Not ‘A view from the Bridge’ but more ‘A room with a view’. I don’t know what reminded me of a childhood view from our house but something triggered it. My first bedroom in our house in Burley didn’t just face up the Grove but far beyond, over the rooftops to Headingley Rugby Ground. This was when the light blue clock tower was a local landmark and if I stood on the skirting board under my bedroom window, squeezing between the curtains and wardrobe I could see the tower. Headingley was the home of Leeds RLFC and Yorkshire County Cricket with its pavilion which housed offices, a ballroom and players’ bars. All I could see from the corner of my window was an illuminated window beneath the clock tower. A keen fan of Leeds RLFC in the 1950s even watching their Tuesday and Thursday evening training sessions, I would try to imagine what might be happening at night in the pavilion. When the long distance light was switched off, only then would I go to sleep.
Moving several years later to Headingley my bedroom was on the top floor in an attic conversion or dormer as we termed it then. Our house was the only one in the street to boast a ‘dormer’ which consisted of two rooms, my bedroom and a spare room. The view skimmed rooftops down towards the Cricket Ground, across Burley in the valley then up to grassed areas of Middleton in south Leeds. I loved to look at the wide curved road towards the horizon, the orange sulphur street lights marking out its route after dark. I liked to think it was the M1 heading south but on reflection think it was the dual carriageway of Belle Isle Road!
Living in Upper Armley for two years, the Victorian end terraced house at the top of an extremely steep cobbled street overlooked Gotts Park and from the attic window, the view took in much further afield. When Concorde flew into Leeds Bradford Airport much of the neighbourhood were standing in their gardens to watch it gracefully fly overhead. My partner Michael even dared to exit the skylight window to stand on the roof to watch! I photographed the event with my Kodak Instamatic which revealed only a small dot in the sky. More successful photographs were taken when on a fine Sunday morning in 1986, the cooling towers of Kirkstall Power Station were demolished. A good view had by all without being close enough to be covered in dust!
Our move to Meanwood gave us a grandstand view of the Parish Church as our garden wall adjoined the grounds. From the kitchen I would watch all the Parishioners walking up to Sunday Morning Service. Always fascinated to see what one elderly elegant lady would be wearing, I nicknamed her the Queen Mother! Always beautifully attired and accompanied by a different coloured long handled frilled umbrella which perfectly matched her outfit and hat.
If the Church’s front door was open on a Saturday, it would herald an imminent wedding, often being accompanied by the pealing of the bells. My kitchen offered a good vantage point and if pegging out washing then an even better view was available.
Two events stand out in my memory from the garden. The first was an overhead visit by the Police helicopter, sadly an all too regular occurrence. A 9-year old Darren – against my wish – ran into the garden and hid behind bushes as the brilliant beam centred on the Churchyard. Daz returned inside when a Policeman arrived to tell him off for wasting the time of the uniformed staff on the ground searching gardens.
The other memorable event took place in the mid 1990s with the arrival of Yorkshire Television to film scenes for “Frost”. On the evening of filming, Daz and I climbed over our garden wall into the Churchyard for a ‘nosey’. Not much was happening but on our return walk down the path, David Jason as Inspector Frost was approaching. We ignored him of course not wishing to to disturb his privacy and returned to the kitchen where we watched with interest, several takes of a man riding a bike outside the Church in – supposedly pouring rain – which was created on that dry evening by a man holding aloft a spray hosepipe!
My move to Hyde Park brought with it so many new views. Moving into a new build in July 2004, newly planted shrubs and trees developed underneath 100 year old sycamores and established blossom trees. The shops opposite were no longer grocery chains such as the Maypole remembered from my youth, but mainly cafes and letting agents, although not as many as today, offering such diverse menus. A brightly painted shop in psychedelic design named ‘Ambience’, sold all manner of memorabilia but soon sadly closed. The old Grade II Listed Post Office was the grandest of buildings on The Crescent and still is if one can look past the graffiti. The cracked windows still have stickers advertising ‘Phone Cards sold here’ , the cards now long gone, as have the people – save for squatters many years ago.
Across on the Cinder Moor I’ve always enjoyed the arrival of the Circus, watching the Big Top take shape then hearing the music from inside at showtime. Similarly the Feast, although nowadays its attractions now number far less compared to 2004 and especially the days of the original Woodhouse Feast. Nevertheless I still like to see how those fairground rides are pieced together in rapid time. I marvel at the bravery and enthusiasm shared by those partaking in all the fun of the fair but prefer to be at home watching the colours whizzing around and listening to the fairground’s combined sounds, which on the dot of 9pm are extinguished.
Over the years, visiting film companies have used the Moor as a base, the wardrobe and make up caravans busy in action from a very early hour as is the canteen in a converted double decker bus.
The skyline has changed dramatically with new additions to the University buildings and tower blocks of student housing, all bearing red or white rooftop lights.
The Cinder Moor has on several occasions been an additional landing site for the Air Ambulance too. If the Helipad at the LGI is in use, the weather is too icy or gale force winds prevail, then it may land on the Moor, where the emergency patient is transferred to a waiting ambulance, to complete the short journey by road.
Each evening over the last few months, floodlights shine through the bare winter trees. I try to kid myself there is a film company doing night shoots or even floodlit football in action, but in harsh reality it is the Covid testing site.
Suffice to say life is never boring with my flat’s triple aspect of views and I love it just as much as the day I moved in.
Thank you Maureen, some wonderful memories.
Maureen will be in the Caring Together offices next week, and two following Wednesday’s thereafter if you wish to pop in. It will be a time to hear some more stories from Maureen in person – titled ‘Funny Tales and Fancy Frocks’ but also time for reflection and reminiscing yourself too. Come to all three or just one or two. Different stories each week. We would love to see you. Refreshments will also be on hand.
Wednesday 9th February @11am
Wednesday 16th February @11am
Wednesday 23rd February @11am
Venue: Caring Together Offices, 127 Woodhouse Street, Leeds LS6 2PY
Open to all just call in.
If you need any more information just call Lisa 07436 530073