Memories of the new Sutton Library in the 1970s by Talented Creative Writing Student

28 June 2021

Students on a Sutton College Creative Writing course were asked to write a piece on local, social history.

One student, Steve Brown wrote about Sutton and what it meant to him in his teens / as a young adult student in the seventies.

Steve has been attending creative writing classes with Sutton College since 2019, where he has experimented with form from poetry to drama. This ‘Flash Memoir’ shows how a real life story, with resonance in our community and our history, can be distilled into 200 words.

Steve is originally from a working class background and began as a lyricist. He has staged events, and been interviewed by and recited poetry on Croydon cultural arts radio podcast. He has also put on his own event commemorating the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme, funded by Sutton Council and the First World War Society.

Flash Memoir: Sutton Library by Steve Brown

Writing for Pleasure, Fridays, 12.30 – 2.30pm 

I first heard rumours about the library at school. My family lived in a small house on the St. Helier’s council estate. Most mornings, I awoke to the dulcet tones of my Mother’s voice. During half term my Mother would disturb my delicate slumber.

“Are you getting up today or what?” she bellowed.

“Or what…” was my witty reply.

“If I have to come up there, you`ll regret it!” she countered.

“I`m getting up,” I said wisely.

“Are you going to do anything today?” she enquired.

“Yes, but not here.” I needed an excuse to get away from the ever-watchful eye of my Mother and there were distinct financial opportunities.

“Where then?”

“The library to study, I need the bus fare.”

“Study? Well, you have got bloody exams,” she concluded.

I gathered my books and began my walk to Sutton Library, happily pocketing my Mother’s money. 

When I arrived there, it shone like a beacon of modernity in the mist of 1970s gloom. Suddenly, there were five floors of literature, art, music and girls from different schools.  

Today, it is hard to imagine what effect it had on 1970s teenagers. I hope it still delivers this transformative experience I had long ago.

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