LAL. 13th April

Lillian Alice Heseltine was born on the 14th October 1927 in Thornton near Bradford.

Margaret, Lil, Andrew, Pip, Horace

Her Mother, Margaret had trained as a midwife on Anlaby Road in Hull and worked as a nurse. Her Father, Horace had first been a minor at a pit near Pontefract, but after meeting Margaret they moved to Thornton where Horace (more commonly known in the Leckenby family as Pompom) worked in a wood sawmill.

She’s in there somewhere at the May Day Festival, Thornton Parish School 1934

Lil’s early years are not as well remembered as my Dad’s, not so many stories relayed to me and my brother of her upbringing in West Yorkshire. She grew up going to the local school in Thornton, not many photos exist of her and her sister Audrey from their childhood as not many people had cameras.

Jerry and his gang. Lillian middle row second from right

I believe that Lil would come home from school and be looked after by a neighbour who was known as Nanny Fee, she baked THE best apple pies, Granny (Margaret) did her very best to replicate them, crisp sugar topped shortcrust pastry with just slightly tart apples inside, the bottom pastry in the shallow dish had to be just that little bit soggy with the apple juice. These pies were known as Papa Pie Fee, after Nanny Fee.

Lillian and friends in Scarborough 1947

Lil may have worked in an ammunitions factory for a while. She had a boy friend Stan Ellis who at the time was in the forces, he later became known as the man who identified Wearside Jack’s (the Yorkshire Ripper hoax) accent as coming from Castletown in Wearside.

The Studio LSA 1947

She must have done well at school as she gained a place at the Leeds School of Architecture. Lil was always outspoken, few disagreed with her in later life. At the LSA she became the secretary of the Students Union. When a new head of school refused the students permission to study modern 1950’s architectural styles insisting they concentrated on classical architecture the students complained. Lil almost certainly spoke up about the matter, for this she was rewarded with a fail for that year.

Before she left she did however meet a chap two years her senior, recently demobbed and back to continue his studies at the LSA. This was David Leckenby. They had trips away with friends where they all seemed to take their T squares.

Attended fancy dress parties, one where Lil was a little perplexed that David knew how to tie a sari, he’d been posted in India at the end of WW2.


Great friendships were made and David and Lil courted, he proposed on a trip to Rievaulx Abbey where his final project was based.

Wedding day

They were married in Thornton, Bradford in 1952.

Lil and David just off centre to right central row

Lil worked in the architects office at Rowntrees in York, looking after colour schemes around the factory and offices. She also worked for Bellerbys a local decorators, files of paint numbers were found when we emptied the family house. As part of her work at Rowntrees she designed a scene dock for the Joseph Rowntree Theatre the factorys own venue.

The Rowntree Players became a very large part of her life. From 1954 till the late 1980’s she would design the layout of the sets, the decorators in the factory doing the painting on stock flats. She also acted in many a play, her full six foot commanding the stage.

One of the last photos we have of her is from the 90th anniversary celebration in 2002.

Lil, Andrew, David and Worthington

In 1961 Andrew came along, they moved into our family home a year and a half later, then the family became four when I was born in 1966.

Me and my Mum

Her trade mark beehive hair first appeared around about 1963/4 adding a few extra inches to her height. It stayed with her until a few years before she died.

Lil was interested in reading cookery books, the likes of Jane Grigson and Elizabeth David and when an advert was placed for a cook at the University of York she applied and got the job. This was the start of her catering business.

From gymkhanas, Midland Bank boardroom lunches, outside catering, holding cook classes for friends. She then took over the restaurant at York Theatre Royal which she ran for several years. In 1976 she was running the restaurant and cafe at the theatre along with providing food for the York Festival Club. Then followed a much smaller enterprise of the Regency Rooms on Micklegate all whilst she continued working with friends doing outside catering.

Clive, Neville, Judy, Lil, Buddy, Iraine

Friends were very important. Judy, Buddy and Betty amongst many others. Holidays with the Snowden, Parkinson and Nash families. Every trip recorded by meals around tables, visits to markets and shrimp nets on the beaches.

Parties filled the house, childrens birthdays, garden parties, Rowntree Players after show parties had people queueing for food around the kitchen and sitting on the open staircase to tuck in, any excuse for a party!

She became a Governor at Fulford School where a display cabinet is still dedicated to her.


It would be wrong not to mention that vascular dementia took it’s toll on the forthright, six foot woman I called Mum.

It would also be wrong to skip over her love of Gordons gin and Schweppes Tonic along with how she kept certain tobacco companies in business for decades. She sadly missed her 75th birthday and golden wedding anniversary. But thankfully time has brought back many a memory of who she was.

Lillian Leckenby 14th October 1927 to 13th April 2002.

Here’s a link to a post I wrote about my Dad a couple of years ago.

16 thoughts on “LAL. 13th April

  1. joamungoanddog

    Beautiful post Pip, it was lovely reading about her. I know the anniversary day has gone now, but I really hope you found a smile that day too.

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you Joa. The anniversary is today, a tear shed but many more smiles.

  2. jennie230

    Pip that was a wonderful post – a real tribute to a much loved Mum, wife, daughter and friend to many. You are lucky to have such happy memories and I am glad that time is easing what must have been very difficult years at the end of her life. Any form of dementia is a truly dreadful disease for both the sufferer and those who love them. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt tribute to your Mum. I wonder – did she know that you followed her into stage design? Best wishes Jennie x

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you Jennie.
      Thankfully Mum came to see shows that I designed both in Scarborough and Hull before the dementia took hold.

  3. Anonymous

    Goodness Pip. I know your Mum ( and Dad) had a remarkable life and was a remarkable person but to read all this detail is a true privilege . Great photos too. A lovely tribute. Xx

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you Sharon. Dad should take credit for most of the photos. xxx

  4. Diana Thomson

    So many happy memories of a great friend. As a young bride who had never cooked she took me in hand and we cooked together. Kenneth and I shared out 25th wedding anniversary with Lil and David’s 40th on a beautiful day in your garden and Christmas Eve singing carols around the piano……so many happy memories.

    1. pipandmick Post author

      Thank you for sharing a few of your memories and for being a great friend to them both. I’m fairly sure I remember the joint wedding anniversary party and Christmas carols x

  5. Anonymous

    That was so interesting, what a talented family. Missing people we love is so tough xx

  6. Anonymous

    What a delight to read, fab photos and a triumph of a tribute to your mum.
    Talented lady just like you.
    Thanks for sharing.

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