Walkley History

News, events and discoveries of the Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project.

Who’s Living in a Slum?

Dwyer family on Elton St_1960s

Dwyer family on Elton St, 1960s. The street was demolished though it had many good houses, including the one occupied by the Dwyers. Photo courtesy of Margaret Dwyer.

UPDATE The exhibition is now on display in Gerties Cafe and Walkley Library.


Exhibition in Gerties window.

The exhibition in Beeches window.

The exhibition in Beeches window.

An exhibition about the time when most of Walkley was almost demolished as part of the council’s slum clearance programme is on display from Monday 24th June. Called “Walkley – Who’s Living in a Slum?” it covers the 1960s to the 1980s – when the last house demolitions ended on and around Burgoyne Rd.

Based on documentary research and oral history, the exhibition covers the demolition programme and how a residents’ campaign stopped the bulldozers in their tracks. The Council viewed many old houses as slums while the majority of occupants knew they were not. As clearance moved uphill the campaign overturned the clearance scheme so that houses were improved with grants. The exhibition features old photos, many from private collections, maps and quotes from people living in Walkley at the time.

The exhibition tells for the first time the story of the battle to save Walkley from the bulldozers. Council planners were removing old houses, both owner-occupied and tenanted. Some were far from being slums, others left in bad repair by landlords. The Council replaced them with tower blocks and new low-density housing. After demolishing lower Walkley and building Kelvin Flats they planned to remove much the rest of the suburb. But, most residents wanted to stay in their houses and many were saved by the Walkley Action Group with the support from a councillor and a planner. This is why Walkley looks the way it does today.

Chris Beech points out where he lived on Wales St as a child.

Chris Beech points out where he lived on Wales St as a child.

Chris and Donna Beech hosting the exhibition.

Chris and Donna Beech hosting the exhibition.

The exhibition is part of the Walkley Festival. You can see it at Beeches between Monday 24th and Friday 28th June.


Have a drink or meal and read the exhibition in Gerties.

It then moves to both Gerties and Walkley Library between the 1st and 5th July. It will tour Walkley after this.

It also features at the Ruskin Park Fun Day on Saturday 6th July when you can revisit houses on parts of Elton and Harworth streets for the first time since they were demolished. The houses will be marked out for the Fun Day by pupils from Walkley Primary School and St. Mary’s. Each house will have a display of the names of people who lived there.

The exhibition is part of the Walkley Community Centre’s Walkley Ways, Walkley Wars history project. Philip Allsworth-Jones, Sarah Armstrong, Narnedra Bajaria, Bill Bevan, Julie Clarke, Nicola Dempsey, Veronica Hardstaff, Fay & Mary Musselwhite and Hugh Waterhouse have all helped with the exhibition. Thank you to everyone who has offered information, photographs and recollections.


About Bill Bevan

Bill Bevan is an archaeologist, writer, photographer and heritage interpreter.

One comment on “Who’s Living in a Slum?

  1. Richard Newton
    December 29, 2016

    I would have loved to have seen the exhibition. I live in the USA now after leaving South Africa where we spent most of our lives since we left Elton Street. My mom and dad had the off license at the end of the street.

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This entry was posted on June 14, 2013 by in Events, News.
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