Map 3

In 2013, we worked with three groups of older people in different locations around the city, chatting, listening, eating biscuits and gathering people’s memories and reflections about their lives in Leeds. It was a privilege to hear these stories – some funny, some sad, some nostalgic. As we listened, a map emerged of a different Leeds, one that perhaps no longer exists any more. Many of the people who lived there are no longer with us; many of the places and buildings it contained have been knocked down. And yet this other Leeds has not quite gone for good. It has simply shifted its location, existing now in memories, old photographs and stories.

In September 2013 we took some of the stories we had gathered and shared them with others: members of Bramley Craft Club and the Yorkshire Branch of The Embroiderers’ Guild; Buns and Roses, the local Women’s Institute and various artists and makers from the Twitterverse. Together with Thread Artist Hayley Mills-Styles, we met in Veritas Ale & Wine Bar on Great George Street to create a set of embroidered maps, based on 1930s Ordnance Surveys of Leeds. Each map showed the location of one of the stories that we had been told. We wanted to reinscribe these stories in the fabric of the city and accord a new importance to these half-forgotten places. You can see some of the maps we made below.

214) 2nd August
Propping up a dustbin on the Headrow, two old ladies swap stories & chat about nothing. Throwaway conversation; precious as the sun.

Members of the Stainbeck Lunch Club sharing stories with Matthew and Alison.

Members of the Stainbeck Lunch Club sharing stories with Matthew and Alison.

Needles and Threads

The light in the backroom of Veritas, was perfect for a romantic interlude, but perhaps less suited to detailed needlework. Hayley had to bring extra lamps from home, and I resorted to borrowing a child’s headtorch and sewing with a light-up lego man attached to my forehead. However, as we stitched in the gathering gloom, the maps began to take shape and as they did, they sparked conversations and memories for the participants. As our needles flashed in the half-light, people shared tales from their family history, associations with the places they were stitching and anecdotes about the city. The stories lit the room and in their glow, we began to get to knew each other better.

Shakespeare Housing Estate/Marsh Lane Station

“Yes, I didn’t feel afraid or anything, no. Although, I know one of the worst raids Leeds had, I lived in what they called the Shakespeares, opposite the hospital and my dad was an Air Raid Warden, and when the sirens went well, course he used to go out and I stopped with my mum and I didn’t have any brothers and sisters. Once we had a really bad raid where they hit Quarry Hill Flats and the railway, Marsh Lane Station and me and my mother stood at the top of the cellar steps and she says, “well if they bomb us now, we’ll be covered in jam and pickle,” cos she kept them on the shelf along the top of the cellar.”

Story – Mary K. Embroidery – Alix Parish, Gemma Rathbone

Hillcrest Cinema, Harehills

“There used to be … I don’t know if you know about Killingbeck and the … well, you’d use to think, “I’ll go up Killingbeck tonight,” and there used to be a stream of us, all about sixteen, seventeen years old and when you got to right at’top of Killingbeck we’d all use to stand and you’d talk to a lad who you fancied – just on’t’ end of’t’ street and we all used to clamour round you know. Then we used to go to East End Park on a Sunday afternoon and meet all the lads there. And I met my husband – he didn’t live my end at all he lived down bottom of York Road. We went to the Hillcrest one night and he were in there and you know what they’re like, lads and girls, chatting and that and he followed me home and I said to him, “you’ll have a long walk back,” you know, cos we lived right at the very bottom and it were a long lane – I don’t know if you know it – Osmondthorpe Lane but – well I lived about six houses from the bottom. Red Row they called it and he were following me and I said, “you’ve a long walk home.” Didn’t care though, did he?”

Story – Betty W. Embroidery – Dianne Craven

Montague Burton’s, Hudson Road

“I’ve done all sorts. When I left school, they gave you job interviews to go to from school and I had this one to go to the electricity board in town and we lived near Montague Burtons – the big factory at Hudson Road. And I was walking down Hudson Road to catch the tram to town hall bus – trams it was then –and I thought “oh, I’ll nip here and see if I can get a job here.” And I never got to town. I got a job in the insurance department at Burtons and they had their own shorthand typing school so I went there and passed a few exams and I got a job there … I think there were about 5000 employees altogether probably a thousand in each workroom … And then they used to bus them in from Castleford and Pontefract and Normanton and all over the place … I spent about twenty-odd years at Burtons in between having children and then after that I went – I left completely and I went to another place which was a hamper packing company – Christmas hampers – Festival Foods which is still there on Osmonthorpe Lane and I still get a hamper from them every Christmas and I was there twenty-odd years as well. So they were basically the two main jobs that I had.”

Story – Betty S. Embroidery – Debbie Bosco, Sam Cullen

Strawberry Avenue, Armley

“I was born in November 1917. I don’t remember the war of course, I was only just born. I lived in Armley. No 11, Strawberry Avenue … It’s not there now. It’s pulled down. I had two brothers and I had a sister that died when she were six but I never knew her. She died before I was born and my dad, he died before I were born, three month before I were born. Mother was left a widow with three of us … He had dropsy and Bright’s disease. And my mother died when she were 48, so I were left an orphan at 14.

