AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ALWOODLEY
The end of an era
Despite their best intentions, Leeds City Council had taken little action to remove those dwellings it had deemed insanitary over two decades earlier. In the post war period councillors seemed to have a fresh appetite for addressing this issue. As always the new legislation, in the form of the 1956 Leeds Corporation Act, gave them sweeping powers to demolish all temporary dwellings. This was unfortunate as not all site owners had been negligent. Mrs Gayle, a rich lady who owned one of the fields with the huts on, where the Birkdales are today was an invalid and had impeccable standards. In 1947 she charged a modest 2s a week ground rent. Moreover, many loved living in such quaint accommodation.
Mrs Doreen Taylor lived in one of the huts and has only fond memories of life there with her husband. She recalled that he bought a generator and put wall lights on their home which was a former gipsy caravan with a wooden extension added. There were windows on two sides and fragrant roses round the door. When friends visited they always remarked how lucky they were to live ‘out in the country.’ There were even flush closets! 133
Alas the days of such properties were numbered and the council sent round a photographer to record key dwellings identified for demolition. Some residents decided to sell their homes, which were taken down systematically and re-erected as holiday chalets in Primrose Valley, near Filey. 134
Another target of Leeds City Council’s new legislation was Crag Farm which still had no gas, electric or running water and the family continued to use an ancient privy. The last generation of Todds to live and work the farm were George (senior’s) children - George, Norman and Rosie, as two other sisters, Eva and Lily, had married and moved away.
These were not the only children but many others died in infancy from consumption and were buried in Adel Churchyard. George kept cows which produced the milk for his extensive milk round. In addition he had about six acres of oats, turnips and hay. They never bought a tractor instead Alec and David of Gibson Farm harvested for them. When George and Norman became too old he carried on farming their land.
In the immediate post war period the government permitted farmers to keep just one pig for their own use. In December the pig was killed using a ‘humane killer’, an ingenous device that shot a bolt into the brain of the animal. The Todds cut their beast up, laid the flitches in salt in the cellar before hanging them on large hooks from the ceiling. George was the ‘pig killer’ for a large area extending as far as Bardsey. It was a custom to give him the pig’s head for his service and his sister made brawn from the meat. She also kept prize geese and turkeys which were slaughtered at Christmas. Unfortunately, Norman, his brother, was deformed and had a large hump on his back. He would often do the ploughing.
The family were up at five in the morning to tend to the cows and pour some of the milk into bottles which were then sealed with cardboard lids. Each day a large churn and crates of bottled milk were placed on a cart and their faithful horse then took them around a large part of Alwoodley. Many elderly residents have fond memories of these door-to-door deliveries. During the summer months people regularly camped by the farm and artists, including a gentleman called ‘Appleyard’ travelled up the valley to sketch the picturesque scene.
But as the fifties progressed everyone realised that the days of Crag Farm were numbered and the fate of Verity’s Tea Shop, another local landmark was also held in the balance.135
133. Oral testimony of Doreen Taylor.
134. Oral testimony of Maureen Goodall.
135. Oral testimony of Dave and Pauline Todd.
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