Steven Burt


ISBN 0-9539745-3-7

The Early History of Alwoodley


Sporadic finds like a flint axe, a Celtic carving and Roman coins remind us that human impact on the landscape of Alwoodley has been ongoing for thousands of years.1 Indeed the very place name itself is a clue to the origins of permanent settlement in the district. A.H. Smith argues that it is of Saxon derivation and means
‘Athelwald’s forest glade or clearing’.2

But what is the exact geographical area this term refers to? It is indeed fortunate that several excellent descriptions of the ancient bounds still exist today along with numerous estate plans and maps.3 It is clear that name ‘Alwoodley’ is used to describe a rectangular parcel of land just to the north of Leeds, surrounded by the townships of Harewood, Adel, Chapel Allerton and Wigton. Its ancient boundaries stretch from the Seven Arches, up Adel Beck to Stair Foot Bridge, skirt the bottom of the northern scarp slope, which is now edged by Eccup Reservoir, to Alwoodley Gates, across the eastern side of Harrogate Road to the Belvederes, then along Nursery Lane in a westerly direction and back to the starting point.

In the Saxon period Alwoodley comprised of five distinct landscapes. The most desirable agricultural land was to be found on and near the south facing scarp slope to the north of Alwoodley Lane. Just to the south of this major routeway was an area of less fertile soils that extended westward across to Adel Beck, where the rock-strewn valley side afforded meagre opportunities for agricultural activity. However substantial parts of the lordship were moorland. The well drained but sterile Sand Moor covered much of the area to the north-east and the Black Moor, a large tongue of peat moorland, extended across the whole of the southern part and formed the common land of Alwoodley.  Peat was a major asset as it gave people a free source of fuel and meant that a minimum amount of woodland had to be maintained, thus freeing this land for cultivation.

In terms of farming it was a relatively high, exposed area with a limited capacity to support a small number of families who lived in farms dispersed across the landscape. Alwoodley had no central settlement but the most important site was that of Alwoodley Old Hall, favourably located in a sheltered spot near the foot of the scarp slope, surrounded by the finest agricultural land in the lordship.

The first documentary evidence for the township is found in the Domesday Book of 1086 when King William’s commissioners visited the district to make an accurate record of the lands and people they had only recently conquered.

 ‘In Aluuoldelie Roschil had five carucates to be taxed. Land to three ploughs. Twenty shillings.’ 4

The entry is remarkably brief yet intriguing. Seventeen years earlier William’s soldiers had rampaged through the district burning farmhouses, destroying crops, killing people and driving away cattle in a calculated military operation to permanently remove opposition to Norman rule. This ruthless campaign was known as ‘the harrying of the north’ and the district suffered severely as a result of this scorched earth policy.5 Adel, Cookridge, Burdon and Eccup had been worth sixty shillings before the conquest but were all ‘waste’ with no surviving inhabitants.  Bramhope and Allerton were also totally devastated.6  Arthington had been worth 30s but was reduced  to a mere five, whereas nearby Headingley had sunk in value from 40s to a just four! 7  Unlike surrounding manors it appears that Alwoodley escaped this destruction because the value of the property remained constant at twenty shillings.

The de Alwoodley family


Nevertheless, there were still major changes and after the conquest the Anglo Scandinavian lord, Roschil, had his lands confiscated by William the Conqueror and in 1086 Alwoodley formed part of the king’s property, administered from the new military base at Dunkeswick. 8  William leased the lands to a Norman French family who took possession of the key site of Alwoodley Old Hall. Documentary evidence for the period is sparse but it seems likely that they were called ‘de Mohaut’ as around 1166 Henry de Mohaut, adopted the name de Alwoodley when he witnessed a grant made by one Jordan and his wife, Annais, of land and pasture for 160 sheep to the nuns of Sinningthwaite Priory, a small Catholic community located nine miles west of York. 9   This generous gift was later supplemented by Alexander de Alwoodley who gave 25½ acres of land with common pasture for seven oxen, three cows, seven oxen and 160 sheep with ‘as much wood as the nuns of Sinningthwaite had occasion for their own proper use’. 10

As important members of the local Norman élite the Alwoodley family were regularly asked to witness to property transactions. About 1180 Henry de Alwoodley’s signature appears on a deed of Kirkstall Abbey and his son witnessed a similar transaction in the reign of Henry ΙΙΙ. 11

The manor consisted of just over 1500 acres, a vast estate, and it is clear that the de Alwoodley did not lease all the land as in 1218 German de Thornhill held just less than a third of the lordship.12 Richard de Mora also held land in the township and he granted the nuns of Arthington Priory the right to remove twenty waggon loads of turves from the turbary there, however, this land soon fell into the hands of William de Alwoodley who confirmed this valuable gift of fuel to the nuns.13 They continued to collect this dried peat for their fires for over three hundred years! 

The power of the de Alwoodley family appears to have grown during this period and by the time of Kirkby’s Inquest in 1284 only a ‘carucate’ leased by William de Brandon and a small estate held by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey were not in their possession.14 So how did they become so wealthy? A clue can be found in the record of two thirteenth century court cases.

In 1275 Richard de Davenporte, probably a merchant based in Pontefract, accused William de Alwoodley and others of defaulting on the payment of 100 marks, of which William’s share was 14 marks (£9 6s 8d). It is not clear whether this was a loan or remuneration for goods purchased but the sum was a large one. Four years later William was sole defendant in a case brought by Gilbert de Louth, an important York merchant, for non-payment of £48. William had evidently agreed to supply Gilbert with five sacks of wool at 12 marks (£8) a sack, two sacks at 6 marks at Pentecost following, and then one sack a year until the sum was entirely repaid.15 It looks as though William was selling ‘wool futures’ as did many of the abbeys, including Kirkstall. He clearly had a sizable sheep flock and was producing for a buoyant foreign market with huge demand for wool from the cloth producers of Italy and the Flanders regions. William, a member of the local gentry class, was a lay wool producer but on a much smaller scale than his Cistercian neighbours. One of the surviving pieces of evidence for the period is a list kept by an Italian merchant, Pegolotti, attributed to the 1290s, in which he records that 12 marks a sack was the local price for wool at the time.16 A sack was defined as holding between 240 and 300 fleeces. It is impossible to assess how much wool the Alwoodley estate was producing and it may be that William was purchasing additional supplies from other farmers, nevertheless, this must have been a potentially lucrative source of income. Kirkstall, as a middling sort of abbey, had 25 sacks a year for sale so that a dozen or so ‘gentry’ with two sacks each could produce as much.

An untimely death


When William died he left Alwoodley Old Hall and adjoining lands to his son, Roger, who unfortunately produced no male heir. This was a matter of grave concern to the family as inheritance law dictated that, upon his demise, the King would have an immediate interest in the estate. Sadly, Roger died in February 1296 leaving a wife and four young daughters. Edward Ι was at York when news reached him of Roger’s death and he instructed John de Lythegreynes, escheator of the lands beyond the Trent, to undertake a full valuation of his estate. John’s clerk, William de Thornton, rode immediately to Harewood to ‘take possession of all the lands and tenements … and to cause them to be safely kept’. William was asked to ‘make diligent enquiry under oath of honest and responsible persons …of how much land the said Roger held on the day of his death, and also what property he held of others.’ 17 

Just after Easter, William de Thornton summoned eleven witnesses to Harewood Castle. William Attebeck, Nicholas de Botiller, John de Middleton, Robert Attebeck, Henry, son of Jordan, Robert Petipas of Hugh Wygan, Robert de Lofthouse, Robert de Deighton, Robert at Tune End, Richard de Chappeman and Alexander Fes clearly knew Roger de Alwoodley well.  Each man was sworn in and then provided information on the extent of Roger’s wealth so that John de Thornton could assess the annual value of the lands and establish the rightful heir to the estate.

It transpired that Roger was indeed a wealthy man and in addition to his land in Alwoodley he also maintained one water mill for grinding corn. This gave him additional status in the community but he had had to pay the canons of Bolton Priory 5s a year for the privilege as it impinged on their monopoly of mills in the Parish of Harewood.18 John de Thornton established that Roger paid an annual rent of 18s 8d for the two carucates of land in Alwoodley and did ‘service at the court of Harewood, from three weeks to three weeks.’ He also paid around 46s 3d scutage or ‘shield money’ to the King, a form of tax that was used to provide a military force to support the crown. Roger held further property at Newall, including a land parcel jointly owned with his wife, Alicia.

The King decided that his estate should be subdivided between his four daughters, Joanna, Margaret, Alice and Anabel. Alicia, his wife, was still relatively young and Roger’s children were only aged eight, six, three and one respectively. It seems likely that either Joanna or Margaret died because when Anabel married William de Tunstall she held one third of her father’s property. She was still alive in 1333.19

The Frank family


One of Roger’s other daughters, Alice, married William Frank, son and heir of Robert Frank, a major landowner in the district. The poll-tax return of 1379 shows that the Frank family were principal landowners in Allerton Gledhow, Weardley and Alwoodley.20 Much of this land had been acquired by repeated fortunate marriages. The return also shows that there were only fifteen adults in Alwoodley rich enough to pay the assessment!21 William and Alice lived at Alwoodley Old Hall for many years and their marriage was blessed with numerous children including Nicholas Frank. His daughter, Agnes, married William Gascoigne of Gawthorpe and in 1349 she bore him a son, also called William, who became Lord Chief Justice of England in 1401. His magnificent alabaster monument can still be seen today in Harewood Church.22

Yet the township still remained subdivided between the Alwoodley and Brandon families, however, successive members of the Frank family gradually reunited all the land parcels so that it became one estate with Alwoodley Old Hall as the central administrative centre, complete with ‘barnes, gardane, Orchard, fishponds and Coniwarren’. This process was aided by the fact that in1539 Henry VIII confiscated all the lands of the Cistercian monks of Kirkstall and closed the abbey. The Ministers’ Accounts of 1540, record the revenues due to the Crown from the former monastic lands and show that William Frank, gentleman, was paying 13s 4d for the rent of a house, outbuildings, yard and ‘appurtenances’ in Alwoodley, property he would soon purchase outright.23 

 Henry VΙΙΙ became increasingly worried about the threat of invasion by Catholic countries appalled at this devastating assault on the church. He called upon the lord lieutenants to hold frequent ‘musters’ or meetings of all able bodied men aged 16 to 60 who were eligible for military service. They had to be armed with their own weapons and armour ‘according to their income’. A register of attendees was then sent to the central government. The Muster of the wapentake of Skyrack in 1539 shows that only seven men in Alwoodley turned out!24

Where there’s a will…


We are fortunate that sixteenth century wills for residents of Alwoodley still survive today at the Borthwick Institute, York, and give a fascinating insight into the life and loves of ordinary folk. On 13 June 1584 Francis Dove sat down with his friends Christopher Cawood, George Tailor, Richard Flockton and Robert Cawood, to make his last will and testament. His wife, Elizabeth, had been married twice before and he was clearly determined that his own children should benefit from his hard work. Francis was a yeoman farmer who leased a timber framed, thatched farmhouse and land at Alwoodley Gates from the Frank family. When he died in 1586 the whole of his ‘farmhold’ was divided into three parts. His wife and their two sons, William and Thomas, each received an equal share, but on her death, the brothers would divide her land between them. In addition both sons received ten sheep. He was a careful man and even divided the most valuable house contents equally between them. William was given one great ark, a cauldron and a brass pot ‘which be paid for changinge at Leeds’ whereas Thomas received a ‘great brass pott’ and a round table. Francis was also anxious to ensure that promises made to his daughter, Elizabeth, when she had married Richard Casson, were honoured and that his unmarried daughter, Agnes, should be given ‘suche part and parcel of my goods as by the lawe she ought have.’ His Casson grandchildren were each given one wether (a castrated ram!) whilst Robert Wynne was given six wethers and ‘one little Stithie.’ Francis was buried at Harewood.25

Because Elizabeth Dove had been married three times her will is quite complex! She obviously felt that her children by Francis had been more than generously treated. Her son-in-law, Richard Casson, took possession of ‘one white…stirk’ or young ox and each of her grandchildren – William, Henry, Robert, Edward and Elizabeth Casson – received 12d. John Stansfield, her son by a previous marriage, was given ‘one white garded wie with the half partwith what is owing of John Rushforth.’ His four children each received 12d and Agnes Stansfield was given one cow with calf. Elizabeth’s other son, Robert Skoltton (sic), was to receive anything that was left!26

Although the vast majority of people earned their living from the land there were a few craftsmen in the district. Such a man was William Woollard who made his will on 19 December 1591, being ‘sicke in bodie but whole in mind.’ He described himself as a clothier and was obviously manufacturing woollen cloth with his son, Anthony, who was to receive all the ‘tools of the trade’ including ‘all my lowmes and allthings thereunto belonginge.’ William’s other children were given varying amounts, Mary and Elizabeth were to receive 10s 8d, whereas Margaret and George were given less than half this amount. He clearly wished to emphasise his displeasure at the behaviour of his unmarried daughter, Anne, who received nothing, but his bastard grand children, John and Robert Woollard, each received ten shillings.27

A Frank exchange


Unfortunately the Royal family were regularly short of money and in 1610 Parliament allowed James I a lay subsidy. Tax-payers were divided into two classes – firstly those who were charged in respect of their income from land and secondly persons taxed on their ‘movables’, which included crops from land. In Alwoodley, Robert Frank, was described as ‘gentleman’, and had to pay £5 6s 7d assessed on his income from land, whereas Richard Frank, Francis Wetherell and Henry Skelton each paid £3 3s.28 All must have bitterly resented paying such large amounts of money to the King.

