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Camp Road, Interior view showing a family mealtime.

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Camp Road, Interior view showing a family mealtime.
Description:
1955. Image shows a mother and her children seated at the table in the living room of their terraced home in Camp Road. The table cloth is protected by sheets of newspaper and there are the remains of a meal of boiled eggs, bread, jam and fruitcake. Tea has been brewed in a teapot and pint bottles of milk stand on the table. In the background, right, a large bowl occupies a stand and washing is draped over a line across the room. Photograph courtesy of Terry Cryer.

User Comments:

Name:
C Lovedale

Comment:
A lavish meal for a poor family! At this time there were no battery farms for hens,eggs were seasonal, scarce and expensive in winter. I think it would have been quite a treat for the children to be given boiled eggs even in summer when they were more plentiful.Plus the bottles of milk, full jar of jam and friutcake. Had Dad won the pools? Or were these foods put on the table to impress the photographer?

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Name:
terry cryer

Comment:
No mr Lovedale the things on the table were not set up the photograph was taken at the request of Dr Reggie Marks with a view to getting the council to rehouse these people who were living in one room, to the left there was a bed with the father fast asleep who didn't wake up.

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Name:
Christine Lovedale

Comment:
I was not questioning the validity or purpose of this image but was intrigued by the amount of food on the table. As a child I lived close to Camp Road and went to school with children who lived there, they were more likely to be given plain bread and jam or dripping than milk and eggs. Another favourite was Fussell"s condensed milk, sometimes called "Swiss" milk, it was frequently used in tea, spread on bread or used to pacify crying babies when their dummies were dipped in it! Sugar was sometimes sprinkled on bread as a substitute for jam. A bag of chips with scraps often formed the main meal of the day, it was common custom that children were not entitled to have fish until they were earning a wage. Many came to school having had no breakfast, school milk was the first nourishment of the day. This cramped, unhealthy living accommodation was very common in the area which had streets of old large properties under multi-occupation. Life was difficult for these families, the breadwinner was always given the choicest food, the children had to take what was left. Age-old practice still in use in the mid-20th century! Hard to believe this is within living memory.

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Name:
B Hallam

Comment:
From being an infant of 16 months, until aged 22, I lived with my parents and younger sister, in a two-up, one down, terraced house in Burmantofts. The second bedroom was over the stairs and just big enough to take a bed. In the winter months the walls were permanently wet due to condensation. In summer - when the window could be left open, the ceiling would dry-out and crumble onto the bed. The single downstairs living-room was where all aspects of daily living took place. Cooking, washing, eating, bathing, all happened in that one room. As a child, many was the time I was undressed and sat on the draining-board and scrubbed, while visitors looked on. Even in adulthood, a bath was in front of the fire, surrounded by the clothes-horse whilst my mother boiled top-up hot-water from pans on the stove. The house had been condemned as unfit for habitation in the early 1950's ... we were not rehoused until 1965. But not before our situation had become critical when my sister had reached puberty - by then sleeping in our parents bedroom. A familiar story to many thousands of people I am sure. But the reason we had waited so long is telling ... my mother had kept our hovel spotlessly clean and always tidy. I was often given the job of polishing the lino, and washing the cellar-steps - including donkey stoning the edges. So when I started work as an apprentice television engineer, and was taken into other people's houses, I saw many just like my own home - just as clean, just as tidy and organised. But most - just like mine, labelled slums. Then came the shockers, the ones like in this photo that disgusted me. In my innocent youth, I'd discovered that there were people who lived like pigs for little other reason than that they did. The style of dwelling, or where it happened to be, made no difference. I can fully understand that Mr Cryer feels the need to defend his photograph as not being staged, but I feel a certain sense of niavety in play. I feel that Christine Lovedale was being rather charitable in her response. So much in the photo defies the logic of any thinking person. Why was there three milk-bottles on the table, one empty, one half-used, and one unopened. An unopened jar of shop-bought jam ... my mother had to make her own from over-ripe plums from the market. This photo had a purpose, but it was over-the-top, and - I believe, was made to look as though the conditions were as a result of the uninhabitable state of the house itself. Camp Road was no different to many other slum areas in Leeds at this time, but not everyone lived like this. Sadly though, some did, and some were indescribably even worse than is depicted here.

