My View, Bill Morrison - Memories of the way we were

Bill Morrison, Chair of Doncaster 50 Plus.
Bill Morrison, Chair of Doncaster 50 Plus.

This time I am not going to complain as such but I would like to review life as us oldies remember it and ask: was it all worthwhile? Did we enjoy it? More importantly, would we do it all again?

Let’s go back to the world wars - precious few of us may have memories personal or anecdotal of those great conflicts. Destruction on a scale never before experienced by man. Why did we do it? For the same reason we do most things – because it was right. It was right to protect our freedoms, democracy and to defend the weak.

The corner of St Sepulchre Gate and French Gate after construction began on the new Arndale Shopping Centre.

The corner of St Sepulchre Gate and French Gate after construction began on the new Arndale Shopping Centre.

We remember the hardships and horrors but also the communities we lived in, pooling resources and friendships that were fostered and survived long after the conflict ended.

We remember the great street parties of VE Day; we were one family, a family of Great Brits who, then as now, stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of adversity. Stern stuff, us oldies.

Then came the coronation of our Queen Elizabeth, a guiding light and inspiration to our great nation. Rationing was coming to an end - it finally ended in 1954.

Jet travel had arrived – oh how we wished we could join the rich and hop on that Comet aircraft and fly away to places we could only dream about.

Some of us are still dreaming.

The music scene was also changing, rock and roll, teddy boys’ coffee bars such as Jack Tarrs, Priestnalls and the Blinking Owl.

Into the 1960s, 70s and 80s and good old Donny was catching up. We had Top Rank, followed by Seventh Heaven, Baileys, Romeo and Juliets and who can forget the Penny Farthing Park Lane? Or others out of town like Kon Tiki and The Hacienda? Happy days.

And through all this our Donny was changing. High rise flats on St James Street, tower block offices at Waterdale, shopping centres like The Arndale. Our town was losing its character to the world of concrete.

How many of us remember the smell of fresh coffee as we walked past or waited for the bus at Hodgson and Hepworth’s? Harry Jacobs corner – the place to meet on a night out. The busy Danum store, another popular meeting place, or you could buy the evening paper from the man who stood on the pavement outside the store telling us to ‘read all about it’.

And I bet you all miss our bus service of old. Cheap fares, regular service, all delivered with a smile and a helping hand.

But then came progress and everything changed and not always for the better. Often, making things better only makes them worse.

Would we go through it all again? You bet we would. It made us what we are, a strong, resilient, nation that will defend our rights and protect the weak.

A nation that can laugh at itself, all done with true British grit and a stiff upper lip. Keep smiling.

* Bill Morrison, Chairman of Doncaster 50 Plus