RETRO: Children of city’s slums... in the 70s

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970
Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970
0
Have your say

Filthy children caked in mud, with little to play with and a general stench of poverty and desperation.

Take a glance at these photos and you could be forgiven for getting the decade wrong. But take a look and there are telltale signs that these images were captured much more recently than most of us might imagine.

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970

They were taken on June 10, 1970 in Starchouse Road, North Anston.

In fact Sheffield’s last slum home was only bulldozed from the face of the earth in the early 1980s - after a clean-up job lasting more than a quarter of a century. Clearing one of the worst legacies of the industrial revolution took rather longer than originally hoped but it had been an enormous job.

More than 44,600 families were moved out of crumbling old back-to-backs, packed off to shiny new council homes.

It had started in 1955 and by 1976 half of all council houses being built in the city were allocated to families moving from slum clearance areas such as Tinsley, Attercliffe, Brightside and Park. But that didn’t stop delays and problems with hundreds still living in what they had described as hell the previous year. It was often worst for the tailenders, the families left to suffer the grime, fire and dangers of life as homes all around them came tumbling down.

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970

Living in a clearance area after most of the neighbours had moved out was no joke.

In October 1975 a group of residents living around Petre Street in Pitsmoor wrote to The Star to describe the ‘reign of terror’ they faced.

“We are all awaiting rehousing, and we are quite prepared to wait, like many others, for the houses we want. Over the last weeks though, conditions have deteriorated fast, we don’t think there is anyone around here who cannot tell of some sort of hardship that is being suffered. As soon as the houses are empty we are having to accept as inevitable the rats and mice, and vandals smashing windows, breaking down doors and setting fires. As houses were boarded up the temptation to vandalise seemed to wane slightly.

“Now the demolition contractors have moved in, and there is what we can only term as a reign of terror in the area.

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970

Squalor in Starchouse Road, North Anston'This picture shows children as they play in squalor in Starchouse Road'June 10th 1970

“At times we positively take our lives in our hands just to walk down the streets where we encounter ‘obstacles’ too numerous to mention. “We are having to act as ‘vigilantes’ to protect our homes at all times of the day and night.”

Clearing such large areas was never going to be easy and the scale of the work often overshadowed the individuals’ stories at a time of mass change.

No matter how awful the houses and neighbourhoods, they had provided homes for generations of Sheffield families and moving on had to be tackled carefully.

As the chairman of the housing committee, Harold Lambert, said: “We have tried to couple humanity with efficiency. We are moving into one of the most sensitive and personal areas of the person’s life here.”