Leeds nostalgia: barrow boys of Kirkgate Market and begging to differ on RAG week dates

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Mary Redhead (nee Quinlan), whose late father Dick worked as an asphalter for most of his life but also spent time as a ‘barrow boy’ on Leeds Kirkgate Market.

Mary recalled how he and his friends would spend time in the local pub, known colloquially as ‘The Madhouse’.

The picture, taken in 1947, shows a group of men gathered around an apple cart, selling apples at a shilling for one-and-a-half pounds.

Dick served in the war and was in North Africa and Malta and spent time as a prisoner of war in Italy and was married to Mary.

Each of the men in the picture had their own fruit and veg stalls on the market, including Freddie Best (pictured far right), whose nickname was Linnet on account of his fine singing voice. His grandson, William Brown runs the family fruit and veg business in Pocklington.

Mary said: “I came across the picture recently and I think it may have been taken by my father because he is not in the picture, although I know he worked as a barrow boy and I remember him telling me stories about the Mad House. It would be nice to learn more about the picture and to find out who is in it. If anyone knows anything about it, I’d be grateful to hear from them.”

Anyone who does recognise any of the people in the picture can contact Times Past at the usual address.

Meanwhile, Mr G A Hall, from The View, Alwoodley, wrote to us regarding a picture published some weeks ago of student RAG week. One of the pictures was of a float which had a banner reading ‘It’s good to be alive in 1905’, inferring it was taken around that time but Mr Hall begs to differ.

He said: “The picture was probably taken in the late 1940s-early 1950s. The student float is mounted on a Scamell Scarab tractor unit and trailer. British Railways used many in Leeds and were made from 1948-67. The picture also shows two [other] vehicles of the period - the students on the float were probably celebrating the first women graduates at the university, which took place in 1905.”

He added: “The photo of the RAG week crowd is in The Headrow with Lewis’s department store (built 1932). The two lorries and attire of the crowd place it 1948-53.”