Nevertheless Robert Frank was a generous Christian and it is obvious from his will dated 22 February 1618 that he was a very wealthy man who not only owned the whole of Alwoodley but had a sizable estate at Knottingley. Sadly Robert had no children of his own and the chief beneficiary turned out to be his brother, Bryan, who was given eight oxen, eight cows, six feather beds and bedsteads, all his furniture including ‘a long table in the hall, the formes thereunto belonging, a Cupboard…a trunke and a little flanders Chist called a gartevian with all Chaires and stools and seaven quishings.’ He also received all the expensive pewter and brass items from the halls at Alwoodley and Knottingley and the ‘waynes, ploughes, yockes teames and all the Furniture belonging unto them.’

Robert’s other brother, Richard, received forty pounds and generous terms on the twenty-one year leases he held on two farms. His son was to be given ten pounds and his daughter forty pounds. Bryan’s son, also called Robert, was given all the plate and a signet ring whereas his nieces, Isabel and Elizabeth received forty pounds and twenty pounds respectively. Poor Alice Frank received a mere twenty shillings.

Robert gave each of his servants two shillings and made various charitable donations including twenty pounds to the poor of Harewood Parish and a similar sum to those living in Adel. The Vicar of Harewood was given twenty shillings and the parson of Adel half that amount.29

It is not clear what happened to the family fortunes during the next eight years but by the time Bryan Frank made his will on 9 August 1626, he was in serious financial difficulties. He left his Knottingley property to his wife, Ann, but instructed that upon her death this was to be divided equally between their eight children - four sons and four daughters. His Alwoodley estate, excluding the ancient demesne lands surrounding Alwoodley Old Hall, was now mortgaged to Sir Richard Tempest of Bowling, William Oglethorpe and Richard Tempest and there seemed little hope of retaining it as the repayments could not be met. Ann was to keep the remaining parcel of land for her own use provided that she paid his children forty pounds ‘…of lawfull money of England.’ But the situation was perilous.

It must have been distressing for this ancient family to discover that their father’s profligacy was likely to lead to the loss of Alwoodley and Bryan’s eldest son, Robert, struggled valiantly to reduce the debt. On 5 February 1637 he used the manor as collateral to obtain a new loan from his brother, George Frank, ‘citizen and merchant tailor of London’ for the staggering amount of £5050, a sum far in excess of the real value of the estate. But the situation proved hopeless and the following year Robert, William and George Frank reluctantly sold the manor to Sir Gervase Clifton and Robert Leeke for £3604, thus ending centuries of their family’s association with the people and the district of Alwoodley.30

Absentee landlords

One of the first actions of the new owners was to construct an impressive hall to the west of the former Frank residence. They retained the large, ancient timber framed structure with its formal gardens but these must have seemed dated and in marked contrast to the fashionable new hall, built of beautifully dressed stone, complete with mullioned windows and a modern stone slab roof. 31

On 15 May 1661 the property formed part of the complex marriage settlement of Robert Clifton. He retained ownership of the estate during his lifetime but upon his demise all rights transferred to his bride to be, Sarah Parkhurst, as part of her marriage portion. This is very significant as they both had extravagant lifestyles, living well beyond their means and she was to use this estate on several occasions to secure loans. On 15 November 1672 Sarah borrowed £1000 from the Earl of Chesterfield but within two years this figure had risen to £1500. She was clearly short of money and unable to repay the loan so in April 1676 she visited John Hanson, who paid off her current debt of £1665 and advanced her a further £335. That same year George Ogden, Minister of Harewood, reported there were 189 communicants in Alwoodley. Unfortunately Sarah, as an absentee landlord, had little interest in the estate and even less in the welfare of the people of the district. She defaulted on the repayments and in 1679 the manor was sold in two halves to Roger Jackson and Cornelius Clarke. Sarah Clifton’s heirs were horrified at the prospect of losing such a valuable estate and legally challenged the sale, claiming that women could not own property and that it was illegal to use this land as collateral to raise money. The Chancery decree made it clear that this argument was not valid, however, the Clifton family were not so easily defeated and later challenged the ruling.32

In 1682 Cornelius Clarke decided to sell his half of the manor to Roger Jackson, thus re-unifying the estate. This was a highly significant event as it led to the employment of Joseph Parker to survey the whole of Alwoodley and to create a beautiful plan of the district showing the exact bounds of each individual farm and the size and shape of the timber framed buildings. It even identified the location of key facilities including the blacksmith’s workshop, located where the shops are today at the junction of The Avenue and King Lane. Twenty two tenants are listed with farms ranging in size from Samuel Midgley’s valuable holding of 206 acres to the meagre plot leased by Mr. Prince of just over an acre. Every single scrap of land is farmed and the landscape must have been virtually denuded of tree cover apart from ‘Springwood’ near Alwoodley Old Hall and the trees that clung to the steep side of the valley abutting Wike Beck to the north east of the estate.

This first plan of Alwoodley indicates that the key route-ways through the district, King Lane, Harrogate Road, Alwoodley Lane and Stairfoot Lane were ancient even then, as the field system runs like a patchwork quilt from this skeleton of roads. It is remarkable that even today some of the former sites of these tenanted farms are still occupied by desirable detached residences.

One such house is Stairfoot Cottage located on the western boundary of the estate near to the bridge. In 1682 it was a humble timber framed dwelling occupied by Richard Wrigglesworth. He farmed just over 36 acres of marginal land that is today wooded. He eked out a living utilising the best fields for his arable crops, though the majority of his holding produced nothing other than heather, gorse and stone.

More fortunate was Joseph Chambers whose farm and substantial outbuildings occupied the site of what is today ‘Golf House’ on King Lane. He had around 100 acres of relatively rich farmland that hugged the western bounds of the scarp slope. He farmed large areas of arable, meadow and pasture land which must have generated a decent income. It is highly significant that two of the fields abutting the farm are called Tenter Garth and Tenter Bottom. These place names indicate that cloth had been manufactured here. When a clothier had finished weaving the piece of cloth it was cut from the loom, ‘walked’ in tubs of urine to remove grease and to felt the material, before finally being stretched on tenter-frames to stop shrinkage and to allow the cloth to dry.

One of the most picturesque properties in Alwoodley today is ‘Moss Hall’, located off Alwoodley Lane, near the entrance to Sand Moor Golf Club. In 1682 this was the home of William Stead who lived in a modest timber framed building and leased 117 acres. He had some decent arable land and a small amount of meadowland but 
over half the acreage was occupied by the huge bog, ‘Great Moss’.33
Unfortunately Parker only drew the area where the farms were located and omitted the common land. This oversight would complicate matters in the future when later owners had to contend with no end of irksome boundary disputes.

Turbulent times

Roger Jackson owned the whole of the manor from 1682 to 1693 when it passed to Doctor George Jackson. When he died six years later everyone expected that his eldest son, the Reverend George Jackson, would inherit the estate. The tenants of Alwoodley had enjoyed seventeen years of stability and everyone must have been stunned when, in 1699, Sir Gervase Clifton (jnr), in a totally audacious move, resurrected his family’s claim to the estate in Chancery Court. He reiterated the charge that his late mother, Sarah Clifton, had had no right to mortgage the manor and therefore he was still entitled to the estate. After seven years of legal argument, judgement was finally made in favour of the Jackson family and an order barred the Clifton family from making any further claim.

Unfortunately the Reverend George Jackson constantly used the manor as surety to raise large amounts of money on the London markets. Manorial property was a good investment and City of London merchants and mariners with surplus income were keen to lend money to owners of such estates. Between 1712 and 1718 George constantly borrowed but had at least repaid the debts by the time his daughter and brother inherited the estate in 1719. Ten years later they sold the whole of Alwoodley to Lord Bingley for the princely sum of £6,671 17s 6d.34


Bramham Park

Robert Benson was M.P. for York but speedily rose through the ranks to become Chancellor of the Exchequer before being created Lord Bingley on 21 July 1713. He became a leading figure at the court of Queen Anne and as a reward for his loyal service received a large tract of land near Wetherby known as Bramham Park where he built a substantial mansion. A favourable marriage to Elizabeth, daughter of the first Earl of Aylesford, further boosted his fortune and he set about acquiring other estates, so the acquisition of Alwoodley fitted nicely into his financial strategy.35 Alwoodley was to remain in the hands of this family for over two centuries but a significant difference to all previous owners was the fact that he had also purchased the manorial rights, including the ability to hold his own court.36 It is fortunate as a fascinating collection of these documents survive today.

Nothing in Common


It was essential for any agricultural community to have an effective means of addressing local disputes. The Alwoodley Court Baron met once a year to deal with a range of minor issues from blocked ditches and trespass to broken fencing and poaching. It was a formal occasion with a scribe carefully recording all decisions.
About thirteen members of the township were chosen to serve, encouraged to attend with the promise of a hearty dinner at the end of the proceedings. A foreman was then nominated and sworn in by the steward, who solemnly declared:-

 ‘You as foreman of the Jury shall diligently inquire and true presentment make of all such things as shall come to your knowledge and be given you in charge. The Counsel of yourself and your fellows you shall will and truly keep secret – you shall present no person out of malice, hatred or ill will nor spare any person out of fear, favour or affection but in all things shall truly present as the same shall come to your knowledge so help you God.’ 37

Some years there was little to do other than to decide who was to be pinder, a post that involved rounding up stray cattle and driving them into the pinder fold, located just off King Lane, opposite where Alwoodley Garage is today. He had to ensure that any animals were fed and watered and then fined anyone who claimed a stray beast as their property. At other times there was a great deal of business to get through.

One of the important duties undertaken by members of the Court was ‘walking the bounds’ of the lordship that were often disputed by inhabitants of adjoining manors. Alwoodley tenants maintained a series of gates across all the main roadways that clearly showed the traveller that they were entering their township. Fines were regularly levied on people who left these gates open. Among the surviving papers is a particularly detailed account of this activity:-

‘The Jury Haveing this Day Viewed the More Stones and Boundarys of the Lordship and Manor of Alwoodley do find and present the same be as followeth (viz) from Marley Gate Eastward by the fence Adjoining the Intakes formerly called Eccup Great Moor to Alligar Nook Down by the South End of the said fence as farr as Leigh Field Gate, so following the fence aforesaid to …Wigton Beck and then pursuing South east by Sleights Gate to Alwoodley gates and to the Lane leading from Harwood to Leeds, and crossing the Said Lane going on the South side of there in Thomas Ambler Intack and Pighill which divides the township of Alwoodley and Wigton to the South east Corner of the said Pighill and from there directly South up the Intack lately inclosed and in the possession of the Revd Mr Bainbridge, Curate of Chapel Allerton, his undertenant, and through the wall towards the top of the said Intack to …Oxcarr Hill, and from thence through on the Intack now in the possessionof Jeffray Prnce to an old More or Boundary Stone called Harwood Cross and westward to Pikely Hill and from thence to the Standing Stone, and Down the Comon Graving Bricks Lane on the right Hand to Thorner Ford and then running Northward up Addle beck by Starifoot bridge as far as the North west Corner of that piece of Ground Adjoining upon the Intack inclosed from the said Eccup Great Moor and turning Eastward by the said fence to Marley Gate aforesaid.’ 38

In theory these bounds were clear but the inhabitants of Chapel Allerton also claimed ownership of the common land described in this survey as being in Alwoodley. On 28 March 1707 Mathew Bywater, William Haste, George Hargreave, James Prince, William Briggs, Jonathan Briggs, William Pickering , William Tottie and his son, Samuel, set out to challenge the residents of Alwoodley over access rights to the common. They gave orders to their surveyors to wall up two gateways that had recently been made onto the moor and to destroy the bridge at ‘Slipp Gate’ to stop access to the peat deposits. They also asked for them to report anyone found ‘graving turf, peat or sods.’39

Yet a worrying aspect of life for all residents of Alwoodley at this time was the dwindling peat stocks on Black Moor and the Mosses. As a tenant this was a much-valued privilege as it provided free fuel for heating and cooking in an area denuded of trees and with negligible deposits of coal.  Heavy fines were laid on anyone who tried to dig turves in restricted areas. Typical of this was the fine of £1 19s 11d levied in 1731 upon ‘any person whatsoever who do grave turves upon any part of Common belonging to this Manor with a pareing (sic) spade.’ This was a fortune! The jury also took a particularly dim view of anyone from an adjoining manor using the common as a source of free building materials and they regularly summoned people from Wigton, Potter Newton and Chapel Allerton for ‘leading away’ sand and rocks.40

 Nevertheless this paled into insignificance compared to the audacious attempt made in 1766 to enclose the common itself. The chief protagonist was Jeremiah Dixon, a successful woollen merchant from Leeds, who had just purchased the adjoining Manor of Chapel Allerton from the Killingbeck family.41 Like many of his class he saw the title of ‘Lord of the Manor’ as a tangible sign of improved social status but as a shrewd businessman he was aware that the estate had been much neglected and that there was a clear opportunity to increase its value.  First of all he needed to establish the true bounds of his property. As one of the contemporary legal documents acknowledged, his predecessor had been lax, as ‘…the indolence and inattention of the Lords and freeholders of Chapel Allerton in the support or their rights and in the prevention of encroachments have been notorious for a great many years past.’42 Dixon immediately claimed a vast section of Black Moor, about half a mile wide and a mile long, which is today covered by housing, stretching from the Buckstone estate across to the Belvederes. He ordered his workmen onto  the ‘waste’ to cut down gorse for kindling, and then wrote an inflammatory letter to Lord Bingley offering to ‘…determine the dispute in question either by interview and friendly conversation…or by suit at Law.’43

Dixon was extremely influential in Leeds but he was not used to dealing with members of the aristocracy and Lord Bingley’s response was blunt and uncompromising. His steward’s letter, dated 30 November 1766, gives a wonderful insight to the lifestyle and manners of the age.

