I must have done it countless times. The gap between what had been J.Johnny’s and the two shops led across this bit of open and neglected bit of land to the back alley of the houses where there was a choice of passages onto Crossland.
I often idly wondered if it had always been an open space but never took my curiosity any further. It was I now know the site of Joel House which stood to the rear of a long garden fronting Beech Road.
wrote about Joel House and its demolition back in 1978 and the event is now far enough away for most people to have forgotten it was ever there.*
Since the building of the gated community which occupies most of this land I had quite forgotten just how much space was here or just how many properties have gone since Lawrence took the picture.
The white building is the back of J.Johnny’s which was demolished as part of the redevelopment of the plot and facing it was one of those lovely old houses which dated back to the early 19th century and vanished almost overnight to leave an ugly open space which has only recently been built on.
Joel House may have gone in 1978 but one of the trees that stood in the garden was left, and was still there when Lawrence took his picture.
It would have certainly reduced the congestion on this stretch of Beech Road but I rather remember that the Corporation and the traders could not agree on how to fund it. So the open space remained along with the tree.
It is still possible to take that short cut but it is now less a short cut more a wander along a narrow passage way which takes you from Beech Road between the pet shop and Hurricane, round the garden of the gated community and on to the back alley and into the passage which leads on to Crossland Road.
Somehow it is not quite the same.
Pictures; from the collection of Lawrence Beedle, and N.Fife in the Lloyd collection