And in those days if you got married, you couldn’t follow your career – she was in printing. But even when my father died, she couldn’t go back to that trade, because they wouldn’t accept married women. They wouldn’t accept married women in schools. So my mother just had to go out cleaning. She had to do something because there were no pension in those days. She cleaned in a brewery at first. Toilets and things and then somebody – came home one day and somebody had done it cheaper, so they sacked her. And then she went and worked in St Mary’s hospital, ironing nurse’s uniforms. She used to go at six o’clock on a morning. We had to get ourselves off to school, me and my brother. My eldest brother were working then, cos he left school at thirteen. I left at fourteen. I were clever at school. And they wanted me to sit for a scholarship, but my mum couldn’t afford the uniform. So I couldn’t sit you see? No good sitting if I hadn’t got a uniform, for West Leeds High School.”

Story – Lillian R. Embroidery – Vicky Lockley

St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Torre Road

Can I ask what your parents did?

“Well actually we had a fish shop above me, you know? – Fish and chips. Ooh, I wish I could think o’ t’ name of that – where we had t’ first fish shop. It were down again’ St Patricks but I can’t remember t’ name … we’d a house on t’ fish shop, you know? Rooms and that … That’s what they did when we were young. But they had to come out of it. Doctor said – you know, I was always poorly. I had every ailment you could think of and they said, you know, you’d have to move for t’ grease. So we moved up Woodhouse Lane. But we didn’t stay there long because the house wasn’t big enough.”

Story – Margaret H. Embroidery – Matthew Bellwood/Hayley Mills-Styles

Odeon Cinema (formerly the Paramount Theatre)

“Seventeen year, I waited for this man. Yes, because he was married. Married. Trouble was they had a boozer and I used to work with him all this job in there. And I used to work with him all the time, every day, he’d take me home. Anyway, I fell in love with him. Seventeen year I waited for him because he’d got married, and she were crackers, she used to chuck herself down t’ steps. She was jealous, jealous! I’ve never known a person to be so jealous of a woman or man. But there was nothing to it, I mean, well, in time. I stopped there. And I waited seventeen year for him. I thought, nobody else is gonna have him! I waited too long. And he made me a lovely husband, he did.

And we weren’t married very long. Not as long as I wanted to be, because he had two heart attacks … but don’t feel sorry for me. Because I wasn’t sorry. I enjoyed it. And I knew that no one else was gonna have him. Only me. And I did get him. It was a performance. But I don’t care. We used to meet – do you remember at t’ Bus Station, when there used to be a café there? All the drivers used to go in for a drink of tea. Well I used to meet him there, at Bus Station, every Saturday … He used to wait for me across the road … And sometimes I wasn’t there because I used to be late. But I knew where he used to go. Used to say, “you know where I am, don’t you?” So we used to go to t’ Odeon. We used to go to The Ritz and we used to go to another one, but it were a little bugger ‘ole, I called it. But anyway, I enjoyed it and we always used to meet there and I did that for a lot of years, you know. And at t’ finish, we used to work together. Every day of us lives. All these damn years.”

Story – Hetty S. Embroidery – Leigh Bowser

Temple Newsam

“Well we lived near each other and, well, you know how you are when you’re – well we used to have all t’lads and lasses mixed then – and that’s how I went started going with him. And he just lived – I worked in t’ street, and that street, it were in t’ street were Plant’s, J.W. Plant and he lived in t’ next street. And I lived in t’ Bertha’s. You wouldn’t know t’ Berthas. Richmond Hill. You don’t know there, so you wouldn’t know it. No. They used to sing, you know, that song, Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill. (Laughs). And we knew each other from being working, not from being young, from working. Yeah. From … started courting, you know how you are? Right young when we started courting. Going out. We used to walk up to Temple Newsam. We didn’t have a car or ault like that. For walking, you had to walk to go everywhere. Well, it were good. Yeah, we used to walk up Red Road, you know where Red Road is? It took you right up to Temple Newsam and through the cou – instead of having to go on – you’d no transport anyway but we used to walk it. We were about sixteen when we started going, yeah, about that, sixteen year old, yeah.”

