Sheffield’s Kid of Steel recalls the good old days

Tony Cronshaw, of Basegreen, with his book, A Kid of Steel, and a framed copy of the book's cover.
Tony Cronshaw, of Basegreen, with his book, A Kid of Steel, and a framed copy of the book's cover.

HE was forged in a time before computers, mobile phones and social media.

When children played on the streets and wrote on paper rather than Facebook or Twitter.

Author Anthony Cronshaw is an old-fashioned fella.

A boy who grew up with water pistols and pea shooters in a city of steel far removed from today’s PlayStation Sheffield generation.

His latest book, A Kid of Steel, takes the reader on a journey which starts in Shirecliffe in 1955 and follows Tony across the city to Birley in 1968.

It was tough time made more so for Tony as his mother left when he was a toddler.

Without so much as a kiss goodbye she left without explanation. He never saw her again.

The book, Tony’s third, details how, in a time of real austerity, his dad struggled to bring him up and the influential grandma Florence and elderly auntie Lillian became his surrogate mums leaving an indelible mark on the lad whose only toy was a stuffed dog on wheels.

A product of the council estates which once ringed our hilly city, Tony tells of times and places that would be instantly recognisable to those of his generation.

He tells of the nights he and his mates would stand outside the Forum Cinema in Herries Road waiting for an adult to take them in so they could watch an A rated film.

“Can we come in wi’ you mester?” they would pester. “Our dads are all in the pub.”

He adds: “Everybody did it. It was just the away things were.”

With a rich seam of humour Tony, now aged 57, tells of the countless hours spent at play on Shirecliffe Tip.

Then how his dad remarried and moved across the city to Birley when Tony was 12.

“It was like moving into the countryside,” he recalls. “The place was green and leafy with wild animals in the fields. We later learned they weren’t wild animals. They were cows. We’d never seen one before.”

Tony recalls life on Birley’s Newstead Estate was fun in those days.

Kids living in box-shaped Vic Hallam houses would gather by the council garages and switch on the tap so the area would flood – providing a paddling pool in summer, a skating rink in winter.

“We even had our own version of the Olympics,” says Tony.

“Our marathon set off along Birley Moor Road and we ran to the Elm Tree at Manor Top, turned round and came back.

“Imagine the furore if kids did that these days – there would be some kind of social services meltdown.”

A Kid of Steel, will be officially launched in the Birley Hotel on Sunday.

n Tony’s book is available from the Star Shop on York Street priced £9.95.