Mum and Dad Decide to Move from Hellesdon
At the start of the 1970s, we had been living at the house in Middletons Lane in Hellesdon for almost ten years (see Chapter 76). I am not sure when mum and dad decided they wanted to move. They may have been thinking about this as early as 1965 (see Chapter 91). I am also not sure why they decided to move but I suspect they wanted a bigger house. They may also have wanted to live more centrally in Norwich.
However, a desire to live more centrally in Norwich would not explain why they looked at a house in Long Stratton. It is also possible that mum and dad had different purposes for and priorities in moving. I always thought that the house in Waverley Road was more dad’s choice than mum’s but this may have been influenced by the fact that we moved out so quickly once mum and dad had split up and dad was no longer living with us. Of course, it could also have been that mum wanted a break from a house where she had lived with dad.
Looking at a House in Long Stratton
Whatever the reason, mum and dad were looking to move in earnest by 1970. I believe I was aware that this was in the offing as it potentially affected me most in terms of schooling (see Chapter 103). In July 1970, mum and dad took grandma and Arthur and Jessie Lofthouse to see a house they were thinking of buying in Long Stratton. On the 25th, dad collected both grandma and grandad to look at this house. Grandad noted that mum and dad were still interested in it. Their interest lasted a long time as grandma and grandad went again, this time with Tom and Amy, to see this house on 14 September 1970.
My Recollections of the House in Long Stratton
I recall that mum and dad were serious about buying this house for quite a while. However, I don’t know why they decided not to. I am not sure which house this was. But, I think I recall that it was big and had a well in the garden. I think it was a white house and was on the main road. There are a number of white-coloured houses on the main road in Long Stratton! Of course, just because it was white then does not mean it would be white now!
However, there is one house in that location that is called The White House. This is on the corner of White House Drive. Could that be it? That house sold by auction for £160,000 in July 2021. However, details show that the house was semi-detached and only has three bedrooms. I think this would have been too small for what mum and dad wanted at that time. But, it is possible that the house was larger then and has since been divided into two semis. Also, the house is listed on Zoopla as having four bedrooms and an estimated value of £476,000 to £527,000. The property next to it appears to be called Saxon Lodge and it is also a four-bedroomed semi.
19 Waverley Road
However, I don’t know if mum and dad were still looking at other places at the same time. Or perhaps they then ended their interest in the Long Stratton house and started looking elsewhere. Whatever the reason, on 20 September 1970, grandad noted going to see a house in Waverley Road. He noted that mum and dad were interested in this.
By November 1970, when grandma and grandad visited the house again, it seems that mum and dad had decided to buy this house. Grandad noted that it was number 19. According to Zoopla, this is a five-bedroomed house valued at between £952,000 and £1.16m. There are no details of when the property was last sold but next door (17) was sold in April 2021 for £760,000.
In fact, mum and dad must have agreed in principle to buy the house as, from the next day, grandad started work at the house pulling down panelling in the attic and elsewhere to allow access for men who were treating the timbers against woodworm. He worked on this panelling from 11 November to 3 December 1970. He also did other odd jobs at the house including, for example, fitting a new washer on the bathroom bowl. On 27 November 1970, Ken Bell delivered a bedroom suite to Waverley Road. Grandad noted that he and grandma had paid Irene Bell £15 for this and that they were giving it to mum and dad for Christmas.
My Recollections of 19 Waverley Road
We moved from Middletons Lane to Waverley Road on 8 December 1970. I was ten. I have some recollections of this house. One of them is that I think it had an old bell system for summoning servants although I don’t think this worked and I think mum and dad probably took it out.
The house was big but I do not recall the inside clearly. There was a big back garden and this had a gravel drive round the perimeter. It was possible to ride (and race!) bikes round this. The garage(s) was/were set at the back of the garden with a drive leading to it/them. I recall that this building had a loft/play area which we accessed using a rope ladder.
Grandma and Grandad Helped Us Settle In
After we moved to Waverley Road, grandma and grandad both came to help with settling in etc. As usual, grandad contributed in practical ways. For example, in May 1971, grandad put new cords in the windows in Alan’s bedroom and in mine. He also did one window in the attic. In November that year, he repaired the garage door for mum. In January 1971, mum took a fridge from grandma and grandad’s to Waverley Road. The next day, grandma and grandad came to ours to see a new piano and carpets. From memory, I recalled that the piano was made by Yamaha and this seems to be confirmed by the photos particularly the lower one.
