For everything there has to be a first and I guess that this must be the first time that anybody anywhere has ever blogged about a former pit village in South Yorkshire called Thurcroft. It's like the land that time forgot. It isn't very well signposted and to the north and west it is bordered by motorways. Winding lanes are its main links with the outside world. Sheffield is only five miles away but I don't know anybody else in my neighbourhood who has ever been to Thurcroft.
|John Street, Thurcroft|
It has a population of just over 5,000 simply because once the village was dominated by the local coalmine and its associated charcoal coloured slagheaps. No duck ponds here or oak-timbered pubs, no horsey girls exercising their ponies, no grouse shooters or Range Rovers. This is a different world, a world of work but without the work. When the pit finally closed in 1991, it was as if the village had suffered a debilitating stroke from which it has never really recovered.
|Nature reclaiming the old colliery site|
There's a kebab shop on Green Arbour Road, a fish and chip shop, three or four hairdressers, "Thurcroft Mini-Mart" and "Booze 4 You", "Di's Diner", "C.J's Frozen Foods" as well as the "Thurcroft Miners Welfare Club" where pints of bitter cost £1.55 and lager is £2.19. It's a place where people really know what hard times mean. You can see it in their eyes.
I marched past the huge colliery site which Nature is trying desperately to retrieve. When I first started teaching in South Yorkshire I frequently used to ride a slow bus back to Sheffield past Thurcroft Colliery from an equally godforsaken pit village called Dinnington. But in those days each of the pits were in full production and families had both money and pride. Now it's as if everybody's favourite grandma has just died.
Thurcroft's primary school is now called "Thurcroft Junior Academy" and is run by an "educational trust". Trust? I wouldn't trust them as far as I could throw them. They have even put the poor children in blazers with old gold edging. What the hell for? This is Thurcroft - not leafy Surrey or Oxfordshire. Why does anybody imagine that forcing kids to wear traditional uniforms will somehow encourage greater educational success? Next to the school is the Gordon Bennett Memorial Hall which seems a very appropriate name. Junior Academy? A pit village without a pit? Gordon Bennett!
If you would like to see more of this unsung and forgotten place, why not cruise round it courtesy of Google Streetview? It'll make you feel even better about where you live. Thurcroft - Where tomorrow is always yesterday.
|Thurcroft Junior Academy aka Thurcroft Primary School|