Editor’s Column: The good and the bad of times past in Sheffield and South Yorkshire

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The atmospheric black and white images on page four today are described by a young reporter as “shocking”.

But thousands of older readers across the region may not be quite so stunned by these evocative photos.

Poor - by today’s standards -living conditions were far from unusual in the inner city and the pit villages scattered across the county.

Some of these images do show extreme poverty, but normal life for many, many people a generation ago was a life lived without central heating and en-suite bathrooms; in the terraces of some pit villages an outside toilet was not that unusual even in the mid 1970s. Siblings shared beds and hand me down clothes, meals were prepared on a two ring gas cooker not a top of the range gleaming hob. Those were also the days when there wasn’t a desperate need to compete to have the latest TV or a £350 food mixer. It sounds gloomy, but many older people look back fondly on those days - admittedly there may be an element of rose-tinted glasses too - to a time when, if you were a child certainly, you enjoyed more freedom - just like those little lads defying the health and safety police on the swings in our picture.

Many children of the 1960s remember a more happy-go-lucky childhood, the freedom to be a teen without every misdemeanour being documented on social media, strong community spirit and a time of opportunity in the job market.

With time, the grinding poverty that some people lived in has probably faded from our memories.

It will be interesting to see whether the people featured in the photographs released to mark Shelter’s 50th anniversary come forward. Did they move out of the city during slum clearance programmes? Did they stray far from their roots? What sort of jobs did those little boys grow up to do?

Thankfully, such living conditions are relatively rare these days, but as the charity says, it is good to remind us of how far we have come as a society - and indeed, why we don’t want to go back to a time when families lived in cramped, unhealthy conditions.

There is a real appetite among the baby boomer generation to turn the clock back; as the popularity of programmes like Call the Midwife shows with its mix of engaging story line, social history and nostalgia.

We know from the popularity of our own nostalgia pages and supplements that our readers love to take a step back in time.

If you want to share your memories, photographs and stories of Sheffield and South Yorkshire in days gone by, we’d love to hear from you.

Email news@thestar.co.uk including your contact details.