Monkey Bridge.

The origins and history of placenames, nicknames, local slang, etc.
Martyn
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Postby Martyn » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 6:42 pm

Can anyone solve a mystery?
When my Mum was a kid in the thirties, she grew up in Harehills and used to play at an area called 'Monkey Bridge' near the junction of Wykebeck Valley Road and York Road.

Aerial view here.

Does anyone know how the name came about? Everyone who lives in this area seems to call it by the name but there isn't even a bridge over Killing Beck. We know why the beck has it's name, it's because the beck starts near Seacroft Moor where there was a civil war battle and the blood from the dead ran into the beck. Stainbeck has that name for the same reason.
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rikj
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Postby rikj » Sat 17 Mar, 2007 11:44 pm

Can't help with this martyn, but if you search on Leodis it seems that the term is very common in the area. The area where Wyke Beck crosses under York Road used to be a lot more complicated than it is now. There were reservoirs that served the Temple Newsam estate there, with at least two water courses running under the railway embankment.

South of the railway was White Bridge, but still no mention of monkeys! The term "monkey bridge" seems to turn up in other cities and towns so maybe it was a general term for a type of structure?

Let us know if you find out please!
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Troll
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Postby Troll » Sun 18 Mar, 2007 11:29 am

Hi,

is it possible there were monks, running an hospital in the area?
I work with someone who's dad lived around here and that is the story he has heard.
When I was young, and up to me getting married, lived in the Easterly road area. I knew of the monkey bridge but not how it got it's name.
Lets hope we find out for sure.
Go the Rhinos.
dsco
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Postby dsco » Sun 18 Mar, 2007 4:01 pm

i like this thread - it seems worthy of its very own new forum ...

enjoy!

dsco
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Loinerpete
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Postby Loinerpete » Mon 19 Mar, 2007 10:53 am

I remember visiting my cousins in south seacroft when i was a kid in the early 60`s, we used to play down at the bottom of south parkway before the flats were built, my cousins always refered to the beck there as "monkey beck". I think thats the same beck that runs from wykebeck valley, i suppose it is probably called Wykebeck!!!......i used to think my cousins were saying "mucky beck"...because it was certainly a bit murky.
Aeldfrith
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Postby Aeldfrith » Thu 22 Mar, 2007 4:50 pm

We used to call the bridge at the bottom of Brooklands Avenue the "Monkey Bridge" and the beck "Monkey Beck". The 1851 O.S. map shows a bridge here. The path up to Oakwood Lane used to run between Leeds and Seacroft before the estates were built. I have a theory. In the middle ages, monks from Kirkstall Abbey owned a lot of land around Seacroft. Farming and iron mining for Kirkstall forge took place in the area. The street names "Ironwood" and "Monkswood" reflect this. Could the name "Monkey Bridge" be a corruption of "Monk Bridge" and was a bridge there built or used by the monks to get to and from the abbey?
raveydavey
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Postby raveydavey » Thu 22 Mar, 2007 9:45 pm

Many years ago when I was young (mid 70's) I lived on the Foundry Mills at the bottom end of Seacroft.

The correct name for the beck is Wyke Beck (although I can remember it being called Monkey Beck and Seacroft Beck too) which runs from Roundhay Park out to the River Aire. If anyone can remember the waterfall at the Wetherby Road end of Roundhay Park lake, that was the source of the beck - the flow came over the waterfall, under the old swimming pool and emerged from a tunnel on the far side of Wetherby Road. During the winter or following heavy rainfall water would also come down the semi-circular overflow from the lake before vanishing underground near the far end of the pool. If you were brave (or stupid!) you could walk along all those tunnels during the dry periods...

I can definately remember the "Monkey Bridge" but I also recall never being sure exactly which bridge it was...

Definately the very basic bridge at the bottom of Brooklands Avenue (behind where the flats are) was often referred to as the Monkey Bridge, but I'm sure that the more substantial bridge further upstream near the bottom of North Parkway was also referred to as Monkey Bridge.

Looking at the two bridges, I'd guess that the Brooklands Avenue bridge is the more modern one as it is on the footpath that links the Seacroft and Gipton estates past what is now Fearnville Sports Centre.

