo Woodhouse on manyoccasions including walking home fromBridge Street Sunday School(still there and thriving – does anyone else of that era remember it?) in the heart of'town'.


"There was a short cut to Woodhouse over what is now the Little London estate (we used to call it the Servias) but the shops on North Street were much more interesting and worth the extra distance. I remember Scheerer's music shop openingon North Street before later moving to the Merrion Centre, plus the many Jewish tailors shops and, as illustrated in the picture, the Zip dry cleaners. The published picture brought back many nostalgic memories."

R Smart of North Leeds points out on the right hand side is Benson Street and the Eagle Tavern and adds: "I worked in thearea for 15 years from 1941 when i was 14 years old."

Mr A C Oxley says the bank building was recently used by the company Firstnet, while transport buff Chris Youhill of Queenswood Heights, Headingley observes: "The first picture shows Briggate between 1911 and 1921.

"All the trams are open-balcony and as the first fully enclosed cars were built in 1923 it would be odd if one were not present in the picture.

"Also tram number 298 was built in 1911 thereby establishing the earliest date of the view. The first central passenger shelter was erected in 1921 and is not visible – so there we almost certainly have the range of years.

"The Albion Hotel remained open until 1927 and was then sold for the building and opening in 1928 of the Woolworth Store – The Empire Theatre was well towards the top of Briggate and opened in 1898. The Rialto Cinema was so named on February 4, 1927, having opened in 1911 as The Picture House.

"The tram in the North Street scene is heading out of the city and therefore the destination display 'Briggate' is incorrect."

Eddie Coulter of south Leeds knows his city and says he used to ride the No 3 tram to Roundhay Park when he was a kid.

Tony 'Smiler' Armstrong was brought up in the Camp Road area and tells me he remembers the Golden Cross pub and Golden Cross cafe in North Street.

Peter Kirkby points out the tramlines diverged at the bank – left for Meanwood, right for Chapeltown and Roundhay.

Harry Cohen e-mailed to say the little girl on the left hand side standing outside Sorkins the cleaning and pressing shop was Bessie Kay, who died recently:

"She told me it was her standing outside the family business in the snow. Happy days remembered of a lovely lady."

John Brook of Hetton Road in Oakwood is impressed with the bank's magnificent clock tower.

Dave Johnson confides the "youngest" tram in the Briggate scene is number 298 built in 1913. On the view of Lower North Street Dave believes Lapish's painting is based on a photograph taken in July 1955 by the late Robert Mack, adding: "Tram 74 was one of the last 'Chamberlain' cars in service and was burned in the scrapyard in Lowfields Road on 3 November 1956.

Susan Appleson is not the only one to think the bank building in North Street was once a Yorkshire Penny Bank. "The No 3 tram would have come from Roundhay Park. As a child I lived just above the park and used that tram route then and into my teenage years."

Leslie Maxwell has memories of North Street: "Next to Zip dry cleaners was Gittleman's gent's outfitters.


"On the opposite side of the road by the tram stop was Sorkins the pressers next to it was Alexander's stores, next to that was Black's Furnishers and on the corner was Stylo Shoes. Above the shops was a club called The Regal where many a fortune was gambled."

Raymond Diamond of Alwoodley has a copy of the North Street print entitled 'North Street circa 1950'.

"The buildings on the right are now The Plumb Centre," says Raymond, "and as I recall, the ones on the left, below the Morris Minor van, were the Trustee Savings Bank and Stylo Shoes.

"The artist used some licence as the tram is on the nearside track heading north and would be going to Harehills or Roundhay, yet it is showing '3 Briggate', which means that it should have been on the other track heading up North Street towards town. However, if there was a cheeky 'Tyke' sat at the back upstairs he may have altered the destination board. It was a favourite trick of mine, and my friends, when we caught the tram home from Roundhay School to Harehills.

"The number 3 went up Roundhay Road to Moortown Corner, the number 2 went up Chapeltown Road towards Moortown Corner. There was also a number 4 which terminated at the Clock Cinema, Harehills."

Murray Freedman says confidently: "Regarding your two tram pictures; the first of Briggate showing four trams can immediately be dated before 1930 since no Horsfield-type trams, which first came into use that year, are shown.

"The Albion Hotel closed in 1928 and was replaced by Woolworth's store. The tall building to the left of it with the clock was the Victory Hotel, previously called the Grand Central Hotel. It was later demolished to make way for an extension to Woolworth store but due to the war this was not built until the 1950s.

"The absence of cars on Briggate suggests an early date and the trams themselves seem to pre-date 1926 when the all-enclosed Chaimberlain design was introduced."

On the North Street scene, Murray says: "The tram shown is a Chaimberlain in what would have been a red livery introduced in 1950. Chaimberlain and Horsfield were names of respective directors of Leeds Corporation Tramways."

Gary Wheelhouse of Kentmere Avenue, Seacroft, says the No 3 Briggate tram has caused a bit of a dispute in his household: "My mum, who is 91, seems to think it is of Kirkgate looking down towards the Parish Church. I disagree, I cannot remember a No 3 tram ever coming up Kirkgate. It is the bottom of North Street."

The weight of opinion, Gary, is with far.

From Farsley, Chris Hough points out the two illustrations of Leeds trams date from opposite ends of the tramway era in the city.