In December 1971, grandad noted that they had let mum have their kitchen table and he and Robin Harrison had cut logs for use at Waverley Road.
Sale of House in Middletons Lane
It appears that the sale of the house in Middletons Lane did not go through at exactly the same time mum and dad bought the house in Waverley Road but over a month later. Grandad noted that the house was “turned” over on 14 January 1971.
In the interim period, grandad helped with some jobs at the old house. The day after we moved to Waverley Road, on 9 December 1970, grandad went with dad to the house in Middletons Lane to “see to the electric light”. It appears that none of the lights were working. Grandad noted that he got the lights working downstairs but not upstairs. The next day, he went back with dad. This time, he managed to get the upstairs lights working. A week later, he noted going to the old house again to do some jobs for mum. On the day the house was “turned” over, grandad went there with mum to pull the climbing frame to pieces.
Grandad noted that dad had sold the house for £5,500. I am not sure if there is any significance in this wording. I would have thought the house was in joint names but maybe this was not the case. Also, I wonder if there is any implication that mum did not want to sell the house or had not agreed to the price. It is also possible that dad was more active than mum in terms of the sale and this is what grandad was referring to. According to Zoopla, the current value of this house is between £298,000 and £364,000.
Moving from Waverley Road
We lived at Waverley Road for less than three years. Mum and dad split up in June 1973 and, within a month, mum was looking to move.
Why Did We Move?
I don’t know why we moved so quickly after mum and dad split up. It may have been that mum associated the Waverley Road house with dad and she wanted a clean break from that. There could have been financial reasons. I also recall that she wanted to live closer to the church in Park Lane in the area known as the “golden triangle” although I don’t recall it ever being called that when I lived there. Apparently, this recollection is correct as the term was only coined by estate agents in the 1980s.
My Thoughts on the Move
I don’t think I was keen on the move although I don’t think I had any say in the matter. It seemed further to school although in reality the greater distance is pretty marginal. I liked the Waverley Road house and the association with dad was for me a positive. I no longer attended church at this point so proximity to the church was for me, at best, neutral.
My Siblings Views
I don’t know what my siblings thought. Both houses were close to Tricia’s school. Alan and Liz both went to Earlham Road School which was close to the College Road house although both started there after we had moved, Alan in 1973 and Liz in 1976 I think. It is possible that mum wanted to move quickly so that we were in the new house for when Alan started at his new school or soon after. I have never known why Alan and Liz went to a different school to me. For example, I don’t know if mum or dad were unhappy with anything about Hewett. I have always assumed it was something to do with Earlham’s proximity to College Road but I don’t know.
192 College Road
In July 1973, grandma met mum in Norwich and went with her to see a house she was interested in. The next month, mum took Auntie Dolly to see the house mum was interested in and grandad noted that it was in College Road. Later that month, grandma, grandad, Tom and Amy went to see the house.
It seems that, by September 1973, mum had decided to buy the house as, that month, grandad noted that grandma had got a cheque for £187.80 from TSB to lend to mum to buy the house in College Road. Again, grandad helped in practical ways. He went to the College Road house to paint a cupboard for mum on 17 September 1973. Grandma and grandad also gave mum further financial help. Between September and October 1973, they lent mum a total of £917.80 to pay for the installation of central heating. Mum paid them back in February 1974.
My Recollections of 192 College Road
We moved to 192 College Road on 18 October 1973 when I was 13. I have strong recollections of this house as I lived there for five years until I went to University in 1978.
The House was Bigger Than it Seemed
While the house is semi-detached and does not look that big from College Road, it is actually a very big house with six bedrooms over a first and second/attic floor. Zoopla estimates its current value to be between £558,000 and £682,000. The size of the house is perhaps clearer from the alleyway that runs alongside it.
The House’s Location
The house is quite close to the Earlham Road end of College Road and is separated from what is now The Parkside School by an alleyway which joins College Road and Recreation Road.
