1925 ‘Shangri-la’ felt like being to the Manor Born

Malcolm Mercer
Malcolm Mercer
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Shangri-las, soccer sessions and the novelty of an indoor bathroom – the fond memories of Manor residents have been immortalised as part of a new lottery-funded project, as Star reporter Rachael Clegg finds out

Malcolm Mercer has lived on the Manor since 1925. He lived there as a child and as a teenager and then moved back to the Manor after serving in the Royal Navy during the war.

And throughout those nine decades, the former headteacher has gathered an enormous bank of memories.

And now, thanks to a lottery-funded project, Malcolm’s reminiscences will be preserved forever as part of an archive called Manor Memories.

Malcolm said: “It’s been a great thing to be involved with.

“I’m meeting people who have totally different views and totally different memories to me.

“I have met people who have had such different lives to mine.”

The project has inspired 88-year-old Malcolm to revisit some of his fondest memories during his life on the Manor.

“I have so many fond memories,” he says.

“We moved to the Manor in 1925 and I remember my mother saying that she thought the house was like a ‘shangri-la’, we had so many facilities like an indoor toilet and the fact we had a garden and electricity was really exciting at the time.

“My mother and father, like other parents on the Manor, wanted to live on this new model estate.”

But property on the Manor was in demand.

“Mum and dad lived in difficult circumstances when they were first married and before they got the key to the Manor house.”

They were lucky to get the house, as Malcolm explained.

“A large number of people applied for houses on the Manor. Not everyone could afford it but we were very lucky because my father was never unemployed and never on strike.”

Malcolm’s father was a ‘space man’ at Sheffield Newspapers.

Malcolm said: “He used to call himself that because he sold the space for advertisers.”

But life on the Manor then was a world apart from what it’s like today.

“We used to play football in the middle of the Prince of Wales Road – you can’t imagine that now.

“Nobody had cars back then – the doctor had a car and the vicar had a car but that was about it.

“People walked everywhere, even though the trams were really good people just walked. I walked to school every day.”

Malcolm joined the Navy in 1943 and returned in 1946, settling down on the Manor with his wife Jean.

His memories are just one fragment of the Manor’s past, something that Manor Memories aims to recreate using the tales of people like Malcolm.

The project is run by Sheffield Manor Parish with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Project leader, Nicola Smith said: “It’s been really fascinating collecting and recording local histories. There are so many rich memories. We will be producing a booklet and a DVD, along with a walking trail of the area.

“The project is so important to us because we want to make sure that stories don’t get lost but get passed on to future generations.

“It will also bring together members of the community with a common goal.”

But Manor Memories is looking for more Manor residents to come forward and share their history.

Nicola said: “We are looking for people to be part of the project.

“And this does involve being interviewed on a voice recorder and later filmed for the DVD.”

But it’s worth it, according to Malcolm, whose enthusiasm for the Manor is such that he even published Portrait of the Manor in the 1930s, which charts pre-war Sheffield and the lifestyles of people on the Manor before World War II.

Nicola says: “The main thing is to appreciate the heritage that we have on our doorstep, and that’s what Manor Memories does.”

For details about taking part in Manor Memories please contact Nicola Smith on 0114 2780707 or email admin@manorparish.co.uk

Slum-dwellers dreamed of living there

The Manor began to be built in 1923

It was a ‘model’ estate, boasting houses that many of Sheffield’s slum-dwellers could only dream of

Back in the 1930s, much of the surrounding area around the Manor estate was fields.

The houses came with indoor bathrooms and gardens, features which, at the time, were the preserve of the wealthy

Discussions about building the Manor started during the First World War.

Manor Memories is a lottery-funded project.