"The first shows Briggate probably in the years around the First World War or just after. This supposition is reached by virtue of thetram numbered 298 having entered service in the years between 1910and 1913, being built by the corporation in Kirkstall car works.Car 60 dates from 1904. The tram livery appears to be the original yellow, chocolate, brown and cream that was superseded by blue and white in the early 1920s."

Chris says tram car No 74 was built by Brush of Loughborough: "The North Street scene is from the 1950s and the No 3 route was one of the lastLeeds tram services to close in March 1959."

John Groves tells me the manger of the Midland Bank on North Street at the time this scene was captured was Noel Herbert from Tadcaster.

"I went to Tadcaster Grammar School with his son, Paul," says John. "I rode on the Meanwood trams (route no 6) many times in the late 1940s and early 50s from the Vicar Lane entrance of the County Arcade to Barrack Street where my grandparents Harry and Annie Brown had a greengrocery shop on the corner of Barrack Street and Meanwood Road next to Willoughby's shop

"His brother and sister in law, Ernest and Nellie Brown, had a newsagent's opposite Willoughby's next to Grayson's butcher's shop.

"Their shop was bought by a Mr Jones who also bought my grandparent's shop when they retired. My grandparents lived in Chesapeake Street off Meanwood Road, a short distance from their shop, having moved from Beeston Hill.

"My grandpa and his brother both worked for James Hare at Coronet House in Queen Street before going into business for themselves."

Betty Taylor of Saxon Court in north Leeds, is certain the bank was the Midland: "Colleagues and I saved 2/6d from our wages and the Midland told us our deposits were so small it wasn't worth their time dealing with them so we banked with the Skyrack & Morley Bank – the end building on the left of the North Street scene."

Ivor Hawkins of Swardale Green, Swarcliffe, remembers meeting his mates outside the bank in North Street on Saturday nights before going in to town for a pint or two.

This is what tramscape and Dales artist Pete Lapish, who is working on some more nostalgic city scenes in conjunction with Kingswear Gallery in Cross Gates, has to say: "My 'Lunchtime Briggate' is illustrated pre-First World War with balcony cars and although no automobiles are shown they were about. The North Street scene I dated 1950."

Mrs V Middleton of Holbeck was a conductress in the late 1940s on a tram driven by her then boyfriend who became her husband who died 5-and-a-half years ago. They worked the Dewsbury Road-Gipton route via Compton Road and Mr Middleton was a proud member of the Leeds Historical Transport Society.

Miss Mary Paylor, of West Leeds, worked as a conductress on the No 3 route beginning in 1949 so knew the whereabouts, so did Mrs Eileen Ellis of Dawlish Avenue, East End Park, who works at Gadsby's Art Centre on New Briggate, which sell Peter Lapish's pictures.


Cyril Clarkson, of Cottingley, is in his 80th year and couldn't tell folk fast enough it was North Street.

Others to correctly identify North Street include Cliff Hiley, BEM, of Wentworth Close, Harrogate;

Mrs Joan Burrow of Fearnville Grove, Oakwood; Mrs J Wade of Black Moor Road in north Leeds whose family lived in the Sheepscar/Roundhay Road area until 1970; Rita Gilpin of Allerton Bywater, who worked for Zip dry cleaners in 1956; LE Slack, of Lingfield View, Moortown, whose dynasty lived in Leeds Terrace which ran parallel with North Street; Mr C Bramley of Springbank, Garforth; Matt Vickers of West Park Drive East, Roundhay;

Victor Waterhouse, Armley Grange Walk;

Kenneth W Teale of Throckley, Newcastle; Edward Fearby of Butterbowl Grove, Farnley;

WA Hopwood, Parkside Crescent, Meanwood;

Frank Johnson, Graycrest, Kirkstall;

Karen Walton of Claremont Street, Oulton; Brain Wigglesworth of Birchfields Close, Whinmoor;

Richard S Dolan, Potternewton Heights, Chapel Allerton; Bryan Reeder of Amberton Crescent, Gipton, and Eric Wrigg of Dennil Road, Cross Gates, who reveals there was an ironmongers, a fruit shop and fish and chip shop on the row on the right along with Timothy Whites & Taylors chemists and a barber's shop and

Mrs P Sheldon of Argie Gardens in Kirkstall believes the Empire Theatre was higher up Briggate than suggested by Jack Baker – she believes where Harvey Nicks now stands. But Mrs Sheldon is "off track" when she suggests the scene with tram no 74 was at the junction of Beckett Street and Harehills Road just past St James's Hospital.

On the Briggate view, William Sharpe of Wensleydale Drive, Upper Armley, has recollections of the urinal: "The iron rail safety barrier enclosed the steps to the subterranean facility but what's missing are the metal tram barriers that protected the unwary citizens from the tramlines in the area and which ran from the toilet up to the junction with Kirkgate/Commercial Street.

"I recall these with regret. I was a crew member of a fire engine that hit the barrier at that junction in 1957 when answering an emergency call to a severe fire at Vallances."

Tom Kneeshaw of Park Crescent, Rothwell, knows his geography. Tom's family kept the Golden Cross Hotel on the corner of North Street and Meanwood Road and he was employed by Appleyard of Leeds in his early teens.