Film ID: YFA 3313 Video of YFA 3313 Environmental Health Part Park Hill 1950 ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PART- PARK HILL SLUMS 1-5 1950s Visitor TabsDescription The Park District was the first redevelopment scheme undertaken by Sheffield City Council after World War II, and it was selected because it contained some of the oldest outstanding slum clearance orders. Most of the area was cleared in the 1950s and was to be replaced by the new Park Hill Flats completed in 1959. The film shows some of the housing conditions in the Park Hill area of Sheffield before large scale slum clearance. It is made up of five reels, and some of the footage is repeated in the different reels. Part 1: The film opens with views of the Park District of Sheffield centred on Duke Street. These are followed by the Norfolk Picture Palace, trams and other traffic on Duke Street and views of Broad Street, South Street, Shrewsbury Road, Talbot Street and Norfolk Road. The Shrewsbury Almshouses on Norfolk Road and the interior of the chapel. There is footage of the city centre from the Park District with the Walker and Hall building and the Town Hall prominent. Children are playing on one of the steep, cobbled streets and this is followed by views of Duke Street Lane, Gilbert Street and the Sun Inn on South Street. There is a brief sequence taken from a moving car, followed by views of dereliction, roof tops and smoking chimneys and further views over the Midland Station towards the city centre. The film shows how the houses have been built on the hillside with steep, dark steps, high retaining walls, un-surfaced yards and some houses level with the roofs of those below. Inside one of the houses a woman is scrubbing and wringing her washing. A woman is then seen putting out her washing line in the yard. More steep steps lead to an area where children are playing. Other children are playing in the street. The CholeraMonument and Grounds. At ParkSchool the children can be seen in the school yard and also crossing the street outside. Outside some of the prefabs, a class of children is setting out on a visit. Some of the prefabs adjacent to the school are being demolished. More smoking chimneys introduce Stamforge. The entrance to Stamforge (Sheffield) Ltd is through an archway on Granville Street. In the run-down courtyard and workshop forging and grinding is taking place. A young boy is working there, passing blades from the furnace to the forger. Another man is grinding. There are more general views of run-down and derelict properties, including Hague Lane, Stafford Street and Rhodes Street. Washing on the line is often the only sign that they are occupied. Workmen can be seen removing slates from the roof of a derelict building. Other buildings are being demolished by an excavator. Part 2: The film shows some of the housing conditions in the Park Hill and Netherthorpe areas of Sheffield before large scale slum clearance in the 1950s and some of the construction of Park Hill Flats. It also illustrates some other aspects of the work of the Public Health Department including damage caused by a flood. The film begins with the aftermath of a flood. People are shown clearing up, with their furniture standing outside in the yard. A policeman takes the details. Everything is covered in silt, paving has collapsed and the river is still in flood. More clearing up is shown. There are wrecked cars and ruined gardens. The film moves to the Crookesmoor/Netherthorpe area of Sheffield. Across Crookesmoor Recreation Ground, Oxford Street and Crookesmoor School can be seen. There is a view over the rooftops towards the Don Valley and another view down Oxford Street. A group of girls are playing rounders on the recreation ground and mothers and children are at the swings. The film shows streets of typical Sheffield back-to-back houses. The poor condition of the buildings can be seen and all the yards have outside toilets. The streets include Robertshaw Street, Summer Street, Blythe Street and Bellefield Lane. Some of the local people are shown – women hanging out washing, children playing in the street, a woman brushing a rug on the pavement, a baby in a pram, children on one of the steep flights of steps and the washing hanging across the street. A poster is shown announcing that ‘The City Architect will speak on Housing plans for the area – Thursday, 31 May [1956?], St. Stephen’s House’. More views of the housing are followed by some children in a playground and views of St. Stephen’s Church. Returning to the Park district, the concrete foundations of Park Hill Flats are being laid and the city centre can be seen in the background. On another part of the site the reinforced concrete framework of the flats is being erected and scaffolding