Story – Blanche N. Embroidery – Sarah Gott

Vinery Avenue/Vinery Mount

“You know where t’ Irish Centre is? Well it were there. Them were t’ houses we lived on there. Again’ t’Irish Centre. Like they were old houses you know? Small houses. Not like now. And we lived there and we were overcrowded so we’d to come out of there … we ha’n’t enough bedrooms and what have you. And we got one of t’ first houses in Vinery Avenue, it wa’. I remember t’ number. Vinery Avenue it wa’. They’d a garden and everything. We’d not got anything there you see so it were different. And I were only a kid and I’d two brothers, they used to go round selling ice-cream – you know Granelli? They used to – for a bit o’money, my brother, eldest one, other one wa’n’t allowed to do it, but he helped. He wasn’t allowed to do it officially. (Laughs). But he died at fifteen. He were born wi’ a bad what is it – heart. They couldn’t do ault for him, from being baby. He were the bonniest lad. Yeah and he used to make crystal sets. He were brainy. He were brainy. To pass his time on in t’house he’d do that! Cos he wa’n’t allowed to go to work because he wa’n’t fit but he went and got himself a job, I’ll tell you this, and he went in’t pit and me mam had to take him out, cos she said “you can’t do that job! It’d kill him!” Well he did die, d’you know what I mean? My man worked at Burton’s, she were a forewoman at Burtons and she got him in at Burtons, just at – they all walked at his funeral did all Burton’s – oh they did! – up to St – up to t’hospital – Killingbeck – from St Patricks.”

Story – Blanche N. Embroidery – Lucy Rider and Jenny Cantrell

Hillcrest Cinema, Harehills #2

“I met my husband in a cinema. Because the girl that I went to the cinema with, she was chatting to him all night long and I were playing pop with her for flirting with him and showing me up, you know. And he sort of kept turning round and grinning and talking and what have you and that’s where I met him.

How did your friend feel about that?

She took it in her stride. She wasn’t going out with him or anything. It was in The Hillcrest. It’s no longer there. It was halfway up Harehills Lane and they changed it into the Ministry of Driving. But I don’t think it’s that now it was something to do with driving school – driving exams and things.”

Story – Betty S. Embroidery – Helen Gibson

St Mary’s Church, Quarry Hill

“I met my husband at St Mary’s Church, which is now demolished. St Mary’s Church, Quarry Hill. It was a big church and it had a big square tower with a clock on and I know I went one Sunday morning and he was home on leave – shore leave. And he said to somebody, “who’s this?” because he didn’t know me. And after, that following week, he had leave, some leave and we went to – they had a good youth club there and we went there and also we went to the Astoria, dancing and he walked me home. And he was going away actually. He were on his embarkation leave and he asked me if I’d write to him. And I wrote to him for three years. About three years and nine months. And we were married fifty-eight years. He was in the Durham Light Infantry. Yes. And was very proud to be in the Durhams.”

Story – Mary K. Embroidery – Matthew Bellwood

Remembering the Way

‘The way we were’ is a romantic idea. It is also the title of a song by Bergman, Bergman and Hamlisch, most notably sung by Barbra Streisand. The lyrics treat of the bitter sweetness of looking back, nostalgia, regret, ironic acceptance that times past will not come our way again – even as the details of specific events, and the overall arc of our life experience can often be described with precision.

The process of remembering summons the past into the present and renders it vital. At afternoon tea with the Seacroft Methodist Ladies Fellowship, children from Beechwood Primary School asked questions about the way things were in daily life for the generation born and raised in the early decades of the last century.

European culture deals with time as a set of divisions: 4 Seasons, 24/7, and as referenced in the title of this project, 365 diurnal segments. The moving hands of the clock sweep the time away relentlessly. We face forward to the future, and the past is behind us. In some cultures, however, the past is regarded as in front of you, because visible and known, while the future lies behind because it cannot be seen. In contrast, Dreamtime holds past present and future in a continuum and establishes the structures of aboriginal life in continuity with the land.

As well as the mixed emotions arising from reminiscence, remembering the way we were is a matter of great pride. The achievements of the women are considerable. They have lived their lives at the heart of their communities; bringing up families; working in a wide range of industries and businesses in Leeds and setting an example of fortitude, economy and appreciation of the important things in life.

The members of the Fellowship have time now to satisfy the curiosity of the young people about the past. They talk in great detail about their daily lives before domestic appliances were commonplace – when shopping was done daily from local specialists, when the food was in season; when food was stored on a cold slab in the pantry; when writing was with a pen dipped in ink and blotted with blotting paper; when the laundry was done on a Monday in water heated by a fire under the copper and took all day; when the snacks were bread and jam or dripping; when the gas lamps were lit one by one by the lamplighter; when the way to go was on foot or on a bus with a conductor; when you swam in a knitted suit which hung waterlogged down to your knees; when people had time to play and talk together.

These things are not forgotten, not this afternoon, while the way we were comes alive again for the children.

As the last tea cup is drained and the last teacake demolished, one lady says quietly, ‘It’s good to know we’ve not been forgotten.’

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Seacroft, Cross Gates and Stainbeck

Map 3 News

Published on 01/04/2014

What lies at the heart of the city of Leeds?

Published on 07/01/2014

Remembering the Way

Published on 05/11/2013

St Mary’s Church, Quarry Hill

Published on 04/11/2013

Hillcrest Cinema, Harehills #2

Published on 03/11/2013

Vinery Avenue/Vinery Mount


secret fossils