IT’S hard to believe when you see the place today.
But not so many years ago Attercliffe Common was the beating heart of Sheffield’s thriving East End, providing homes for the loyal workforce that kept local engineering giants like Brown Bayley and British Steel.
But the demise of the city’s heavy industrial sector in the 1970s not only signalled the death knell for thousands of jobs, it also heralded the end of one of the most concentrated and close-knit working class communities in the city as bulldozers lined up to demolish thousands of homes in the name of progress.
Now a new book, My Family and Other Morticians, by Ann Sapcote provides a rare and poignant insight into the last great decade of Attercliffe Common in the 1960s.
Three years in the writing and researching, it contains interviews with former residents, rare photos and a directory of the streets with a house-by-house list of the names of the people that lived there.
Ann is aware there’s little physical evidence left of the proud community that once lived there – Don Valley Bowl now occupies the site of her former home and the streets she played in as a child.
She said: “The 1960s were the twilight years for Attercliffe Common and its population but none of us knew it at the time.
“Businesses were thriving, we had everything we needed on our doorstep and the post-war austerity years were fading into memory.
“I’m in debt to so many former residents who’ve been kind enough to relay their tales of humour, sadness and everyday lives.
“Though it has been a fascinating journey to complete the book, I will, like thousands of others, never understand the kind of logic that destroys a whole community in the blink of an eye.
“The bustling Attercliffe captured in the book with its upmarket department stores like Banners and popular cinemas like the Adelphi is a far cry from the seedy, soulless suburb that exists today.”
No one has done more to keep the former community of Attercliffe Common together than Ann, now aged 64 and living in Wincobank.
She organises reunions for scores of ex-residents, produces a regular newsletters and had her first book on the area, Once Round The Lump, published in 2006.
Whilst the majority of her new book centres on the area’s halcyon years of the 1960s, her journey of discovery starts as far back as the 17th century, before giving graphic accounts of a Victorian cholera outbreak and the draconian ways the powers that be dealt with the people of the area.
From farming community to the industrial heartland of Sheffield, Ann Sapcote leaves no stone unturned.
Published by ACM Retro My Family And Other Morticians is available in The Star Shop in York Street at £13.95.