1955 and afterwards
1. When we first moved to Thornton, there were two ways we could take from our house to Nanny and Grandad Cooper’s house in Neville Drive: we could go directly down Neville Drive itself, or we could go “over the fields”. We would cross the road outside our front gate, Fleetwood Road (remembering our “Kerb Drill”, of course); then to go the first way we would turn left for about 100 yards, then right into Neville Drive and walk nearly its whole length.
 Kerb Drill—taught in schools and in TV ads: “At the kerb, HALT! Look right, look left, look right again; then if all’s clear, walk quickly across.”2. The first 150 yards and last 200 yards or so of Neville Drive were straight, with, on the left of the first bit, semidetached bungalows, on the right of the first bit, the fence and trees of the Beechwood estate, and on both sides of the last bit, houses like Nanny and Grandad’s: semidetached, two-storied, hip-roofed, with brick visible at the front downstairs and pebble-dash upstairs, and front doors at either end topped by small canopies and little, round, brick-bordered windows upstairs, next to bay windows both downstairs and upstairs. (Some of the houses, though, had square upstairs windows, not round ones.)
In between the first and last bits of Neville Drive—where actually the houses like Nanny and Grandad’s started—there was a left turn, then very shortly afterwards a sharp right turn. The far end of Neville Drive joined Hawthorne Road, at this time just a country lane, and there were a few similar houses in Hawthorne Road. In fact if one turned right, the houses ended abruptly on both sides of the road with what were incomplete semidetached houses: half-houses in appearance with the chimney brickwork visible from bottom to top on the “chopped off”-looking end wall. Beyond these houses were fields.
3. Nanny and Grandad lived at the far end of Neville Drive, Thornton, at No.4, the last-but-one house on the left; or, I could say, the nearer one of the last semidetached pair. Inside the front gate, they had a rose arch: an arch of steel mesh around which rambling roses grew. Beyond that was the front door, on which unknown callers or tradespeople knocked; and, just to the left, a green-painted, tall trellised fence with a gate that led to the similarly green-painted side door, through which known people gained access to the house. Steven and I went there at least twice a week, for on Thursdays we had our tea there, and on Saturdays both dinner and tea.
 Dinner was the main midday meal; tea was the lighter evening meal.4. To go the other way, “over the fields”, as we termed it, we would turn right after crossing Fleetwood Road, then, after a slightly lesser-seeming distance than the first way, left into Beechwood Drive, which had bungalows on both sides: but these continued further on the right, for on the left was a kind of bank with trees and undergrowth and a fence; and beyond the fence, hidden from view, lay the rather mysterious Beechwood estate. If one wanted a more interesting route, one could find a path up on the bank between the undergrowth and shrubs and the fence. After almost 200 yards Beechwood Drive ended at the other side of the same fields as Hawthorne Road did. There was a quite well trodden path through the grass, and here and there were shrubs and tangles of brambles, and in summer we would pick blackberries.
Places mentioned in the text below:5. Later, building started on Beechwood Drive. First of all, the road was extended to connect it to Hawthorne Road, and on the right shops appeared: a terrace of three, then the entrance to a new road, Pinewood Avenue, then a semidetached pair, and then another group of three, I think. Thorpe’s the grocer’s shop was the middle one of the first set, providing the traditional, personal, over-the-counter service we knew and expected; we used to shop there, and weren’t impressed when Hooper’s opened in competition next door (this side), providing an element of self-service. On the corner of Pinewood Avenue, far side, was a newsagent’s; I’m not sure when we started to patronise them, for we used to have our newspapers (the Daily Mail—and The Dandy comic on Tuesdays and The Beano on Thursdays) delivered from Richards’ which was nearly three quarters of a mile away. Next door was a shop selling crisps and pop (and beer, wines and spirits too, I’m sure). The last set included an ironmonger’s—and a greengrocer’s, Haig’s, that we used to shop at regularly.
6. And Laurel Drive was built on the other side, linking Neville Drive to Beechwood Drive, and bungalows were constructed there by a builder called Gartside. And between Laurel Drive and the “chopped off” house on that side of Hawthorne Road appeared other shops: flat-roofed, with apartments above the shop units. There was a fish-and-chip shop, Wringe’s (that was exciting—our own chip shop!—till we went there, and found that the chips were horrible, and we didn’t go again), and still another grocer’s (making three), and other shops.
7. Pinewood Avenue extended back from Beechwood Drive, 100 yards perhaps, then it turned left and continued for about another 400 yards, curving somewhat to the left. A second road, Fernwood Avenue, starting on the left of the first bit of Pinewood Avenue, ran parallel to its continuation; but because they were curved, Fernwood Avenue was somewhat shorter than the continuation of Pinewood—say, 300 yards. Both ran parallel to Beechwood Drive-cum-Hawthorne Road. Belvedere Road linked the ends of Pinewood and Fernwood Avenues and joined Hawthorne Road in a T-junction.
8. Many of the bungalows that were built on Pinewood and Fernwood Avenues, and the ones on Belvedere Road, were of a different style from the ones in, say, Laurel Drive; they were semidetached and in plan were “L”-shaped (or “backwards L”-shaped, depending on which one of the pair you were looking at; or “a square U”-shaped, if you looked at both members of the pair). In each crotch of the “L” was the front door; and the design varied: in some the “upright” of the “L” was a lounge, and in others it was a garage with double wooden doors facing the road. The builder of these was called Kelly (so we—people I knew, and I—referred to them as “Kelly houses” or “Kelly bungalows”). As I later found out, a lad called Alan Holt lived in the Kelly house on the corner of Pinewood Avenue and Belvedere Road—14 Belvedere Road—and next door at No.12 another lad lived whose name was Anthony Wass, but whom we called “Mush” or “Mushy”.
Taylor Woodrow houses
9. And building of new semidetached two-storey houses by Taylor Woodrow had commenced in Hawthorne Road from where the Nanny-and-Grandad-style houses ended. (John Norton in my class at school lived in one of the Taylor Woodrow houses. He broke his leg and was off school for a long time; and when he came back he walked with a bit of a limp for a while, and at first the leg that had been broken was thinner than the other one.) The unmade country lane that Hawthorne Road had been was metalled; and a new street with Taylor Woodrow houses was constructed off Hawthorne Road—Cheryl Drive—and from that Beverly Close. That was the end of the orchard at the back of Nanny and Grandad’s; all the trees were uprooted and houses built on the site.
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