Visiting my mother in my native town of Pudsey, West Yorkshire today I took a moment to photograph my first school, Greenside Primary. I attended it from 1961 until 1966. In fact, it was also the school my mother attended when she moved with her parents to Pudsey from Leeds in 1939. It’s still a primary school today and one of my brother’s grandchildren attends it.
Among my most vivid memories of Greenside are the snowy days. We created immense (to us) icy slides the length of the gently sloping tarmac- coated playground. Playtime breaks were spent whizzing down these achieving feats of balance and speed, like a landlocked simulacrum of surfing.
There was a seasonality about our playground activities. Conkers in the autumn, slides and snowballing in winter, and at some point when the weather was warmer and the ground drier, marbles would be brought out.
In September 1966, for my final year of Junior school ( Year 6 today) the whole school decamped to a brand new school with its own playing field about half a mile away at Southroyd. This was just slightly closer to the house to which my family had moved earlier in 1966 than Greenside is. I don’t know what happened to the Greenside school building immediately after that move but it wasn’t long before it was operating again as a primary school as it continues today. No doubt the growth of the population in Pudsey in the mid- 1960s and 1970s required the additional school places.
Pudsey became one of the fastest growing towns in the West Yorkshire conurbation in the latter part of the 20th century. There were numbers of new homes built on brownfield sites previously occupied by industrial plants such as tanneries, woollen mills, and light engineering workshops. When I was a child it was nothing unusual walking around outside to be met by the greasy smells, incessant whirrings, and occasional bangs and blue flashes of local industry. It seemed there was a pub and a chapel at every significant street corner, and some in between too! The former I aspired to visit and frequently succeeded from the age of 16 upwards, the latter not so much. Whatever Primitive Methodists and Strict Baptists were I was content to remain in ignorance of them. I was unconflictedly Church of England! Decommissioned pubs and chapels were demolished and new housing built. At one site a former graveyard is covered over now by an innocuous cul-de- sac of modest detached homes; providing a complete visual erasure of its previous awe-inspiring appearance.