‘ If Lord Bingley had been well He wou’d  have been at London attending the House of Lords: but his Lordship is prevented by being laid up in the Gout, and, not being able to write Himself, I am ordered to acquaint you that His Lordship (having been here all Summer) thinks you might have made your claim with him. He was able to Sir, and had Time to look after His Rights himself: and that He looks upon the steps you have taken to be very abrupt and uncivil, and that you need not be surprised that Lord Bingley views this as a Breach of privilege, and must acquaint the House of Lords of the Insult upon their privilege.’ 44

This threat alarmed Jeremiah who was already involved in a similar argument with Lord Mexborough over the boundaries on Chapeltown Moor between the manors of Potternewton and Chapel Allerton. He could not afford to alienate two influential landowners and so temporarily withdrew his claim to the Alwoodley common land. In 1773, however, the dispute with Lord Mexborough was finally settled and Dixon immediately put his energy into once again claiming the Alwoodley section of Black Moor. By this time Lord Bingley had died and so Dixon applied to the trustees of his estate hoping for a speedy resolution, but they failed to respond.

Unfortunately he had to wait for Sir John Goodricke, the new owner of the Bramham Park, to return to England. Sir John and Dixon did meet together on at least three occasions over the next few months as both were investors in the Aire and Calder Navigation and met at board meetings. Yet Jeremiah appears to have shied away from direct confrontation, preferring instead to raise the matter with Thomas Heelis, Sir John’s deputy steward, who was based at Horton, near Skipton. His letter of 21 July 1774 made numerous excuses for not having contacted him earlier complaining that ‘…an attack of the gout, and by being a very bad traveller on horseback’ had prevented him from travelling out to discuss the matter, adding ‘I am afraid that company at my house here at Gledhow, going to York races, and some other engagements…prevent my getting into Craven…. but if you come into this neighbourhood, I should be happy to see you at Gledhow.’  A fine list of excuses! Dixon did eventually meet up with Sir John in Leeds and Thomas Heelis noted optimistically that  ‘…an amicable End is to be made.’ 45

Ironically, whilst the elite argued over legal ownership of the moor, the local press were in no doubt as to whose land it was. In a touching article in the Leeds Intelligencer, dated 5 January 1779, the paper records, ‘Yesterday se’night a poor Scottish woman (the wife of a soldier now a prisoner in America) on her road to Scotland…. was delivered of a male child upon Black-Moor in the township of Alwoodley: the inhabitants as soon as information was given they immediately conveyed her and her new-born child in a cart to the nearest public house and it is thought they will be able to proceed on their journey in the next few days.’ 46

But Jeremiah was a stubborn individual, unwilling to compromise. He instructed Francis Walker and Benjamin Burland, his surveyors, to gather evidence from elderly residents of the district supporting his case that the moor was indeed part of Chapel Allerton. These old people came up with an impressive list of ‘facts’ including sworn statements that the bounds had regularly been beaten, that no one from Harewood had challenged that these lands formed part of the parish of Leeds, that tenants from Chapel Allerton had regularly repaired the roads and fences on the moor and that in 1716 the Curate of Chapel Allerton had actually enclosed 24 acres in the disputed area and had never paid any rent to Lord Bingley! 47 One can only imagine the anger felt by Sir John when this evidence was presented to him via his steward. The matter still remained unresolved when Jeremiah died in 1782!

In 1786 John Dixon, his son, sent a stinging rebuke to Richard Leak, Overseer of the Poor for the Township of Alwoodley, for starting to build on disputed land. John demanded that the structure should be pulled down immediately ‘…otherwise I shall take such steps against you as I am authorised to do by law for so trespassing on the Manor of Chapel Allerton without my consent.’ 48

But three years later Robert Stockdale, steward of the Bramham Estate, threatened action against Robert Field of Chapel Town. He had been very active gathering support for the retention of the 24 acres enclosed seventy years earlier by the curate of Chapel Allerton. He had been interviewing people, including the oldest resident, then aged ninety. Field argued that this gentleman whose ‘…recollection was as perfect as any man can have’   was twenty three years of age when the enclosure was made adding ‘…but it was considered in the chapelry.’ 49 However, Field must have known that challenging ownership of land claimed by one of the most powerful families in Yorkshire was extremely risky, so tactfully added ‘…I will acquiesce rather than have a Law-suit with Sir John.’  Stockdale’s response was courteous but pointed.

‘…I think myself much obliged by your politeness and attention and rejoice for your own sake that you have determined to acquiesce with Sir John’s demand, as he would otherwise have been under the disagreeable necessity of bringing a suit… I will take the first opportunity of calling upon you to fix a rent.’ 50

This victory must have ended John Dixon’s hopes of claiming the land and it is probably no coincidence that the same year enclosure of the former common land began in earnest. The Court Rolls record ‘ John Todd hath been let into the occupation of a parcel of waste of this Manor by consent of the Rt. Hon. Sir John Goodricke, Baronet, late Lord of the Manor, containing about an acre, and that the sum of six pence a year will be a proper rent.’ 51 We are fortunate to have W.A.Todd’s recollections of the origins of Buckstone Farm. He recalled ‘The story of Buckstone Farm goes back generations. A couple of hundred years or so back, John Todd moved from Bramley to the moorland at Alwoodley, and obtained permission from on the Fox family to break the land up. He built a little wooden hut on the fringe of the moor, and set his spade into the heather. John Todd saw the fight with the moorland well on its way before he died, round about the age of 90. 52

In 1791 John Richardson, James March, Richard Lupton, William Smithson, Joseph Harding, Christopher Hanson and Joseph Rowling also sought official acknowledgment of their encroachments. The common land of Alwoodley, so long a source of peat, gorse, sand, rocks, berries, rabbits, hare and wild fowl and a useful area of additional grazing land, began to be enclosed and ‘improved.’ It is very significant that the original name for Nursery Lane was ‘Lime Kiln Lane’ referring to the structure that once burnt the limestone to make lime used by farmers to improve the acidic soils of the former moorland.53

An Age of Improvement


On 5 March 1817 John Todd renewed his annual lease on a farm of just over twelve acres he had enclosed from the common for the rent of eight pounds. The agreement, backdated to New Year’s Day 1817, was witnessed on behalf of James Lane Fox, Esquire of Bramham Park by his agent, George Addinell of Tadcaster and William Porter. The rent had to be paid in two half yearly instalments at Whitsuntide (the seventh Sunday after Easter) and Martinmas (11 November). The agreement was carefully written ensuring that Lane Fox retained all mineral and hunting rights. John Todd had to promise to leave all the buildings, gates, stiles, fences, ditches, drains and watercourses in good repair and had to undertake not to ‘cut, lop, maim, fell or carry away any tree.’ Five clauses dictated what the land could be used for and informed the tenant that if he grew teasels, woad, hemp, flax or mustard seed or grew two successive crops of wheat, a further £20 per acre would be due in rent. This piece of paper must have seemed intimidating to John Todd who could neither read nor write but he was anxious to secure the lease so simply made his mark on the document. This was for many people an annual ritual, others, however, were more fortunate and secured twenty-one year leases.54

One such individual was Joseph Pickles. On 13 December 1828 he was visited by Mr Stewart, agent to George Lane Fox, and agreed to take the farm he was occupying from January 1829 to 1850 for a yearly rent of £124 10s.55 By the end of this lease the farm had clearly become too much for him.  Years of hard manual labour, long hours and the punishing, relentless round of seasonal activity on the farm, had left him a broken and embittered man. His will dated 1 May 1849 reflects his frustration with life, the love he felt for his daughter, Mary, and the open loathing of his son-in-law, Benjamin Stead. They had moved in with Joseph, who was determined that not one penny would go to Benjamin. He summoned William North, his solicitor, to advise him on the best way to achieve this outcome. The will is well written in which he leaves all his household goods, including furniture, beds, bedding, plate, linen, china and other effect, all his livestock farm tools, carts and equipment to his daughter Mary Anne Stead ‘…for her sole and separate use and benefit without being subject to the debts, control or engagement of her said or any future husband.’  She was only given this property for life and upon her death it was to be shared equally amongst any children or, should she die without leaving lawful issue, it would revert to his son, George Coates Pickles. William North and his clerk, John Martin, witnessed the signing of the will. One can only imagine the atmosphere in the room when Benjamin received his copy! 56 Shortly afterwards a new tenant, James Rhodes, leased the farm but the lands were described as ‘poor and out of condition’ and the farmhouse needed  ‘…considerable repair.’ 57 But major changes were already underway in the district.

Water, water, everywhere…


Between 1775 and 1831 the population of the nearby borough of Leeds had increased from just over 17,000 to 71,602.58 The town had expanded at a phenomenal rate but the majority of its inhabitants still lived in cramped and insanitary housing in the streets, yard and folds of the central area.  In 1832 cholera visited the town, the primitive medical facilities could not cope and of nearly 2,000 identified cases just over 700 died. Doctor Robert Baker’s pioneering report on the outbreak showed quite conclusively that the disease was prevalent in the unsewered, ill-ventilated, filthy, ill-paved and densely populated parts of the town where the working classes lived.59 The death rate soared; Leeds was a very unhealthy place to live. A major problem facing the majority of Leeds citizens on a daily basis was access to an adequate supply of clean water. In 1834 the problem was highlighted in the introduction to Baines and Newsome’s Directory for Leeds:

‘Leeds is very ill supplied with that most needful element, water…Only 2,200 houses, inhabited by 12,000 persons receive water from the Water Works; and a population of upwards of 60,000 in the township alone have no supply except from wells and rainwater.’ 60

Many were dependent on carriers whose carts constantly ploughed the streets of Leeds selling water to eager customers. The cost of this was prohibitive as they charged around 2s. 0d a week, when the average rent for a cottage was only 2s. 6d! 61 Yet even those dependent on the ancient Water Works founded in 1694 were experiencing increasing difficulties. The company relied on supplies that were pumped from the River Aire by steam engine to three reservoirs dotted around the town. It was then gravity fed through wooden and lead pipes to pumps or into people’s houses. But by this time the river was an unfit source. Most agreed that something radical had to be done to stop using the river as a source, sentiments which were skilfully expressed in a contemporary handbill:

‘…it is bad in quality and deficient in quantity, the water being taken from the River Aire which is greatly defiled by the refuse from the mills and dyehouses and by the common sewers and drains of the town.’ 62

The process of addressing the issue of a new waster supply began in earnest in 1834 when £500 was approved for taking professional advice. Four civil engineers submitted reports but the Leeds Improvement Commissioners chose the scheme of Henry Abraham, a London engineer, but a powerful minority preferred Charles Fowler’s plans. He was a highly respected local engineer and surveyor. Though both agreed that water should be brought to the town from a reservoir located at Eccup they vehemently disagreed about the exact location and line of the pipes from source to filter bed. Worse was to come as the Tories wished to see it built and operated by a private company while the Liberals favoured a publicly owned scheme. Years of wrangling followed.  Eventually the Earl of Harewood, whose water and land were needed for the scheme, offered to mediate. The compromise hammered out in 1837 was the creation of Leeds Waterworks Company which was privately owned, but with the proviso that the Council could buy all the shares within a twelve year period. In June the Leeds Water Works Act was passed unopposed.63

The first act of the new company was to appoint George Leather and Son as sole engineers and pay off Abraham and Fowler.64 Unfortunately neither of them went quietly! The Earl of Harewood finally settled for £2000 for his 35 acres at Eccup but the Lane Fox family, across whose land the pipeline would have to cross, became increasingly worried about the potential effect this may have on husbandry and the changes to the drainage of their Alwoodley estate. These concerns were not without foundation. One who shared these fears was Miles Potter, a new tenant who had only recently constructed a water-driven flax spinning mill on the southern side of Nanny (King Lane) Beck. It was obvious that any reduced flow in the stream would affect the waterwheel and reduce output, endangering the jobs of his eight female employees. This dispute went to arbitration and this delayed the project by a further two years.65

The plans called for the construction of a 250 million gallons reservoir at Eccup, with water then being taken through the Blackmoor Tunnel and on to Adel Beck. Here an aqueduct would carry the water across the valley and then in an open conduit to Weetwood, from where it would be piped to properties in Leeds.66 This was a very ambitious project, the tunnel alone being over one and a half miles in length. In 1840 the contract for this section of work was awarded to Shaw and Briggs, noted railway contractors, but they soon found themselves in financial difficulties as well as falling foul of Thomas Kell, Lane Fox’s agent.67 He monitored the work on the Alwoodley Estate like a hawk, keenly aware that navvies were not the easiest of groups to contain. On 22 December 1840 he wrote to the Directors of Leeds Water Works Company expressing grave concern about the rumour that some of the contractors intended to open a beer shop. They assured him that no such facility would be created.68

But progress on the tunnel was slow and it soon became apparent that at least one other shaft would have to be sunk on the south side of King Lane in what is today Buckstone Oval. Mr Fox consented to this change on 9 February 1841 on condition that compensation would be paid via his agent.69 In the 4th Annual Report of the Company dated 31 May 1841 it states that whilst digging the tunnel ‘water had been found in such abundance as seriously to retard the Operation of Workmen.’ 70 Although this additional source was hailed as a blessing, it nevertheless added to the expense. The Company decided to stop pumping this water into the beck and divert it through pipes and temporary channels across Alwoodley to the filter beds at Weetwood, thus bringing clean water to the town earlier than expected. It seems likely that the Seven Arches had been completed by this date. George Lane Fox, to his credit, asked for no recompense other than compensation to his tenants whose land had been damaged by these actions.

