Half a century of British economic progress in one street

November 25, 2013

Cobholm

St Luke’s Ter­race, Cob­holm on Google Streetview

I was born in the front bed­room of the two bed­room house my grand­par­ents ren­ted from the coun­cil. It was Feb­ru­ary 1965, The Kinks at num­ber one for homes with record play­ers and without teen­age moth­ers. A year later, my broth­er was born in the same room.

The front bed­room was for being born in, the back bed­room was for dying in. At any rate, the back bed­room was the room in which, three dec­ades later, my grandfather’s can­cer killed him.

St Luke’s Ter­race in Cob­holm was a poor place all my grand­par­ents’ lives. It was a poverty that pools coupons crossed off, a poverty unanswered in the weekly knock of insur­ance col­lect­ors, clean and hard and smelling of coal tar soap.

It wintered as grey fog without and grey smoke with­in, cigar­ettes and chim­neys back to back, lines of black mould on steel win­dow frames and the syr­upy vapour of the malt­ings. It was a poverty of spir­it without com­pan­ion­ship, except the radio. Too poor for pubs or clubs, too proud for church or chapel con­greg­a­tions.

My grand­par­ents, like my fath­er, are dead now. What has half a cen­tury of pro­gress done for this place and the people that are like them — now liv­ing? No more coal fires, no more malt­ings, PVC win­dow frames. Half a cen­tury of pro­gress…

Here are the words of the ACORN sur­vey:

This cat­egory con­tains the most deprived areas of large and small towns and cit­ies across the UK. House­hold incomes are low, nearly always below the nation­al aver­age. The level of people hav­ing dif­fi­culties with debt or hav­ing been refused cred­it approaches double the nation­al aver­age. The num­bers claim­ing Jobseeker’s Allow­ance and oth­er bene­fits is well above the nation­al aver­age. Levels of qual­i­fic­a­tions are low and those in work are likely to be employed in semi-skilled or unskilled occu­pa­tions.

The hous­ing is a mix of low rise estates, with ter­raced and semi-detached houses, and pur­pose built flats, includ­ing high rise blocks. Prop­er­ties tend to be small and there may be over­crowding. Over half of the hous­ing is ren­ted from the loc­al coun­cil or a hous­ing asso­ci­ation. There is some private rent­ing. The rel­at­ively small pro­por­tion of the hous­ing is own­er occu­pied is gen­er­ally of low value. Where val­ues are influ­enced by high­er urb­an prop­erty prices these are still lower value rel­at­ive to the loc­a­tion.

There are a large num­ber of single adult house­holds, includ­ing many single pen­sion­ers, lone par­ents, sep­ar­ated and divorced people. There are high­er levels of health prob­lems in some areas.

These are the people who are find­ing life the hard­est and exper­i­en­cing the most dif­fi­cult social and fin­an­cial con­di­tions.

These are the people…

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