Cobbles glisten in the rain, weeds grow through cracks, but this pitifully empty street is a poignant reminder of our past.
Brownell Street, at Netherthorpe, is in a sorry state and awaits nearby redevelopment.
But if we go back in time, this was one of the poorest streets in Sheffield, a slum at the heart of St. Philips, where families crowded together in dirty back-to-back houses, fought to make ends meet, and fought one another.
Crime was rife, and it was only after the broken-down houses were boarded-up, then demolished, that order was restored.
It is an empty space now, but what stories these cobble stones could tell.
Tales of horse and carts. Damp houses, unfit for human habitation. Tuberculosis, influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, and infant mortality. Brawls, stabbings, and gun shots. Tales of the unruly Jericho Gang. Gambling. Happiness. Births, weddings, and certain death. Tragedy and despair. And tales of a better life that existed somewhere else.
The houses disappeared in the 1930s and most of the people vanished with them. From the slums came industry, and as history repeats itself, industry has given way to housing again.
The upper end of Brownell Street might have been lost to Netherthorpe Road (and Supertram), but the area is blooming with new-build student accommodation.
Remember these cobbles because next time you look, they’ll probably be gone.
© 2020 David Poole. All Rights Reserved.