Film Review: Sheffield film to play on the big screen for the first time to celebrate 35th anniversary

On the Manor

If that’s jogged your memory, you might also remember a four-part Yorkshire Television program called On the Manor, about life on the Manor Estate of council housing in Sheffield.

Sheffield’s Manor estate was developed in the 1920s, rehousing thousands who had lived in overcrowded Victorian back-to-backs. By 1987, after years of neglect, the demolition crews had moved in, and the community was again forced into coming to terms with change. Filmed over six months in 1987 against a backdrop of industrial closures, high unemployment, and the looming general election, On the Manor was a documentary snapshot of a community in flux.

At the time, Manor was the site of the country’s largest council house rebuilding scheme. Over 1600 homes would be demolished, but only 500 new ones built, fragmenting and dispersing the community to new homes across the city. As bulldozers ate their way through chimneys and walls, director Peter Gordon provided a portrait of the remaining residents, creating a record of Manor as it really was.

After the four-part film aired on television in 1987, it has rarely been seen. Fans of the film have long shared video recordings and clips on YouTube, but for a film that is so brilliantly made and still thematically relevant in the current climate, it’s long overdue a full revival. That’s why on 1 December, Showroom Cinema and Yorkshire Film Archive are teaming up to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the film by showing a feature-length selection of highlights on the big screen for the first time.

On the Manor is a program about strength and resilience and a community fighting to survive despite the broken promises of planners and policy. One of the very best films made in Sheffield, the film is a must-see portrait of the city whether you remember 1987 or not.

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