Forgotten People: Memories of Wolverhampton’s Scotlands estate in the 1970s

Photographer George Foster called them the Forgotten People – but his picture taken on a housing in 1973 brought the memories flooding back for Peter Sheard.

Peter Sheard had a surprise when he saw himself as a teenager in a feature of a book about Wolverhampton's Scotlands estate in 1973
Peter Sheard had a surprise when he saw himself as a teenager in a feature of a book about Wolverhampton's Scotlands estate in 1973

George’s new book, Forgotten People, features a number of evocative pictures he took on Wolverhampton’s Scotlands estate while studying at the town’s polytechnic in the early 1970s.

He chose the name for this book because he felt the people of the estate had been forgotten about, forced to live in dilapidated houses which had seen little attention in decades.

But when Peter saw some of the pictures featured in the Express & Star last week, he recognised one of the faces straight away – it was his teenage self.

Peter Sheard, left, pictured talking to Henry Smith, who was with his young children Joanne and Malcolm

Peter, now a 64-year-old construction site worker who lives in Castlecroft, was pictured talking to neighbour Henry Smith and his two children outside Peter’s home in Keats Road.

He also has fond memories of social worker Stuart Petrie, who George refers to in his book. Peter says he and his family actually lived next door to Stuart at the time.

Peter says despite the poor housing conditions of the time, he also remembers a happy, close-knit community, where the children were mostly well-behaved – lest their parents got to hear of any misdemeanours.

A child on the estate

“We lived at 89 Keats Road, and Stuart lived at 87,” he says.

“He was Scottish, and moved onto the estate after being posted s a social worker. He was in his late 20s, his wife was from down south, I believe, and he had a young daughter who I used to take out for walks.

“We worked out of an office in his back room, and there was a constant stream of people going to see him, he was always sorting people’s problems out.”

The lunch club at the community hall

Peter, who had six brothers and sisters living with him in their four-bedroom house, says George is spot-on with his description of the poor living conditions on the estate at the time.

“When I tell my children about it, they can’t believe it,” he says.

“But we never had much trouble, and if there was, the old clan looked after it themselves. If there was any trouble, they would sort it out.

The formidable Mrs Quinn with her unpaid electricity bill

“I remember it as a time of respect, if my mum and dad walked down the street, the children would say ‘hello Mr and Mrs Sheard’, it was not like it is today.

“In the summer, everybody was playing out, and they would just walk into each others houses, the back doors were always open. It wasn’t like it is today, when everybody is sat indoors glued to their phones.”

He says his family left the estate not long after the picture was taken to move into a new house in Whitmore Reans.

“That transformed life for my mum, but I remember my dad having to get a neighbour round because he did not know how to work the heating system.”

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