Date:
25-Mar-2009

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Name:
Don Smith

Comment:
I Do not agree C. Lovedale in the 1950s Britain was booming you could get two jobs in a day and here is the if', if you wanted to work firms were wanting workers as they were short of men after the war, we left school at 14 and walked in to an apprentiship with in the week. There were lots of poor but a lot of it was the fault of the people, the money went to the Bookie, the Pub, and Cigarettes I worked with men who took a 'Sub' on there wages every night and had nothing to draw on Friday. You could buy a three bedroom house for eighteen hundred pounds making ten pounds a week.

Date:
26-Mar-2009

Email:
anne-donsmith@shaw.ca

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Name:
C Lovedale

Comment:
I do not know which part of Leeds Mr Smith lived in but I can assure him that many families were still living in dire conditions in the 1950s. A massive programme to eradicate the slums of the old inner-city areas was underway but it would be many years before the task was completed. I would agree that work was available but it does not necessarily follow that monies earned would be used to benefit the families. It was accepted that a working man was entitled to his "beer and baccy" and if his domestic conditions suffered as a result there was little his family could do to improve their situation. There were not the social benefits available which people can apply for now or organisations such as women's refuges.

Date:
08-Apr-2009

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Name:
Peter Jackson

Comment:
I just think Don Smith was trying to wind people up with his comment. If you think Britain was booming it certainly wasn't in Hunslet or Holbeck, those days our family like so many others were reduced to putting foreign coins in the gas meter, it was an offence but the meter readers always ignored it and just deducted the sum from the money returned to us, also remember locking the door and hiding from callers when we wanted to miss out on a payment. £1800 for a house give us a break Don, I didn't know anyone in our school or within the family who owned a house.You seem to say £10 a week wage would be enough to support the purchase of an £1800 house. In 1963 we bought a £1900 house my wage then was £22 a week, the Abbey National would only allow me to borrow £1300, I had to take out an insurance to enable them to loan me the difference. I agree with B Hallam & C Lovedale on this, 3 milk bottles, eggs and an unopened jar of jam on the table, yes I also am sure it was staged to some extent, but the newspaper tends to give it away, it just doesn't seem right, we used newspaper on the table but not to cover a table cloth but because we didn't have one. Don you are so wrong.

Date:
17-Sep-2010

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Name:
Jack Mitchell

Comment:
I agree with C Lovedale, you others just happened to be LUCKY. 17-sept-10

Date:
17-Sep-2010

Email:
astrojack7mars@msn.com

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Name:
Chris Went (nee Rhodes)

Comment:
When I was a child in the 1950s we lived with my grandparents until my mother and father managed to get a prefab at Cottingley. We always had newspaper covering the tablecloth at mealtimes. The tablecloth was always in place and without a washing machine, which my grandmother never owned, it was a huge and difficult item to wash. A pretty white tablecloth was used on rare occasions such as Christmas and, memorably, the tea held for my grandparents' golden wedding. I wouldn't like to comment on the authenticity or otherwise of this photograph but I do agree that not all who struggled in substandard houses lived like this. My grandmother, who brought up eight children (and lost five) in Holbeck, had no time for the shiftless and used to say "Soap's cheap".

Date:
16-Aug-2011

Email:
madkatsmum@hotmail.co.uk

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Name:
Don Smith

Comment:
I have been waiting for this image to come round again. First I lived in Wortley and went to Green Lane School left in 1946 and started an apprenticeship I tried 3 differnt trades before I settled down, when I had served my time I did my 2 years in the army, on comming out I went back to my old job was marrid with a kid and lived in a two up and one down in off Tong Road for about 18 months I was making 4 shillings and 6 pence an Hr for a 47,5 hr week just over 10 pounds before tax etc, there were some houses been built at the bottom of Dixon Lane going for !.750 pounds, 9 pounds a month repayments, at that time you had to earn a week what the repayment was a month so I made it. My dad was a tradesman and there was often a lay off in winter time but he always got some kinde of work untill things opend up again. Our house in Hawthorn Ave Wortley never was massy like this one my mother had a day for everything to do with the house, bedrooms one day washing another and so on, been poor as all working people were in those days dosen't mean you shoud be dirty.

Date:
21-Nov-2011

Email:
anne-donsmith@shaw.ca

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Name:
Don Smith

Comment:
If you would like to see some of the run down rough places that I have lived in,? just put these numbers into advanced search 2003417_37760562,+ 2008620_167016,+ 2003428_8109682. They are not very pretty but are as clean as the circumstances would alow.

Date:
02-Feb-2012

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