Leeds nostalgia: Woman had natural ‘petrol well’ in cellar in 1947

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Wind the clock back to 1947 (so, precisely 70 years ago today) and there was a rather curious story occupying the front page of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

It concerned Margaret Dean, of Peterson Road, Wakefield, who apparently had a ‘petrol well’ in her cellar. She claimed she was able to draw petrol from it at will and furthermore that she could then use this free source of fuel as wanted.

The YEP despatched a reporter to the scene to investigate said claims and various tests were carried out and pictures taken as proof.

The first test involved getting Mrs Dean to draw some water up from the well and then set it on fire in a can. This worked.

The second test was to see whether the ‘petrol’ would work in a cigarette lighter - it did.

Finally, some was added to a car, the fuel being poured into the carburetter. The YEP noted: “A pull on the chock, a touch on the starter and the engine started at once.”

In other news, it’s funny how circular politics often seems when we look back at old newspapers. Also taking up space on the front page on Friday December 12 was a story about unrest on the West Bank, as 500,000 Arabs were said to be ready to march in a bid to “save Palestine”. The headline could almost have been written yesterday.

However, back in 1947, the protests were over the Jewish Defence Army, which was beginning its biggest offensive against the Arabs. It made country-wide attacks on Arabs, 13 of whom were killed. Grenades were thrown in Princess Mary Avenue, Jerusalem, wrecking the offices of two Arab transport companies. Meanwhile, nine Jews were killed following an ambush of a convoy by Bedouin tribesmen between Jerusalem and Hebron.