and cranes are in place. At Abbeydale Works some of the neglected machinery stands outside. One of the wheels is shown and, inside, a tilt hammer is being used . The effects of mining subsidence on some houses is shown [identified as Southsea Road, Woodhouse] More slum housing is shown, this time possibly the Oborne Street area of Bridgehouses (?). There are more views of the partly built Park Hill Flats. The subjects covered in this film include: The flooding probably occurred on the nights of 1st and 2nd July 1958 when heavy rain caused the River Sheaf to flood to unprecedented levels. An area from Totley to the Midland Station was affected and some of the worst hit sites were Millhouses Park, Moscar Cottages off Abbeydale Road, Yarborough Road, Heeley Bridge and Court 4 Suffolk Road. Housing in the Netherthorpe area. This was another of the areas scheduled for slum clearance in the 1950s and redeveloped in the early 1960s. Park Hill Flats which were constructed by the City Council’s Public Works Department. Work began on the site in April 1957 and it was completed by the end of 1960. Abbeydale Works is one of the most important industrial sites in Sheffield. It was bought by J. G. Graves in 1935 and given to the city for use as a museum. Some restoration work was done before the war but after being brought back into use during the war, it was neglected until the Council for the Conservation of Sheffield Antiquities began restoration in 1964. It opened as a museum in 1970. Part 3: The film shows some of the housing conditions, mainly in the Netherthorpe areas of Sheffield, before large scale slum clearance in the 1950s. It also shows Crookes Valley Park and illustrates other aspects of the work of the Public Health Department. The film begins with the interior of a house showing overcrowded and insanitary conditions. Two people are in one room where there is also a bed and the electrical wiring is obviously unsafe. In another room a young nursing mother is living in damp, crowded conditions. At the University, the new library is under construction. There are views of possibly Winter Street and Bolsover Street. Some views of semi-derelict housing are followed by views across Crookes Recreation Ground and Netherthorpe. The streets shown then include Wentworth Street, Bond Street and Fawcett Street and St. Stephen’s Church. With Edward Street Flats in the foreground there are views of Netherthorpe followed by other views of the flats. A foundation stone reads ‘This the first stone was laid by Lord Wharncliffe on the 14th of November 1844’. Other identified locations in Netherthorpe include Leicester Street, Martin Street and Brook Hill/Broad Lane where a school crossing patrol is on duty to escort a class of schoolchildren across the road. A view over an area of open land looks towards Crookes Valley Road(?). Construction work in the foreground may show the remodelling of the former Godfrey Dam(?). This is followed by rooftop views of housing , derelict properties, a bus on Crookes Valley Road, a bowls match on the recreation ground, Mushroom Lane(?), Daisy Bank and St. Philip’s Road(?) including A. Davy & Sons grocers shop. It includes children playing in the street, women hanging washing, a woman knitting at the doorway and other local people. Old maps of Sheffield are shown. Canal-side cottage at Broughton Lane(?) are shown with a train passing by. This is followed by a traveller’s caravan and cart and more views of the cottages and their residents. The ‘Piggeries’ at Dolphin Street(?) are seen and a colliery winding gear and buildings. An unidentified river with industrial buildings. The sluice gates of a dam are shown followed by a working water wheel. Crookes Valley Park is crowded on a summer day. On the boating lake there are rowing boats and the motor launch ‘Queen Elizabeth’. The Old Dam House is also shown. This is followed by more general views of Netherthorpe. The Boulsover Monument at Wire Mill Dam is shown and there are views of the countryside and river, probably in the Porter Valley. Boys swimming at Forge Dam. The railway sidings at Millhouses can be seen and also parts of the main railway line at Millhouses and Abbeydale. There is a brief view of Beauchief Dam. A keel loaded with coal is on the canal. At Dobbin Hill some of the old cottages still have outside privies. A row of houses at Cricket Inn Road(?) shows various building defects. The subjects covered in this film include: Housing in the Netherthorpe area. This was one of the areas scheduled for slum clearance in the 1950s and redeveloped in the early 1960s. Edward Street Flats were built 1939-43. The conversion of the former recreation ground to form Crookes Valley Park was part of Sheffield’s contribution to the Festival of