Hunslet Lake in about 1905
Hunslet Moor was acquired by the Leeds Corporation in 1878 and divided into two, this section being Lakeside. The lake was formed in 1886 by widening Belle Isle beck. It had islands, and you could hire paddle boats.
The lake was filled in in 1920 to make way for two crown bowling greens for Hunslet Lake Amateur Bowling Club. The building to the left in the photo was known as the old man's shelter. They used to play dominoes in there. It remained after the lake was filled in, and became the office where you could hire bowls.
Image and text copyright of Leeds Library and Information Services
The 1850 map below shows very little development in Hunslet Carr. The main industries appear to be Hunslet Flax Mill and a chemical works, both alongside Balm Beck. Hunslet Foundry (later Denison's), which made the rails for the historic Middleton Railway, had also been operating since 1772 at least.
There was a flax mill dating back to at least the 1840s on Balm Road (the road opposite is Flax Mill Road). In a 1936 trade directory, the occupiers were Boocock & Wood, clothing manufacturers. The premises were later occupied by Hipp's and then Fotherby's, both also clothing manufacturers. They are now the Bridge House Office Suites.
The mill is also shown at the bottom of each page on this website in the water colour impression taken from a photo I took in 1974.
Former mill on Balm Road (photo 2009)
The CWS brush factory on Balm Road was later a butter factory.
Hunslet Carr (2)
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I grew up in Hunslet in Arthington View and went to Belle Isle Boys' School. I first started to going to Hunslet Boys' Club in the early 1960s, Mr. Goodyear was in charge then. If you went to Sunday service you could stay on and watch a movie. What a fantastic club that was and is still. I remember standing on Jack Lane outside the engine works waiting for them to bring an engine out; if the gates were open one would be brought out, sometimes with its wheels painted white and the flag of the country where it was going. On Arthington Avenue was Albert's. Albert made the most fantastic ice cream and he had a small three-wheeler trike which he would pedal round the streets . As a small boy we went on a Sunday morning for our ice cream. My wife's father, Edwin Ramsey, had the electrical shop on Balm Road which you can see a photograph of on the Leodis web site. He was also the projectonist at some of the local cinemas, of which we still have one of the bill posters bearing his name. Living in the Arthingtons, which is very close to Parkside, my father and I spent a lot of time there. In those days it was rugby, cricket, and bowls. I went to London in 1965 with Hunslet in the rugby final, a big day for Hunslet.
Steve Penn was born in 1948
I was born in the Burley district of Leeds in December 1949, the youngest of the three children of Ron and Christine Foster. My elder brother is Roger (born 1945), and my sister is Janet (born 1947). I believe we moved to Hunslet at the time of the Coronation, in the middle of 1953. I lived there until early 1965.
We had two addresses at that time as my mum and dad bought a hardware corner shop at 38 Balm Road, our attached house being 1 Playfair Road. The shop was opposite the British Fish Canners which took up all of one side of Playfair Road. Also in the factory complex were Leonard Cooper (Structural Engineers) and Hipps's clothing factory. My dad was a talented engineer and in those days he worked at Kershaw's (later to be part of the Rank Organisation) on Harehills Lane.
Home sweet home
Similar to the majority of houses in that area, it was not the grandest or the most spacious of residences. There was no garden. If you wanted to see a tree or shrub you would need to walk more than a mile to Hunslet Lake on Moor Road as the only greenery in the immediate vicinity of my house were the weeds growing between the cobbles – the house was entered straight from the street. No hallways either, the outside door opened straight into the single downstairs room which combined kitchen/living/dining, plus at times, bathroom (there was no sitting room as the best rooms are sometimes called). The kitchen sink and gas cooker were behind a curtain in one corner of the room together with the food preparation area – the fireplace took up most of one wall and then, set in an alcove, my dad had a roll top desk. (Oh, to still have this antique as desks such as this are quite rare with a hefty price tag nowadays). My dad was a precision optical engineer at Kershaw's but away from his regular job one of his hobbies was watch making/repairing. This meant that the shop was able to offer a watch repair service with my dad, wearing a magnifier in his eye-glass, poring over broken watches and clocks long into the night, working at his desk.
In the early years, the kitchen/dining table was a big heavy thing which occupied half the available space in the single room until my mum was able to replace it with a drop leaf polished table after a few years. She was very protective of her new table.
If you were a customer entering the shop you would need to climb three stone steps to the shop door. The shop was lit with filament bulbs (none of your fancy strip-lighting which wouldn’t be installed until 1964) and had a window looking out onto Balm Road and a second window onto Playfair Road. The glass and china plus fancy goods were displayed in the Balm Road window with all the hardware. Paint plus general chattels were displayed in the Playfair Road window. Being opposite a row of factories, cigarettes and tobacco products seemed to be the mainstay of the items sold, together with paraffin and pre-packed coal in winter. I don't think much profit was made from the old shop.
