People living on a notoriously violent area with abandoned houses say it hasn’t always been like this – but now they want to get out.
Although it is commonly known as the Royal estate, residents say nothing about Edlington in Doncaster is royal, even to the few ‘brazenly intoxicated lads loitering around’ the corner of Princes Street.
Tales of the horrific violence and crime that allegedly go on frankly beggars belief – and the level of destruction in each street gives a strong hint of the levels of violence that can brew in the place.
House after house has cardboard windows instead of glass. Some, which have since been abandoned, have neither, Yorkshire Live reports.
The walls are full of graffiti, black smoke marks, or both. There is rubbish scattered everywhere, and the place looks uninhabitable.
Nobody quite knows when things got to this point, but they remember the good old days, and a steady decline after the nineties that has since accelerated into what is left now.
For those who are left, the chaos is surprising and heartbreaking,
Janet Marlon, a grandmother who was “raised in Edlington” remembers her early years with fondness. Janet told Yorkshire Live growing up in Edlington was amazing because it “did not just feel like a community, but a whole family”.
Janet, who grew up in the royal streets in the 70s said: “I lived in Edlington. My Dad is a Yorkshireman, and we still have family that are up there.
“When I grew up there was a strong community spirit. You all went out together.
“There was the odd fight here and there. But it would be sorted out and people moved on.
“You just didn’t have that sort of violent behaviour we see nowadays. There was discipline across the board and there was stricter parenting.
“I lived there in the 70s and 80s, when Margaret Thatcher did damage with the miners. There was struggle but If people did not have food, people would share.”
Life was rosy then, for Janet, who left Edlington in the 90s. The only bad thing she remembers is electricity problems and 50p meters.
And Janet is surprised that Edlington now has a ‘blatant drug problem’ too. She said: “There was nothing like drugs. We saw drugs in the movies.
“I did know people smoking cannabis, but not at this magnitude. And certainly nothing about sellers everywhere.”
Janet, who works for the NHS says she did not really keep tabs on Edlington after she left. And that was sometime between 1991 and maybe 1993.
But, for those who stayed, signs of trouble began round about that same time. Edith Adams, who was in school when Janet left, remembers arson developing into a huge problem, and fast.
Edith said: “I was at school there in the 90’s. The school had many fires too.
“There were streets of terraces then that were a mess, abandoned burned houses etc. I think one family remained on the street too after scaring everyone else away.”
Edith, who left the area 20 years ago has sharp memories of problematic families. She told Yorkshire Live another family got a whole school to strike.
She said: “One family in the 90’s managed to get the entire school to go on strike. In fact those who were outside daren’t not do as they were told and then we all saw it at fun. I think it was described as a riot although it totally wasn’t.
“That was to do with the school being 1 mile out of catchment area for the meningitis vaccination. More likely an excuse for drama in hindsight.
“Obviously the story about the two boys being tortured in 2009 was shocking to most, but look at the state of the area. There are bound to be children growing up thinking it’s ok to burn houses, do drugs etc.
“It’s a giant area of neglect and has been for as long as I remember. One of the buildings at school was called Phoenix.
“Apparently before I was there, a different building stood before it. It burnt down and the replacement was built in the ashes. Hence phoenix.”
When Edith left, one would not have imagined that things could get any worse. But, in the 20 years since Edith left, life has offered lessons that things can always get worse.
And in an awkward 20 year cycle, another resident, who had lived in Edlington for nearly 50 years before leaving, citing the same problems. Citing family members who still live in the area, the former resident did not want to be named.
And the few that have remained insist that even for them, it’s time to go. Mark Horn, who lives just a few roads away from the royal estate he would “leave tomorrow” if he could.
But Mr Horn is old, and his pension can barely keep his lights on. And so every night he “prays he isn’t burgled and killed”.
Another resident, who recently filmed yobs smashing windows and breaking doors also wants to move, just a few months into a long term lease. He said: “I regret coming here. It is the worst place on earth.”
There can be no question that things have gone really bad in Edlington, and that started sometime in the 90s, and what began as simple usage of fire in random acts of defiance has morphed into a community wide arson problem.
Those that left in the glory days struggle to hold back tears when they read reports of how bad things are now – but those that left when violence became a problem are clear – and they say neglect led to this.
Names have been changed to protect the identity of witnesses.