“Be thankful you didn’t live on the Wybourn in 1953”

View of the Wybourn Estate, Sheffield
View of the Wybourn Estate, Sheffield
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I am no one special but feel I have to write this letter, a voice that speaks for the spirit of the great people of Sheffield, for the people who broke their backs working 12-hour shifts at our once great steel industries and cutlery firms, a lost dynasty that Sheffield was famous for. I speak for all those who have lost their say.

I am the voice from the graves of all the men and women of Sheffield who sacrificed their lives to make Sheffield what it is today.

I was born on the Wybourn in 1953, a rough place, a poverty-stricken area, a very different Sheffield, dilapidated red brick houses as far as the eye, a grim, bleak and dismal place, steel works puthering out thick smoke and smog, polluting the air.

Times were hard, tough, no one gave you anything, you had to graft for it.

People back then had nothing, worked hard, gave it their all, their doors were always open and unlocked and their hospitality was fit for a king, something you can’t do today.

A rough and ready lot with hearts of gold, most of them anyway, call a spade a spade type of people, the very salt of the earth and the backbone of Sheffield.

I’ve seen many changes in Sheffield, the steel industries closed one by one, cutlery firms all gone, cheap imports have taken their place, and the people who worked there for years have lost their livelihoods and jobs.

My Sheffield, a once great steel and cutlery dynasty, is now a student town. I have nothing against change as long as it is positive and for the good of ALL! I have nothing against anyone’s colour, creed, shape or size, but what bothers me and breaks my heart is the increasing number of young people who line the streets of Sheffield.

Our flats and bed and breakfast places are filled with refugees who jump the queue at the housing and benefits department.

I never saw one refugee on the streets of Sheffield, just young people, lost with no hope and no prospects.

Before I am accused of being racist, I am certainly not. I have no problem helping people of any race, this is what English people are about, and I know a great many of the refugees have found work and contribute to our city, but may I remind the great many that don’t, that we were here first, we the Sheffield people, worked hard, had nothing given to us, went through bad times, two wars, and it is not your God-given right to come here believing that the world owes you a living.

I am appalled that many who land in bed and breakfast have the audacity to complain it’s not good enough for them.

All I can say to these people is be thankful you didn’t live on the Wybourn in 1953.

Linda Mary Luke

a Yorkshire lass born and bred, Kettwig, Germany