Film ID:
YFA 3595

NAME ON THE KNIFE BLADE: ROY HATTERSLEY RE-VISITS SHEFFIELD

1981

Visitor Tabs

Description

Made by Yorkshire Television, this documentary features Labour politician Roy Hattersley as he revisits his native home of Sheffield. Hattersley takes us on a journey of the city, recounting aspects of his life there as a child, working at Daniel Doncaster and Sons, supporting Sheffield Wednesday, watching cricket at  Brammal Lane, and as a councillor, with particular reference to Parkhill flats.

The film begins with the roundabout, with a pond, that used to be in front of Sheffield Town Hall on Pinstone Street.  Roy Hattersley enters the Town Hall with his mother, Enid, on 20th May 1981, when she is inaugurated as the new mayor of Sheffield.  Afterwards Enid is interviewed outside the Town Hall before they both get into the Mayor car and are driven off.  Roy Hattersley then begins an account of his life in Sheffield, starting on Wadsley Common, looking down onto Sheffield, which, he claims, “to most people is just the name on the knife blade”.  Hattersley states that Sheffield can only be described personally, by people’s memories.  He then states that for him this begins with Sheffield Wednesday, as we see supporters going to a home match at Hillsborough.  Then on to show the old cricket ground at  Brammal Lane, the River Don, the Town Hall and various other examples of Victorian architecture, as Hattersley explains how Sheffield developed as a Victorian city.

The film switches to a small cutlery workshop where women are hand polishing cutlery.  As Hattersley provides a potted history of cutlery and steel making in the city, we move to the steel works of Daniel Doncaster and Sons, where he once briefly worked.  Red hot steel is being forged by a heavy hammer.  Hattersley talks to two of the workmen about the loss of overtime during the previous year. 

Then Hattersley sits in his old desk in the Council Chamber, where he used to sit as a councillor.  He recounts when, as a housing officer, he made a speech, which he reads out, on putting the rents up for council tenants.  After this he attends a Sheffield Wednesday match, again showing supporters at the match at Hillsborough.  He sits in the Director’s Box alongside the Chairman, Bert Mcgee, and Jack Charlton.  Some of the match,  possibly against Luton Town, is shown.  Afterwards, as he exits with ex-player Ron Starling, the captain of the 1935 F A Cup winning side, they are interviewed about the game (Sheffield Wednesday scoring 3 is mentioned).  The two of them are next seen on Wadsley Lane, where they chat about the 1930s team, and there is Movietone footage of the 1935 F A Cup Final, and of the team parading through Sheffield, where 200,000 have turned out to see them. 

Hattersley next visits the old Yorkshire cricket ground at Brammal Lane, standing on the old pavilion shortly before it gets demolished.  He recounts some stories of him watching matches and playing there, for Wadsley Youth Club in June 1949.  He walks out, watched by some boys in cricket gear, towards the recently built South Stand for Sheffield United.    He sits on the steps of the old cricket stand, and relates how the stadium was hit by German bombs in December 1940.  There is some archive footage of the damage done to Sheffield from the bombings (film from ‘Sheffield at War’).  He then discusses the postwar city planning developments, again using archive film of an architect’s office and city plans, as well as trams passing bombed areas (with sound), and Fargate, which is then shown as it was in 1981.  On Fargate, with lads messing around in the background, he talks to  the 1961 Mayor Jim Sterland about the early 1960s housing developments.  Then he goes to Parkhill flats, where he talks with residents, some of whom complain about the vandalism and clients for prostitutes.  Hattersley states that although the flats can be criticised now, he believes it was right to build the flats at that time on the grounds that they allowed for slum clearance and re-housing.  The film finishes by going back to show more images of the small cutlery workshop and the steel forge.