However, the relatively up-beat report masked the massive scale of the problems on site, some attributable to the horrendous weather. The same month the minutes note:

 ‘ The great quantity of Water met with at shaft No. 2 has prevented it being brought into operation…A second pit at this point has been found necessary and an additional Steam Engine. …at No.2  we (now) have two shafts and two Steam Engines together 32 H.P. which in the course of a few days will both be at work pumping water; when we trust we shall be enabled to force these Pits down to their depths and commence drifting…We are now making arrangements by which the Water pumped up from Shafts Nos. 2,3,4, and 5, amounting upwards of 800 gallons per minute will soon be distributed to the Town.’ 71

Evidence of this activity can still be seen today with the inspection shafts off Lakeland Drive, The Lane and Buckstone Oval. But the project seemed doomed when the very long continuation of frost stopped the operations for several weeks. On 7 June Shaw and Brigg’s contract was terminated on the grounds of poor performance and all their on-site assets were seized.72

The following month Messrs. Bray and Duckett successfully tendered for the completion of the work and on 4 August 1841 Leeds Waterworks Company announced in the local press that ‘...their Works are now so far advanced as to warrant them in stating that they will be enabled to supply Pure Water from Alwoodley to all the tenants of the old (Leeds) Water Works early in the present Month of August, and that their Mains and Service Pipes will be extended in to other Districts of the Town and Neighbourhood with all practicable speed.’ 72

On 21 August the Leeds Mercury informed its readers that:

‘…the long wished for Water from Alwoodley is now at hand… but ut us merely that which is pumped up from the pits ot shafts… the company and the people of Leeds are greatly indebted to George Lane Fox Esq. by which the water raised by the steam engines at three of the shafts is to be brought to Leeds…the water is conveyed from the shafts upwards of a mile and a quarter in wooden troughs or spouts to the end of an aqueduct over Addle Beck. This a stone structure of seven semi-eliptical arches of 30 feet span each, crossing at an elevation of about 34 feet above the bed of the beck… and through a covered sonduit of masonry and brickwork of about one and a quarter miles toa stone reservoir at Weetwood: from this reservoir it is conveyed in cast iron pipes to the service reservoir on Woodhouse Moor.’ 73

This new supply of clean water transformed the lives of the citizens of Leeds immediately and by the following year 1539 houses, 2145 cottages, 299 shops and 45 lock-ups were connected.74

However, it wasn’t until 29 July 1842 that the tunnel eventually opened and a further twelve months before the water actually came from the reservoir! Unfortunately the first contractors working at Eccup, Weetwood and Woodhouse Moor had abandoned the work in despair. The report stated:

‘The quantity of Peat found in the Eccup Reservoir has been considerably greater than was expected and the almost unparalled wetness of the season of 1840-1 (one of the worst for the execution of public works that was ever known) acting upon a naturally slippery material occasioned not only considerable delay but also some additional expense.’ 75

By the end of 1843 this remarkable piece of Victorian engineering was operating efficiently. It formed an umbilical cord that linked Alwoodley to Leeds but in more than just a physical way. Its citizens began to visit the Seven Arches in droves on Sundays and Bank Holidays to marvel at the elegant lines of its design and to enjoy the sylvan beauty of the setting. The years of isolation were over.

The times they are a’ changing


Nearby Leeds provided a ready market for produce from the agricultural community at Alwoodley but prosperity depended on efficient farming. The Lane Fox family desperately needed good tenants and it must have been a sad day for them in 1852 when Joseph Broadbelt decided not to renew his lease. He had managed the farm effectively for years and the valuation reflected this. In the fields he had potatoes, wheat and turnips to the value of £98 18s 9d and with the corn in stock, two wheat stacks, two oat stacks, two hay stacks and twenty loads of potatoes a further £66 was added to the total. In the farm outbuildings were 6 pig troughs, a watering tough, 4 stack stands, 14 cow chains and a pile of wood, while in the garden were 60 berry trees and 4 fruit trees. The farmhouse consisted of the great room, a back kitchen and a sitting room downstairs and presumably two bedrooms, the smaller of which had a ‘fire bowl.’ The fixtures were minimal - oven ranges, fire places, a large stone cistern, a bakestone for making oatcakes and ‘…a wooden partition at the staircase.’ In the cellar was twelve feet of stone tabling. The total value of Joseph’s estate was £175 17s 3d plus a further £3 17s for the pumps in the fold and yard, a considerable amount of money for the time! Thomas Kell, Steward of Bramham Park made the final payment to Joseph on 17 January 1852.76

That same year, George Lane Fox instructed William Smith of West Rasen to undertake a full evaluation of the condition of his Yorkshire Estates. This was no mean task as there were extensive landholdings in Bramham, Barwick in Elmete, Clifford, Wethersome, Collingham, Scarcroft, Rigton, Bardsey, Walton, Netherton,Wrenthorpe, Grimston, Bingley, Carlton, Elslack, Thornton, East Halton, Rimmington, Steeton with Eastburn, Fairhill, Hamblethorpe, Skipton and Alwoodley. Smith’s final report made grim reading. He recommended the need for vast expenditure to improve the fabric of the estates, including construction of new cottages, barns, cattle sheds and outbuildings, the replacement of large stretches of fencing, improved drainage and the demolition of a whole range of substandard buildings. He also identified which tenants were working the land to a high standard and those who should be removed.77

Alwoodley was typical. Smith reported that Barker’s, Burley’s and Rhodes’ farms all needed money spending on the repair of the buildings, whereas Elizabeth Smith’s farmhouse consisted of only two sleeping rooms and ‘…the back part of which is old and very bad, it should be taken down and rebuilt with three additional sleeping rooms made over it.’ 78 In addition he recommended that the barn roof should be repaired and a waggon shed and granary should be built at Lane Fox’s expense. William Todd had enclosed former common land himself and had built his own farmhouse therefore it was excluded from the list. Some tenants, like Jeremiah Johnson and William Sayner were singled out for praise for the way in which they managed the land but Smith was not impressed by the majority of farmers saving particular criticism for John Midgeley who lived in Alwoodley Old Hall. He accused Midgeley of letting the house, farm buildings and fences fall into disrepair stating ‘…the Tenant on this Farm ought to set a good example to the rest of the Tenants in the Parish, but on the contrary he does quite the reverse.’ 79 Smith concluded that  ‘…there is a considerable quantity of poor weak land in this Parish, but it is capable of great improvement by under-draining and the use of clay and lime. A class of better Tenants is much wanted in this part of the Estate.’ 80

The Todds of Crag Farm


One such tenant was George Todd. Born in 1851, he became the new tenant of Crag Farm, famed for his skill as an animal doctor. He kept a wide range of herbs and medicines in horn containers and people came from far and wide to seek his help. When George first leased the farm from the Lane Fox family it was in a poor condition but they valued his skills and invested in the property to bring it up to modern standards. Eventually it consisted of a farmhouse, barn, hayloft, stables, granary and large stack-yard to the rear of the premises. The ‘best’ room was to the left of the front door but this was reserved for visitors and special occasions and the family spent most of their time in the living room to the right, where the Yorkshire Range was located. A large picture of George Lane Fox hung majestically on the wall to remind them of their benefactor!  The kitchen was to the rear of the building and an unusual feature of the room was the square hole cut in the ceiling that gave access to storage areas. A long wooden ladder extended up to it. The kitchen sink was fed from the rain butts located outside on the other side of the external wall. Oil lamps and candles were used to light the house and water was obtained from rain butts or the pump in the yard. The ‘necessary’ took the form of a double-seated privy located at a short distance from the house. There was a large midden for rubbish.81



Another major boost to Lane Fox’s income came from a change in land use. The ‘middling sort’ who moved to the more prosperous northern suburbs of Leeds displayed a growing interest in gardening. This provided a burgeoning market for trees and plants of all description. In White’s Directory of 1853 William Davison and William Rider are listed as ‘nurserymen’ of Alwoodley.82 Davison was 63 at the time and had been born in Northumberland. He lived with his wife, Mary, and their three children James, Elizabeth and Hunter at Alwoodley Nursery, located at the junction of Stairfoot Lane and King Lane.83 George Davison, wheelwright and joiner of Adel, possibly a relative, regularly undertook work there. In 1857 he records a final bill of £2 0s.6d which included putting a new wheel on a barrow, replacing shafts on two hoes, two rakes, two axes, a new ‘prooning chisil shaft’ and labour for six days making posts and rails.84

Black Moor with its sand and peat was an ideal place to set up a nursery. The 1851 census lists William Rider, 45, of Brixton, Devon, as the proprietor of Heath Nursery.85 On 11 May 1876 George Lane Fox leased Heath Nursery to Richard Humble, oil merchant, and the solicitor John Rawlinson Ford for a period of seven years at an annual rent of £60. By this time the nursery covered an area of 13 acres and 18 perches and included houses, cottages, outbuildings, nursery buildings and sand. Though they had the right to shoot all game, conies (rabbits) and foxes at any time, a later clause insisted they must seek to ‘preserve’ such wildlife! 86


Despite such advantageous changes it must have been frustrating for the Lane Fox family to watch other tenants let their farms go to rack and ruin. When a farmer finally wished to give up his lease he sought a valuation of the crops left in the field and reimbursement for any improvements to the property. It is fortunate that among the Lane Fox papers is a detailed valuation dated 9 August 1878 made by Lodge and Bartle of Garforth of Thomas Jaques’holdings including fixtures and ‘away going crops upon a Farm at Alwoodley given up… to the owner George Lane Fox.’ He held almost sixty acres on which he was growing rye, barley, wheat, grass and oats. There was a stack of hay in Rye Croft and another in the stackyard while in the garden were shrubs, fruit trees and quickwoods. In the mistals he was leaving six cow chains and in the yard a lead pump, two stone troughs and a soft water tub. In the out kitchen was an iron set pan and in the kitchen itself an oven range, a boiler ash grate, a reckon crane, three reckons, a loose rib, a delph rack and a pin rail, while in the pantry was a wooden corner cupboard.  There were fire grates in the sitting room, nursery, drawing room, dining room and one upstairs. Throughout the house were five Venetian blinds and an additional oven range and boiler in the nursery. In the cottage was an oven, fire range and set pan. But the valuer had to deduct money for ‘…dilapidations in gates, fences and buildings’ and by the time Thomas had paid half the valuation fee and £135 in back rent, he was left with just £78 10 shillings.87

However most farmers worked extremely hard even on the morning after their wedding! William Arthur Todd of Buckstone Farm and Susannah, his wife, married on 14 September 1876 at Adel Church. They left a fascinating account of their marriage at the celebrations that followed:

‘In those days I had a milk business. Honeymoons were not known then, but it was usual to have a drive in a carriage and pair, sand so we had one. Then at night we had a right old-fashioned country dance. We danced the polka, the waltz, single steps – and there were jighs an’all. We had a fiddler from Meanwood village, where there were two or three good fiddlers I’ those times. It’d be maybe two or three o’clock in the morning when we stopped dancing, and I was away wi’ t’milk by five or so.’ 88

Continual coughing

Throughout the Victorian period an increasing number of children gained access to basic education. The difficulty for an area like Alwoodley was that it only had a small population, not really enough to sustain a full time teacher and premises. It is no coincidence then that the first Alwoodley School was located at the far end of  Wigton Lane near the junction with Harrogate Road, on the border of two large rural areas. Quite when it started is difficult to ascertain but on 15 June 1877 there were just four children present and the following day only two! The teacher even then complained that ‘…one boy is particularly dull in his Arithmetic, seems to have no idea whatever about it.’ Numbers rose steadily to nearly twenty pupils but in the following year almost half the children were absent at the end of March because of a whooping cough outbreak.  Those who struggled to attend were ‘continually coughing.’ On 1 August 1878 attendance was again poor with many children absent because of hay-making. Matters were made worse when the teacher received a note from an irate mother complaining that certain pupils were fighting and quarrelling with ‘her two’ on the way home. Punishment was swift, decisive and painful!89 On 3 January 1879 Mr Middleham, H.M.I., made a surprise visit and was impressed by what he saw recording ‘….This little school which has been closed for a long time but has made a good beginning under Miss Jowett…more books are wanted also a small globe and some ink wells.’ 90 On 21 May 1881 she noted ‘… the children have been very tiresome this week, so I made them remain on Thursday and sit still for ten minutes…they have been much better today.’ 91

By 1883 the school had grown to almost thirty students. The log-book entries for that year give some idea of the kind of curriculum being taught.  In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, pupils were given special lessons on such varied topics as the walrus, tin, the caterpillar, sealing wax, a mushroom and the cocoa nut! On 20 June Mr. Middleham re-inspected the school noting it ‘…continues in a very creditable state of efficiency, though the Attendance has been very considerably reduced lately by the removal from the district of Navvies employed in the neighbouring Waterworks.’ 92 After praising the quality of the pupils’ abilities in reading, spelling, arithmetic and grammar he comments ‘…the third Standards Children are very backward in Geography and the infants should add and subtract small numbers with greater readiness.’ Perhaps his most bizarre comment is saved for the female pupils where he judges the needlework to be satisfactory but argues that ‘…the girls should be prepared in future to work Exercises on the day of inspection according to the code.’ 93



I want more….

