JUNE 2024

Antiques And CollectablesFeatures

I recently asked a genealogist to provide a family tree and it was a really worthwhile exercise. The genealogist traced my family back to the early 1700s and it would seem that my ancestors right back to 1760 all came from and remained in Leeds for generations. I found one of my ancestors was a clay miner and I must admit I did not know there was such an occupation. He probably worked for one of the many firms in Leeds and surrounding areas such as Leeds Pottery, Burmantofts or Leeds Fireclay Company. His job was literally digging clay from the clay pit with pick and shovel. I hate to think what the working conditions were like with no health and safety. They got paid a pittance and worked extremely long hours, with no sick pay or holiday allowance. 

My grandfather on my mother’s side was a coal miner at Waterloo pit which was situated near Temple Newsam. It was opened in 1815 named after the Battle of Waterloo and closed in 1966. My mum was the eldest of his 13 children and was known as the ‘little mother of East End Park. She looked after her 12 siblings from a very early age, allowing her mum to work earning a few extra shillings to feed the family. She would cook on an old coal range, feed and bathe the children in an old tin bath and have the kids in bed before her dad came off shift at the mine. She would have a meal cooked for her mum and dad and have the house clean and tidy. I can only vaguely remember my grandad. I used to sit on his knee and remember he always had a black face covered in coal dust but gleaming white teeth and gentle loving eyes. My mum did not leave home until she was 23 years old after she had seen most of her siblings leave school. 

They lived in a two-bedroom back-to-back house in East End Park. I never did ask my mum where they all slept! Everyone in the street looked out for each other and if any one of the miners got injured the rest of his mates made sure the kids didn’t go hungry. Part of me wishes I could have lived in that era but then I think about how bad living conditions were and God forbid if there was a war as the working classes would be the first to be called up to fight on some foreign soil – especially the First World War and many did not return. 

The shop is doing ok but sales are well down on last year, I think everyone is feeling the pinch with prices soaring in the shops. I am still looking for new stock – small collectables are the most popular such as old postcards, coins, medals or anything war related. Old mechanical watches working or not, toys including Dinkys, Matchbox and Corgi, old trains and trainsets. Not forgetting the most valuable of all, any gold jewellery including broken chains or odd earrings etc with amazingly high prices paid. 

Please see advert below for contact details and opening times. 

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