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 

Moor Allerton golf club opening
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.
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’.

orignal sand moor clubhouse
The original Sand Moor clubhouse with its impressive extension of 1935 dominates the foreground of this aerial photograph.

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

Alwoodley Old Hall

118. Oral testimony of S. Martin.
119. G.Branston, Alwoodley, Leeds: The History of a Twentieth Century Suburb (Leeds, 2004) pp.60-70.
120. Ted Hyman, A History of Moor Allerton Golf Club (Leeds, 1994) p.16.
121. Ted Hyman, A History of Moor Allerton Golf Club (Leeds, 1994) p.4.
122. S. Richardson, A History of Sand Moor Golf Club, 1926-2001 (Leeds, 2001).
123. Yorkshire Evening Post, 1 December 2001.


                                                                        Previous Page          Next Page