In the Summer of 1956, we duly moved from our caravan and into our new home. It was, as Dad described it at the time “A very simple design. It is alright as a first attempt but the next one will have a more artistic appeal.” How true that statement was!
Our new home was a basic square, brick semi-bungalow. A semi-bungalow being a design whereby all the main rooms are on the ground level, but the roof space is used for bedrooms. It therefore looks like a bungalow ……… but has made use of the roof space.
We had a quite large Kitchen / Living area with a partial separation being a walk-in pantry. The Living area had a coke burning fireplace which had a water boiler behind it. This provided heating for the water but, of course, only when the fire was on. Bath times, and any other need for hot water, had to be planned around the lighting of the fire! The Kitchen also had a sliding glass “window” through a wall into our Lounge. This was a serving hatch for food to be served for formal meals.
The Lounge was “the best room” and as such saw very little activity unless musically inclined. This was because Dad’s classical record collection and a “wind up” record player resided there. It is interesting that I have no recollection of there ever being a formal meal in the Lounge!
Downstairs were also Mum and Dad’s bedroom and a spare room which was used by Mum as a sewing room. Upstairs were two big bedrooms (around 14′ x 14′) of which Frances and Valerie shared one, and I had the other one. Mine of course overlooked the fields where I could clearly see the trains going on their way.
It was not long before Dad started building model railway shelving to go around the perimeter of my room. I can remember Mum asking him what he was planning on doing when he gets to the doorway, and Dad nonchalantly commenting that the trains have to go across the doorway. Her response was “Well if you think I am going to duck under a railway line to get into his room to make his bed and vacuum……… then you had better think again!” Dad’s response was “Don’t worry. I am going to make a bridge so you just have to lift it up and go through. Of course you had better make sure there are no trains coming.” If I remember correctly, Mum left the room in total exasperation.
The railway ultimately consisted of three tracks going around the room however, on one side of the room there was a ‘table’ around 10′ x 4′ which allowed for a pretty big railway station, goods yards and a dock. The dockside cranes, the “Sea Salvor” (a ship that Dad had built years earlier) and much of the rolling stock is still with me. In fact the “Sea Salvor” and a couple of the cranes saw service on a model railway here in Oakville (see photo below).
My very first electric locomotive (No. 46201 Princess Elizabeth) ran many miles between 1956 and 1964 and, accidentally or otherwise, suffered a number of mishaps over that time period. She is still with me, but has lost her motor and has clearly suffered some bad falls or collisions.