Balm Road Shops
Our house/shop was back-to-back and the shop which adjoined ours on Playfair Terrace was a newsagent - Taylor's (or Willie Taylor's in deference to the owner). I don't know why or what transpired to cause a family feud but as kids we were forbidden to enter Taylor's shop; our newspapers and similar products came from Albert Waite's newsagents on Playfair View (seemed like miles away) rather than right next door. Across from Taylor's was Doreen Evans's fruit and veg shop. Adjoining Evans's was Jimmy Price's butchers, then Audrey King, grocers on Playfair Street. Then to round off the Balm Road shopping plaza (well our side of the street anyway) there was, on the corner of Royal Road, a men's hairdresser (Broadley's I think was the name) and on the opposite corner of Royal Road was Bloom's Chemist.
On the other side of Balm Road there was the Railway Inn (A Bentley's Yorkshire Beers pub), then Mrs Crookson had a linen/haberdashery shop - very dark and dingy, Carr Furniture stores backed onto Mrs Crookson's, then there was a mini-parade of shops with Midgeley's Bakery, Edwin Ramsey electrical, Marsey's plumbers and then up to a long parade of shops with Gallons's Grocers, the Post Office and a string of other shops leading up to Woodhouse Hill Road. There was also Nellie Ward's off licence, the only shop that could legally open on a Sunday (until 2pm).
Other shops in our immediate vicinity were a ladies hairdresser on the corner of Royal Road and Wheater Place, and my mum's friends Anne and Richard Madden had a grocery store on the corner of Royal Road and Lower Carr Street. Our local fish 'n' chip shop was on Playfair Street and another bakery was on Playfair Terrace.
Brian Foster now lives in Australia
A somewhat threadbare mat and well-worn linoleum covered the floor with a couple of chairs for the adults by the fire. A single sash window, overlooking the entrance to the Fish Canners yard would let in the light.
Most houses in those days had a range as part of the fireplace but because we had a separate gas cooker, ours was replaced quite early in our tenure (around 1956) with a low level, tiled fireplace complete with pride-of-place mantelpiece and hearth. Having a set of tools to tend the fire (tongs, poker, brush and dust pan) hanging on a matching stand sat in the hearth was the absolute height of decadence. Hot water came from a back-boiler arrangement, heated from the fire.
Opposite the outside door was the staircase door, guarding the wooden stairs up to the first floor. Mum and dad’s room was on the first floor above the shop looking out onto Balm Road and the Railway Inn which was directly opposite. Across the landing, my sister had her own room. There were no wardrobes as such, the alcoves formed by the chimney breast had a rail strung across (with a curtain for a door) and all the family's Sunday Best clothes hung together in this space in my sister's room.
My brother and I shared an attic bedroom on the next floor up - it too looked out over Balm Road. Across the landing from our room was a bathroom. This place held all the clutter collected by a young family plus there was an old bathtub which had lost most of its enamel covering and was essentially a rusting, bath shaped container.
Beneath the house was a rather damp basement. In one section coal for the fire was delivered (dropped through a special coal-house door set just above pavement level). Some stock for the shop was stored in the basement together with a huge tank that was full of paraffin (Esso Blue). Paraffin heaters were all the rage and we used to sell gallons of the stuff in winter time. I cringe at the lack of safety precautions that were in place, I am sure that half the street would have been destroyed if there had been an incident with that tank.
And so to the toilet: this was in a yard four doors along Playfair Road which also housed the trash cans. We shared our toilet with the Speight family from no.3. The residents of nos.5 and 7 (Jones and Spencer) shared a second toilet in the same yard. Smelly in summer and freezing in winter, it was one of the anomalies of life in Hunslet in those far off days.
My dad was sent to Hunslet just as the 2nd world war ended, to work as an electrician. My mum and I, when I was about nine, went with him. We lived in a back to back house in Hunslet Carr. I went to a local school, and remember having cod liver oil given to me on a spoon each day. It might be because I'd been ill, or perhaps we all got it. Because I had large feet I got extra clothing coupons.(I still have big feet!). The other children said I spoke funny, as a Londoner.
My dad made lots of friends and we'd visit them and all sit round the table playing cards for the men's loose change. It seemed a jolly time. It took my mum a while to adapt to the house and I couldn't believe how neighbours' washing was hung across the road, especially when it had to be hoisted up higher when the coalman's horse and cart came along.
We would go and queue for fish and chips, which were really delicious, but I cant remember where the shop was. I was lonely and used to walk the streets in the pouring rain or ride on a tram. I know my mum used to tell people when we came home about Belle Isle, so I guess that was perhaps a little more up-market!
Beryl Watson now lives near Royston in Hertfordshire