Knor and spell (aka ‘knurr and spell’) was a popular game in the West Riding during the 19th century which was often played on Woodhouse Moor. The knor was a ball usually made of either box or holly. The spell was a tongue of steel which had a small brass cup at the end which held the knor. The knor was released by the player touching a spring attached to the spell, which cause the knor to fly into the air, allowing it to be hit by the player. The aim of the game was to hit the knor as far as possible.
During the 1860s, the champion knor and spell player was Kirk Stables of New Wortley. His main rival was Job (Nelly) Pearson of Farsley. The two played each other on numerous occasions, including on Woodhouse Moor, and in 1862 at the Old Brompton cricket ground in London.
Youths playing know and spell, and cricket on Woodhouse Moor, and the danger this caused to promenaders, are why byelaws were brought in in 1863 to restrict the playing of these games to certain parts of the Moor.
A picnic was held on Monument Moor this afternoon. To eat, there were butterfly buns, samosas and delicious home made cakes that people had brought along. To drink, there was orange and blackcurrant squash. There was kite flying for those who were feeling energetic and there was a live teddy bear to entertain the children. The picnic took place on the route of the proposed trolleybus scheme.
The above photomontage shows all the statues located on the Moor. Viewed clockwise, they are: Wellington, Peel, Queen Victoria, the Victoria Memorial, Marsden, and Peace. Queen Victoria and Peace form part of the Victoria Memorial.
The fact that Marsden was placed on Monument Moor, and not the main Moor, shows that Monument Moor is an integral part of Woodhouse Moor, and that it was never intended to detach Monument Moor from the rest of the park, which is what the proposed trolleybus route across Monument Moor would do.
When Marsden’s Statue was placed on Woodhouse Moor in 1952, the Yorkshire Evening Post described Woodhouse Moor as “Valhalla for Leeds statues.”1 This is because Woodhouse Moor is the custodian of almost all the city’s major statuary, all of which used to be located in the town centre.
The Yorkshire Evening Post article repeatedly refers to the location of Marsden’s statue as being “Woodhouse Moor.” This is further confirmation that Monument Moor has always been regarded as part of Woodhouse Moor, which is what it is.
Because of the large number of accidents to passers-by, in the 1860s, playing cricket outside designated areas on the Moor was made contrary to the byelaws. Despite this, accidents continued, such as the following one described in a letter published in the Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer on Tuesday 13 April 1880:
CRICKETING WOODHOUSE MOOR.
To the Editor of The Yorkshire Post,
Sir,— You will greatly oblige me by allowing this letter appear your paper. I think it my duty to let the public know the danger of enjoying the air on Woodhonse Moor. As my wife, two children, and nurses were walking the footpath towards the fountain this afternoon, about half past four, my wife, who had the baby In her arms, was struck with a cricket ball on the side of the head with such force that she fell to the ground, and it was some time before she was able to return home, and I fear she will for some time suffer from the shock. Had it struck the baby, I have no doubt it would hare been his death-blow. I find this is not by any means the first time that serious accidents of this kind have occurred. Can nothing be done by the Corporation or those in charge yo enable people to cross the moor in safety !—I am. &c,,
J. R, H. Anderson 16, Coventry Place, Leeds.
To deal with the problem, in 1884, the council levelled the part of the Moor we now know as Cinder Moor, to create a cricket ground. This is described in an article published in the Leeds Times in 1884, 1 of which this is an extract:
“It has been previously explained in this journal that the Corporation intend to level the lower part of Woodhouse Moor, on the north side, for the use of the cricketers. The plan for this improvement has been prepared, and will shortly be submitted to the Town Council for approval.”
Cinder Moor continued as a cricket ground, and then as a combined cricket ground and football ground until the area was designated as a heliport in 1953. Although never used as a heliport, the site was not restored as a green space when it was re-designated as such in 1973.
Monument Moor is an integral part of the Lungs of Leeds. Perhaps that’s why it was chosen in 1888 to become the site of an outdoor gymnasium. The Leeds Mercury described the gymnasium’s facilities in an article published in June 18881:
“It may be remembered that the Leeds Corporation recently voted £500 for the construction of a gymnasium on the north-east side of Woodhouse Moor. During the last few weeks the work has been in progress, and it is expected that in a week or ten days it will be completed. The youths who now in large numbers frequent the new cricket ground on the Headingley side of this section of the Moor will then be able to considerably vary their physical exercise. For the young men there are to be twelve swings and four sets of rings and trapezes; for the younger boys twelve swings; and for young women and girls twenty swings. In addition there will be a giant’s stride, or round swing, three horizontal bars, one pair of parallel bars, one vaulting horse, and four see-saws.”
