Lee Moor History
This page covers all aspects of Lee Moor history, if you have any information that we could use please contact us.
Over the last 300 the people of Lee Moor have been a community of coal miners and their families. Within a mile of the village this community was looked upon as a rough, tough hard drinking class of men, swearing and fighting over the least thing but amongst themselves were close knit spending much of their time together. Many bell pits and surface mining have been found in the area worked by adults and children alike, usually work was candle lit often causing an explosion of the coal gas. Their lives consisted of low wages, long hours, blood toil and sweat with a short life expectancy. Deaths were also common in the mines, families receiving no compensation or state help.
Overwhelmed by poverty and hardship the community spent most evenings in the pubs or taking part in the areas favourite sport cock fighting. The area of Lee Moor was known as the Cockpit Houses back then, having several fight arenas in the community, the birds were especially bred for the sport, and would fight to the death much to the delight of the on looking crowd.
The community was visited by John Wesley, a Wakefield preacher who must have had a big impact on the people as they built the first Lee Moor Chapel on the site of one of these cockpits in 1801. The chapel was a small stone building, almost square and had a pulpit from the West Parade Chapel in Wakefield. The sport still continued in the area but died out in the Victorian age. The area was nothing more than a field path up to the 1860s the houses all stone, quarried locally. They lacked water and lavatories, the lavatories were all dry ash shared by several houses and water fetched from the wells in the village. The poor quality of water and the disposal of dirty water into the street was the cause of much illness and death in those days. Lee Moor had two pubs, several shops, a school and chapel at the beginning of last century, the new chapel was situated on Lee Mount and was built in 1874 The chapels Sunday school building is one of only two surviving chapels in Stanley today.
The school that was built in 1876 still survives today as a private house, keeping the original character of the building. The shops have all closed, the last closed in the early 1990s but the two pubs remain. The WMC is now privately owned and Bar Stanley the building of which has had several names and was built in 1908 replacing an earlier ale house on the site. The motor garage on Lee Moor is one of very few workshops that survive in the area today. Fenton Lane at the bottom of Lee Moor named after the original coal kings of the area is a quiet little dirt track today, a far cry from the days when it was the main area mined in Lee Moor, the industry that the area owes its history to.
The Miners Arms 1960s
Music making in Lee Moor
Many people remember singing was quite a notable feature of village life. It played an important part in the lives of residents, young and old. The 1801 Wesleyan Methodist Chapel had a very strong religious and musical influence over the village of Lee moor for many generations, and for a long period it was a place of great interest and activity.
The children were taught to sing hymns at a very early age in Church and at the local Methodist Sunday School. They would parade through the village singing hymns on occasions of Sunday School such as Anniversaries and Whitsuntide. Lee Moor Methodist Chapel had a strong mixed choir to lead the singing. One of the highlights of the Choirs activities which was greatly appreciated before the coming of radio and television was the outdoor Christmas carol singing, when families in many homes waited with great expectation and pleasurable anticipation on Christmas eve to hear the Chapel Choir out in the darkness of the night herald the approach of Christmas.
Lee Moor Brass Band was started by a few enthusiastic instrumentalists getting together and practising outdoors. Eventually a room over the stable at the Miners Arms was used for practice, and was known as “The Band Room”. This band provided music for the village both when practicing and when parading the village on special occasion, one of which was playing carols at Christmas. It must be almost 150 years since the band was formed.
Another feature of the musical life in Lee Moor was a string orchestra which met in Lee Moor Infants School. In addition to these musical societies, many families and their friends enjoyed musical evenings in their own homes, many people possessing a piano, harmonium or American organ on which one or more of the family was proficient.
Plane crash at Lee Moor
During 1912 Robert Blackburn’s recently completed aeroplane gave demonstration flights at Lofthouse Park. In March 1913 a book called “Going back a bit” by R Rhodes was written about Lofthouse, which mentions these flights at Lofthouse Park. “Almost every day we had the exciting experience of witnessing flights by the Blackburn brothers”. The Blackburn planes were amongst the earliest to be built, they were constructed of timber and canvas making them extremely frail. There are accounts that one of these planes failed to land properly between the years 1912 - 1914 resulting in it over shooting Lofthouse park by some considerable way before crash landing into a field in Lee Moor.
Patrick Green munitions depot
Information and photos courtesy of Mike Barley
This depot was used to check crates of corned beef during and after World War Two. It was situated just off the road between Ouzelwell Green and the old crossroads that were at the top of Newmarket Hill. With good railway access from the main track at Lofthouse, the depot was out of the way of German Bombers heading for Leeds, or the airfields of Sherburn, Church Fenton, Thirsk, and Topcliffe ect. The crates of corned beef were loaded onto a conveyer that took them into the sheds where they were checked. In decent weather the workers from Stanley used to walk or get off the No 92 bus up the hill, after the Ship pub in Lee Moor, the bus stop near the sharp left hand bend in the road. Then they would cross over the road and go along Fenton Lane , across the fields to the back of the works.
In winter they would get off the bus at the bottom of Lee Moor Lane under the railway bridge (which was where the road junction is today, with the M62 Bridge in front of you). This bridge provided shelter till they were all off the bus and it had gone. They could get their scarves and hats on their heads and get the brollies up, in the dry, to walk to the right on the footpath at the other side of the road from the railway embankment towards the crossroads at the top of Newmarket Hill. The girls from Moorhouse would either go straight across the field up the track at the side of what was Beales's fish shop or walk on Aberford Road and turn left at the crossroads at the top of Newmarket Hill. The photos below were taken around 1960, when the depot closed the Ministry let the sheds to Waddington’s who used them up to their demolition in the late 1990s.
Group of workers, do you recognise anyone?
Inside the sheds, the conveyor is visible in this photo
More workers, having a good old laugh, do you recognise anyone?
Another group of workers, presumably on a break
This photo shows the railway line coming down from the main track at Lofthouse, which then stopped just past the water tank.
Thank you to Mike Barley for the above, his continued contributions to the site are an invaluable insight into our villages past.