Saturday, 30 June 2007
After his comment on Back Where I Belong , Bill Blunt got me thinking about estates: the sprawling housing developments that in the sixties and seventies replaced streets of terrace housing flattened in the name of progress, communities fragmented and people stacked in towers where they were highly unlikely to be able to talk over the back yard wall with their neighbours.
I have a jaundiced view, as Bill noticed, of these places after both sets of grandparents lost their homes in this manner. My paternal grandma lost her home to the Asda store in Longsight, Manchester; in fact if you stand in the frozen food section you are probably not far from her kitchen. She was moved to Armitage Court in West Gorton, which is at the centre of the inner city suburb used to film Channel 4's Shameless. The community spirit described in Shameless is not that of my grandma's back to back terraced housing.
My maternal grandparents lost out when Bertha Street and - the hub of the community - Edge Lane Methodist Church in Oldham were crushed to make way for St Mary's Estate and Shaw Rd Estate in Oldham. They were moved onto Radcliffe St, St Mary's were I spent most of my summer holidays whilst mum and dad worked.
If communities survived after their enforced exodus they did so in spite of the new estates, not because of them; the social engineers hoped it would be otherwise. And I do feel that the architects of the time had much to answer for; I am a believer in the theory that building designs affect how we feel about a place. If you don't believe me, have a look how successful some of the more recent enlightened designs in social housing are.
And before I forget, Bill Blunt and I are not the only people talking about the estates where they live. Tracey over at Gwelva Kernewek has been busy writing about the estate where she lives. If you need something else to convince you that where you live affects how you feel about life take a look at Tracey's post.