THE mid-1960s were the start of major changes in the borough, with parts of the town being pulled down and the building of some new and what are now familiar landmarks to replace them.
In 1959 Sugden’s had built a grain silo which was just the start for the business because another followed in 1963. Little did they know then that 40 years later Sugden’s would have closed down while the grain silos still dominate the town landscape.
It was in 1962 that the drinking fountain at Bailiff Bridge, a monument to the generosity of the Firth carpet family, was finally removed after dominating the crossroads since Lady Janet Firth gave it to the community on July 31, 1911.
A request for it to be re-built in the war memorial park in Victoria Road fell on deaf ears and it was finally removed to a ‘council depot’, as it was once described to me. When I went to look at it and photograph what was left, the site appeared to be nothing more than a council tip at Rookes Bend, Norwood Green.
Once the fountain had gone, Bailiff Bridge residents looked on four years later as a new set of traffic lights was installed.
In 1964 permission was finally given for a new school to be built at Lightcliffe. This was opened in 1969 as Eastfield School and became the new school for students from the old St Martin’s and Victoria secondary schools. Those early days must have been very tense among the students, following what had always been local rivalry between each other.
Housing was changing with the new estates at Stoney Lane and Field Lane providing new homes for those displaced by the slum clearances of the late 50s and 60s. Many but not all of these were in and around the Lillands Lane, Closes Road, Bell Row and Little Woodhouse areas and were under threat from the clearance orders of 1958 with many being swept aside in the early 1960s.
Shops were changing particularly the local branch of the Co-op where generations of families had done their weekly shopping.
The days of wandering round town meeting up with friends and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the town centre shops have all gone now. It isn’t the same walking round the big supermarket emporiums, where we are told repeatedly, ‘It is what the customers want’. Hmm, no one has ever asked me whether I want it or not.
The first of this week’s pictures is the building activity on the site of the Sugden’s silo in 1963.
Our second photograph shows the St John Ambulance Brigade Band marching through Thornton Square as part of the 1964 Civic Sunday. They looked resplendent in their black and white uniforms, with boots you could certainly have seen your face in.
When this band marched through the town centre you had to sit up and take notice, they were so good. Quite a bit has changed since this photograph. As well as the band no longer being with us, look at the property behind.
The corner shop at Ship Street is a branch of Timothy White’s chemist and not Rowan Tree, the crockery, fine bone china and table decoration shop that has been in business there for many years. On the opposite corner is a hairdresser’s but some readers may remember it as a photographer’s. Now it’s all gone and been replaced as the home of our market.
Some of these young bandsmen will be into their 60s now and I am sure on the occasions they walk through the town centre doing their shopping they will all still feel a sense of pride, recalling the days when they could turn heads in the street, make old soldiers stand to attention and young girls stare as they marched by.