1958: The Move to Eastleigh
On my mother’s fortieth birthday my father presented her with a box. Inside was the key to their first house on Brookwood Avenue, not far from their new business The Sleep Shop on Leigh Road (now the Kentucky Fried Chicken). My mother said that she was excited to finally move into a house of her own, and out of the rented flat at Stag Gates.
Although I was only very small at the time I remember the Brookwood Avenue house quite well. It stood on the corner of Kipling Road and apparently it had been the show house for the original development in the 1930s. The house was purchased for just over £2,000, if I remember rightly.
All the other streets in the vicinity, Kipling Road and all the cul-de-sacs branching off of it, were named after British poets, except for our street and I have always wondered as to why that was so.
The house was south facing and light filled, and opposite was a huge expanse of allotments. At the end of the street was Eastleigh Cemetery, which attracted a lot of foot traffic in the form of grave diggers and those tending the graves of their loved ones. Sometimes a hearse would drive slowly by and and our neighbours would stand solemnly and watch, others would cross themselves. I always found this a scary scene.
My mother’s garden
As the years passed my mother’s garden flourished with the help of our next door neighbour, Mr. Goodwin, who taught horticulture at Northend Secondary School (situated in the building that now houses the Fire Brigade Headquarters on Leigh Road).
Our front fence was covered in a mass of variegated ivy and big cabbagey, orange roses, which attracted a lot of attention. There were red roses around the door and pink ones rambling beneath the bay window. Peonies with scarlet, waxy buds grew beside the front door, and I always thought that they smelled like boot polish. Forget-me-nots and love-in-the mist would self seed beside the path. My mother told me the birds planted them there.
For all the years that we lived in that house it was always painted pale blue and cream. The cemetery goers would often stop and compliment my mother on her gardening skills and talk for hours, while I transported the grass clippings in a basket on the front of my tricycle to the compost heap in the back garden.
When we first moved into that house there was a huge almond tree in the front garden, it bore many nuts each summer, but we were never able to eat them because the shells were so hard that you had to smash them several times with a really heavy hammer and the final blow would always smash the tiny meats inside into an inedible pulp mixed with sharp pieces of shell. That tree is gone now.
‘Music While You Work’ and my mother
When I was about four years old I can remember standing in my mother’s bedroom on summer’s day with the casement windows wide open. Cabbage white butterflies fluttered amongst the flowering beans across the street, and my mother vacuumed while listening to a BBC broadcast called ‘Music While You Work,’ and she told me that it was busy music to help the housewives move through their chores quickly.
My father would come home for lunch, and after that I would settle down to ‘Listen with Mother,’ on the radio. My bedroom was at the back of the house, and if I stood on the widow ledge on my tippy toes I could see the little brown specks of cows grazing in the faraway fields. Sometimes we would go for a walk in those cow fields.
Walks with my mother
My mother and I would start out along Kipling Road to Woodside Lane (now Woodside Road). The lane had a little stream alongside it and there was a field right where the Halfords store now stands, and this is where Cobweb a dappled mare lived.
The walk was filled with rituals we always took a few sugar lumps for Cobweb (because that’s what you gave horses for a treat in those days) and then we would stand under the railway bridge and shout yoo-hoo, because there was an echo. Right around where the roundabout is there was a dairy farm, and alongside it was a lane leading to the meadows, which we called the Cow Lane.
However, on these walks we always turn left at this point, into what is now Goodwood Road and followed the path up the hill. In spring we would pick celendines and primroses from the banks, and catkins from the hedgerow, in summer we would gather blackberries and in the fall hazelnuts and chestnuts to take home. To the right was a field and across that you could see the Boyatt Woods.
I often wonder what I would have thought if I had known then that as a young married woman I was to own a house on the land where those woods once stood. I think if I had an inkling of how much change was about to take place in the next fifteen years I would have been astonished and a little frightened.
Exploration with my babysitter Francis
At the top of the hill we would always stop and turn around for home. I am not sure why because at that time the lane had not yet been intersected by the M3, maybe it just ended there. One gloriously sunny day my babysitter, Francis, took me a little farther afield. We must have been in the vicinity of Oakmount Road and came upon a nursing home nestled in the countryside.
I remember it was of great curiosity to us, and we sat in the bushes and watched the patients sitting in their wheelchairs enjoying the sunshine. I thought it was so odd that they were all old and outside in their pyjamas and nighties. I think this place may have been called Oakmount Nursing Home or something like that.
After that we went and stood on the railway bridge and looked down on the tracks below and as a train passed beneath us we became engulfed in steam and we laughed excitedly, and rushed to the other side to watch the black beast disappear into the distance.
When I was a little older we would walk in the fields where the Holiday Inn is now, there was a dairy farm there too.
Opposite was the Kipling Cake factory (I am not sure if the name was linked to the street close by or not), and we would joke that the cow pats in the fields opposite were rejects from the factory that Mr. Kipling had thrown there because they were not ‘exceedingly good-enough’.
In those days it was this beautiful tract of wildlife filled countryside which divided my world little in Eastleigh from the neighbouring world of Chandler’s Ford.
To be continued…
About Peter Green
Peter Green was a well known character in Eastleigh. His furniture and carpet store on the corner of Southampton Road and Factory Road (where the Swan Centre now stands) was one of the biggest businesses in the town in the 1960s and 1970s. Peter Green was well liked and did many charitable works to help other members of the community.
This article is written by his daughter, Wendy Martin, who now runs her father’s business (relocated to Chandler’s Ford) alongside the other families who have worked at and contributed to Peter Green for several generations.
Post Series: Memory of Peter Green, by Wendy Martin: