After a couple of years living close to Leicester city centre in Tyndale Street my parents were ready for a move and were looking to go up a rung or two on the housing ladder, Dad had had a promotion at work at Leicestershire County Council working at the Education Department so the time was right to move on.
They chose the village of Glenfield which is three miles to the west of the city and in the 1950s was expanding quickly with new houses being built on the Frith Estate which was land that once belonged to nearby Frith Hall, a stately home set in parkland and surrounded by small farms. What a shame that a house like that would be demolished.
My parents bought a brand new semi-detached house built by Jelson homes in Ledwell Drive almost at the centre of the new development. It was still a building site really because at the time we moved in only one side of the road was completed and the other was still under construction.
I don’t know why it was called Ledwell Drive, there doesn’t appear to be a local connection and the surrounding roads have no pattern as they would for example on a poets estate or a birds estate. The first house I ever bought was on Frobisher Road in Rugby on the Admiral’s Estate – Nelson, Drake, Blake, Freemantle etc.
I cannot find another Ledwell Drive in the UK but have come across two in the USA. The first is in Seymour, Tennessee which looks like an up market sort of place in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains and the second is in the small township of Rocky Springs in North Carolina.
I was only two years old when we moved in and we left when I was four so I don’t remember very much about living in this house. I do recall the building site opposite because one day I was crawling through a drainage pipe and cut my head open as I went through and I still have the scar to prove it.
Living here did provide one defining moment in my life – it gave me a life-long fear of dogs. My dislike for them started when I was taken one day for a walk by my granddad and on a piece of waste land opposite the house and an Alsatian dog knocked me to the ground, pinned me down and stood on my chest. The inconsiderate owner had let it off its leash and I was absolutely terrified. Lucky for me that granddad was able to shoo it off and chase it away or else I was sure to have been a 1958, child chewed to death by a dog, statistic. I have never recovered from the shock of that incident.
Dad worked hard on the house, he decorated it, he dug the garden, he put up pelmets, he put down paths, dug a vegetable patch and built a rockery. Wherever we lived Dad always built a rockery! The family got bigger and in October 1957 my sister Lindsay was born.
We didn’t stay in this house very long, I am not really sure why but it probably had something to do with Dad’s job. In May 1957 he was appointed to the post of ‘Land Charges Clerk’ at Hinckley Urban District Council at an annual salary of £533. That doesn’t sound a lot but it meant that his salary had rocketed by nearly 125% in just four years. That is a serious increase in anyone’s career and salary and I can only imagine how excited he must have been at that time. In the year 1990 my salary increased by 35% in one jump when I got a new job and for a few months, until expenditure caught up with income, I thought that I was a millionaire.
Surely the sensible thing to do was move to Hinckley, Dad didn’t drive or have a car and it is about sixteen miles from Glenfield. He used to cycle to work, there and back every day, I cannot imagine what a chore that must have been.
Assuming he could make ten miles an hour that would have been three hours a day cycling back and forth to work. If he got a puncture he had to walk, in the rain I remember him having a yellow oilskin cape and a sou’wester rain hat. Later he bought a moped but it was forever breaking down so he went back to the push bike. In the Winter it must have cost a fortune in Ever Ready batteries just for the front and rear lights! Surely the sensible thing to do was move to Hinckley!
The house today is much the same as it was in 1956. The front garden has gone and been converted to parking spaces, there is a garage at the side and it has plastic windows but if he could pull up on his bike at the front door and go back and look at it I am certain that Dad would recognise it instantly.
And so we moved house again – but not to Hinckley!
This is me doing my French onion seller impression sitting on Dad’s rockery…
And outside the original front door in October 1958…