I recall there being a garage that was accessed from the alleyway but, from memory, this was attached to the house and not the separate building as it is currently. Where the garage is now was, I think, one or more sheds where, from 1977, I kept a motorbike. The house was slightly odd in that both “front” and “back” door were on the side. I recall initially having a bedroom on the first floor that I believe was originally a bigger room that mum sub-divided to give me and Alan separate rooms. Later, I moved to an attic room.
Grandma and Grandad Again Helped Us Settle In
Once we had moved to College Road, grandma and grandad, as they had done before, helped mum and us settle in. On 19 October 1973, grandad noted that mum picked him and grandma up and took them to ours to do “odd jobs”. They were there from 9am to 6pm. A few days later, grandma came again. This time, she got a lift with David Johnson. Mum also took friends and family to see the new house, for example, Auntie Bertha in August 1974.
Selling the Waverley Road House
In the same way as when we moved to Waverley Road, it seems the old house, the one in Waverley Road, had not sold at the same time as we bought the new one. It appears that the intention may have been to buy and sell the two houses at the same time. But, in September 1973, grandad noted that the man who had wanted to buy the house in Waverley Road had “cried off” as he could not sell his own.
I am not sure if much work was done at the Waverley Road house between when we moved out and when it was sold. However, grandad noted going there, in December 1973, with Ron and Caroline Douglas to collect a roller and old motor mower. Grandad noted that Ron also brought an old trunk and a rope ladder. I think this was probably the rope ladder we had used to get into the loft of the garage(s) at the bottom of the garden. I assume this was a final clear out before the house was sold.
Grandma and Grandad Continued to Live in Drayton
During this entire period, grandma and grandad continued to live in their house in Drayton (see Chapters 76 and 91). In October 1972, grandad noted that it was nine years since they left Kirkby. On the same day in 1974, grandad noted that it was 11 years since they left Kirkby.
Work on Grandma and Grandad’s House
Grandad noted various pieces of work that were carried out on their house in the early seventies. In January 1970, a plumber came and fixed two gas points for them for the secondhand fires they had got from mum when we had central heating installed. Grandad noted that the cost of this was £6.
Converting to Natural Gas
One of the biggest pieces of work during this period was converting grandma and grandad’s gas appliances so they could operate on North Sea or natural gas. These conversions constituted a major programme in the late 1960s/early 1970s that some consider could be a model for the kind of energy transition we need now. Others recollect their own experiences of switching to North Sea gas. Information materials about the conversion tended to refer to “high speed gas”.
Prior to this, appliances had operated using “town gas” which had been produced by burning coal. Some details of how this was done are contained in the booklet “This Made a New World”.
The Conversion is Scheduled for November 1972
In July 1972, grandad noted that a man called to see about bringing them North Sea gas. He told them the conversion would take place in November 1972.
My Recollections of Switching to Natural Gas
I recall the switch from “town” to natural gas. However, my memories relate not to home but the science labs at school where I believe all the Bunsen burners had to be changed. My recollection of the reason for this was that “town” and natural gas burned at different speeds so if the wrong burner was used the flame might be at some distance from the burner. This could be well-demonstrated by setting fire to the gas taps directly! If this was done, the flame would be at some distance from the tap. Of course, despite injunctions not to do this because of the dangers, we often did!! I don’t think we were alone in doing this.
The Conversion Starts
In September 1972, the gas man came to fix an addition to grandma and grandad’s meter for North Sea gas. Later that same month, a man came from Eastern Gas Board to see about their gas fittings with respect to North Sea gas. At the beginning of November 1972, as promised, the gas plumber came and fixed their fires in the hall and lounge, and the gas cooker, so they were ready for North Sea gas. But, the conversion work dragged on over the next couple of months.
First the Rings on the Cooker were Converted
In early December 1972, the Gas Board began converting them to North Sea gas. However, the conversion kit for the water heater had not come and they had to wait for it. So, the only things they could convert were the gas rings. Grandad noted that as they had not been converted to North Sea gas they were not allowed to have them full on.
I confess that I did not fully understand what this meant but I think it means that although the rings had been converted to be used with North Sea gas, the supply at this point was still “town gas”. It seems that the converted rings did work with “town gas” but they could not be used “full on”. However, a different explanation seems to be given in the “Which” article. Work on the cooker was done in two stages with the burners partially converted on day 1 and the cooker fully converted on day three.
