You sent me a video, last tram, our tram, the family strung along its track from the greener suburbs of northern Sheffield to the back- to- backs nearer the steel works. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, two spinster great aunts still in the tiny terrace where they grew up with 9 others, all lived along the line.

As a child, I once lay, feet and hands beating wildly, on the tram lines, much to the despair of my Granddad.  I was known for tantrums but excused, tolerated. I was different, no dad at home, parents divorced, a word then whispered with disapproval and suspicion. Later, a quieter child, I rode the trams with him, always on the top deck, view of the hills, seven in Sheffield.  “Like Rome!”  Granddad said.  He had a car, a little blue Austen, but that only came out on Sundays for special outings.  I was amazed but proud when the men on the top, smoking their fags, doffed their caps and called him “sir”.  Steelworkers, in spite of feeding us and supplying us with weapons of war, were not looked up to by the women in our family.  Nana had aspirations, joined the Townswomen’s Guild, took me on the tram in her fur coat and fox furs to a posh cafe in town. The aroma of real coffee, as we rounded Coles Corner, is with me still, along with the grim blackness of the buildings, the weed-strewn bomb sites and the houses with gaping holes and peeling wallpaper that we saw on the way there. 

 We left the tram lines to move in with my new stepfather’s family in the plusher, west end of Sheffield.  Free to roam on the nearby crags, a dog to pet, a bookcase full of the classics and a gang of friends, life was idyllic. I hovered between wanting to be a vet or a writer. But, aged 11, we moved again and I boarded the tram alone, to grammar school in 1959.  Within a year the trams had disappeared and all began to change...

 

  • Submitted by Helen Hill, 72, Flintshire