The Beginners Guide to Scunthorpe
I come from Scunthorpe (or Scunny as it’s affectionately known). It’s a smallish town just south of Hull. It isn’t (as many people think) situated on the coast. People think it’s a bit grim and in many ways they’re right. It’s a “monotown” meaning that the dwindling steel industry is the only industry. It was also the setting for the TV documentary series Skint which didn’t do the town any favours.I couldn’t wait to escape and for many years felt most embarrassed about my origins.
Back then in the late 80’s I was a hapless 15 year old Helena knocking around with her bestest bitch and sidekick (the infamous Tracy Holmes) with not much to do. We weren’t easily impressed and in honesty there wasn’t really much to do once we’d got over our netball and breakdancing phase.
So we found the pub. And the pool table. And most importantly we found music. Thanks to our new friends we made the swift transition from Billy Joel and Sam Cook to The Cramps and REM in the swish of a duster coat.
We started to regularly go to gigs at The Baths Hall, a legendary gig venue in Scunthorpe which, over the years, has seen everyone from the Kinks through to Arcade Fire perform there. The highlight of the year was always John Peel’s annual visit which fell pretty much on my birthday. And yes he did play me a song every year. The Cure featured heavily in my requests as did Teenage Kicks by the Undertones.
And we met some wonderful, independent minded people. Because, you see, although no one know it, Scunny was a little bit bohemian. And certainly very creative.
These days the town is home of the wonderful Cafe Independent – a coffee house by day and an arts and music venue by night. A good one too – they’ve seen the likes of Sleaford Mods, Viv Albertine and The Slaves play. That’s not all. Cafe Inde is also a not for profit organisation – an employability project for disadvantaged young people in Scunthorpe.
Thank goodness I finally realised what a brilliant place it is. But one thing I can’t figure out is why all this creativity is condensed into such a small area? The people I knew in Scunthorpe in the late 80’s are Illustrators, artists, music journalists, designers, writers, entrepreneurs & musicians. What is it about Scunthorpe that has inspired so much creativity over so many years?
I’d love to know the answer to this so if you have any thoughts please leave a comment. And if you’re ever passing the junction for the M180 go get a coffee in Cafe Independent and let me know what you think.
Other blog posts can be found here.