Obviously school numbers had been boosted by ‘navvies’ children but why had these workers returned? In November 1852 Leeds Water Works became a council owned company with private investors receiving the princely sum of £227,417.94 Following the take over, a new 40” diameter cast iron main was laid to replace the open conduit from Blackmoor Tunnel to Weetwood and in 1866 the Seven Arches Aqueduct became redundant due to its limited capacity. A constantly rising population, higher standards of personal hygiene, the introduction of flush toilets and the increased demands of industry placed a huge strain on supplies. The Leeds Water Works Act of 1867 gave the authority permission to exploit supplies in the Washburn Valley and expand facilities at Eccup, which was to act as a storage reservoir, however, there was a limit to the amount of money that could be borrowed.95 The planned expansion of the reservoir had to wait for additional finance which was authorised by the Leeds Improvement Act of 1877. Construction of Eccup Reservoir as we know it today began almost immediately but on completion on 15 March 1885 it quickly became apparent that there was substantial leakage.96 The bank had been settled badly and so the navvies had to return once more. Over the next twelve months workmen placed ten feet of clay in the puddle wall, however, the Council eventually decided to totally reconstruct the embankment. This was a painfully slow process and had to be done in sections with brickwork pillars strengthening the structure. The average depth of the excavation below the embankment road reached as much as 180 feet! 97

But where did the navvies live and where had they come from? The 1891 Census gives a fascinating insight into these questions.98 It records that Alwoodley Old Hall had been subdivided and was being used as a lodging house for some of the workers:


4. Old Hall   

Alfred Dickenson    Head  32     General Labourer             born Yorkshire Leeds
Sarah Dickenson      Wife  30                                                   Norfolk    Briston 
Henry Darby           Visitor 23    Stationary Engine Driver      Norfolk    Briston
George Poynton          “      50    General Labourer                  Yorkshire Benton
Robert Dodgson          “      45    Stationary Engine Driver                        Arthington
John Reed                    “      47    General Labourer                                     Filey
William Payne       Boarder 21    General Labourer          Middlesex New Barnet
Harry Lightfoot             “    29    General Labourer                    Yorkshire Leeds
Robert Jarvis                 “    30     General Labourer                                      Hull
Robert Archer                “    50    General Labourer                 Norfolk    Litcham
George Morris               “    57     General Labourer                   Salop Pontesbury

5. Old Hall    

John Smith           Head    36    Excavating Miner              Lancashire  Liverpool
Sarah Smith          Wife    38                                              Lancashire  Liverpool
John H. Barnett  Boarder  24    Excavating Miner             Lancashire Manchester
Henry Meggs           “       49     Excavating Miner             Cheshire    Birkenhead
Thomas R. Reed       “       46    Excavating Miner              Lincolnshire    Lincoln
William Holmes       “       38    Excavating Miner              Lincolnshire    Lincoln
Robert Holmes         “       56    Stationary Engine Driver   Yorkshire         Halifax
Phil Foster                “       53    Stationary Engine Driver   Nottingham      Notts
Joseph Moore           “       23    Excavating Miner              Essex                 Graze
Andrew Male       Visitor    8                                               Cheshire    Birkenhead


Twenty-one people from all over the country were crammed into the Old Hall. It must have been a nightmare when they all returned home filthy after a day’s work!

The reservoir was finally completed in1897 to the design of Edward Filliter but the skilful engineer responsible for the critical reconstruction work was Thomas Hewson.99 By the end of the nineteenth century Leeds was supplied with 16 million gallons of water a day of which two thirds was for household consumption. Thanks to Victorian engineering most of this water flowed unaided through the pipes beneath the surface of Alwoodley to the ever-thirsty city beyond.

Now quietly down ‘neath the umbraceous wood towards the Seven Arches

Between 1841 and the beginning of World War 1 the Meanwood Valley became a haven for walkers, botanists, photographers and the uniformed organisations. It was an area of unspoilt beauty, somewhere that was within easy reach of the citizens of Leeds thanks to the introduction of a tram route to Far Headingley in 1873 and an embryonic bus service to Adel by 1902.100 This popularity led to the creation of several tea shops and local farmers benefited from the additional income brought by campers, who not only paid for the privilege of using part of a field but also purchased milk, butter, eggs, ham, brawn and cheese from them. The Lane Fox family proved to be tolerant landowners, allowing their tenants to improve their incomes without any commensurate increase in rent.

In 1913 the proposed extension of the tramway to Lawnswood Cemetery became a major cause of concern for the wealthy residents of Adel who were already tired of the noise, litter and nuisance caused at weekends and Bank Holidays by these ‘city-dwellers’ who made their way from Far Headingley in increasing numbers. In their view the new line meant an end to tranquillity. The residents case was championed by Dr J.E. Eddison of The Lodge, Adel, who in January 1913 approached Mr. G. R. Lane Fox with a firm offer to purchase about 300 acres of his estate to the west of King Lane. He was determined to stop the abuse of the area arguing that ‘repeated acts of vandalism, horseplay from well-dressed hooligans, and unseemly conduct on the part of some of the campers’ had caused considerable annoyance to residents.101 Eddison stated that the bugles of the Boy Scouts regularly made an unholy din and that four times during his lifetime the moors had been set on fire. In summer it had become difficult to sleep as the tinned music of the ‘tent dwellers’ made an ‘unhallowed noise until the early hours of the morning.’ 102 The local newspapers reported that he was determined that the public would have to stick to the rights of way, barring them from the moor which ‘is not public at all.’ 103 Little could have prepared Eddison for the massive public outcry against the sale, in which he was vilified by a wide cross section of Leeds communities.

The Yorkshire Evening Post encouraged the campaign for Leeds City Council to purchase the land but Sir Charles Wilson, Chairman of the Finance Committee, stressed that it was outside the Leeds boundary, adding ‘…We cannot buy the whole earth…we already have a good many parks.’104 Throughout February 1913 the campaign gathered pace with letters of support coming from as far away as North Elmham in Norfolk, where Edith Downes put pen to paper ‘…the moors ring with happy children’s voices every fine Saturday, and on long summer evenings groups of girls botanising and culling the sweet wild flowers, tiny ferns, gorse, heather and the like.’ 105 This letter provoked an immediate response from the botanist, F. Arnold Lees of Meanwood who clearly viewed such activity with disdain. He was vociferous in his support for limited public access:

‘…those who have registered the facts, carefully and fearsomely since 1860, have had to bewail real (plant) disappearances. In one spot, remote and hid away, too wet for lovers’ couch, the sun- dew lingers, but the Marsh St.John’s Wort has succumbed, and so has the Fringe-Flower (Buck-bean). It is idle to argue that numbers, when great and frequent, do not do harm to the wildwood and the heathland. Last August ‘cartloads’ of ling in aggregate were carried away by the handful. And the pretty Petty Whin, that used to make such a foil of yellow to its pale rose purple, has not survived the heath-fire of a few years ago.’106

But Eddison and Lees were in a minority, the majority view being ably expressed by ‘Open Air’ in his letter to the Leeds Mercury of the 15 February:

To roam the woods, to picnic on the moorland , to climb the crag, or sit by the stream in the shade, and to have found no barbed wire entanglement, no post-and-rail redoubt, and no frowning notice-board casting its shadow upon enjoyment, has bred a happy illusion. Cottagers and farm folk have bound the magic spell upon visitors by adapting their parlours to serve as tea-rooms. Every class can find pleasure…and, alas, there is one class who know no other holiday resort than this. To how many a poor urchin from the dark places of the city is this is a Blackpool, a Scarborough and a Bridlington in one? A visit to the moor is their only change of air, and from their distant homes the boys and girls will tramp in little parties in the summer months, with a bag of blackberries, a glass jar for sticklebacks or if a day’s outing is intended a bottle of Spanish water for the midday refreshment.’ 107

Unfortunately, the gathering storm clouds of war diverted attention away from the debate. Moreover, this was not the only part of Alwoodley used by the citizens of Leeds. Many ramblers would take the tram to Moortown, walk across to Eccup, go round the reservoir, call for tea at the cafes located just off King Lane, before heading back to the terminus for the ride home. Some decided that they would like a more permanent ‘holiday home’ in the district and a shanty town of old railway carriages, former gipsy caravans, wooden huts and purpose built chalets began to appear, particularly on land just to the east of King Lane near the junction with The Avenue.

The Alwoodley Park Estate

The ever-expanding public transport system of Leeds acted as a stimulus to the growth of the suburbs of the city, with many desperate to escape the smoky atmosphere of the central districts. One of the first to realise the potential of Alwoodley for permanent housing was the solicitor, J.H.Milner, who, in 1918, skilfully negotiated the purchase of the King Lane Farm Estate from the Lane Fox family. In 1921 advertising literature appeared for the Alwoodley Park Estate ‘situate in one of the most healthy districts in Yorkshire, 500 feet above sea level.’ 108 Milner proposed the formation of the ‘Alwoodley Park Estate Association’ to facilitate the development of the estate. The complex rules were submitted to a General Meeting of Members held in Leeds on 24 August 1921. The Association offered 207 plots ranging from 1,260 to 8,000 square yards at one shilling per yard, adding that special features of the estate were free recreation ground, no back roads, freehold land, no tithe or land tax, free conveyance, bracing air, good roads and ease of access. The rules permitted an owner to use their plot for gardening, the erection of a temporary dwelling for a period of years or for the building of detached houses, semi-detached villas or bungalows.109 Unfortunately for Milner the location of the Alwoodley Park Estate was still too remote and development was slow.

The Ward Family

Ironically one of the first plots to be sold was King Lane Farm, a delightful old stone house near the junction with Stairfoot Lane, which was snapped up by Mr.Ward. His son, Peter, has vivid memories of life there. Apart from the main accommodation there was a separate cottage to the side which his Auntie Alvena came to live in and below that an extensive barn, the upper floor of which his father let to George Gill the cabinet-maker. When they moved in water was provided by a well but his father erected a railway tanker on bricks above the house and installed a petrol engine that pumped the well water in to store so they could have a supply in the house. Like most of the properties in Alwoodley they had to make do with an outside privy with associated midden.

Peter had a delightful childhood here, one of the highlights being Bonfire Night when children spent weeks ‘chumping’ to see who could build the best bonfire. He struck up a close friendship with Arthur Todd of Buckstone Farm, a ‘smashing bloke’ who taught him how to keep ducks. He also showed him how to kill the birds which he then sold to his mother’s bridge friends along with any spare eggs. Another money making scheme involved  ‘tickling’ trout in Nanny Beck, placing them in a zinc bucket and swiftly taking them to Mr. Clegg’s house which had a stream and a massive pond at the back. Clegg paid him a shilling for each fish and allowed him to swim in the pond. Today the site is occupied by Alwoodley Methodist Church.

Other highlights were sledging in the field opposite, trying to aim to get through the gateway at the bottom without crashing. Nearby was the excellent orchard of Crag Farm, which he raided on many occasions despite ‘Toddy’ being on the look out on Crag Lane! He remembered the big house, Adel Brow, being built on the site of Alwoodley Nurseries, on the corner of Stairfoot Lane and King Lane. They were oil people from Hull and their children built a den in the corner of the garden. Peter and his brother pinched peas from the ‘sledging field’ and threw the pods in the den where they went mouldy and stank to high heaven! The Hull family wanted ‘Toddy’ to prosecute but he only needed to threaten to tell P.C.‘Bobby’ Mons, who lived at Alwoodley Gate and that was enough. All the residents of whatever age feared this notorious enforcer of law and order!

