HISTORY FEATURE: Film gives snapshot of the 60s

HISTORY FEATURE: Film gives snapshot of the 60s

By Gareth Dennison | 03/05/2022

HISTORY FEATURE: Film gives snapshot of the 60s


A SNAPSHOT of life in the early 60s is provided in a promotional film produced for the Rotherham Corporation.

The movie notes how the face of the town was changed entirely by the Industrial Revolution, which brought new prosperity and problems.

But the 1961 film — called Rotherham Up To Date — demonstrates how the growth was never more rapid than in the post Second World War era.

In 39 minutes, the viewer is given a guided tour of the corporation’s services...

The home help give a baby a polio vaccination; bin men salvage paper from the general refuse and bale it up; a girl has a brace fitted at Ferham House dental clinic; youngsters from a Kimberworth children’s home set off on their annual holiday; a road-cleaning van gets to work on All Saints’ Square; the fire brigade releases a boy who has his head stuck in railings; the Group of Three theatre company rehearses on stage at the Civic theatre.

The film — made by Wrigleys Productions — is naturally very complimentary of the corporation, having been commissioned by the authority itself.

The narrator tells us: “Rotherham has indeed been fortunate to have had over the past few decades aldermen and councillors who have been both energetic and imaginative. Through their foresight, the development in recent years has been spectacular.

“After the war, housing alone provided the council with an enormous task as no houses had been built during the years of strife.

“Old out-worn dwellings had to be renewed and the population was increasing.

“This work had to be done as a matter of urgency, using all possible resources despite a shortage of all kinds of material and an acute shortage of qualified staff and building operatives.

“Despite the difficulties, most of the old slum property has been or is being demolished and several large and imaginative housing estates built.”

Around this time, a quarter of Rotherham’s houses had been constructed since the end of the war — and new schools were going up at the rate of one a year.

The film says: “At least five times during school life, a child’s eyes are tested to ensure good vision and that any correction may be made at once.

“A variety of conditions is treated by the physiotherapy department, ranging from the young school child with poor posture to the infant with almost complete paralysis.”

Rotherham Grammar School — now TRC — was far from new, but even there a new wing had just been added.

The borough’s education offer was still clearly divided along gender lines. At Oakwood Secondary School for Girls, the domestic science classroom is highlighted; at Oakwood Boys’ the wood workshops are shown.

Moving to Howard Street, the film adds: “At the college of technology, highly qualified staff prepare their students to take up important roles in the industry and commerce of our community.

“As our main industries are steel, engineering and coal-mining, naturally a large part of the college is engaged in the teaching of subjects allied to these industries.”

Footage of a machine tool laboratory and the mining electrical department is shown, before we switch to the school of arts and crafts, students take part in pottery, screen-printing and fashion design.

“The borough engineer is indeed a busy man,” notes the film’s narrator. “His department is responsible for many of the physical services operated by the corporation.

“In recent years, a tremendous amount of construction work has been undertaken in the town.

“People have moved away from the old, congested areas into the attractive new estates which are still being built on the fringes of the town.

“These estates are being developed as complete communities with all their own services, such as schools and central shopping areas.”

In 1961, Rotherham’s streets were lit by 4,500 lamps, compared with a figure about eight times that today.

Some 25 miles of road had been laid in the 16 years after the war, while the new crematorium building was close to completion at East Herringthorpe.

“Every effort is made to pay attention to detail and so improve the appearance and facilities of all districts,” says the narrator.

“Typical of this is a corner of Kimberworth, where an old blacksmith’s shop was demolished and the site used to form an attractive resting place where one can watch the world go by.”

A segment on Rotherham’s busy market days includes a special mention for the abattoirs, cattle market and coal stores, all of which were operated by the corporation.

The film says: “Rotherham was one of the first towns to centralise the slaughter of animals and the system of meat inspection, which ensures that only the best quality of meat reaches the consumer.”

Rotherham Up To Date recommends the town’s green spaces as places to escape this “rush and bustle”.

It adds: “The parks department plays a splendid part in improving the appearance of the town and providing parks where all forms of recreation are catered for.”

Information from the borough’s treasurer shows how each £1 of rates is spent, with more than half — 10s 1.5d — on education, and over a shilling on housing, police, health and highways.

“A town like Rotherham is more than just a collection of buildings,” concludes the film. “We have a community of people, ever-growing and ever-changing, people of all types and beliefs, but with a common bond of loyalty to the town and the desire to develop into a place second to none, where their children can have every opportunity and comfort that can be attained.”

X The film was donated by Rotherham Archives and Local Studies to the Yorkshire and North East Film Archives. Visit www.yfanefa.com/record/10303 to watch free.

Movie marks jubilee

THE Yorkshire and North East Film Archives have curated a film to accompany the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations.

Seen To Be Believed — a new standalone 55-minute movie — is available for screenings by community groups, cinemas, councils and other organisations.

It takes an affectionate look at how this region has celebrated coronations, jubilees and royal visits through the decades.

All the footage — both amateur and professionally made — was created by film-makers in Yorkshire and the North East.

The footage is accompanied by narration providing background details, giving an insight into changing times and perceptions.

Archive manager Graham Relton said: “We’ve searched through our vaults and selected the very best royal footage held in our collections, made by Yorkshire and North East filmmakers, to curate a film fit for a Queen.

“It’s available to hire on DVD or as a digital download and is a unique opportunity to celebrate a once in a lifetime occasion, whilst also supporting your regional film archives.”

Visit yfanefa.link/seentobebelieved for pricing and to book.



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