Dawn of the teenager

The iconic Day's store on Fargate'from Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1950s Sheffield
The iconic Day's store on Fargate'from Dirty Stop Out's Guide to 1950s Sheffield

WHEN he appropriated the phrase “dirty stop out” for his Sheffield Telegraph column on the city’s nightlife Neil Anderson wasn’t sure when it had been first coined.

Since then the writer has branched out into publishing books of nostalgia and you feel when reading his latest, Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1950s Sheffield, that could well have been the era when dirty stop outs were invented.

The delights of such long-departed institutions as the Sheffield Empire, weekend dancing at the Locarno and Marsden’s Milk Bar’s Teenage Tavern are recalled in words and pictures.

It was also the dawn of the kind of nightlife we might recognise today. The Fifties was the decade that saw the city moving away from post-war austerity and bore witness to some of the earliest gigs by future local stars Dave Berry (then known by his real name, Dave Grundy) and Jimmy Crawford (former draughtsman Ron Lindsay who scored Sheffield’s first ever chart hit in the early Sixties) together with famous shows by the likes of Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers

Says Anderson: “We often think of the Fifties as quite a repressed era shaped by rationing, National Service and post war recovery but for young people growing up it was a truly magical time.

“Music was changing like never before with the influence of rock’n’roll from the States.

“The UK charts were never the same again after Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock dominated them for 36 weeks and arrival of Elvis Presley - together with the voice, the snarl and the look - caused an absolute sensation.

“It was the era when the word ‘teenager’ truly hit the vocabulary, Teddy Boys sent a shiver down the spine of the older generations and the city got its first taste of hysteria with the debut of Johnnie Ray.

“Saturday nights were the preserve of dances at Sheffield City Hall, the Cutlers, the Locarno or even Glossop Road Baths; Friday night was bath night - probably a tin one in front of the fire; Bonfire Night was one of the year’s highlights and The Star Walk and the Hallam Chase was as near as we got to our very own Olympics.”

“I hadn’t realised how revolutionary the Fifties were. The Sixties is always shouting about itself in that regard but in a lot of ways it was following what the Fifties started. Talking to my dad (Haydn Anderson who is quoted in the book) I learned how exciting it was to be young then. It brought to mind the fact that it’s whatever era you grew up in that was the case. Nothing has changed much, it’s all boozing and flirting and fun. I thought I was revolutionary in the Eighties with punk but it was nothing new.”

But the Fifties wasn’t all stopping out. The decade also marked the arrival of the television as an essential part of home life while the influence of the radio started to fade.

Dave Manvell, who worked on the book with Anderson, remembers it well. He said: “I remember my dad buying a 12ins Ferguson TV from Cole Brothers so we could watch the Queen’s Coronation in 1953. On the day the house was packed with neighbours all fighting for a place near to the tiny screen. I remember being very bored and constantly being told to keep quiet.”

The book contains interviews, rare photos and memorabilia and is the fourth in the Dirty Stop Out’s Guide series which has previously covered the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties in Sheffield.

“When I began Dirty Stop Outs in 1994 I was worried that the expression might have been too old hat even then. But I have always found that it crosses all the generations and everyone uses it from the young to grandmothers. It seens to work with everyone,” concludes Anderson.

Dirty Stop Out’s Guide to 1950s Sheffield is available from The Star Shop, York Street at £12.95. It is published by ACM Retro.