AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ALWOODLEY
Whilst the elite tended to build near the golf courses along Alwoodley Lane, Harrogate Road and Sand Moor Drive, those with more modest incomes could still find affordable housing to a relatively high specification in the Sandhills, Primley Park and Belvedere estates. The Alwoodley Park Estate that had struggled in the beginning became more popular. The inter war period witnessed a major change in land use with acre after acre of former farmland covered with new housing estates, shopping parades, churches, golf links and sports pitches.
The families that moved into the area began to demand a new primary school, one that would be within easy walking distance of the new estates, as children living in the area at the time had to attend either Adel C. of E. or Moortown County Primary School. Leeds City Council, anxious to impress the residents of Alwoodley, responded speedily. They purchased former army huts from the government, which were now surplus to requirement, and placed them on rather flimsy foundations on a small piece of land to the south of the junction of King Lane and Nursery Lane. This was to be the centre of education for young children of the district for over thirty years, until the move to the present site in 1953. It is ironic that Alwoodley Primary School has never been in the township!
Alwoodley was in the parish of Moor Allerton and Anglicans were expected to make the long trek over to St. John's. Pressure grew for the area to have its own church but in 1923, 1924 and again in 1927 the Parochial Church Council rejected proposals to acquire an appropriate site. Four years later residents did succeed in persuading the P.C.C. to build a church hall that could be used as a Sunday School and community venue. Mr. J.H.Milner gave a prime site just off The View, valued at £5000, and a tender price of £1035 was received from Wood and Company.
Building commenced in January 1932 and the work was completed within nine months. On the 24 September 1932 the hall was officially opened and dedicated by the Bishop of Knaresborough. The Vicar of Leeds gave the opening address. It was an immediate success and within two weeks eighty-three children had attended the Sunday School classes.
The issue of a new Anglican church re-emerged in May 1937 when Mr. Henry Barran informed the Parochial Church Council that he wished to donate a plot of land on Alwoodley Lane, in memory of his wife, for just such a purpose. After much debate the P.C.C. rejected his offer, arguing that if a church was to be built, it should be on the same piece of land as the new church hall. The Vicar, the Rev. E.N. Giles, recalled 'it was very difficult working in the district, little encouragement being given by the Alwoodley people, who seemed more inclined to be hostile!' This view was not shared by his curate, the Rev. R .H. Hill, who increased the number of evening services held in the church hall to every Sunday, rather than every fortnight, as he believed that residents were slowly showing more interest in the Anglican faith.
In 1945 efforts began in earnest to raise money for a new church but it was to be another thirteen years before the Archdeacon of Leeds, the Venerable C.O.Ellison, directed the P.C.C. to have architect's plans drawn for a new church. Fund raising proved to be a slow process. The Bishop of Ripon eventually dedicated St.Barnabas' Church on 10 November 1962, amid much rejoicing. Rev. James Cooke, Vicar of St. John's, ably expressed the feelings of his parish when he wrote 'It was a great occasion, but especially I think for our Church members in Alwoodley and the Church Committee there, who had been patient for so long, yet have kept the vision and have prayed and planned and worked to bring the vision into being. Well, here it is, a lovely building - not merely to be looked at and admired but to be used by the people of Alwoodley for the furtherance of God's work in the world'.
