I’m just old enough that I remember the works in operation, seeing them every day from my bedroom window at Delves Terrace, but young enough that the picture above (and many other like it) where my playground as a youngster.
Big metal structures that where like huge monkey frames to climb on, old tires which we gleefully rolled down the sides of the slag heaps, holes and tunnels in the ground to climb into and explore.
From dawn until dusk we’d find somewhere to get up to mischief, and if it wasn’t on the steelworks site(s) then it was definitely the many railways lines, yards and buildings that where still scattered around waiting for their final demise.
We broke windows in the signal boxes, pulled cables out the ground and made bike ramps using the concrete slabs and bit’s of wood a plenty that we found lying around, it really was the best playground in the world, even if we didn’t really realise then what all the fuss about this place closing was.
We’d heard our parents and grandparents going on about where the kids would work in years to come, but we didn’t really care it was just too much fun getting chased by security guards back then, and yes… we did get chased by them, not like today where they just shout at you and then call the police. Back then we proper got chased, and if they caught you (which they sometimes did) you got taken home and your parents disciplined you!!
It didn’t stop us though, the next day we’d be roaming around again, to be fair how we didn’t damage ourselves (well seriously anyway) or ever worse kill ourselves is anyone’s guess, when you have a 10ft girder with a crane hook on a pully attached to it that slides along the girder, it makes for a brilliant tarzie swing.
I look back on those days quite often now and wish that the technology I have today in the form of my camera phone, I had back then, because the amount of photos and video I would have taken would have been unreal, some of it might have been taken for sensible reasons, but a lot of it would have been taken to show some of the utterly stupid stunts we got up to.
I do feel sad that I didn’t think to find ways to record what I saw for future prosperity, but thankfully others did, we found ways to make use of our towns heart in other more creative ways, ways that I’ll never forget and times that I’ll always cherish as the fun times I had with my friends before we grew into young adults and realized the gravity of our situation and the bleakness of our future.