Memories link Meanwoodside to hero Oates

From: EF Clark, North Bedfordshire.

I HAVE just seen the picture (Yorkshire Post, March 19) of Fabian Hamilton unveiling the plaque to South Pole explorer Lawrence Oates – presumably on the end wall of the only building left on the site, at the gate on to Meanwood Lane.

This building used to be the garage below with my grandmother’s painting studio above and a cottage at the end.

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I knew Meanwoodside well because it was the home of my grandparents, both well-known in Leeds in their time, namely Col E. Kitson Clark and his wife Dr Ina Kitson Clark. The connection with the Kitson family was through my great grandmother who was a sister of the first Lord Airedale.

She had married my great grandfather Clark, who had been born in Boroughbridge, and became Regius Professor of Civil Law in Cambridge University. E.K. Clark was their son who chose to go into the family business at Airedale Foundry and was eventually its chairman. He and Ina (Georgiana) moved into Meanwoodside, I think in 1905, with their (by then) three children.

The eldest of these, Cdr EB Clark RN, was my father. He was what I believe is unusual, in having served right through both World Wars, having been mobilised to the Fleet as one of the three senior terms at Dartmouth in July 1914, released into the worst of the depression in the early 1930s, and of course recalled in both 1938 and 1939 and served to 1945.

Meanwoodside had therefore ceased to be the Oates family home some seven years before Lawrence’s gallant self sacrifice. I am not sure how long previous to 1905 the Oates family had lived there, but I think it was less than the 50 years we Clarks had it!

My grandfather, Col Kitson Clark died in 1943, but my grandmother continued to live at Meanwoodside up to within a year of it being sold to the Corporation by the next generation of Clarks in 1955.

The point I wanted to make is that while the Oates family lived in and no doubt enjoyed Meanwoodside as much as we Clarks did, they had moved out some eight years before the South Pole episode, and it was certainly not them who sold the property in 1954.