Sheffield family share their memories of Silver Blades

A Sheffield family has shared their memories of the many happy hours they spent on the ice at the city’s popular Silver Blades ice rink.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 4:45 pm

Silver Blades, which was based on Queens Road, was opened by Mecca in 1965 and became the Skate Central roller skating arena in 2005.

It was visited by thousands of families over the years including four siblings from the Stocks family – Jax, Liz, Harry and Michael all of whom spent many, many happy hours there.

The family lived nearby on East Bank Road and started visiting in the 1960s.

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Jax Luna and sister Liz

Jax Luna, 57, said: "When you reflect and look back, it was a great era and great times; but it also kept a lot of kids off the streets.

“There’s nothing for young people to do now, we had youth clubs and things like that.”

“We’d arrange to meet them the following week and they’d turn up”

L-R Jax,15, Liz, 20, Harry, 28, all pictured at Harry's wedding

Her brother Harry was 15-years-old when he started visiting in 1966 – the year it opened – and soon fell in love with it.

Before long, Harry was visiting Silver Blades up to five times a week.

He said: I never got off the ice even when they had short intervals I stayed on. Staff at the the ice rink were called the Red Coats and they couldn't catch me.

“They tried all sorts to catch me,coming at me from all angles, no chance.”

Jax, 12, and Liz, 17

Harry gave the Reds Coats a real problem ,until the management came up with a solution.

He explained: “In the end one of them came and told me the management wanted to see me in the office.

“I was thinking I’m getting barred. Went into the office and he said: ‘Have you heard of the expression 'can't beat em so let's join them? In your case it’s the reverse. Would you like to be a Red Coat?’

“I shrugged my shoulders and said: ‘What’s in it for me? He replied: ‘First you will get paid for what you love doing, it might make you behave, and obviously free entrance. You can start tomorrow.”

Harry Stocks

“It was a no brainer, I could barely afford to go in the first place.”

“I think I jumped 9-10 barrels, I used to speed skate as well. I could skate faster going backwards than most could skate going forward.”

Harry went from being a Red Coat steward to getting a job as a handyman.

“I ended up being the handyman at the bowling alley underneath. I used to get into the Heart Beat nightclub upstairs free of charge, good times!”

Liz Stocks also started regularly skating at Silver Blades in 1966, and would visit with Harry.

She said: “I was eight-years-old when I first started skating.

"I wanted to go because Harry went and I always watched the skating coverage on telly with mum.”

As Liz got older, she began to visit Silver Blades two or three times a week and soon became very good at skating.

This was noticed by the speed skating team, and they asked her to train with them.

She said: “They must have seen something in me and asked me to join them training. But they kept telling me I needed the proper speed skates with the big long blades.

“And that’s when I knew I couldn't join them. The skates were so expensive and I knew I couldn't get them, mum and dad could not afford them. So that's when I dropped out of team Sheffield.”

Some of people she remembers from the rink some had interesting names.

“With nick names like Jip or spider a smallish lad with long black hair never knew is proper name.

“Jongo, used work as a bouncer at the night club round the corner from Rebels next to Yorkshire Bank.”

Jax was just four-years-old when she started taking lessons to learn figure skating, something she continued with until she was eight and discovered ice hockey.

By her own admission she was a bit of a tomboy and enjoyed the physical nature of ice and field hockey – despite it being a time when girls were not allowed to play.

“I loved ice hockey I played with the boys between 1974 and 1979 – before girls were even allowed,” said Jax.

She added: "I was allowed to play when one of the boys sick or didn’t turn up, and would mask up and get my kit on.

“I got away with it until when we had one British bulldog standoff with visiting team and I was the only member of our team left and there were four of them.

“I took my helmet off to let them know I was a girl and that was the end of ice hockey [for me].”