Two school-related events stood out in Peter’s memory above all others. As a very young child he attended a prep school on The View. He can vividly remember his teacher asking him what he was staring at out of the window and Peter replied an elephant! His teacher thought he was ridiculing her and reprimanded him severely only to realise that the travelling circus had stopped to let the animals graze in the nearby fields before moving on to Woodhouse Moor. When old enough, he attended Adel St. John’s and regularly cycled the route down Stairfoot Lane. One day, he decided to go ‘extra fast’, lost control and crashed. When Peter came round he was in Stairfoot House by the bridge. Dick England and his wife lived there. He was the Eddison’s odd-job man, chauffeur and gamekeeper and a regular at the New Inn! Mrs.England decided Peter ‘would live’ but persuaded her husband to drive him home in Eddison’s posh car.110


Hawk Nest Estate

Private transport was important for those who lived in the more distant parts of Alwoodley away from the tram termini and Harrogate bus route. Leeds City Tramways timetable shows that the first tram left Briggate at 5.53 a.m. and the last one returned from Moortown 11.20 p.m. - a cheap, dependable service!  In August 1925 the magazine ‘Yorkshire Homes’ carried a half page advertisement on behalf of W. Thompson and Sons, building contractors, of Stony Rock Lane, Leeds, who were constructing the Hawk Nest Estate, Alwoodley. The advert stressed that this was a high-class residential estate only ten minutes walk from Moortown Corner and the electric tram terminal but with prices ranging from £1000 to £1500, it was far too much for many potential buyers. Nevertheless the estate boasted delightful views over undulating country and woodland but more importantly all the detached, semi-detached and bungalows of ‘artistic design’ were served with Leeds Corporation gas, electricity and water.111 Modern amenities were brought to Alwoodley not by Wharfedale Rural District Council to which the ‘parish’ belonged but by its powerful neighbour, Leeds.  Charles Wilson, Conservative leader of the Council from 1907 to 1928, was an unashamed municipal imperialist, who actively canvassed support amongst the residents of Alwoodley for inclusion in the next Leeds Extension Bill. 112


To be or not to be?

Immediately after World War Ι Leeds City Council embarked on a carefully planned programme of expansion and sought to take over many of the townships abutting its borders. Alwoodley was one of the places they wished to govern and news of their advances was not lost on the residents who enjoyed the luxury of extremely low rates but few facilities. In 1920 most of the houses in Alwoodley were still lit by oil lamps, people continued to cook on Yorkshire ranges and most had to use outdoor privies. The roads were mainly narrow routeways, unchanged for centuries.

It appeared that residents had a stark choice: join Leeds, pay higher rates and obtain marked improvements in Council services, including modern sewage and power facilities; or stay with Wharfedale Rural District Union, pay low rates and remain in the Dark Ages. On 31 March 1920 interested members of the community were invited to a special meeting held at Chapel House, Alwoodley Gates, to discuss the intended incorporation of Alwoodley by Leeds City Council. This was chaired by William Emmott who confirmed that no-one had any definite information regarding the terms and conditions of the proposed ‘take over.’ Everyone agreed that a deputation should be sent to meet with Leeds’ Town Clerk to obtain up-to-date information.113 Over three months elapsed before the deputation was ‘courteously received’ at the Civic Hall. For many the meeting simply confirmed their worst fears - high rate rises in return for no firm improvement in services.  Vociferous opposition to the plans continued for the next three years and would have continued indefinitely had it not been for sizeable increases in rates demanded by Wharfedale Rural District Council.

The Parish Council meeting held on 26 March 1924 was a stormy affair.114 Mr J. Milner urged that a strong protest be made to the Wharfedale Rural District Council stressing that, in light of the recent rate increases, residents should at least be entitled to the benefits of gas, water and electricity supplies. Mr. Frais representing Moor Allerton Golf Club Ltd. and Mr Haswell of the Alwoodley Park Estate stressed the urgent need for road repairs, particularly on Nursery Lane. They received no reassurances from the representatives of the W.R.D.C. and so negotiations reopened with Leeds’ Town Clerk who was prepared to offer a period of five years of preferential rating if they agreed to join. Despite this concession, members of Alwoodley Parish Council remained unanimously opposed to joining Leeds. Residents, however, were frustrated that they were still left without sewerage, gas, water and light and were not receiving any real benefit from the large amount of rates paid to the Wharfedale Council. As building in Alwoodley continued apace, this issue became more and more pressing and on 29 April 1925 the ratepayers insisted that Wharfedale Rural District Council took action ‘to utilise immediately the sewage works of Messrs. Thompson in order to deal at once with the pressing necessity of the Belvedere and Crescent Garden Estate.’115 Progress was slow and at the November meeting, held in the Sand Moor Golf House, owners of property on the Belvedere, Hawk’s Nest and Crescent Gardens Estate signified that they would be willing to do all that was required to gain access to proper sewage facilities. At this point Mr. Newstead, Clerk to W.R.D.C, assured the assembled ratepayers that he would seek to obtain a loan from the Ministry of Health and would ‘…lose as little time as possible’ to provide them.116

At this point fate played a hand as J.H. Milner, now chairman of Alwoodley Parish Council bumped into Sir Charles Wilson, the most powerful man in Leeds, at the Civic Hall. Wilson asked him outright what it would take to obtain agreement of the parishioners to join Leeds. Milner swiftly replied that residents wanted all the modern amenities Leeds could provide but with fifteen years preferential rating at 8s 4d in the pound. 117 Sir Charles felt that this was acceptable and the Leeds Town Clerk officially wrote to Milner offering preferential rating, street lighting, electricity, gas and water, proper sewerage plus the widening of Nursery Lane at the Council’s expense.

Milner was ecstatic and immediately called a special meeting of the parishioners. Sand Moor Golf House was very crowded on 19 January 1926 with almost one hundred parishioners crammed into the main room. They listened in silence as
Henry Barran, the clothing magnate and major landowner in Alwoodley, spoke favourably of the deal, stressing that Wharfedale were quite unable to give a remote parish like Alwoodley the facilities it required. Many in the room agreed. Poor Mr Newstead, Clerk to W.R.D.C., valiantly acknowledged that they could not compete and stated that if members of the Parish Council were unanimous in their support of becoming part of Leeds ‘…they would graciously help.’ 117 The die was cast and under the Leeds Extension Act of 1927 Alwoodley officially became part of the city.

Insanitary dwellings


Leeds Corporation undertook a survey of its new parish. It was horrified at the number of insanitary dwellings and in particular the huts just off King Lane. The toilet facilities were primitive and a risk to health. The refuse collectors were sent out specially to collect the contents of the pail closets. Mr. Martin, one of the last ‘night soil’ collectors of Leeds, recalled that many people tore up old newspaper and hooked it on a nail in the privy as a substitute for a toilet roll. The mice loved to take this for nesting material and so when he came to collect a pail full of faeces he had to use his bill hook to hammer on the door to scare them away before entering. He then hooked the bucket up over his shoulder, emptied it in the cart and took the contents to the site of the former quarries at Potternewton for emptying.118



Alwoodley was a place of great natural beauty, an asset fully appreciated by the elite of Leeds who were taking an increasing interest in the game of golf. In the early part of the twentieth century many farmers struggled to make a decent living. The Lane Fox family decided to take advantage of the increasing popularity of the area to
off-load much of this marginal agricultural land to other developers. Alwoodley Golf Course was the first in the district to open in 1907, followed by Moortown (1909), Moor Allerton (1923) and Sand Moor (1926) and even Headingley Golf Club utilised a section of the manor at the western end of the scarp slope.119 

In an age of blatant anti-Semitism the Jewish community found it extremely difficult to obtain membership to any golf club in the Leeds district. As a result a small group of enthusiasts led by Abe Frais decided to purchase Pikeley Hill Farm with around 100 acres of land to create a their own golf course.120 At £4650 it was a bargain. Membership was open to all and Colonel Lane-Fox himself joined. A noted local expert, Dr. Alastair McKenzie, was one of the designers of the course. Initially only twelve holes could be laid out as the farmer still had a rhubarb crop in the other fields! The farmhouse and barn were converted into a clubhouse and store and a large tent was hired as the dining room. Eventually, on 27 March 1923, Alderman Charles Wilson opened the first Jewish golf course in Europe. It had been a mammoth undertaking involving the removal of 3000 yards of old stone-walling and the destruction of many hedgerows by traction engine to completely transform the landscape north of Nursery Lane from one of small enclosed fields to an unbroken sweep of grass, putting greens and sandy bunkers.121 This facility acted as a magnate to the wealthy Jewish families who purchased large numbers of houses in the immediate area leading to the uncharitable nickname for the district as ‘All-yid-ley’.

Three years later Sand Moor Golf Club officially opened the doors of its new clubhouse, however, the course had been five years in the making. Henry Barran had originally laid out a six holes course on former Lane Fox land that had been purchased by the Barran Trust. The family had made a fortune in the clothing industry and were to become very influential in the district. Henry leased the land to the club for twenty-one years at a rental of £500, plus a deed of covenant of £350.122 Once again Dr. Alastair McKenzie was responsible for the design of the expanded course which partially occupied former farmland surrounding Alwoodley Old Hall. In 1928 this came under the control of the Club and was used to house the greenkeepers and their families. Muriel Soule recalled:

My father’s younger brother, Horace Hirst, was the greenkeeper at the golf club and the house went with the job. Uncle Horace, Aunt Gladys and my three cousins lived on the section on the left and in the middle, another family had the section on the right. The bedrooms were on different levels. You had to go up about five uncarpeted stone steps to one bedroom, and three or four to another and so on. There was a large room on the lower floor which had a big stone slab in the centre which was always full of home-made assorted pies and preserves. This was called the dairy. The house had thick stone walls.123

Fine and expensively built residences


For the wealthy elite of the city who could afford the luxury of their own motor car, Alwoodley offered many delights, not least the clean air, miles away from the smoke pollution of the central districts. The inter war years saw many high class residences built in the district, often occupied by keen golfers who liked to live near their club. Oakdene, built on Alwoodley Lane in 1934, was typical. Its sale particulars noted that:

This outstanding property has full South aspect, overlooks and adjoins Moortown Golf Club. Delightful views are obtained from all the principal windows. Moortown, Sand Moor and Alwoodley – all famous 18- hole golf course, are within easy walking distance. The accommodation on two floors comprises:
Vestibule with oak door, tiled floor. Half tiled Cloakroom. An attractive square Entrance Hall, which is three-quarters panelled in oak, delft rack, oak boarded. Concealed tubular heating. Lounge 24ft x14ft…Dining Room 15 ft x 14ft…Sun Lounge 12ft x 10ft 9in, Kitchen 14ft x12ft with Triplex range, very fine fitted cupboards and nests of drawers…a Scullery and splendid Pantry.

Upstairs were five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a photographic room completely equipped with galvanised sink and running water. This house could support spacious luxury living! There was a garage with space for two care and the gardens and grounds were beautifully landscaped including an extensive putting lawn, Alpine rockeries, herbaceous border and ‘a most delightful running stream with lily pond, fish pond and fountain.’ 124

Community facilities


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 community facilities and were willing to play an active role in their creation. The founding of Alwoodley Park Methodist Church was typical. Initially people had started meeting in their own homes but in 1941, encouraged by the Reverend Lorne Cornish, minister at Chapel Allerton, they purchased a bungalow and converted it into a small chapel and in May it opened for worship.125 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 this religious community. However 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 all 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. 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 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.127

The Buckstone Estate


Yet the pace of change did not stop as more and more families settled in Alwoodley, encouraged by the improving transport system. Buckstone Farm had been started by the Todd family but by the forties had passed into the hands of the Mitchells who were famed for keeping magnificent pigs that were extremely vicious.128 With the advent of cheap imports from the Commonwealth it became increasingly difficult for local farmers to make a decent living. The Lane Fox family, tempted by the high value of the land for housing, were not reluctant to sell and part of the farm, including the farmhouse itself, was purchased by F.Reddyhoff and Son, a firm of builders, based at 23 Buslingthorpe Lane. The workmen used the old farmhouse as their base and one resident remembers that they retreated there at the slightest sign of rain!129  It is interesting to note that not one of the long-term residents interviewed, who had purchased a brand new house, had anything nice to say about the builders, accusing the firm of sharp practice! In the early fifties they advertised houses for sale on the Buck Stone Brow Estate ‘…on the edge of green belt …with all the healthy advantages of a semi-rural position combined with all the amenities of urban life – main drain sanitation, roads, schools, shops, garages etc…’ 129 Doreen Dickinson still has detailed records of their house purchase. She paid £2350 for a standard basic semi detached property but extras included around £30 for fireplaces, £5 for pelmets, £40 for a more luxurious staircase and £50 for a garage. The solicitors fees were about £80 and her husband allowed £15 to pay the removal firm.130 A special feature of these houses was the eleven inch cavity in the party wall between the two houses which was done for sound insulation so that ‘…you can enjoy your Radio or Television without annoying your neighbours.’ 131 The rateable value was £30! Public transport was essential as few owned their own cars. The advertising leaflet stressed that Leeds Corporation Bus Services Nos. 34 and 35 departed from the Central Bus Station at thirty-minute intervals with additional buses put on at the morning and evening rush hours. The journey only took eighteen minutes!

