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February 2022

The House That Dad Built

Bell Walk  and The Walk  Winslow

The Monday Photo

Until about 1965, two old timber framed houses sat on this corner plot in Winslow. Over many years quite a few of the internal walls had been removed, to create bigger rooms. The two might have been knocked into one; I don't remember.

With the previous alterations in mind, the owner inspected a short piece of brick wall that was in the way, decided it couldn’t possibly be structural and took it down.

He went away for the weekend, and while he was away the house began to collapse. So many other walls had been taken out that the little bit of wall had been holding the middle of the house up.

The house had to be demolished, and this building erected on the site. My late father Victor Bradbury told me this story, which he knew about because he was the builder.

Cracked and Bulging

The previous house was of the same general shape as this one, though the nearest part had been several feet taller. It had a chimney against the end of the cottage on the left.

Photos from about 1965 show what would have been the wall facing us cracked and bulging, the chimney gone and piles of rubble on the ground. The road by the house had to be coned off in case more masonry fell.

I discussed the building of the new houses with my brother, Alan. Dad did most of it on his own and it took a while; we think in 1966 and 1967. I was seven or eight, Alan a year younger.

It didn’t all go smoothly. Alan remembers a hollow space being found, which meant Dad having to go deep for the foundations; more than six feet.

This might have been because there had been a cellar there, either for the previous house or an even earlier one. Dad swore when he realised he had to go so deep.

Blocked In

Further on in the build Dad ordered two lorry loads of blocks, one to be delivered right away, the second a month later.

But they both turned up on the same day and he had to take them. There’s no garden so all the blocks had to be stacked up on the floor slab, and they had to be piled very high to get them all in and still leave room to work. This made Dad swear too.

I don’t remember going to the house very much, but Alan did and once there he got little jobs to do. He painted a fence, pink being chosen, Dad told him, by the lady whose house it would be.

When Alan came back a few days later he was surprised to see the fence now in gloss white. Dad told him the lady had changed her mind. But really Alan had only been painting on the undercoat, and Dad had been telling him a tall tale.

Alan “helped” with one of the deliveries, and the driver gave him sixpence; the same as a week’s pocket money. At least once he was sent up to the site to light the red lanterns for the night. We believe this was while the footings were being dug.

I think of this as a new pair of houses because I remember them being built, but they are about 54 years old now. 1960s history!

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens just like this one for the photo in this post.

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Half a House is Better Than None

2 Horn St  Winslow2 Horn Street is in the centre of the picture. The path is very narrow on the corner, to gain as much road width as possible. On the right is the short and narrow alley that takes you up into the square.

In 1902 Winslow Rural District Council bought 2 Horn Street in Winslow, just so they could knock half of it down.

It was a road widening scheme. Although the first part of Horn Street was very wide and still is, the entrance to the street was no more than nine feet wide between the pavements. That’s about as wide as the little lane, almost an alley, that takes you in to the modern Market Square.

But this corner, right on a junction, had been two way. It had been “a very sharp and dangerous corner.” said the Buckingham Advertiser and North Bucks Free Press, after the work had been completed in March 1903.

Market Square and Horn St. wideningMap of the junction. The fire station doesn’t seem to have a number, so I’ve marked it as being in Bell Walk. The Bell Hotel doesn’t seem to have a number either, but its address is Market Square, Winslow, so it might once have been 1 Market Square.

Continue reading "Half a House is Better Than None" »

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