A Compendium of "Memories" provided by members of the

Compiled and edited by Jeanagh Punter and Dave Dudley.

Billesley before the War

I was born in Billesley(1937) and lived there till I was 23. My parents house was on Hullbrook Road less than half a mile from where the Spencers lived.

Billesley was farm land until just after the First world war when the city, whose population was growing rapidly embarked on a building "Council House Estates" arround the outlying areas arround the city.

Billesley was one of these estates. The houses and land which were owned by the city were rented at subsidised prices, to provide homes for working class families. There was always a waiting list and once the estates were built few vacancies occured.

I wonder, if as you say the Spencers lived there from the time they were married were actually living with his or her parents to start with. It was quite normal for newly weds to do that in that era. Quite often the lease would get handed down to a resident son or daughter if the parents died. In the Mid 1960s the Council finally decided to get out of the council house business and offered tenents the chance to "buy out" the house (they still paid rates (Taxes) for the land). Prices were only about 1500 pounds and most people bought them as the market value of the house was more than double the price they payed.

Houses were attached in rows (what we would call Town houses today) the houses virtually identical comprised of a livingroom, kitchen and pantry, bathroom (bathtub and hotwater boiler) and a Toilet that was accessed from the outside.There was also a "coal Hole" accessed directly from the outside where coal was stored.

Upstairs had three bedrooms. there was also both a front and Back garden, all neetly fenced in.Innercity housing had no front and minimal back "Yard". There were some Council houses, built for large families, on Yardley Wood road that were much larger having extra rooms and an inside Toilet. Most of the people that moved into these homes came from what had become "Slum" housing close into the cities industrial center.

There were no Factories or businesses in the council estates. so workers travelled by Bus. In Billesley had a service which ran along Yardley wood road(#24) and another down Trittiford road (13A).that got you into the city in 20 minutes. the council estate was a complete residencial area that also had Council built Schools (Billesley junior and senior) and rows of shops in each sub area (Butcher, grocer,greengrocer, hardware, Newsagent and Fish and chips were standard with the district having a Municiple Bank and a Chemist. I'm not sure if the council built the churches but there were C of E, Methodist and Catholic all within walking distance.

The area was also surrounded by public parks such as Swans Hurst and Billesley common (just by your relatives house) Trittifiord Park and the Dingles(river Cole valley). At the south end of Yardley wood road was a golf links and the boating on the canal at a place called "Happy valley". The area also had a Library, childrens clinic and two Community centers where social functions were held.

Interestingly the local Pubs, the Billesley, the Valley, and the Sherwood were all outside of the Council estate. no doubt to give patrons time to soberup while walking home.

The Billesley estate is still today much the same as when it was built. the Housing although Council built( cheapest materials) has withstood the test of time. Most folks have renovated over the years, moving the toilet inside, and replacing the old Coal fired boiler and fireplaces with Gas (central) heating. Front gardens which used to have lawns and rosebeds, are now paved over to park the family car(s) and many of the trees that lined the pavement (sidewalks) have also disapeared to make more parking spots. The parks still have a few swans and ducks on there ponds and you will still see the odd person with a fishing rod patiently waiting for a "Bite". but the row boats have disapeared.

....................................Dave D.

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