Then They Converted the Central Heating and Fires
The next day, the gas fitter came and got the central heating going and also the convector fires. But, the latter could not be used until they had some asbestos fitted underneath. They expected the gas fitter again the next day but he did not turn up.
Then The Fitter Finished Work on the Cooker
He did come the following day and connected the cooker about 4pm. He came again the day after that and got the fire and water heater going. This meant the conversion was finished but the Gas Board still had to fit some asbestos. The next day, grandad noted that he cleared up some pipes that had been left by the fitter of the conversion firm.
Final Bits and Pieces
A week later, men from the gas board brought a sheet of asbestos that was 8 feet by 4 feet for the central heating doors and convector fires. The next day, the gas board fitter brought two pieces of asbestos for gas convector fires. The work continued into 1973. In early January, the gas man called about the fire. Two weeks later, in January 1973, men came from the Gas Board and fixed the asbestos on the central heating doors.
A New Fire
Three days after that, a Mr Robinson came from the Gas Board to see about the kitchen fire. Grandma and grandad agreed to have one subject to “the boss” in Norwich agreeing to its installation. But, at the end of January, grandma went to the Gas showrooms (see Chapter 84) in Norwich and ordered a fire for the kitchen.
Grandad noted that someone from the Gas showrooms would come to see if the fire was suitable for their kitchen. He came on the 30th but decided that the one they had ordered was not suitable. He said they had to have one with an outlet going through the wall.
I don’t know if this was genuinely the case or was more a marketing ploy. He quoted a price of £36.15 if they traded their old fire in and had the new one fitted. The full price would have been £48.25. In February 1973, the gas man called. Grandad signed to have the Gold Star Tariff which cost £5.77 (although I am not sure over what this period this was). The price per therm was 6.825p which grandad noted was approximately one shilling 4½d in old money. By way of comparison, gas prices over the last year have been between £2 and £6 per therm!
In February 1973, a man came from the Gas Board and fitted the gas fire in the kitchen. Just over a week later, grandad made the cover for the gas meter higher as the Gas Board had put a gadget on the top.
Barbara Carpenter’s House Connected to Gas
In October 1974, grandad noted that the Gas Board connected gas to Barbara Carpenter’s house, next door to them at 164 Drayton High Road.
Grandad also noted various pieces of maintenance work carried out in relation to the house. This included an annual service of the water heater and central heating which was carried out between February and April each year.
In September 1970, grandad noted that Mr Walpole quoted him a price of £30 to paint the front and both sides of the bungalow but not the back. He started doing the painting towards the end of the following month. I have found detailed of a builder called R C Walpole in the 1967 Kelly’s Directory and the 1971/2 Tradefinder. He was based at 74 St Giles’ Street which is now Hales Court House and is used as offices.
In January 1974, Mr Claxton came round to discuss decorating. I have not yet found details of him. This work, which was on grandma and grandad’s lounge, was done in February which coincided with when grandad came out of hospital (see Chapter 100). The work was completed by 11 February 1974. Mr Claxton called with his bill which grandad noted was for £38.41. He also noted that they were satisfied with the work.
Repairs Were Also Sometimes Needed
Also, sometimes things needed repairing. In December 1971, grandad contacted Brown and Payne concerning their central heating as the clock went off the previous day. Someone called and fixed the problem. A fuse had blown. Grandad noted that the man was there about 15 minutes and it cost £1.75. He does not explicitly say that he thought this was a lot but that implication is there.
Brown and Payne
According to the 1967 Kelly’s Directory, Brown and Payne were electrical engineers at 15 and 17A Bedford Street. These premises are now occupied by Premier Travel. Brown and Payne also have entries in Kelly’s Tradefinder for 1970-71 and 1971-72. They still seem to be in operation based at 142 Pedham Road Hemblington. In the late eighties/early nineties, they appear to have been based at 1 Fishmarket, Mountergate and there was a fire at their premises in April 1991.
Replacing the Fluorescent Tube in the Lounge
In May 1973, grandad noted that the fluorescent tube in the lounge went “wonky”. I assume this was the circular fluorescent tube they had in their lounge (see Chapter 93). Two days later, Mr Edwards, an electrician, came and installed a new tube. I am not entirely sure who this was. This cost £3.50 including £2.35 for the tube.
