Film ID:
YFA 5859



Visitor Tabs


This is the second of a series of four themed programmes made by Yorkshire Television that aired in 1987 about life on the Manor Estate of council housing in Sheffield, consisting of events on the Estate and interviews with, mostly unidentified, residents. This one focuses on residents who have been made redundant and who are trying to move on.  It shows four unemployed steelworkers trying to renovate a tool making workshop, Mal Middleton, who has written a script, ‘Bird Fancier’, produced by the BBC, unemployed workers who are scavenging the derelict houses, and Sheffield Wednesday footballer Mel Sterland.  It was first transmitted on 10th August, 1987.

The film begins with archive film from Pathe, ‘Sheffield on its Mettle’, showing a period when the steel and cutlery industry in Sheffield was booming.  It then turns to the present, showing abandoned factories and a derelict engineering workshop where four men are renovating the old machinery.  An unemployed worker, Eric ‘Mal’ Middleton, is sat in the bedroom of his council house typing a novel, hoping to make a career as a writer. There are shots of footballers in training, and then another local man who has been made redundant, Barry Pennington, goes into his back garden to his aviary.  He states that the country is no longer producing, and with high unemployment, he despairs at the human race when there is so much work that needs doing.  Again, we see the four men continuing renovating, cleaning and oiling the machinery.  The workmen discuss the decline of the steel industry and think that the next generation will have to look to going into computing.  

There is more archive film of the Sheffield steelworkers, and it is noted that now there is 35% unemployment on the Manor.  Resident Tom Ismay, now unemployed, tells about how he has always been a hard grafter.  Another resident, Betty Houlden, is interviewed, explaining how her recently deceased husband, who died within 48 hours of retiring, only got a small token after 34 years of working for his firm.  

There is more archive film, this time of old fine steel craftsmen Walter Berner, Austin Bradwell and Harry Martin.  Another unemployed steel worker, Terry ‘Scouser’ Neilson, talks about the need to look after yourself, to scavenge, when you are unemployed.  As we see men scavenging derelict houses, he shows us around one such derelict house explaining how the scavenging works, starting with the most valuable items.  He tells of one of the scavengers, a well-known local character with the nickname of ‘Troggit’ (troggy), who has a personalised number plate on his wheelbarrow, which we see him pushing, carrying long planks of wood accompanied by a posse of schoolboys.  Neilson says that all they are trying to do is making a decent living, even though it is breaking the law.  As the four men continue renovating the machinery, one of them, Alf Jackson explains how they were made redundant and what they hope to get by renovating the workshop, with the cost requiring them all to make great sacrifices.  There is an interview with Manor born Mel Sterland who talks about his life on the estate, and of how he managed to get into the Sheffield Wednesday team after playing for a pub team, The Three Feathers.  We see him driving around in his VW Golf.

Mal Middleton is interviewed again, explaining that he finds writing more mentally tiring than driving a lorry.  We see him looking at the script for the ‘Bird Fancier’ that he has written.  There is a reference to the BBC production using this script, with some footage of a bird fancier, possibly from this production.  We then see Terry Neilson cycling from his home to a new job he has got at Baldwin and Francis, where he is earning £80 a week, an amount he would previously not have worked for, but now finds he has little choice.  He has become the union representative here and talks about the pride that he takes in his work.  Another resident, Ann Matthews, is at home with her family watching the television.  She tells of how she gets depressed when her husband Mick is at work and she is on her own.  Ann questions her role as just being a housewife and of how she came to realise that there is more to life than that, and has since become involved in a women’s group, an advice centre and the local nursery, among other things.  The four men trying to renovate a workshop talk about how their children will all be doing office jobs.

The daughter of Barry Pennington, Louis, is sat in her bedroom sewing, while her brother watches tv.  She explains how she is dreading leaving school with little job opportunities and the prospect of being on YTS.  Barry Pennington talks about how teenagers want to learn new skills but that there is little opportunity for this, as we see images on the cooling towers at Tinsley and of derelict areas.  

The film then goes back to see again those who have been featured, starting with Mal Middleton at his typewriter, Mel Sterland, Terry ‘Scouser’ Neilson, ‘Froggit’ pushing his wheelbarrow, and the Pathe film showing a display of Sheffield cutlery.  The film finishes up with the four men renovating the workshop talking about they hope to be eventually employing some 200 workers making tools. 

Music – Stephanie Nunn
Graphics – Jim Slade
Associate Producer – Michael Burke
Research – Gary Horne
Production Assistant – Sue Hamelman
Sound Recordist – Chris Clarkson 
Dubbing Editor – Alan Briggs
Dubbing mixer – Steve Haynes
Camera – Alan Wilson
Film Editor – Barry Spink
Executive Producer – John Willis
Director/Producer - Peter Gordon
YTV 1987