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! 132
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. 133

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

Verity’s Tea Shop


Mrs Verity arrived at Mill Fall Mill in 1901. She was to remain there for the rest of her life only leaving the ‘moor’…Unfortunately 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 the 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 again’ 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.

The times they are a’changing


The Barran family had played an instrumental role in creating Sand Moor Golf Club but by the early sixties Mrs. Barran indicated that she intended to sell the tongue of land to the south of Alwoodley Lane for housing. The Committee had to act swiftly as this parcel contained not only the clubhouse but also holes 1, 2, 17 and 18. In October 1966 permission was granted for the creation of a new housing estate based on what became Sand Moor Lane. Negotiations with Leeds Corporation Waterworks and Mr.Gilpin, the farmer who was leasing land abutting their course near Goodrick Lane secured enough space to reconstruct the course and the crisis was allayed. The new clubhouse opened on 28 September 1968.137

Sand Moor wasn’t the only club undergoing radical change. When Moor Allerton Golf Club had been created in the twenties open countryside surrounded it on nearly all sides. With the spread of suburban housing estates it had become less desirable as a recreation facility but extremely desirable as prime building land. This fact was not lost on Bernard Lyons, an influential member of the club, who in 1964 learnt that Blackmoor Farm at Wike, plus one hundred and twenty acres, was to be sold by auction. He sought the help of Irwin Bellow, the Chairman of the Club, to persuade members to sell up and move. There was overwhelming support for the project. Nevertheless the scheme was not without its difficulties not least whether they could obtain planning permission for housing on the land off Nursery Lane. In 1967 there was a Public Enquiry with the main objections to the scheme coming from Moortown Golf Club and the residents of Nursery Lane and the Primley Park Estate. The following year the enquiry found in favour of the club and an offer of £490,000 from Laing Homes was accepted for the first parcel of land and a further £65,000 from Cameron Brewery for the Club House which became known as ‘The Allerton’. The new course was ready for use in October 1970.138 The acquisition of this land and that of the former Heath Nursery site led to the development of the Sunningdales, Birkdale, Turnberry and Wentworth estates. The vast number of houses built on this tract of land changed forever the character of Alwoodley. With the removal of this green buffer the area lost any pretension of being ‘in the country’, no longer a rural idyll prized by walkers trying to escape the bustle and grime of the city but an elegant leafy suburb.

 It is remarkable that in just over fifty years the area was transformed. The key factors proved to be the willingness of a substantial landowner to sell a sizable part of his estate, improved public transport that made the district accessible and the desire of many to live away from the smoke polluted streets of central Leeds. In addition the speculative builders constructed housing that appealed to the masses, the building societies played a significant role in lending large sums of money to the upwardly mobile and a change in the attitude of the younger generations who had a genuine desire to own their home rather than being dependent on the availability of the rented accommodation of private landlords.

Today and Tomorrow


Today Alwoodley remains one of the premier residential areas of Leeds, a delightful place to live with the advantage of being close to both city and country. Unfortunately the process of suburban cramming, where every scrap of land is developed and older properties are demolished and replaced with blocks of flats, is again changing the character of the district. The advent of supermarkets has led to a reduction in the number and variety of shops on the parades and local amenities are constantly under threat. Woodland pathways are becoming major route-ways for ‘bikers’ and isolated car parks are being used by fly tippers to dump rubbish and have unfortunately become a magnet for lewd individuals who participate in ‘dogging’, a voyeuristic pursuit of the lowest kind!

As a haven of some of the wealthiest citizens of Leeds it has also become a target for criminals. In August 1999 a gang of four men plotted to kidnap the wife of a rich businessman in Alwoodley and ransom her for £2million. In November of the following year masked raiders tied up an elderly couple in their home on Harrogate Road and cleared out the safe with over £100,000 in jewellery and cash. Eighteen months later a 92-year-old lady died after being assaulted by a burglar, Mark Fitzgerald, who was caught and is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence. Early in 2002 Alwoodley was one of four wealthy north Leeds suburbs targeted by a gang of car thieves who stole over one hundred vehicles valued at nearly £300,000. In November 2003 thieves attempted to rob a businessman at gunpoint after following home in his car on Alwoodley Lane. Fortunately the victim stopped his vehicle and hit a panic alarm after three men ordered him to hand over can. They fled immediately. Most recently, in February 2004, John Luper was killed at his £900,000 luxury residence in Sandmoor Drive while the gang went on to ransack the house. As a result of this criminal activity many homes now have state-of –the-art security systems. Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton summed up the situation clearly ‘…I would hate to see the day when people have to guard their homes with razor wire and alarms which prompt armed response teams. I think it is time for homeowners to be vigilant and for myself as a politician to press for more police on the streets and for higher detection rates.’ 139

At the time of writing property prices in Alwoodley remain high with some of the prestigious detached properties exceeding a million pounds. Planning applications for extensions, conservatories and garages continue to flood in to Leeds City Council, whilst the presence of skips on most streets reflects the desire of residents to continue to improve their homes. Let us hope that some of the disastrous planning decisions like high-rise development along Harrogate Road and the granting of permission to demolish Alwoodley Old Hall in 1967 remain a thing of the past. 140 The 1921 sale particulars for the Alwoodley Park Estate described the area as ‘one of the most healthy districts in Yorkshire’, planners hold the key to preserving the unique character of this district which justly deserves to retain its place as one of the most popular residential areas in Leeds.

Front cover:  ‘Crofter’s cottage on King Lane’ by Richard Burt based on the photograph by Godfrey Bingley c.1888. (Oil pastel on canvas) It is remarkable that this tiny building still survives today near the junction with Stairfoot Lane.

O.S. Map of Alwoodley in 1933. The numbers indicate key locations mentioned in the book including Alwoodley Common. 1. Alwoodley Old Hall 2. Bridge House 3.Golf House 4. Moss Hall 5. Crag Farm 6.Mill Fall Flax Mill/ Verity’s Tea Shop/ Slabbering Baby 7. Seven Arches 8. Heath Nursery 9. Alwoodley Nursery/ Adel Brow 10. Lucy’s Cottage 11. King Lane Farm 12. Buck Stone Farm

The coat-of -arms of the Frank family.

Detail of Alwoodley Old Hall from the 1682 plan by Joseph Parker. The timber framed building with the two chimney stacks to the top left, next to the orchard, is the former Frank residence which was eventually demolished in 1822. To the right is the 1640 stone mansion built by Clifton shortly after his acquisition of the estate. Below is a walled area with a formal knot garden in the middle.


The Frank family were extremely wealthy and could afford to have a beautiful oriel window made of Tadcaster limestone incorporated into the fabric of their home. This delightful drawing by John Dixon shows the structure in a fairly complete state. It was finally demolished just over forty years ago and the stone still survives today in a local rockery.

Joseph Craven’s farm on King Lane, 1682. The place name Tenter Garth indicates that the family were involved in cloth production. Today the site is occupied by Golf House.

William Stead’s farm on Alwoodley Lane, 1682. It shows a substantial timber framed building with a stone flagged roof shortly before its demolition. Some of the timber was reused in the new stone built house which is today called Moss Hall.

Richard Wrigglesworth’s timber framed home near Stairfoot Bridge, 1682. Adel Beck can be seen to the left hand side of his cottage. Interestingly the deeds to what is today Bridge Cottage allow the occupant to obtain fresh water from a spring in the field across the bridge in Adel!

The Clifton family let Alwoodley Old Hall to tenants and Richard Smithson leased the house and adjoining 160 acres of land for over twenty years. When he died in 1704 he left £340 9s 0d to his ‘Loveing Wife’ Dorothy and his children Richard, Thomas, William and Anne. A detailed inventory was made of the contents. In the kitchen, in addition to the usual cooking apparatus, was a clock, 15 pewter dishes, 15 plates, 16 tins, 3 pewter tankards, 2 candlesticks, 1 ring, 6 chairs, five stools, 2 flasks and a little table. In the great chamber they found a bed, bedding, a rug, 2 tables, 6 chairs, 1 chest and 2 rolls of linen, whilst in the hall a table and ‘one fowling pare’.

Peat provided an essential free source of fuel for the inhabitants of Alwoodley. They used graving spades to dig out the peat and chop it into pieces about the size of a brick. It was then piled in small heaps to dry before being carted home. This delightful print is taken from George Walker’s ‘Book of Yorkshire Costume’ 1814.

The Common provided a hunting ground for rabbits, hares and wild fowl. In addition it supplied the populace with a free supply of fruit, including raspberries, bilberries, cranberries and blackberries as well a ready source of peat for fuel, gorse for kindling, bracken for cattle bedding, ling for roofing material and grazing for sheep. Its enclosure by the Lane Fox family must have been a bitter blow to many local householders. The print is taken from George Walker’s ‘Book of Yorkshire Costume’ 1814.

This detailed undated plan for the new reservoirs on Adel Beck has ‘Not carried out’ written across the top of the page in fine italic hand. It is fascinating to see that they intended to construct Thorner Ford reservoir just above the Seven Arches.

Jenny’s Cottage, Sand Moor, re-drawn from a faded photograph by Bob Tyrell. It shows a typical crofters dwelling with a small cottage garden in front. The building is constructed from rough stone, has a roof made of ling and has the luxury of glass windows instead of wooden shutters. The occupants earned a meagre living labouring on local farms. In 1891 John King, aged 29, lived here with his wife, Mary two years his junior and their two children aged 3 and 2.

Tunnel Row Cottages, located just above King Lane Bridge, were built in the 1830s as accommodation for labourers working on the waterworks. They were constructed of stone rubble with a thatched roof, simple wooden shutters across the window openings and trodden earth floors inside. A small fire on the ground floor provided heating and the metal cauldron hanging over it provided warm water and acted as a cooking pot. Occupants later earned a living by grinding sandstone from nearby quarries and keeping a few sheep on the band of grassland adjoining King Lane.


This section of the 6” to the mile O.S. map of 1850 shows clearly the location of Leeds’ Waterworks Eccup Reservoir (A) and the underground ‘tunnel conduit’ to the Seven Arches (E). The three mine shafts were named Smith (B) Johnson (C) and Verity (D) after the local farmers who had been inconvenienced by the workings. Other features include Tunnel Row, built to house the labourers, Heath Nursery (G) and Alwoodley Nursery (H).

This atmospheric view of Adel Crags taken from an Edwardian postcard shows an almost treeless landscape of bracken, heather and rough grass.

The original Todds of Crag Farm. On the back of the photograph of the man is the inscription Grandad Todd b.1851.

The Lane Fox family owned vast estates and the strain of the upkeep of such huge numbers of buildings coupled with the monetary excesses of certain members of the family meant many properties fell into disrepair. This delightful pencil drawing by John Dixon, dated 8 October 1873, shows one such property near Adel Crag.

The Todd family welcomed campers as they not only paid site fees but purchased milk, ham, brawn, bacon and eggs from them. This photograph, dated 1907 shows a happy scene with the bell tent and farm in the background.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century the Lane Fox family began to lease the White Cottage on King Lane as a holiday home. A postcard dated 1 February 1909 and addressed to Teddy Collinson reads ‘Here’s the promised P.C. at last. How do you like it? Don’t forget Saturday next + bring your music and we’ll have a ______ time. As near 7 p.m. as poss. With love from, Freddy’. Teddy is the man with the straw cap.

Dr J.E.Eddison purchased the land just south of Stairfoot Lane from the Lane Fox family to try and stop the influx of campers and unruly youth into the area. He hired a gamekeeper, based at Bridge Cottage, to police the estate.

King Lane Farm c.1930. Today the site is occupied by Lane End Court.

Mr and Mrs Todd of Buckstone Farm photographed at the time of their golden wedding anniversary in September 1926.

This photograph of the official opening of Moor Allerton Golf Club on 27 March 1923, shows Abe Frais preparing to drive the first ball. Sir Charles Wilson, the most powerful man in Leeds at the time, is clearly visible to the far left of the photograph.

The 6” to the mile O.S. map of 1933 captured perfectly the embryonic ‘leafy lane’ suburb of Alwoodley. The Alwoodley Park (1), Primley Park (2), Belvedere (3), and Sandhill (4) estates were under construction. The elegant detached residences on Harrogate Road, Sand Moor Drive (5) and Alwoodley Lane (6) were some of the most expensive and desirable in the city.

Mrs B. Verity’s business card for ‘Tea Rooms at the Seven Arches, Adel, near Leeds.’ It is fascinating that she uses Adel in her address, that the area was referred to as Adel Moors and that a noted beauty spot was Adel Crags. At least all the locals and the Ordnance Survey knew it was in Alwoodley!

This delightful view of Verity’s Tea Rooms from a postcard c.1940 shows a beautiful sylvan scene with picnickers enjoying their food in the field at the side. 

Mrs Verity’s rather limited menu that ranged from tea at 3d a head to ham sandwiches at 2d!

