Memories and stories of the former St Michael's Hall / Parochial Institute
We are enjoying discovering the rich history of Vineyard House, how the building was used and adapted over the years. We want to attempt to record people’s memories of times when they were in the building and what experiences they had.
Alison Flowers’ father who remembers being in the building as a boy in the 1930s.
In the 1930’s Vineyard House, or St Michael’s Parochial Institute as it was originally known, was a rather anonymous building set back from the road as I walked between Headingley and my home in Langdale gardens. In fact I was more aware of the sweet shop next door where my gang would buy Little Demons, Jumping Crackers and Golden Rain fireworks (a penny each) as well as Liquorice Sticks, Mint Imperials and Palm Toffee.
We called it the Bennett Road Institute and I do remember performing there in 1933 when I was 9 years old and attending St Michael’s Primary School. I had the lead part as a lad called Oliver in AA Milne’s Make Believe, a children’s fantasy about pirates, Father Christmas and princesses. Watched by my parents I performed well enough to gain the reward of a big box of toffees at the end of the show.
I think the girl lead was Mary Withy playing the part of Wendy. I remember her being a sweet lass who lived in Headingley Crescent just round the corner from South Parade Chapel.
The subsequently famous George Alfonsos Cooper cut his teeth as he played Two Toed Thomas the Terror of the Dayeks, one of the pirates. He and I later went on to form a band and after the 2nd world war George gained fame as an actor and entertainer on the BBC and West End in Billy Liar and many Soap operas. He was one of the funniest men I ever met and a brilliant pianist to boot.
After the war I went to the Institute to watch some amateur shows – in one my cousin June sang “Hold Tight” in what was billed as a close harmony group but that would be considered a breach of the advertising code these days.
Please do get in touch and tell us what you remember of the building and also send us pictures if you have any.