Sutton revisited – memory lane mission recreates photos of old pals 60 years on

An investigative trip down memory lane has enabled a retired man to recreate photos taken in Sutton with old pals about 60 years ago.

By Richard Silverwood
Thursday, 7th July 2022, 12:01 pm

Steve Waring, 69, posted on Facebook, via the Sutton Living Memory Group page, several photos from his younger days when he lived at Brierley Cottages in the town.

"They sparked considerable comment and discussion and even loads of family reunions,” said Steve, a retired civil servant.

"People re-acquainted themselves with old friends and started conversing again.

THEN - Steve Waring (second right) with mates (from left) Tony Varley, Billy Varnham and Dave Godson outside Brierley Cottages in Sutton in 1962.

"So I thought it would be a good project to trace lads I knew who are on two of the photos.

“Then I could get us together again and recreate the pictures. Miraculously, we’re all still alive!”

Taken outside Brierley Cottages, the images show Steve himself as a nine-year-old in 1962 with friends Tony Varley, Billy Varnham and David Godson, and then David with Donald Day and Johnny Gaunt in 1965.

Through various sources, Steve tracked them down, and fresh photos at exactly the same locations have been taken.

NOW - the 1962 photo recreated at the same spot, with (from left), Tony, Billy, Steve and Dave.

"It took me eight months to find them, and another seven months to get them all in the same place at the same time!” said Steve.

"Three of the guys had family members on Facebook, so they were pretty easy to locate.

"But one was only found because his brother just happened to be fixing the roof of a fellow member of Facebook’s Stanton Hill and Skegby community group!

“The last one to be found, Johnny, was the most difficult.

THEN - outside Brierley Cottages again in 1965 are Steve's pals, (from left) Dave Godson, Donald Day and Johnny Gaunt.

“The search involved contacting professional football clubs where he’d been a youth coach. And I went on a door-knocking exercise in Mansfield, brandishing a ‘Wanted’ poster!

"Eventually, I heard that his wife, Karen, ran a little hosiery business, so I went to the Companies House website, and there she was! He lives in Forest Town.”

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Steve discovered that Tony lives in Kirkby and is still working at the age of 71, while Billy is based in Alvaston, Derby and is heavily involved in theatre productions. David lives in Huthwaite.

NOW - the 1965 photo recreated at the same spot, with (from left) Dave, Donald and Johnny.

"Come the day of the photo, the yarning, leg-pulling and joshing flew thick and fast, even though we’d not seen each other for about 55 years!” said Steve.

"Most fascinating for me was to find out the long list of occupations we’d had between us – from plumber, lorry-driver, machinist, labourer and joiner to community warden, trained actor, NHS back-care adviser and Prince’s Trust volunteer.

"Only two of us had worked down the pit for a while, yet we were all from strong mining stock.”

Steve was born in 1952 at Brierley Cottages, known in those days as ‘the pit cottages’, and lived there with mum Eunice and dad Ernest.

He left Sutton as a 22-year-old and now lives in Hasland, Chesterfield with wife Jackie.

His dad was a miner at Sutton Colliery, also known as Brierley Pit, for more than 30 years before working at a butcher’s shop in Sutton run by his wife’s brother, Geoff Dove.

Eunice died in 1998 and Ernest two years later, although his name lives on for his exploits as a Second World War hero, fighting the Japanese in Burma in his late 20s.

Ernest’s brothers also served in the Army which, tantalisingly, is to become the subject of Steve’s next fact-finding mission. Watch this space!