Crag Farm – the twilight years of the farm. (numerous shots of ploughing etc…)

Some of the highlights of Dave Todd’s idyllic childhood were his visits to Crag Farm. (numerous shots of fishing, Bonfire Night, milk deliveries etc…)

Potential back cover shots

A delightful summer scene of a mother and daughter chatting next to the Slabbering Baby, taken by Mr.C.W. Dalton in the late fifties.  It is likely that Mr.Verity the stonemason created this drinking fountain for walkers. The old tea huts in the background were owned by Mrs. Verity and provided cover when the weather was inclement.

The front cover of F. Reddyhoff’s nineteen-fifties sales brochure for the ‘Buck Stone Brow Estate.’





Early Bronze Age Axe: Leeds Museums and Galleries Accession No: LEEDM.D.1964.0190, gift of Mr A.Snow, May 1947 / Rock carving of a human figure in the style of the Romano Celtic period with what appears to be a circular shield in the left hand and a possible sword or spear in the right, identified as a Celtic warrior god, Cocidius: West Yorkshire Archaeology Service’s Sites and Monuments Record, Primary Record Number 1541: found during fieldwork 1987/ 8 by A. Ross and C.A.King / Roman Road: Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 32 (Leeds, 1934) Coins: Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol.34 (Leeds, 1939) pp. 92-3; Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol. 22 (Leeds, 1913) pp. 290-3.
A.H.Smith, ed., Place Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Part ΙV (Cambridge, 1961) p.180; see also L.Huntley, The Gascoignes of Harewood, Historic Yorkshire Families, Series No.12 (York, 1906) for the following story of Athelwold. About 959 A.D. King Edgar had heard of the beauty of Elfrida, daughter of Olgar who lived ‘on the Wharfe banks’. He asked Athelwold to investigate and report back. The lady proved fatally attractive and Athelwold decided to marry her himself. He told the king that she was rich but ‘plain and homely as a garden gate’. Edgar granted permission for the wedding but later on met the woman and realised he had been betrayed. The next day Athelwold was found dead with the King’s dagger deep in his back. Elfrida then became Queen.
W(est) Y(orkshire) A(rchive) S(ervice), Lane Fox Papers: ref. LF129/7.
J.Jones, The History and Antiquities of Harewood, (Leeds, 1859) p.201.
J.Le Patourel, ‘The Norman Conquest of Yorkshire’, Northern History, VΙ (1971), pp. 1-21.
W.T.Lancaster, Adel, Thoresby Soc., Misc. Vol. ΙV (Leeds, 1895) p.261; Some Notes on the Early History of Arthington, Thoresby Soc., Misc. Vol. ΙV (Leeds, 1895) pp.148-9.
Ibid. p.149.
Dunkeswick West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council, West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to A.D. 1500, (Wakefield, 1981),  pp.360-1.
W.T.Lancaster, Notes on the Early History of Arthington, Thoresby Soc., Misc. Vol. ΙV (Leeds, 1895) p.157 f.n.
John Jewell, The Tourist’s Companion or the History and Antiquities of Harewood, (Leeds, 1822) pp.97-8; Convent suppressed in 1535, see: John A.Nichols, The medieval remains of Sinningthwaite Nunnery Journal of Cistercian Studies Series No.66 Studies in Cistercian Art and Architecture Vol.1 ed. M.P.Lillich (Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1982) p.49.
W.T.Lancaster and W. Paley Baildon eds., The Coucher Book of Kirkstall Abbey, Thoresby Soc., VΙΙΙ (Leeds, 1904) pp.81, 205, 257 and 350.
J.Parker, Feet of Fines for the County of York from 1218 to 1231, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 62 (Leeds,1921) p.12.
W.T. Lancaster, Four Early Charters of Arthington Nunnery, Thoresby Soc., XXΙΙ (Leeds, 1895) p.125; C.A.Lupton, Arthington Nunnery, Thoresby Soc., LΙΙΙ (Leeds, 1972) pp.224–229.
West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council, West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to A.D. 1500, (Wakefield, 1981), pp.305-6.
Information provided by Michael Collinson: S.B. personal correspondence 28 March 1999.
H.E.Wroot, Yorkshire Abbeys and the Wool Trade, Thoresby Soc., XXXIII, p.10.
J.Jones, The History and Antiquities of Harewood, (Leeds, 1859) p.209.
Ian Kershaw and David Smith, ed., Bolton Priory Compotus 1286 – 1325, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, CLΙV (Leeds, 2000) p.65 and p.540.
W.T.Lancaster, Notes on the Early History of Arthington, Thoresby Soc., ΙV (Leeds, 1895) p.157 f.n.
G.T.Clark, The Return of the Poll Tax for the West Riding, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal VΙΙ (Leeds, 1882)
Pauline Routh and Richard Knowles, The Medieval Monuments of Harewood, (Wakefield, 1983) p.10.
W.T.Lancaster, Adel, Thoresby Soc., ΙV (Leeds, 1895) pp. 282-3; for original grant see: PRO Reference C 143/247/10 William, son of John de Colyngham to grant land in Alwoodley to the abbot and convent of Kirkstall 12 Edward ΙΙΙ.
W.Paley Baildon ed., Musters in the Skyrack Wapentake, 1539, Thoresby Soc., IV (Leeds, 1895) p.245.
Borthwick Institute, York, Vol.23 fol.312.
Borthwick Institute, York, Vol.24 fol.164.
Borthwick Institute, York, Vol.24 fol.784.
G.D.Lumb ed., Subsidy Roll of the Wapentake of Skyrack, 1610, Thoresby Soc., XXΙΙ  (Leeds, 1915) p.109.
Borthwick Institute, York, Vol.35 fol.443.
WYL72/LF Additional 13.
WYL72/LF Additional 14.
WYAS LF Additional Papers 1.
Guide to Bramham Park (Leeds, n.d.)
F.S.Colman, A History of Barwick in Elmet, Thoresby Soc., XVΙΙ (Leeds, 1908) p.124 f.n.
WYAS LF129/7.
WYAS LF129/7.
WYAS LF129/7.
WYAS LF129/7.
R.G.Wilson, Gentleman Merchants: The Merchant Community in Leeds, 1700 – 1830, (Manchester, 1971) p.233, 242-3.
WYAS LF 129.
WYAS LF 129.
WYAS LF 129/7.
Leeds Intelligencer, 5 January 1779.
WYAS LF 129.
WYAS LF 129/7.
WYAS LF 129/7.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 14 September 1926.
WYAS LF/117/4.
WYAS DB149/26.
WYAS DB149/26.
WYAS LF 83/5.
C.J. Morgan ‘Demographic Change’ in D.Fraser, ed., A History of Modern Leeds (Manchester, 1980) p. 48.
R.Baker, Report to the Leeds Board of Health (Leeds, 1833).
Baines and Newsome’s Directory for Leeds (Leeds, 1834).
D. Fraser, The Politics of Leeds Water, Thoresby Soc., LΙΙΙ (Leeds, 1970) p.50; G.M.Binnie, Early Victorian Water Engineers (1981) pp.43-49.
Leeds Intelligencer, 21 August 1841.
Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) pp.18-21.
D. Fraser, The Politics of Leeds Water, Thoresby Soc., LΙΙΙ (Leeds, 1970) pp.50-66.
W.A.Hopwood and F.P.Casperson, Meanwood, Village, Valley, Industry and People (Leeds, 1986) p.26.
WYAS TD136 p.111.
WYAS TD136 p112.
WYAS TD 136 p114.
WYAS TD 136 p.123.
WYAS TD 136 p.127.
Leeds Mercury, 21 August 1841.
Leeds Mercury, 21 August 1841.
WYAS TD 136 pp.199-200.
WYAS TD 136 p.234.
WYAS LF83/5.
WYAS LF83/5.
WYAS LF83/5.
Oral Testimony of David and Pauline Todd.
W.White, Directory and Gazetteer of Leeds, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield and the Whole of the Clothing Districts of the West Riding (Leeds, 1853) p.395.
1851 Census 2284 1st folio 50.
The Account Book of George Davison, Adel, Wheelwright and Joiner, private collection.
1851 Census 2284 1st folio 50.
Indenture 11 May 1876, private collection.
WYAS LF 129/8.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 14 September 1926.
WYAS 64/2 Alwoodley Parish: School Log Book 1 August 1878.
WYAS 64/2 Alwoodley Parish: School Log Book 3 January 1879.
WYAS 64/2 Alwoodley Parish: School Log Book 21 May 1881.
WYAS 64/2 Alwoodley Parish: School Log Book 20 June 1883.
WYAS 64/2 Alwoodley Parish: School Log Book 20 June 1883.
Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.21; A.Beal, The Leaning Towers of Adel: Stabilising the Seven Arches Aqueduct, Structural Engineer 2001.
Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) pp.26-28.
Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.29.
Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.29.
1891 Census 3525 En.11.
Leeds Corporation Waterworks Undertaking 1852 –1952 Centenary Brochure, (Leeds, 1952) p.29.
D.Hall, Far Headingley, Weetwood and West Park (Leeds, 2000) p.47; D.Soper, Leeds Transport Vol. 2 1902 – 1931 (Leeds, 1996) p.319.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 14 February 1913.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 14 February 1913.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 14 February 1913.
104. Leeds Mercury, 15 February 1913.
105. Leeds Newspaper Cuttings, Volume 6, p.76.
106. Leeds Mercury, 24 February 1913.
107. Leeds Mercury, 15 February 1913.
108. Sales Details of The Alwoodley Park Estate Association, 1921, private  
109. Rules of The Alwoodley Park Estate Association, 1921, private  
110. Oral testimony of Peter Ward.
111. Yorkshire Homes, August 1925 p.56.
112. M.R.Meyer, Charles Henry Wilson: the man who was Leeds, Thoresby Soc., 
Vol. 8 Second Series (Leeds, 1998) pp.78-96.
113. WYAS LC/TC 1/1 pp.44-46.
WYAS LC/TC 1/1 pp. 63-4.
WYAS LC/TC 1/1 pp. 69.
WYAS LC/TC 1/1 p.74.
WYAS LC/TC 1/1 p.75/6.
Oral testimony of S. Martin.
G.Branston, Alwoodley, Leeds: The History of a Twentieth Century Suburb (Leeds, 2004) pp.60-70.
Ted Hyman, A History of Moor Allerton Golf Club (Leeds, 1994) p.16.
Ted Hyman, A History of Moor Allerton Golf Club (Leeds, 1994) p.4.
S. Richardson, A History of Sand Moor Golf Club, 1926-2001 (Leeds, 2001).
Yorkshire Evening Post, 1 December 2001.
50th Anniversary Celebration Booklet of Alwoodley Park Methodist Church p.3.
50th Anniversary Celebration Booklet of Alwoodley Park Methodist Church p.4.
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.
Oral testimony of June Scott.
Oral testimony of Doreen Dickinson.
Sales Details of the Buck Stone Brow Estate, private collection.
Oral testimony of Doreen Dickinson.
Sales Details of the Buck Stone Brow Estate, private collection.
Oral testimony of  Doreen Taylor.
Oral testimony of Maureen Goodall.
Oral testimony of Dave and Pauline Todd.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 9 September 1953.
S. Richardson, A History of Sand Moor Golf Club, 1926-2001 (Leeds, 2001). p.49.
Ted Hyman, A History of Moor Allerton Golf Club (Leeds, 1994) pp. 47-70.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 19 February 2004.
Yorkshire Evening Post, 4 March 1967.


Dedicated to the staff of Sainsbury’s Moor Allerton without whose generous support this book would not have been possible.



The quality of this booklet has been greatly enhanced by utilising the superb graphic design skills of Phil Jewitt, Alwoodley born and bred!

I am indebted to the staff of Leeds Local and Family History Library, the Thoresby Society, Thackray Medical Museum and West Yorkshire Archive Service (Leeds Office) for their assistance in writing this book. I am extremely grateful to Brett and Felicity Harrison for transcribing the sixteenth century wills and for help in understanding the vast number of documents relating to Alwoodley Old Hall. Peter Thornborrow was kind enough to comment on the buildings illustrated on the 1682 Parker Plan and, after a site visit, to interpret the development of  Moss Hall . Many thanks to the large number of people who I have had the pleasure of interviewing over the years and who have so generously shared their memories and material with me. This book would not have had the same quality of illustrations without the generosity of Dave and Pauline Todd who kindly permitted the unrestricted use of their family photographs. Bob Tyrell did a splendid job in re-drawing two really faded photographs.

I am grateful to Don Cole and Sydney Richardson for their positive comments and meticulous proof reading. Finally, special thanks to Richard, my brother, for the fabulous painting on the front cover and to Kevin Grady for his invaluable advice and guidance.

Published by Steven Burt, 16 Mulberry Avenue, Leeds LS16 8LL. Tel: 0113 2673294

Copyright: Steven Burt  

Sources of Illustrations


Thanks are due to the following bodies, societies and individuals who have kindly granted permission to reproduce their material. Illustrations not listed below are in the author’s collection.

Leeds Libraries and Information Services:
West Yorkshire Archive Service (Leeds):
Thackray Medical Museum:
The Thoresby Society:
Leeds Civic Trust:
Moor Allerton Golf Club:
Dave and Pauline Todd:
Pam Collison:


Back Cover:




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