Britain in 1951. The redundant Old Great Dam was converted into the boating lake and the motor launch Queen Elizabeth was introduced in May 1953. Part 4: The film shows the problem of industrial pollution in the Lower Don Valley area of Sheffield and illustrates other aspects of the work of the Public Health Department. The film begins with views of the Lower Don Valley, probably taken from Wincobank, that illustrate the problems of smoke and pollution. There is a brief view of roof tops in the city centre. Colour : There are more views of the Lower Don Valley and the sequence ends with a large spoil heap. At some cottage at an unidentified rural location ditches have been dug for drainage pipes, but the outside privies are still in use and are being emptied manually. There are views of Rivelin Valley(?) and Rivelin Water Filter Station. A man examines a well set into a wall. Neepsend Power Station(?). A man points out rodent tracks on a refuse tip. There is a brief view of Wardsend Cemetery(?). Men are hosing down cattle pens at Wadsley Bridge(?) Part 5: The film shows some of the housing conditions, mainly in the Park Hill area of Sheffield, before large scale slum clearance in the 1950s. It also shows Crookes Valley Park and file-cutting. There are various views of slum housing, probably in the Park Hill district. The only signs of occupation are a woman hanging out the washing and another sweeping the yard. A man is shown file-cutting by hand. More parts of Park Hill are shown including Norwich Street where demolition is in progress. In Crookes Valley Park people are sitting outside the Old Dam House while others are enjoying the park and the boating lake with its rowing boats and motor launch. There are more slum houses, again probably Park Hill, including views across the roof-tops towards the city. The film ends with several unidentified, unconnected shots. Background: This unedited footage is believed to have been made by one of the staff of Sheffield City Council’s Public Health Department in the 1950s to record different aspects of their work. The quality of some of the film is poor and although it provides an invaluable record of conditions at the time, some of the scenes may have been chosen as good (worst!) examples to illustrate the problems dealt with by the Public Health Inspectors. The film concentrates on the Park district and provides a record of the area shortly before slum clearance. Park was the first redevelopment scheme undertaken by the City Council after the War and was selected because it contained some of the oldest outstanding slum clearance orders and some demolition had already taken place. Most of the area was cleared in the 1950s, to be replaced by the new Park Hill Flats completed in 1959. Provenance The original films were transferred from the Environmental Health Department to Sheffield Libraries in October 1985. Context This film comes from a batch of unedited films made by Sheffield Public Health Department in the 1950s, given the generic title of Environmental Health Part- Park Hill Slums 1-5. The films cover wide areas of Sheffield, especially Netherthorpe and Crookesmoor, and its environs, showing many aspects of the city relating to public health. The catalogue description for the five films as a whole provides the names of many of the places shown. The films themselves often show the street signs of the areas filmed. It can only be assumed that the films were meant to highlight those areas where there was concern for public health, focussing on the old areas of terraced housing and the large industrial areas. The parts shown here are mainly of the Park Hill area in the mid 1950s before being cleared for the new Park Hill redevelopment which can also be seen on YFA Online, Park Hill Housing Project (1962). This second film, also made by Sheffield City council, shows the Park Hill complex after it was completed and after tenants had moved in, and provides a fascinating companion. The contrast between the two films is really quite stark: whereas with the new estate of flats everything seems bright, with the film from the 1950s the areas shown look extremely gloomy and bleak. The contrast mirrors the transformation of much design from the 1950s into the more modern look of the 1960s, and the accompanying general cultural change. Sheffield suffered considerably from bombing in the Second World War – on which see King George and Queen Visit Hull on YFA Online, and Sheffield at War, held at the YFA. But even without the damage done by wartime bombing Sheffield had serious housing problems. Of course, urban housing has been a problem since the beginnings of the industrial revolution, and that has remained with us ever since. The housing problem was exacerbated by the lack of new