Tuesday, June 25, 2024
HomecommentMark's History: The 'forgotten' former infants school off Whitehall Road

Mark’s History: The ‘forgotten’ former infants school off Whitehall Road

Words & images: Mark Stevenson

I bet when Edwin Wigglesworth’ wife Emily would have been well chuffed when he went home to tell her he had a new job and that it came with a house.

Previously in 1881 Edwin and his family had been living at Bingley Street (the same street Napoleons Casino is on now) where he was working as a mechanic turner “iron”. 

In 1891 he was living at Brown Square, just off Skinner Lane (where Harewood Barracks Army Reserves Centre is now). This area had a reputation for outbreaks of deadly diseases.

I went to the Wigglesworth family residence of 1911 and it would have been a vast improvement on what they were used to. Although I did say to myself ‘why?’ The new house was 2 Kildare Terrace and it was the caretaker’s house for Whitehall Road Infants School (not sure if I have the right name for the school). 

the former caretaker’s house in Kildare Terrace. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Both the house and the school were built in 1884 by Richard Adams. The reason I said ‘why?’ to myself was because the area now is just basically one big industrial estate and why would you build a school in such an area?

Well if you go back to the 1880’s it was pretty much the same, except there was once row upon row of terraced houses mixed in with the mills, factories, gas holders and malt kilns, just to mention a few of the industrial activities that happened in the area.

The first caretaker of the school when it opened was John Watson.

The school building and gate piers and gates, along with the caretaker’s house, are all listed.


  1. It was called Whitehall Road CP School when I attended from a 4ish yr old circa 1951. I was there until 11 years and then transfer to Secondary.

    I think the CP was ” County Primary”. I might be mistaken about the precise nomenclature…. memory at 74 is not what it was! It was most definitely an Infant and Primary combined.

  2. I attended Whitehall Road CP School from 1955 to 1959. The building at the opposite end of the school from the Caretakers House was the canteen. I can remember the Headmistress, Mrs Heckingbottom, as she rapped my knuckles with a ruler once. All the kids had an afternoon nap, for which camp beds were provided and we also got a thick orange drink on a spoon.

  3. My mum and her twin brother started there when they were 4 years old, they were born in 1947, she remembers playing with the kids from the house opposite, then she went to Armley Lodge School.

    • Best wishes Paula

      Since I was born in 1947 too I must have been in the same class as your mum and her brother…. I’m hazy about my early school days so I can’t claim to have been best buddies but I guess we all rubbed along together!

      Kind regards.

  4. I attended Whitehall Road County Primary school from 1952 (at 4 years of age) to 1957. I lived in Danube View very close to the huge Cattle Market that existed between Whitehall Road and Gelderd Road. There were back-to-back housing streets from the school (at Whitehall Road) to Copley Hill.

    Between Whitehall Road and Gelderd Road were two public houses (The Cattle Market and another whose name I cannot remember) a few isolated houses, and substantial Co-op stables (where huge Shire Horses and covered horse-drawn wagons were kept).

    Along Gelderd Road was a large Co-op Slaughter House building where cattle from the nearby Market were slaughtered and butchered. I remember walking home from school and seeing streams of blood flowing (in stone channels on each side of the entrance) beneath the double timber-doored entrance to the place. There were also one or two very large, but abandoned, cloth Mills (of what kind I do no know) which my friends and I would explore with delight, though the Mills were potentially dangerous!

    The head mistress of Whitehall Road C.P. school was a strict but fair lady named Mrs. Heckingbottom.

    I also remember teachers named Miss Dawson and a Mr. Miller

    The school appeared to be focused on sport as it had a very good football team and always had a good P.T. display team when Children’s Day at Roundhay Park came around. Also, it was (at the time) rumoured that there had never been a pupil at the school who had passed the eleven plus examination and gone on to grammar school. However, this may be mere hearsay and completely incorrect!

  5. I have the same memories as Paul Westnutt about the importance of the school’s football team ( I was in the team around 1957) and got dressed up as a Victorian schoolboy for a display at Children’s Day at Roundhay. Must dig out the team photo!

    I think he was right about the 11+ record too, or at least I heard the same rumour….all my year failed! More to do with what we would now call a postcode lottery than anything to do with intelligence ….I later got a BA( Hons) as a mature student in the 1970s.

    I seem to recall that Mr Miller went on to be Headteacher after Mrs Heckingbottom left.

    Not sure but I think there may have been a Schweppes (soft drinks) depot up by the Cattle market too.

    I lived the other side of the railway line at the top end of the school…round on Wellington Road where “me dad” kept an Off Licence/ Grocer end of terrace shop.

    If I’ve got my memories right I must have been in the year above Paul, to whom I now send regards and best wishes.

  6. Regards and best wishes to Geoff Pollard, Paula Bisby and Dean Hancock! We must all have been at the school at the same time, though I left at 9 years of age (I was born in 1948) and moved to Cow Close Estate and Lower Wortley C.P. School.
    I think Dean is correct regarding Mr. Miller becoming Headmaster after Mrs. Heckingbottom left.
    My Grand parents and Great Grandmother lived off Wellington Road in the Avenues and my Grandfather was Foreman at the Gasworks at the bottom of Wellington Road. My best friend’s Dad worked for the Co-op (located between Whitehall Road and Gelderd Road) as a butcher/delivery man and every week he brought the Co-op horse-drawn delivery van down our cobbled street in Danube View. The huge shire horses were a sight to behold!
    Dean mentions a Schweppes Depot near to the Cattle Market and I think he may be right. It may have been on Gelderd Road between the Cattle Market and the Army Camp which was located immediately before the railway line which passed over Gelderd Road not far from Low Fields Road.
    The photos of the School are superb and nothing external seems to have changed – except that virtually all the buildings in Leeds (at that time) seemed to be black with the soot in the atmosphere (from the huge number of industrial chimneys and household chimney stacks in the city)! No doubt the building was cleaned when its use changed from School to residential apartments.
    It is not surprising that the building is listed, as it is a fine piece of architecture!


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