Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Sandiacre Now & Then

I'm just back from Sandiacre Library and another wonderful Wellbeing Day organised by Priscilla Baily and the Derbyshire team. I was late and in a flap after a lorry fire on the M1, but by the time I arrived, the library users were already sitting round a table with tea and biscuits, trading stories about Sandiacre industry and manufacturing - some people had even worked in the same places when they were younger.

I recently wrote a poem about things that are 'Made in Derbyshire' for a county-wide festival, so after sharing my short verses with the group, our conversation turned to products that used to be made in Sandiacre. From lace to furniture, everyone was proud of Sandiacre's industrial past and sad that so much manufacturing and craftsmanship has disappeared from this corner of Derbyshire. The conversation was a chance to celebrate that legacy but also to talk about the things that make Sandiacre a great place to be today: two members of the group had moved to the area from Kent and were quick to remark that 'everyone says hello to you and smiles at you up here.'

Here's the poem we wrote together, based on Margaret's memories of Lace Webb, Melvyn's countless jokes, Glen's time as a crane driver and much more besides:

Sandiacre Now and Then
a poem for Sandiacre Wellbeing Day

It’s a place where everyone talks to you,
where faces smile in the checkout queue.
I knew Sandiacre before the motorway,
though Lace Webb made seats for Ford in my day.
There used to be holes in the lace we made,
now there’s a hole where we lost the trade.
At Stanton they made “old men and pipes”
but we made everything: we were a hive.
I drove cranes at Taylor Brothers, cold as Siberia
but the things we crafted were all superior.
When I grew up, I knew everyone’s name
from Margaret Avenue down to Lock Lane.
Our roots are deep and intertwined.
This place has changed, but it’s yours and mine.

Poem by Margaret Gill, Julianne Gascoyne, Melvyn Kelly, Ken Roycroft, Pam Roycroft, Glen Hayes and Valerie Eyre, with a bit of help from Derbyshire Poet Laureate Helen Mort.

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