Home Places Streets and Communities “How Green was My Valley?”

“How Green was My Valley?”

May 1969

South Yorkshire Times, May 10, 1969

“How Green was My Valley?

Faint cloud shadows split across the gentle swell of the Dearne Valley, rising to ripple across a pink estate on the crest, overlooking the River bends. This must have been a beautiful place once upon a time

Now it is made ugly by the rammell of rusty old bike frames and bedsteads, and broken bottles, scattered in a careless muddle on the banks of canal and river.

Among the shops and the house nearby, mouldering rubble spring’s up among the parasite weeds under the gaze of the gaping windows of ancient, empty cottages,

It could be anywhere in South Yorkshire, for we all live with, and become accustomed to, dereliction and decay, a legacy from our parents, and our parent’s parents. The question is, do we too pass the buck?

This week in an attempt to find at !east part of the answer, the “South Yorkshire Times” spoke to some of the people in whose hands the power lies to clean up our hills and valleys.

In Mexborough, Swinton, Conisbrough, Rawmarsh, Dearne and Wath, the local councils are making some effort to “tidy up.” But there are major problems.

The Big Obstacle

Finance – that is lack of it – is one tremendous obstacle to a brighter South Yorkshire.


A Mexborough Urban Council official explained, “There is no unified policy for cleaning up the place, the simple reason that there are so many bits and pieces of derelict land. You will need a whole staff to deal with it.

“Much of the land concerned is probably on, which complicates the problem, and even after improvement, man needs maintaining. It is a question of expense.”

But a start is be made and a area in Mexborough, off Doncaster Road, once derelict, is been turned into playing fields under a joint urban and County Council scheme. There are also hopes of a ministry grant aid restoration of land at The Glen, Harlington Road.

Mexborough of course, is vastly improved by the demolition of so much old and dilapidated property to make way for the towns £1 million relief road.

Conisbrough and Denaby

An unnecessary eyesore in Denaby. This partly demolished property in Doncaster Road has been left standing for some considerable time.

In Conisbrough and Denaby in the picture is very similar. The older grimy Denaby villages been replaced by a fresh residential area – and in Doncaster Road, Denaby the Local Authority are involved in a scheme of grassing and tree planting at a cost of several thousand pounds.

Loan sanction came through from Ministry level in recent weeks, and Whitehall also agreed to share the cost of the plan. Said a Conisbrough Urban Council official, “Our authority are very concerned about the problems of dereliction and we have made a start.”

Hopefully, more Government aid may be forthcoming in the future, for the need for action was heavily stressed the recently publishedHunt Committee Report on industry.


Swinton already has its own “Tidy Up campaign,” backed by the Council there, who are appealing in turn support from local business people and traders.

“We propose to ask them to cooperate by trying to brighten up their premises. We shall, of course, be reviewing our own property. This is our contribution, we would welcome any suggestions at all to help with the campaign,”Said a chief official of the Council.

He stressed the importance of an attractive neighbourhood, not only for the benefit of the present population, but also to act as a magnet particularly for new industry.

“In fact Swinton as no terrible scenes of grim dereliction,” the official declared. “We have always tried to keep the place tidy.”

The Swinton authority’s most recent efforts have included the establishment of a “tidy up team” of four workmen, Specifically employed to clean up the air is black spots. Pensions gardens with their first target area, and their latest task has been to clear and cede land at the Parish Church Hall.


In Dearne one of the most serious impedance to any anti-dereliction drive is really in the head. Indiscriminate tipping of rubbish on any old piece of vacant land is a sure way to ruin an area as a decent placeTo lead.

Dearne Urban Council are out to stop this. An official declared, “This is our main disappointment that people will go and take their old rubbish on any piece of land, as at Ingsfield Lane and  Carrfield Lane.

“It is nothing less than vandalism really we shall be tackling the problem this summer.”

Demolition and rehousing programs have worked wonders for parts of Dearne, where perhaps the ideal example is the Church Street, Thurnscoe, reasoned development area, where intelligent soiling and seeding programs will bring a touch of pleasant greenery right on the resident’s doorstep.

The oasis of the Town Hall and Welfare grounds is another splendid example of what can be done. The official added “Quite apart from our normal street cleaning programme, we spent a lot more than some authorities on this sort of thing, bearing in mind that we have to work within a budget.”


After voluntary workers recently clean Brook Dyke, Wath, vandals have since dumped this rubbish there

Some real progress is being made at Wath , but so far without any great display of general public enthusiasm.

There are currently cleanup operations in the township – the Brook Dyke scheme, under which voluntary labour help remove 15 tons of rubble and debris from the site close to the heart of Wath… Proposals to encourage council house tenants to keep their gardens up to scratch.

“The new Wath is beginning to take shape gradually commencing an official of the local authority. There is much tidying up going on, with a view in the future to have the Wath town centre completely transformed.”

“This will make Wath an interesting place so that we can regard a visit to the centre as a sort of excursion.”

“The council’s ideas to develop Wath on the lines of a country town, and I certainly regard it as one of the better class localities,” he declared

There is, then, and awareness throughout our area of the problems we face. But there is much room for improvement… There is no room for complacency