Dad had apparently decided (some time earlier) that the only way they were ever going to own a house of their own was if he built it!
To this day I am not too sure what his prior experience was, but I do remember that he was constantly bringing home books from the Peterborough Library. He also had no hesitation in asking builders all sorts of questions and wandering around other housing projects to see how certain things were done. His Dad, who died in 1947, had apparently worked in the building trade for some time but to what extent is not known. Presumably Dad would have helped out occasionally when younger so no doubt picked up a few “tips and tricks”.
The end result was that during our time living in Stanground, he was looking for a piece of land on which to build, and Plot 23 (later to become 54 Warwick Road) provided the opportunity he wanted. Given that he had a full time job at the Empire Theater, and too much time would be wasted cycling over to the other side of Peterborough to Plot 23, he decided that the caravan should be moved there and then he could work on the building during any free time that he had. Of course any site rent being paid in Stanground would be saved as soon as the caravan was moved.
With the caravan on site at Plot 23, he then proceeded to build a large shed which would initially serve as a place to store his tools and materials, and later become a garage.
This must have been a very stressful time for Dad (and by association for Mum) because he had a series of very heated discussions with banks which we all heard about over the course of time. The problem was that Dad needed to borrow money in order to buy the materials to start building, but the banks would only lend him money after he had started building. There was much anger displayed around the caravan during these times as Dad did not understand why the banks were not sympathetic to his circumstances.
I have no idea how he eventually financed the initial stages of building but I suspect it may have been a private loan from the owner of The Court Players*. Dad was certainly highly respected by many people in the “theater business” because he always completed what he had to do and on time, even if it meant additional hours had to be worked. He would volunteer to go in to work if they needed his expertise regarding an issue, and his artistic and creative skills were well known. He even helped out at the Embassy Theater on a number of occasions!
My Dad’s tenacity to take on such a project as building a house has always impressed me and established a pattern for me to take on pretty much any project (although admittedly none as complex as building a house!). This scenario created Colin’s Law No. 4 – The Law of Diminishing Limitations which states:
“The reason you can do something, and I cannot, is because you have the knowledge to do it and I do not. If I knew what you knew, then I could do everything that you can do. Expand your knowledge and diminish your limitations.”
*See “Dear Diary – Page 2” – May 14, 2015