AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF ALWOODLEY
Verity’s Tea Shop
Mrs Francis Verity arrived at Mill Fall Mill in 1901. She was to remain there for the rest of her life only leaving the 'moor' when, aged 83, her doctor insisted that Francis needed an urgent operation and she was taken immediately to Leeds Infirmary. She had a tragic life. Her husband, Ben, was a highly skilled stonemason but he died suddenly after falling off a roof he was mending. Her son, Benny, was a disabled child and she spent large amounts of time looking after him. Perhaps this led to the harsh expression on her stony face as many remember her as always seeming to be in a foul mood. In addition, when Mrs. Verity took her cap off she had unusual lumps over her head. The children who visited the tea-shop were always scared of her. George Todd provided milk and helped her set the fire for the water boiler. By the mid fifties the sheds had become very ramshackle. Children used to volunteer to help and their reward was 'a free tray'. Mrs. Verity used a motley collection of crockery, a lot of which was brown glazed. She sold Smith's crisps with salt in the little blue bags and collected the tokens that came with them to get free pens. In addition she sold home-made scones and cakes but was a thrifty lady and told helpers who were buttering the scones to 'just peel it off again1 so that the layer of butter remained extra thin.
Bank Holidays were particularly busy as people caught the tram to Lawnswood and then walked along the sandy paths through the woods to the tea-shop.
Facilities were very basic and the privy was famed as being a double seater.136 This remained until about 1954 when Leeds Corporation insisted on the construction of a modern toilet block on the site of Mill Fall Flax Mill.
In 1953 Mrs Verity became very ill and ended up in Leeds Infirmary. She was anxious to return home to look after her cats but on being discharged was so weak that she had to stay at Crag Farm for a month or two while the Todds looked after her. When she died George carried on the tea-shop before it was leased to another family. The Corporation came and demolished the sheds and refurbished the stone cottage but no one lived on site any more and it wasn’t long before the vandals started to target the building, often trying to break in to get to the cigarettes. It was demolished in the late fifties.
136. Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 September 1953.
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