In November 1973, grandad noted that men came to make the telephone work as it had failed the previous Saturday.
Grandad also noted paying various bills for their house.
These included rates (see box). Sometimes, grandad paid the rates himself. For example, in June 1970, he went to Hellesdon to pay the rates for six months. In November 1973, grandma and grandad received a notice from St Faith’s and Aylsham RDC that they would receive a discount of £16.58 on their rates as they were on low income. This meant that instead of paying £30.12 they paid £13.54. Later that month, Miss Cooke paid their rates for them. In June 1974, grandad noted that he had the rates.
|Rates were a property tax which operated from the 17th century to 1990 when they were replaced by the community charge or “poll tax” which was itself replaced by council tax in 1993.|
Grandma and grandad also paid water rates. Sometimes grandma went into Norwich to make these payments, for example, in April 1971.
Electrictity and Gas
They also paid electricity and gas bills. In June 1972, grandma went into Norwich to pay the electricity bill. She did this again in June 1974. In April 1971, grandma went into Norwich and paid for the gas service for the heater and water. In September 1972, grandma paid their gas bill in Norwich. This cost £16.79. Grandad noted that they had their gas meter read on 24 July 1974. In July 1973, grandad phoned the Gas Board as he was concerned that they had not had a bill that year. Two months later, grandma went to the gas showrooms in Norwich as they had still not had a bill. Less than a week later, grandma paid the gas bill from December 1972 to July 1973. They paid £58.55. In November 1973, grandma paid a further gas bill of £11.92.
Neighbours Did Work on Their Houses
Some of grandma and grandad’s neighbours also did work on their houses during this period. For example, Ken Bell lived at 162 Drayton High Road, next-door-but-one to grandma and grandad. He tarmacked his drive in November 1970. I think he also built an extension as, in April 1974, grandad went to see it which he described as to the chalet kitchen etc. That same month, grandad noted that Ken was building a veranda and that David (his son) was helping him. He noted they did not work on Sunday. In May and June 1974, I think he went to see the work that had been done but, in May, he described it as seeing Irene’s new lounge etc. and, in June, as seeing the new sun lounge at 162.
In November 1971, grandma, grandad, Tom and Amy went to see the house Ken Bell was building in Bracon Ash. I am not sure if Ken Bell was involved in the building trade but I suspect he must have been as previously he had been building bungalows in Blofield (see Chapter 91).
In September 1972, grandad noted that Robin Harrison moved to a flat in Poringland (see Chapter 99).
Grandma and Grandad Still Owned Properties in Kirkby
During this period, grandma and grandad still owned one house in Victoria Road in Kirkby. This was number 158. Grandad had previously sold two others (see Chapters 70 and 76). When grandma got back from a trip to Kirkby on 8 November 1970, grandad noted that she brought money that Florrie Booth had been given by Mrs Leach for rent to the end of October.
There were also some issues concerning 164 Diamond Avenue in Kirkby. I think this was one of three houses that the Parkins owned and lived in on Diamond Avenue. Also, I think they were built from 1915 and were originally numbered 158-162 Diamond Avenue (see Chapter 3). I think grandad and other family members moved into these houses in 1925. In 1925, grandad and his parents were living in number 158, Arthur and Eva at 160 and John and Olive at 162. The original numbering reflected that there was an unnumbered house called the Gables which later was numbered meaning the Parkins’ houses became 160-164 (see Chapter 24). When grandma and grandad married in 1930, they lived at 158 Diamond Avenue. They lived there until they moved in with grandma’s parents in 1931 when grandma was unwell. From 1932, they lived behind the shop in Station Street.
In January 1973, dad called round to discuss sending another letter concerning that house. A week later, dad called round again to discuss a letter that had come from Kirkby concerning 194 Diamond Avenue. I wonder if this number was recorded correctly and if this also referred to 164. Two days after that, grandad noted that he had received a letter from Spence Son Haige lawyers concerning J W Smith asking him to return the conveyance which grandad decided he could not as he did not agree with it. I have not found any details of a firm of lawyers by this name. Also, I am not sure entirely what he disagreed with regarding the conveyance or what the implications of this were.