There's no place like home
Go down any street in Rotherham and you'll find families who have lived there all of their lives, the roots of their family trees buried deeper than the foundations of their Council homes. Here we talk to some of the women who are proud to live in Rotherham's council housing.
Living at number 1 First Avenue, East Dene is one very proud mum, 44-year-old Theresa Glenn. She's proud to be living in the very first Council house to be built in Rotherham, but not as proud as she is of her three amazing children.
Theresa, who works as a home carer was born and raised in East Dene. Her mum and two sisters still live in the area, but have all bought their own homes.
“I moved in here on my own with my kids. As soon as I had this house I knew I would have the security and stability I needed to be able to bring them up on my own,” explains Theresa.
“I've always worked but I didn't want to get a mortgage, it felt like too much of a risk on my own.” When they first moved in the children were aged just six, three and two.
Today youngest daughter Jessica, 17, is about to start university to study nursing, Callum, 18, works at the steel works and Bethany, 24 has graduated from university and now works as a web designer.
“I am really proud of all three of them. It hasn't always been easy; I've had the same challenges as any other parent. Living in this house has given me the foundation to concentrate on my kids and to help them to follow what they're wanted to do.”
When the foundations of Rotherham's first Council homes were being dug, Una Hancox was a baby, taking her very first steps. Last year Una celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends in her own Council home at Maltby.
The sprightly great grandmother moved into the two-bedroom house with her two children Kathleen and Michael as a single parent in 1950. Her own mum, a widow, moved in with them for support.
Una remembers the strong sense of community: “It was a relatively new house with a lovely garden in a quiet street. I worked at the chemist in the High Street. I knew lots of people. It was a very nice place to bring up children.
“There were allotments at the end of the garden. We used to swap a cup of tea for a few vegetables with the gardeners and the children used to help them water their plants.”
Today Una still enjoys the company of her neighbours. She said: “I take in parcels for people and Bob next door comes in to fix things now and then. I have very much enjoyed living here and I still do.”
The roots grow deep at 17 Middle Lane South, Herringthorpe which has surprisingly been 70-year-old Hilary Cook's family home for three generations. Her grandad, James Mann, moved in with his young family of four just eighteen months after it was first built in 1928.
Years later, Hilary's parents moved in to care for her grandad and when they passed away Hilary moved in with her 75-year-old, husband Dave and their border collie, Maddy.
Hilary said: “I remember my grandad treasuring the garden which had two fruit trees planted by the council. The apple tree still provides apples every autumn. ”
“My steelworker father also had green fingers and was nominated for a prize in the Council's garden competition and now both my husband and I are keen gardeners. It is our pride and joy.”
For 73 -year-old East Dene grandmother Judith McCormick number 3 Mowbray Gardens has been home for the past 50 years – despite the original bungalow being demolished and a new version being built over the road.
“When we first got married we found it difficult to get a place of our own. My late husband, Michael, had a disability after contracting polio as a child and in those days mortgages for disabled working people were rarely given. We turned to the council for help and were very grateful to be allocated a post-war pre-fab bungalow, which was number 3 Mowbray Gardens.”
Eighteen months later, when their bungalow was demolished to make way for a new library, Judith and Michael were given the keys to the brand new number 3 Mowbray Gardens, another bungalow built just over the road from the original. And Judith even became a librarian at the new library where she worked for 30 years.
“Having a council home that met Michael's needs gave us the security to build a very happy family life. I have loved living here as it has provided a springboard for my husband, me and my children to reach their full potential.”