My parents were married in 1953 and around the same time dad was appointed to a job as a clerk with Leicestershire County Council. They moved from living in Catford in South London with my mother’s family to a house in Una Avenue in Leicester where they lived with my dad’s grandmother, Lillian. Shortly after that my mother was pregnant and I was on the way.
I was born the following year and lived my first few months in that house.
As I understand it the domestic arrangements were less than perfect so Lillian’s sister, Aunty Mabel, stepped in with a loan for a deposit that allowed my parents to buy their first house. It wasn’t a great deal of money, I don’t know exactly how much, possibly around £100. My scrapbook records of dad’s employment reveal that his annual salary at that time was £240 a year just £4.60 a week! The house that they bought would sell now for about £150,000 so in 1954 it probably cost somewhere between £300-400.
They chose a house in Tyndale Street, quite close to the Leicester City Centre. Tyndale Street is in an area of the city called West End because it was outside of the western Braunstone Gate and on a previously marshy area west of the River Soar.
It was developed around about the 1900s when affordable housing was required to provide accommodation for the workers in the booming footwear and hosiery industries in the city. The land was acquired from a wealthy protestant landowner who had some residual say in the naming of the streets – Luther, Latimer, Ridley, Cranmer and Tyndale, all sixteenth century Protestant martyrs. The area is predictably called the Martyrs and the Church of the Martyrs stands nearby.
William Tyndale, the man who first translate the Bible into English…
I can only find one other Tyndale Street and that is in McLean, Virginia, USA, a much more upmarket sort of place than Leicester West End. It is the most expensive place to live in Virginia and houses sell for millions of dollars.
Wiki puts it into some sort of perspective… “Mclean is an unincorporated community in Fairfax County in Northern Virginia. McLean is home to many diplomats, military, members of Congress, and high-ranking government officials partially due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency. It is the location of Hickory Hill, the former home of Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy”.
So, back to reality. They lived there for two years. Mum worked evening shift at a biscuit factory. They took in a lodger to help pay the bills. People had to stand on their own two feet, in the 1950s, no constant whining about inequalities and unfairness in society. No Universal Credit and no free school meals. Mum and Dad couldn’t afford tattoos and takeaways paid for by the State/Taxpayer.
It was a very basic two bedroom terraced house with a front door that opened directly onto the street and with a small garden and back yard at the rear and typical of any Midlands artisan house of that period.
The house today is now well over a hundred years old but still has some of the original decorative features over the doors and windows, but the doors and windows are plastic, there is a satellite television dish and there is a refuse bin outside the front door.
Naturally I have no real memories of living in this house and we had gone by the time that I was two years old. Dad had been promoted at work, he was working in the Education Department, he had an increase in salary and they aspired to move up a notch or two on the property ladder.
Whilst living there I did have my very first bike…