Sunday 13 August 2023

YouTube Pick of the Day: Tees Street Isn't Working (1985)

The Thames channel on YouTube is packed full of fantastic gems from the archive, and that's exactly where today's YouTube Pick of the Day comes from. The video itself is part of an edition of current affairs programme TV Eye, which aired between 1978 - 1986, and focuses on the socioeconomic problems blighting the lives of those living on Tees Street, Birkenhead.

Down on Tees Street, there's an unfortunate statistic hanging in the air: only one adult, over the age 20, has a job. And, with almost unparalleled levels of irony, they work in the unemployment benefits office. The film, which is presented by Denis Tuohy, looks at the lives of the inhabitants of Tees Street, and reveals just how accurate Boys from the Blackstuff was. However, far from being a work of fiction, the narratives on offer here are devastatingly real. With an unemployment rate of 45% amongst males in the area, accelerated by the dying shipyard industry, the future appears bleak.

It's a stark watch, and you can feel just how drained those living on Tees Street are. Even with the leg up of government schemes for new businesses, those struggling to make ends meet are resigned to a lengthy wait in the dole queue. Quite what happened to those on Tees Street is, to me, a mystery, but Tees Street itself had a far from happy ending. I found some photos of Tees Street, taken in 2010, and almost the entire street had been demolished, with all the residents now long gone. The end of what was once, no doubt, a thriving community, and a sad indictment of how quickly they can be swept aside by the local authorities.

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