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Sledging at the Stray

Sledging at the Stray

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Here are two photographs showing both young and older people sledging at The Stray, Lightcliffe, and obviously enjoying every minute of the snow. The photographs are taken from almost exactly the same position, the main difference between them is about 50 years.

I am sure all readers will remember their own sledging days and that favourite place in your childhood community where everyone always used to go. Just to see if the interest was still there I ventured out on Monday, January 21, and called in at the end of Ripley Street, Lightcliffe, to revisit what was the best sledging run back in the late 1950s and 60s. It was good to see between 60 and 70 children and adults all enjoying themselves sledging down the steep hill sides. Mind you even that number was dwarfed by the 200 to 300 we experienced as children on the Jasper slopes, as we always called them at the end of Ripley Street. Many will remember the snow of 1981, that was when the M62 was closed and the police station acted as a hotel for stranded wagon drivers. During that snowy weather the numbers at Ripley Street at times even exceeded the 300.

Nothing changes: Sledging at the stray in January 2013
Nothing changes: Sledging at the stray in January 2013

I then moved on to the Stray and once again there were 60 to 70 children and adults all enjoying themselves just as they were at Ripley Street. After snapping a few photographs, it might be a year or two before we see any more snow. It was time to move on – I enjoyed sledging as a youngster but I prefer to watch these days.

Then a cup of tea seemed in order – the Lightcliffe Tea Rooms were a hive of activity with the staff doing a sterling job with so many customers. In one corner were about 10 teenagers, laughing, texting and chatting on their mobile phones. No swearing, please and thank you to the staff, these were a nice group of young people.

Time to go home now – I couldn’t go to the third best sledging run in our area because it had been built on. Some readers in Bailiff Bridge might recall the days in the 1950s when you could sledge down the hill side, (what is now the bottom of Devon Way) at the back of the Ebenezer Chapel. This was a short run but very steep, a real thrill and you always crashed into the fence at the bottom. But some old spoil sport brought that run to an end long before the building contractors moved in. This was done by digging a horizontal trench half way down the run, this caused quite a problem after a fresh snow fall had filled in the trench. Being unaware of it a few unsuspecting people lost teeth in the sudden crash and dead stop into the trench.

There was a time, or was there, when it always seemed to snow every winter, and we were out sledging all the time. Was this really true? Or do we remember those days with the proverbial rose tinted glasses. Just as we do about those who say the summers were always better in the old days, when it never rained in the school holidays.


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