Leeds Times columnist John Lee, writing as “The Owl” wrote of the gymnasium that it “affords exhilarating exercise to very large numbers of young people.”2
The following article was published in the Leeds Times on the 9th June 1883. It’s an account of how the stone lion came to be on the Moor.
A CREDITABLE PIECE OF WORKMANSHIP has been placed on the new rockery on Woodhouse Moor. The idea originated with Mr Benjamin Sharp and his co-workers engaged on the stone carving in the interior of the Leeds Municipal Offices. They wished to show their appreciation of the efforts to improve the moor and in gratitude to the Leeds Corporation for the work found for them at the new building. That work is now drawing to a close, and this specimen of their abilities will mark the year when the building was completed. Mr Sharp prepared a neatly-designed and spirited model of “The Lion and the Serpent.” A splendid block of stone, more than three tons weight, without a flaw, was procured from Scothall Quarries, Potternewton, belonging to Mr Joseph Pickard, Jun. The stone was conveyed to a shed in the yard of Mr James Wood, builder, Thoresby Street, Leeds, who is the constructor for the municipal buildings, and there it has been carved by Mr Sharp and his fellow workers, the “lion’s share” of the sculpture falling to Mr B Sharp. The stone measures about four feet square. The figure of the lion is 5 feet 8 inches from the tip of the nose to the root of the tail, and the latter, curled on the body, is 3 feet long. The entire length of the serpent is 17 feet. The lion stands about 3 feet 8 inches in height. The pedestal or base is composed of rocks, interspersed with ferns. The lion is full of action. Finding himself in the coils of the serpent he is in the act of springing forward. Once round his body and twice round his right leg has the creature entwined; but, in the act of striking to sting the noble fellow, the latter has placed his left paw firmly on the neck of the serpent, crushing its body, and it is evident that the lion has the best of the encounter for life or death. Just at this moment the noble brute – startled by hearing something else approach – looks eagerly in the direction whence the sound came, and with glaring eyes and open mouth, displaying an array of terrible “grinders,” shows that he means mischief. This idea is capitally caught, just as if the lion thought, “I have scotched one enemy, and am ready for another.” The animal’s fore quarters are slightly elevated in treatment, as he stands amongst the rocks, and his extended claws testify that he is dealing with a deadly foe. The foliage of ferns is boldly conceived. The sinuous motion of the serpent is skilfully managed, and projecting from the mouth is his terrible sting, now powerless. The head of the lion is finely portrayed, and his whole body is full of energy and life. Mr B Sharp and those who have assisted him may be warmly congratulated on the outcome of their efforts. With them it has been a real “labour of love,” wrought out in their leisure time, and has called for no small amount of self-denial, not a penny having been charged for the time spent on the work. Thanks to the generosity of Mr James Wood, the lion and serpent was placed on one of his spring wherries, and yesterday morning it was conveyed to Woodhouse Moor and placed on the centre of the rockery. Our readers will have the opportunity of seeing for themselves what the unaided efforts of the carvers who have adorned that magnificent staircase at the municipal offices can accomplish. The weight of the completed work, when placed in position, was upwards of a ton.
The Victoria Memorial comprises a group of three bronze statues mounted on a 30-foot plinth of Portland Stone. On top of the plinth is a statue of the Queen, and mounted to either side of the plinth and lower down from the Queen were statues representing Peace and Industry.
Peace holds a palm in one hand and an orb in the other. Above her are representations of the fruits of the earth, signifying plenty. Industry is a powerfully built workman stripped to the waist. Around him are emblems of the industries of Leeds; and above him are carvings representing the fruits of the sea, signifying the nation’s naval character. Sadly Industry was removed to a council shed twenty-five years ago, and never returned.
The proposed North West Leeds Country Park and Green Gateway trail is a circular trail linking Leeds and Otley which crosses Monument Moor. Above is an extract from a council map which shows that the route of this trail cuts diagonally across Monument Moor, bypassing Marsden’s Statue. The map above shows that the trail would be blocked both by the trolleybus route, and the construction compound. The photo below shows the route more clearly.