Reflections on Holbeck


Holbeck wildflowers and terraceI called at the shop on Elland Road the other day, to get an old lady a loaf of bread. Coming back and turning down Brown Lane I had to stop in the queue of traffic in order to right to go over the flyover and back to the Buckston Estate. It was a strange feeling as I stopped and waited and could look right down the street I grew up in. I had never been able to see the houses on Shafton Lane before from that distance.

I started to remember all the people that had lived in that street during the 30 years I had lived there. My grandparents moved into that house in 1914 and mother had been born there in 1919, I used to tell her that we did about that year in history.

Unlike today I went to the local school, walked and then went to high school which were all in Brown Lane. As I was never very good at getting up in a morning it was just as well. If, like some of my class mates, I’d have had to get a bus I would never have got there. A friend used to call for me and I was never ready and could never understand how she could be ready by 8:40 when I was still finding my socks or finishing off the homework that I had forgotten to do the night before.

As I looked back, I thought about the cobbled streets and the dips where the bonfires had been. The time when a spark set all my fireworks off as my mother sat there with them on her knee.

My friend and I used to make up guys for bonfire night and go around asking a “Penny for the Guy” and it was a penny in those days, not a New Penny. We often came home with 2 shillings worth which was a small fortune in those days.

I thought about the houses which have been demolished around Brown Lane, the birthday parties we used to have at my friends grandparents house and the photographs her grandfather took and printed off in his own darkroom in the attic.

It is sad to see that the flats have been demolished as I cam remember being dragged across the road to see Hugh Gaitskell MP open them. Being very small at the time all I could see was a loud speaker and a hanging basket. It is sad to think that they were less than 50 years old and yet cheaper to demolish than repair. The landscape of Holbeck is certainly changing, this must have happened several times over as the coming of the mills in the Industrial Revolution and then the building of the Viaducts to carry the railways to bring the coal to fire the mills. Matthew Murray has a lot to answer for.


This article was written by Diane McHale-Fannon using our Community Reporters website

One Reply to “Reflections on Holbeck”

  1. Great story.

    The area now has become one huge crime ridden ghetto made up of housing that simply has no place in 21st century Leeds.

    It is now time though that the whole of that area was bulldozed and re-developed in keeping with our modern and ambitious city.

    You will still have your memories and old photos of the place and nobody can take those away from you.

    it does leave me wondering though what has happened to the “Holbeck Village” idea?

Comments are closed.