Last week I wrote about the Portsmouth houses that were demolished because they were deemed unfit for human habitation.
Trevor Jenkins got in touch to tell me how his parents were ‘ripped off’ when their house was taken from them under a compulsory purchase order, but was not demolished and later offered back to the family at a price many times higher than the original ‘valuation’.
Trevor’s family lived in the east end of London.
As a torpedo man in the Royal Navy, his father was drafted to HMS Vernon in the mid-1950s and bought a house, 53 Montgomerie Road, Southsea.
In the late 1960s a council official knocked at the door to tell Trevor’s parents their home was going to be compulsorily purchased as a new east-west road was to be built and land to the south of Bradford Road had to be acquired for it.
His parents were paid £3,500, not offered, paid.
The family were then allocated a flat on the eighth floor of Wilmcote House, Somers Town. No more garden, no more friendly neighbours, a lift that stank of urine, was covered in graffiti and constantly broken.
Then came even worse news.
The plan to build the road was scrapped and the houses purchased no longer had to be demolished.
So 53 Montgomerie Road was offered back to the family for… £44,000, way beyond the family’s means.
Trevor says: ‘Number 53 Montgomerie Road is still there.
‘I sometimes walk by the property today and see in my mind’s eye the coalman carrying his sack slung over his back, down the passage and mum telling him off for having dirty boots.
‘The dustmen with a lorry which had curved sliding shutters along the side.
‘No washing machines of course and all laundry was washed by hand.
‘I would turn the mangle in the back yard next to the coal shed for mum.
‘I can see my mother struggling with the pram and shopping and the very cold winters with ice on the inside of the windows,
‘A Mrs Gould, lived next door and would let us watch the The Lone Ranger on her television as we never had one.
‘I started school at Somerset Road Primary School in 1956 and was captain of the football team in 1961.
‘They were great days for us kids playing on the bomb sites. It must have been very harsh for mum with four kids and dad away and always short of money.
‘ I remember dripping sandwiches which would never be eaten by today’s well-nourished kids.’
n I wonder how many might remember an incident with the stage in the Tricorn Club?
Angel Radio DJ Pete Cross was a DJ and compere at the club for many years.
The club’s stage moved electronically in and out. It could rise and slide out on to the dance floor to take a band and all their equipment.
When the band had finished their set the manoeuvre was reversed, the stage becoming part of the dance floor once again.
One evening the three-piece band Delegation were on stage and Pete was off stage in the lighting room.
Someone came into the room and pushed Pete and he sat back on the switch that controlled the stage.
It began to reverse and could not be stopped.
The band realised what was happening, but it was too late.
As the stage disappeared so did all the band’s equipment.
As the stage got smaller and smaller so the speakers and drum kit fell off the front.
‘It was an amazing sight,’ Pete tells me. ‘Once the button was pressed and the stage started to reverse there was no way to stop it.’
Pete kept his job and became one of the most well-known DJs in the city.