Back to our Roots


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Travelling back to our roots, Lynne and I took a day out to visit the places we frequented as kids.
The area of Boney Hay, Chase Terrace and Chase Town, which I left back in 1971 and Lynne left in 1973,
was a real trip to the past and so we took the time to revisit our old haunts to see how they looked today.

Here is a short photo album to show you what we saw

 
Click on the thumbnails to view full sized photos

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Lets begin with the house Stephen grew up in.  Here it is in The Crescent, Boney Hay.  My family moved here from West Bromwich in 1959.  I left in 1971 to join the RAF and then my parents finally moved to Telford in 1975/6.  It was good to see our old house being so well looked after.   
Lynne was born in a house on Water Street (left) and later moved with her family to Myatt Avenue (Right).  Again it was good to see the old places being well kept but we both noticed that cars and parking seem to overpower everything else today.  In past years everyone had nice front gardens but now its all paving and parking space.

 

As a child, I spent most of my time roaming in the local countryside around Boney Hay, Gentleshaw and Rugeley.  Me and my friend Alan Birch would set off for whole days and wander around Gentleshaw Common, Castle Ring and Cannock Chase.  In fact parent and authorities today would be horrified at the freedom we were given, but we came to no harm.   On the left is a picture of the pub at the end of our street the "Ring O Bells" which used to be run by Tommy Mason.  We frequented his off-licence often for pop, crisps and to get refunds on return bottles we had scavenged around the local area. The pub looked just the same and was very clean and well kept.
A visit to Gentleshaw Common revealed our next surprise. In my younger days, the common was simply an area of fallow land covered in gorse, ferns and grasses.  At the centre was an old sand quarry called "Windy Peak" and down the right hand side was a marsh called "The Swamp".  Being friends with local farmers, we would often take a herd of cattle down to the common to allow them to graze along the local stream called "The Brook". In those days I knew every inch of the common, but today, the outer boundaries of the common have filled in with trees and - shock horror - there was even an information board showing jogging and walking routes.
Here are some photos of the Common today.  It all looked so very "domesticated"
Our next stop was at Sankey's Corner.  In fact I have no idea who Sankey was.  However, if you are interested in the history of the area, I found this well informed web page.  This was the cross-roads with our Primary/Junior School on one side (Rugeley Road) and our Senior School (BridgeCross Road) on the other.  The local library still exists at the corner, although it has been radically re-modelled.  However, the local cinema (opposite) has been replaced by high-end apartments.  We used to walk to the cinema on Saturday for the matinee showing (it cost 3 pence) then at the end of the film, cross the road to Chapman's Fish and Chip Shop for a penny worth of batter bits. The bus ride back home was 1 pence - and all this is
 pre-decimalisation (1971).  The shopping centre at Sankey's Corner, developed around 1967/8 was still there but the details have changed.  Lynne started work here at the Savemore supermarket after leaving school  in 1969. I was pleased to find a large car park and free parking - something you can't find in Lincolnshire any more. We also discovered a large Morrison's supermarket which seemed to be doing very good business.  In fact, the whole are seemed to reflect a good level of prosperity which was good to see.
Our Primary and Junior School (left) looked almost the same as the day we left it in 1964.  They have added a safety rail outside the school gate to stop kids from rushing straight out and into the road - like I did when I was around 7.  In fact, the Lollipop Lady was put there as a result of me being run over outside the school.  At least I achieved something !!!

The Senior School (Right) is nothing like the one we attended between 1964 and 1970 as it burned to the ground in 2002.  Honest I was no-where near to the place your honour !!

Our next call was to St Anne's Church in Chase Town where Lynne and I were married in 1973 and later our daughter Joanne was christened.  It is also where my older sister Patricia Anne was buried after she died from cancer in 1981.  The church was still very pretty with very neat surroundings.  We don't often get to visit here so we took the opportunity to lay flowers on her grave and also to visit Lynne's Grandparents who were buried close to the church itself. 
My sister Patricia Anne Hackett (nee Taylor) died aged just 30 years old as a result of cervical cancer that manifested itself after she gave birth to her son Neil.  Pat was diagnosed with cancer in 1980 and underwent chemotherapy to eradicate the disease.  It was thought at first that the treatment had worked and that she was in remission.  During the next year Pat worked tirelessly both in bringing up her new baby boy and contributing her time to raising money for cancer research.  I'm sure she knew what was ahead because in November 1981, she returned to her doctor once again suffering problems but to be told that the cancer had re-appeared and had infected her lymphatic system which had spread the disease throughout her body.  She had only 1 week to live and she spent this time saying goodbye to her friends and helping her husband Mick organise his life so that he could carry on with a 1 year old child.  Pat was brave a big hearted right to the end and she gave us all strength to face what was coming.  We will always miss and love her.
The Uxbridge Arms stands at the beginning of the Road to St Anne's Church and was where Lynne and I did some of our courting and where we also held our wedding lunch.  I recall on my 18th Birthday that Dad proudly announced to the Landlord and Landlady that I had come of age.  I was offered a drink and toasted by all my friends in the pub and no-one even mentioned that I had been drinking there for almost 2 years up to this point.   

We then took a stroll down the lane towards Chase Water, just to discover that it was all closed off.  They have currently drained the Pool so that they can repair the dam, which also serves as a roadway to the Chase Water resort where we used to go regularly for family outings. Whilst wandering around the area we were surprised to find the field in which a huge hoard of Saxon Gold was discovered.  To think that I had probably passed this field countless times in my youth and it did me no good at all.  Never mind, wealth is not what you have in the bank, its what you carry with you in your heart. 

Our return home certainly evoked many fond memories of our youth and the friends we had.  So it was good to take a walk down memory lane once more.

 

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