The founding of Alwoodley Park Methodist Church was different. Initially people had started meeting in their own homes but in 1941, encouraged by the Reverend Lome Cornish, minister at Chapel Allerton, they purchased a bungalow and converted it into a small chapel and in May it opened for worship. Naturally there were problems as war was raging and many men were called to arms, this coupled with the black-out and transport difficulties made for a less than perfect start for the Methodist worshippers. After the war things began to return to normal and Sunday School became increasingly popular so that in 1949 a timbered ex-army hut was purchased and overhead gas heaters were fitted. The church became a focus for a wide range of community social events including the youth club, choir, dances and parties, but walking, cycling and camping holidays, were also arranged by members of the Methodist Community.126
On 12 February 1949 Alderman George Brett, Lord Mayor of Leeds, officially opened Alwoodley Community Hall, another major venue for events. This had been a major post-war undertaking, where people were willing to play an active role in its construction. Negotiations had begun with the Ministry of Education in June 1946 for an ambitious scheme including playing fields and changing facilities, but there were chronic shortages of building materials and so only permission for the construction of the hall was granted. Members of the Community Association ran Bring and Buy Sales, Dances, Card Parties, Raffles and a myriad of other events to raise the money. Private individuals kindly donated money so that when the hall opened it would be debt free. Building eventually started in 1948 and volunteers laid a total of 47,000 bricks over the next few months. Some materials were second hand, the floor had previously been a stage used in Roundhay Park and the main ceiling was supported with timber from an ex- poultry hut! On the day of the opening, 12 February 1949, Lieutenant-Colonel Stoddart-Scott, M.P., unveiled the Tudor Rose' stone, an ornament from the bombed House of Commons. This unique venue for communal activities became a haven for many new residents. Seven years later the Booking Secretary could boast that in addition to the Kindergarten Class, Babies' Welcome, Gent's Club and Leeds Public Library. The Community Centre was also used for dances, table tennis, badminton, dressmaking, chess, horticulture, handicrafts, the 'teenagers' club dance night' and a play entitled 'Ladies in Retirement' performed by local enthusiasts.Moortown Rugby Union Football Club had been formed in 1932 and was initially based at St.John's, Moor Allerton, but in July 1950 the Club proudly announced the purchase of a parcel of land adjoining the Community Hall from Mr. J.H.Milner. At first the clubhouse comprised of two Nissen huts. These were replaced five years later with a permanent structure.
In 1947 Jack Waterworth, the local butcher, founded the Alwoodley Scout Troop. His assistants were Muriel, his wife, and Don Cole, a young and enthusiastic teacher. Residents now had a wide range of facilities to cater for their leisure pursuits.127
The thirties had witnessed an expansion of shopping facilities in the district, the most impressive store being that of the Leeds Co-operative Society on Sandhill Parade. Garages had opened on Harrogate Road and King Lane to serve the wealthy elite of the district who could afford their own cars. Yet in the immediate post war period shopping was a basic experience as rationing meant that stores had limited stock. By 1956 the situation had changed markedly and The Alwoodley Announcer, the Journal of the Community Association, was filled with adverts for local shops and businesses. Regular advertisers were Walter Barker, 'Quality Grocer' of The Parade, King Lane, who sold 'the finest home fed bacon and hams as well as Lexen Bread, cakes and pastries', while Hoppers, at 145 The Avenue, sold a similar range of products but had the advantage of stocking Bird's Eye and Smedley frozen foods. Adverts for two chemists', a drapers, a news agent, a fish shop and a corset maker also graced the pages of the magazine, but J.G. Cardus's shop at 143 The Avenue was the children's favourite. Here the window was crammed with Meccano sets, Mobo toys, model aircraft kits and fancy boxes of chocolates.
Sandhill Parade in 1952.
In stark contrast was Progress Stores, (pictured) on what is today Nursery Grove. This comprised of a single storey wooden structure selling paraffin, butter, eggs, bacon, as well as tinned and packet goods.
Looking down King Lane towards Brophy's Garage.
Many people remembered with affection the fish and chip shop located next to Brophy's Garage on King Lane. This is where, as teenagers, they met in the evening to swap the latest gossip and where any remaining pocket money was pooled for the purchase of a bag of chips. Others recalled a small wooden hut sited nearby, which was open at the weekend for the sale of sweets and refreshments to passing hikers and residents alike. It was run by a very fat lady, dressed in a tatty floral dress and black apron, who had to sit outside on an old chair, because when she was in the hut no one else could move!
126. 50th Anniversary Celebration Booklet of Alwoodley Park Methodist Church p.4.
127. Souvenir Brochure Commemorating the Opening of the Community Hall, 12 February 1949. I am grateful to Eileen Branson for her generosity in giving me her copy of this booklet.
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