Between the two, but closer to North Parkway was a funny little place where the banks of the beck dropped right down to what could easily have been a ford in years gone by as the beck is very shallow here (before the housing estate was put up) which was right next to some quite substantial brick banks - as kids we had all sorts of fanciful ideas about why these were there.

There were definately monks active in the area in years gone by so perhaps it is a corruption of Monks Bridge?
That might favour the North Parkway bridge as it's on more of a direct route between Monkswood and Leeds?

I'd love to hear more on this subject.
Speaking the Truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act – George Orwell
rikj
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Postby rikj » Fri 23 Mar, 2007 11:13 pm

Supposedly a "grange" is an abbey farm, so Seacroft Grange (now shamefully abandoned) gives a strong link to the abbey. The influence of Kirkstall Abbey spread very far afield. The monks owned flocks of sheep near Malton. So Seacroft would have been very much on their routes.

Just to go off-topic after raveydavey's talk of the Waterloo Lake overflow....my other half went through the culverts when much younger due to a case of "duffer dares first". Now the swimming pool has gone it's all been re-arranged there.



Aeldfrith
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Postby Aeldfrith » Fri 20 Apr, 2007 12:38 am

raveydavey wrote:
I can definately remember the "Monkey Bridge" but I also recall never being sure exactly which bridge it was...

Definately the very basic bridge at the bottom of Brooklands Avenue (behind where the flats are) was often referred to as the Monkey Bridge, but I'm sure that the more substantial bridge further upstream near the bottom of North Parkway was also referred to as Monkey Bridge.

Looking at the two bridges, I'd guess that the Brooklands Avenue bridge is the more modern one as it is on the footpath that links the Seacroft and Gipton estates past what is now Fearnville Sports Centre.


There were definately monks active in the area in years gone by so perhaps it is a corruption of Monks Bridge?
That might favour the North Parkway bridge as it's on more of a direct route between Monkswood and Leeds?

I'd love to hear more on this subject.


The path between the Seacroft and Gipton estates existed long before the estates were built. The 1851 Ordnance Survey map is available at www.old-maps.co.uk (type in 434161,435595 as a coordinate). The path is shown there. Forget the age of the current bridges as they will have been rebuilt many times (The Brooklands Avenue bridge - the probable monkey bridge - as recently as last year). There are no other routes between Leeds and Seacroft village shown except for York Road (ancient) and Wetherby Road which is a much more recent turnpike road built around 1808.
Don't forget, at the time of the monks, Seacroft was a small village 5 miles from Leeds, which wasn't much bigger. Most of the surrounding area would have been wooded. Transport was either on foot, pack horse, or horse and cart along narrow muddy lanes, which were few and far between.

farbank
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Postby farbank » Mon 02 Jul, 2007 5:44 pm

I will state definitely, that the bridge known as 'monkey' bridge is the one at the bottom of Brooklannds Ave. It was zealously guarded during the war years, by a young man with his wooden gun. Whom we ever cruel kids had nicknamed 'silly Allen'. You had to have the correct password [like Secretleeds perhaps], or no passage over the wooden bridge. But if you had a very small kid with you, and he/she could cry to order, that seemed to suffice. Otherwise , when we saw him we made the detour, and crossed upstream.
Our favourite location down there was 'foxwood'. A series of deep flooded holes, teeming with newts and frogs. they were all over where the Rosgills, Easdales & Kentmeres are now. Years later when studying mining technology at Castleford, I realised they were the site of ancient 'bell-pits'.
The monks of Kirkstall certainly had lots of interest in the area. Up Wellington Hill on Wetherby Rd. is Roundhay Grange Farm. On the farm, and can be seen from the road, is the original 'tithe' barn that was owned by the Abbey. It is a currently listed and protected historic building. So I would go along with the reasoning about the monk in 'monkey'.
PS. Tatie-scratting there in 1947 [before the blizzards ], the farmer paid me and my mates 9d. an hour. That was 5/3d a day for 7hrs.
And we thought we were rich.!

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