17 November 2012

Thurcroft

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.

Not long after parking my car near the Miners Welfare I needed a lavatory and so brazenly stepped into a  functional red brick establishment called "Top Club". I noticed a sign on the door - "If you were barred by previous management you are still barred!" and in the Gents there was another notice that said "Anyone found taking drugs in here will be barred for life!" How charming! This was clearly not the sort of social venue frequented by Messrs Cameron and Clegg, BBC executives or Premiership footballers. They inhabit a very different kind of England the sort of England that Thurcroft people only see on TV. To them it might as well be California.
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

13 comments:

  1. How sad and forlorn a place this is...but young people live there I presume...what does history show us in this circumstance? what happens next?

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  2. No, definitely not the image I carry around in my mind of my beloved England. That's why we stay out in the countryside, away from the harsh reality that is city life and I'm sure there are other places like Thurcroft to be found in all countries. The good thing of course is that you don't have to travel far to find that other England waiting there for anyone who wishes to breathe it in.
    cheers

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  3. LIBBY I am sure there have been many casualties - early deaths, alcoholism, marriage break-ups, teenage pregnancies, drugs...What happens next? As the prospect of revolution is a pipe fream, I guess it is a case of trying to keep calm in order to carry on.
    HELEN Yes it is sad but you know, I kind of like places like that and have great admiration for people who have hung on in spite of prime industries being closed down through no fault of their own. Such people are generally closer to the nub of life and their outlook can be disarmingly honest and warm.

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  4. Ay-Up Mr Pudding.
    Thank you for your observations.
    I did enjoy your half baked swipe at Thurcroft but felt it a little, “Man on a flying horse”, seeing as the only time you got out your car was to take a leak at top club.

    I see you took a mind to mention what the local kids were wearing but failed to grasp much of the spirit of the place.

    Maybe next time you could buy something from the excellent Thurcroft Deli and actually talk to someone, they might surprise you and or cheer you up

    Mark

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  5. I see that the previous commenter gave you your comeuppance, but I am not here to gloat.

    I enjoyed the "Booze 4 You" as it reminds me of our "Toys R Us". I wonder what Di's Diner is like. You don't suppose it could possibly have been named after...nah.

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  6. Does the diner have a sign in the window saying: 'See Thurcroft and Di'?

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  7. CONTACT (Promoter of Sound) Thanks for dropping by and leaving your response - much appreciated. However, not only did I get out of my car but I also walked to Newhall Grange - then on to Carr, Brookhouse and Laughton-en-le-Morthen before heading back to Thurcroft. The only people I talked to were a bloke in the "Top Shop" and a woman in the newsagents on Green Arbour Road. Please be assured that I have every respect for longterm residents of South Yorkshire pit villages. My grandfather was a coalminer like his father before him. See what I said to Helen above.
    RHYMES WITH PLAGUE Actually it is a myth that Princess Diana was killed in Paris in 1997. She was there behind the counter in Di's Deli in Thurcroft making corned beef sandwiches. We chatted about the weather and she said The Duke of Edinburgh was a "nobhead".
    SHOOTING PARACETAMOL Take care, Mr "CONTACT" (above) may be sending the lads round to see you!

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  8. What a sad place? Thanks for "putting it on the map" YP - Dave

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  9. DAVE Don't you mean puDDing it on the map? Ha! Ha!

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  10. Too late! Too late the thurcroft’r cried...

    I suppose if I lived in the top-est of clubs I would have to say you’re barred!!

    Only Jesting....

    Joking aside
    Thurcroft is only 5 minutes away from the M1 / M18 within 20 minutes of Sheffield Doncaster, Rotherham centres

    You can get to Thurcroft quicker from the centres of Doncaster, Rotherham or Sheffield than you can Robin Hood Airport

    Thurcroft has a great Gala and Thurcroft Health Hearts walking group are out and about, enjoying the fresh air every week, unbelievable?... but true

    http://www.rotherfed.org.uk/campaigns/thurcroft-big-local

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  11. Curiously enough i live near here these days, driving past the gordon bennett memorial hall always makes me laugh. If i have got the right person maybe you remembet me from yewlands all those distant seeming years ago

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  12. hi my name is paul fedorenko i live in york north yorkshire. I`M not famous im just a regular everyday person or i like to think i`am. I play a bit of guitar in a blues band, i have a job in a builders merchants (jewsons). I did used to live in thurcroft from the years of 1977-2006 im 35 years old. my dad pete worked at the pit worked his way upto overman he was a deputy and also part of the mines rescue, so built a career within the mining industry you could say. one thing i can tell you all is that all the way through the miners strike of 84/85 my dad was on full pay because of his position, but a lot of miners were not, but what my dad did do is make sure his family firstly were provided for, then looked after and provided food for his work mates and there familys and bought his buddys beers down the pub and bought them tabacco! so there was and i rememmber a lot of community spirit, and there still is now im sure and would like to think there was. but it tought me good values, the miners were shafted pardon the pun! thurcroft were i was born and grew up!

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  13. hi my name is paul fedorenko i live in york north yorkshire. I`M not famous im just a regular everyday person or i like to think i`am. I play a bit of guitar in a blues band, i have a job in a builders merchants (jewsons). I did used to live in thurcroft from the years of 1977-2006 im 35 years old. my dad pete worked at the pit worked his way upto overman he was a deputy and also part of the mines rescue, so built a career within the mining industry you could say. one thing i can tell you all is that all the way through the miners strike of 84/85 my dad was on full pay because of his position, but a lot of miners were not, but what my dad did do is make sure his family firstly were provided for, then looked after and provided food for his work mates and there familys and bought his buddys beers down the pub and bought them tabacco! so there was and i rememmber a lot of community spirit, and there still is now im sure and would like to think there was. but it tought me good values, the miners were shafted pardon the pun! thurcroft were i was born and grew up!

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.