Yesterday, Elaine and I made the relatively short trek down to York, not only to spend some time with my parents on what was my Dad’s birthday, but also to complete one of the 40Fifty challenges— that of visiting my first home.
No.7 St Peter’s Grove, in the Clifton area of York, was built towards the end of the nineteenth century, when it was home to a well-to-do Coney Street pharmacist named William Thompson, his family and five servants. By the time I entered the world in June 1964 however, the property had been acquired by St Peter’s School as teacher accommodation, and split into two flats, with the upper storey being renumbered 7a. These two pictures show the house in 1970, and 2013 respectively.
Obviously, there have been massive changes over the past fifty years. The most obvious difference is that flats have been built on what was our garden. I had spent so much time playing in what (through a child’s eyes) was a massive garden and I actually felt quite sad that all those memories had been covered by bricks and mortar.
The building itself is no longer flats. It is now known as The Four Seasons Hotel, and has been owned and run by Steve and Bernice Roe for the past fifteen years or so. It is really nicely furnished and decorated and it’s almost impossible to picture how it looked back in the mid-60s. Just as with the garden, what was my bedroom also seemed so much smaller than I remembered, and even though the inside of the house bears very little resemblance to the place I called home all those years ago, it was still quite nice to think that I had spent some of my formative years in those very rooms.
I had wanted to faithfully recreate a photograph taken around 1967, of me sitting on the steps outside the front door, reading (well, looking at) a newspaper. Sadly, it had rained all morning . . . and we had forgotten to buy a newspaper . . . and my dungaree shorts were still in the wash. So I adopted a casual crouching position for the picture that follows and I managed a nice smile, even though my knees were about to lock! The original photo is shown as in inset and challenge no.26 can now be ticked off the list!
I want to say a huge thank you to Bernice and Steve, who really made us feel welcome and were only too happy to show us round, and to listen to me ramble on about “the olden days”. Next stop is the dartboard: I’ve got some serious practising to do!
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