Online Archive  
Issue 13 - June 1973
Dancing In The Street
A peaceful scene, full of happy people enjoying themselves and going about their business unmolested, not a car or lorry in sight, and best of all, plenty of breathable, carbon-monoxide-free air. Believe it or not, it's Silver Street I'm talking about. For the last two weeks or so the street has been closed to traffic because of road works, and the difference has been incredible.

For the first time in about 40 years, the people of Durham City are seeing Silver Street as it should really be. People have been saying for a long time that we are more important (and nicer) than cars and lorries, and that life's a lot more pleasant when traffic doesn't get in the way.

Not only have people been able to do a bit of shopping or take a gentle stroll without coming within an eighth of an inch of a sudden squash, but last Saturday, Durham Mobile Theatre were in Silver Street to show people how they can enjoy the street and have a good time without paying anybody any money.

They were dancing there, and singing, and lots of people - especially kids - were having a really good time. It's surprising just how dancing in the street can make people happy together.

However, I'm sorry to say that there is an element in society who doesn't like to see people enjoying themselves. In fact, one old bloke was arrested because he was singing. He was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and although the court gave him an absolute discharge, it spoiled his weekend for certain and his arrest left a nasty taste in a lot of mouths.

But there's a more serious side to all this. A lot of people think that Silver Street should be for us, to walk in or sing and dance in if we want to, and not be pushed out of the way by heavy traffic. From a practical point of view, the traffic that goes through Silver Street is far and above the practical limit for such a small old street, it's amazing that there hasn't been a really serious accident yet, and the dirt and vibrations from heavy vehicles doesn't do the old buildings any good, and there is plenty of nice historic buildings in Silver Street. You can see them when you don't have to look out for traffic.

One of the main reasons that Durham Mobile Theatre was playing for you last Saturday was to show you how good Silver Street really could be, and to collect names for a petition calling on the City Council to close the street to traffic now, instead of waiting until they finish building the new Elvet Bridge in over a year's time. We'll be there again singing and dancing and playing, and if you've enjoyed the feeling of walking down the middle of Silver Street on a sunny day, just taking your time and enjoying the street, please sign the petition, and make an effort to rescue one of the city's few remaining pleasures before it's too late.