building for the duration of the war, and the fact that 20% of pre-war buildings were either destroyed or badly damaged, whilst there was a growth in population of one million. At this time only 10% of the population lived in council houses, with 57% living in private rented accommodation. The need for redevelopment was stressed in another film featured on YFA Online, and also filmed in Sheffield, The Towns for Old, made during the war in 1942. The film shows an area of Sheffield that was clearly in need of regeneration, the damage done by the bombing of the Second World War, and the continued widespread existence of compacted terraces, with children at play in the rubble. The area was known as "Little Chicago" in the 1930s, due to the violent crimes sometimes committed there. The name ‘Park Hill’ refers back to an old deer park, which Norfolk Park is now a remnant of. The clearance of the area was part of a much bigger programme of regeneration carried out by Sheffield City Council – see the context for Park Hill Housing Project. As part of the regenerationthe council leadership took a tour of European multi-storey housing projects in 1954, resulting in a Report published the same year – see References. 1954 was a key year as it brought in the Housing Repairs and Rent Act which restarted slum clearance after a hiatus. In that year the estimate was that countrywide there were 847,000 unfit dwellings – a rise from 472,000 at the outbreak of war in 1939 (figures that reflect a very narrow view of what constitutes being ‘unfit’). At this point the Conservative Party had come to power and there was some degree of unanimity between the two major parties on housing policy: the background to which being rather complex. One of the initial motivations for slum clearance was the fear of epidemics, such as the water borne disease of cholera, which killed thousands and which knew no social distinctions. At the heart of the appalling housing conditions was the old conflict between a free market system and public intervention based upon need. For a long time there was resistance to the idea of central controls, of any kind, and local authorities were only established in their modern form – until 1974 – through Acts of 1888 and 1894. There was also confusion and conflict of responsibility between local and central authority. The first step towards some public control came with the Public Health Act of 1848, although opposition ensured it had little impact until it was replaced by the Public Health Acts of 1872 and 1875. A key change came with the introduction of the concept of ‘unfit for human habitation’, in the Nuisances Removal Act of 1855. Over a period of time various housing acts allowed for slum clearances and redevelopment. In addition charitable trusts and the Garden City movement had some impact, but rarely for the really poor. Despite mounting pressure from below there was little development in housing policy until after the First World War. The Addison Acts of 1919 set the tone, but slum clearance didn’t really start until Greenwood’s 1930 Housing Act and the follow up of 1933, when the Act of that year required all authorities to produce 5-year clearance plans, backed up by subsidies for housing. Even then, local authority built housing was dwarfed by private building during the 1930s. Slum clearance never again matched that of the 1930s, but nevertheless gathered pace throughout the 1950s. Yet despite this the numbers of unfit houses wasn’t falling, and still 90% of all dwellings built between 1871 and 1918 were still standing in 1975. The idea of urban planning really took hold during the Second World War, summed up in Maxwell Fry’s phrase of ‘The New Britain Must Be Planned’, from the Picture Post ofJanuary 1941 – see the Context for the film New Towns for Old. Sheffield was one of the cities that were at the forefront of town planning, acting on the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act. As early as 1864 it was one of the first cities to prohibit the building of back-to-back houses. But as can be seen by the film, Sheffield was a harsh city to live in for many, and most would agree that it has improved substantially over the intervening years. References Peter Malpass and Alan Murie, Housing Policy and Practice, 2nd edition, Macmillan, London, 1987. John Stevenson, ‘The New Jerusalem that Failed? The Rebuilding Post-War Britain’, in Britain Since 1945, eds. Terry Gourvish and Alan O’Day, Macmillan, London, 1991. Multi Storey Housing in Some European Countries: Report of the City of Sheffield Housing Deputation, Sheffield Corporation Architects Department, Sheffield Corporation, 1955. Ten Years of Housing in Sheffield, Sheffield Corporation Architects Department, Sheffield Corporation, 1962.