Memories of Growing Up in Sturton 1970's:

Growing up in Sturton in the 70's was an interesting time, my parents moved to the village in the 60,s and lived in the Close, and marked the start of Sturton expanding as a village over the next 40 years. The Close was populated with quite a lot of young families like our own, and this made it a kind of magical place for playing and being a cul-de-sac with very few cars we not only played in the gardens but played games and raced our bikes up and down the road. Many of the kids in Sturton at the time had Dads who were in the RAF, many based at Scampton, so we all felt like newcomers to the village.

The Vulcan bombers were continually being flown and the jet engines being continually warmed up, (this being the height of the cold war), the Vulcans would take off and do a loop and return to Scampton .as one landed another would take off, with this deep guttural and throaty roar that made windows rattle. They used to run in the middle of the night as well. We just got used to that noise continually running in the background of our lives. The village was eerily quiet when the Vulcans stopped flying.

The mid 70's was the height of popularity for the Raleigh Chopper, which kids who were lucky enough to have one, earnt a certain amount of kudos. Westerns were shown still quite a lot on the TV and so we also played quite a lot of cowboy and Indians, bikes became horses and most kids usually had a cap firing pistols, we were fairly impressed by one kid Simon Herbert who had a cap firing Winchester repeater. We also played big games of kick the can. this was an expanded game of hide and seek, the person who was it had to stand over a empty drinks can in the middle of the street, the person had to spot all the hiders before someone could race to kick the can and they would have to start all over again spotting the hiders.

Originally on the site of Bradway was a paddock and orchard bordered by some open waste ground filled with Hawthorne trees and nettles, the ground around the Hawthorns was banked up and so the whole area was perfect for creating natural dens, when we first played here, Eastfield. Swan Drive and Upper Close were still being built and we used to see the estate taking shape from the boundary with the meadow, in a few years new families would be moving in and more kids would be involved in the games. Also in the orchard that bordered the paddock was an old abandoned mini pickup which was also a focus for games, we had no idea who the field belonged to or why a mini pickup was there, but it represented a natural boundary of territory for the kids on the Close.

Living at No 13 the houses here backed onto Twitchell, we had a little  snicket so when we were older we started to venture out to Fleets lane and towards the River Till, however in the days before mobile phones we were only supposed to venture as far as the junction we commonly called "Monkey Island" A lasting memory was the drought of 1976 when the River Till completely dried up, the riverbed was exposed dried and cracked cakes of dried clay.

Prior to going to starting primary school, a playgroup was held in the village hall, I remember doing a lot of painting, riding trikes around the hall.The playpark at the back of the village hall had not been built yet, the nearest play park was in Stow.
The primary school was at the old Victorian schoolhouse at the time, with the secondary school occupying the current buildings of the primary school, Mr Glover was the Headmaster.

Infant class was in a portacabin in the main playground, in 1973/74 our first teacher was Mrs. Marsden, we then moved up to Mrs Hopley (who taught in a prefab type building, opposite the Friends graveyard). It wasn't until 3rd year Mrs Haiths class that you got to have a class in the main building. Followed by classes with Mrs Ridley and finally Mr Hodgson. Although I never experienced it myself, the teachers would issue the threat of a physical punishment by Mr Glover if we misbehaved. The punishment was being whacked on the backside with the "slipper". Sometimes we were summoned to Mr Glovers office which was under the belltower to have reading or spelling tests and we would see the slipper hanging up there. However I,m not sure if it was really ever used.

Mr. Glover retired in 1978/79 and Mr. Pale Thorpe became our new headmaster and teacher in my final year at primary.Mr Palethorpe was an amazing teacher and very encouraging to us all and gave us a lot of self belief, and did a lot of modern stuff most memorably going on 4 days of youth hostelling in the Peak district and climbing Mam Tor.

Mr Callahan was the school caretaker, he lived in one of the houses next door, however I remember him getting irritated about balls from our games at school going over the party wall into his garden. I used to find this funny as you probably find it an occupational hazard of living next to a school.

From-the Close we would walk down the High Street to the school, if we were lucky we could buy a quarter bag of sweets from Gordon Curtis’s shop. Further down the high ST just past the Fleets lane junction there was an abandoned house, the Windows were smashed in and the front door was hanging of its hinges. The walls were finished with a grey render which was falling off in places. The curtains however were still hanging in the Windows and had pretty much turned to rags.  If a house ever typified being haunted this was it, as kids were often dared each other to go inside, however it was such a foreboding place that non off us took up the challenge. or we ran back as soon as we got to the front door.

One of the highlights of the year at the school and the village was the annual Autumn Sturton horticultural show, held at the secondary school. There was a school art competition which we all entered.  A funfair would also come the same weekend held in the field over the road from the Secondary. So there was an air of expectancy to see if we had won a prize in the art competition followed by the buzz of getting candy a couple of rides on the Dodgems, some candy floss or a toffee apple.

By Charles Stable................................To be continued

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