Monday, 1 May 2017

The magic of Well Hall half a century on

Now I have been thinking about what made Well Hall and the Progress estate such a magical place when I was growing up in the 1960s.

It started with the roads that led off in all sorts of directions taking you along raised pavements, into a narrow alley which was almost a tunnel and then out on to an open green which could have been transported from some village deep in Kent countryside.

And along with these were the houses which were so different from those tall, narrow and forbidding terraced properties in Peckham where we had lived.

I never tired of the different designs and still today delight in coming across them.

This was matched by the interior which was in direct contrast to our old house which stretched out over three floors and stood on cellars which were dark cold and uninviting.

Never underestimate the loneliness of being seven and sleeping at the top of the house having first had to traverse endless flights of stairs in the semi darkness.

All very different from 294 Well Hall where every bedroom was close to dad and mum downstairs listening to the wireless.

But that was not the biggest attraction of the estate that came from discovering the Tudor Barn and the vast expanse of the woods.

Long before I trawled the history of the Pleasaunce, the Ropers and the fine old house inhabited by Edith Nesbitt there were the gardens, the moat with its wooden bridge and the old leaning walls leading to the gardens but which were nothing set against the woods which were places to wander, letting the imagination roam from stories of Roman legionaries to highwaymen and much more and always finished off by the castle.

Later of course came the attractions of the Odeon, the High Street and later still the challenge of Woolwich which in turn gave way to the pubs of which the Kings Head and the Rising Sun were my favourites.

That said the call of the Welcome on a Sunday night and the place above Burton’s somehow missed me by.

I have tried sharing these pleasures of the estate with my own lads on visits back to Well Hall, but they were all born in Manchester and they walk to different adventures framed by the open land to the south of us bordering the Mersey and city centre attractions.

And of course now as I reflect that I have lived here in the North longer than I ever did in London the magic of Well Hall is but a memory but none the less pretty good for all that.

It will I think call us back for the centenary celebrations.

Nostalgia  is never that good but I rather think a walk around the estate will live up to those memories.

Well we shall see.

Pictures; of Well Hall 2014, from the collection of Chrissie Rose

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