Prior to buying Low Mill, William Machell was a local scrap dealer with a small yard on the end of Saxon Buildings and Well lane near the Old Dog mill in Yeadon.
Bill or Willy Machell, as he was known dealt in rags and scrap metal and the local Rag & Bone men came from miles around on horse and cart to deal with him.
When we were small children back in the mid fifties, my brother and I would go round the houses knocking on doors with an old pillowcase each, asking for old rags.
We would keep knocking till our pillow cases were full, then take them home and ask our dad to sort them for us, which he did, one bag of cotton and one bag of wool and anything different would go in a bag as mixed.
We would then scamper off down old Howarth Lane, over Kirk Lane, across the Green in front of the "Temp” Cinema and into the entrance to Machell’s Yard on the end of Saxon Buildings.
At the back of the yard was a wood hut with a chimney on it and a potbelly stove inside with a wooden chair beside it.
There was also an old weighing scale too.
This is where we would find Mr Machell senior, flat cap and thick glasses, red spotted neckerchief round his neck, threadbare Jacket and trousers.
We would hand him our bags of rags and he would pop them on the scale then have a cursory look inside and say, "They’re worth nowt them”, to which we would chirp up,” They are cos our dad sorted them and told us what was what”.
When we told him who our dad was he’d grin and say, "Go on then, tha can have a shilling for all the lot”.
Six old pennies each secured our ticket for the Saturday Matinee at the Temp.
My father, Syd Walker did casual work for Bill Machell, sorting scrap in the yard, Ferrous on one pile Steel on another pile Brass, Copper and Zinc etc. in separate bins.
Occasionally he would drive the scrap wagon for Bill.
By the end of the fifties work was in hand to built the new road (Queensway) up to Kirk Lane from the existing Shaw Lane Estate. The contractor for this road build was John Swales and sons. Civil engineers.
In the early sixties demolition of Manor Road, Manor Place and Manor buildings was under way also four houses in Manor Square were demolished.
When the road build started, Bill Machell had already bought Low Mills, and John Swales civil engineers was looking for somewhere to compound his Heavy Plant and vehicles, Bill’s eye for a deal resulted in him leasing Part of the Mill Yard to Swales for a vehicle and Plant compound.
With the Yorkshire Stone and reclaimed Timber market developing rapidly and three sons eager to get involved in the business Billy set up a Reclaimed Stone & Timber section and the boys developed that.
W Machell and Sons are still at the Low Mill site at Gillroyd, with a 7 Acre timber stock yard, workshops and showroom etc. and supply a varied range of Quality Oak Products.
Photo is Low Mill