During my lunch today, I was discussing last night’s Community Land Trust event with Britt. I’m sure a lot of you know Britt (Jurgensen), as she’s very involved with the CLT and the Open Design Meetings events.
(There was one of these events last night, and I’ll be writing up a thorough report about it. If you’re curious about them, there are more coming up in May. The details are on [https://www.facebook.com/HomebakedA/photos/a.505771552851289.1073741836.199143160180798/794779393950502/?type=1′ target=’_blank’>link] Facebook.)
Having been brought up and still firmly rooted in Anfield myself, I had a lot to bring to the table about what I’d like to see from the new development. However, rather than just share those views with you, Britt suggested that it might be nice for me to tell you a bit about my own background first.
I was born in 1985, and I’ve lived in Anfield ever since. I lived in Lothair Road for 28 years.
It’s very strange to think that it just doesn’t exist any more. Where once stood a proud, lovely home I grew up in is…well, I’d say rubble, but I suppose it’s been cleared up a bit since then.
When it comes down to it, that’s all a house is: bricks and mortar, as they say.
But, during the event last night, it was very clear that there is a difference between simply a house, and a home.
What makes a place ‘home’ is the people in it, and the sense of community.
As a kid, Anfield was a great place for me to play out with my friends – tearing down the streets on a (very cool) pink bike, attempting tennis without a net on either side of the road, or playing with Care Bears with the girls down the street.
I knew plenty of our neighbours, and it felt a safe place to grow up in. I even remember what Homebaked used to be – Mitchell’s bakery.
After school, my grandad would take me there and he’d get a chocolate eclair, and I’d get a cat-shaped meringue.
It was great. A great time, and a great place to be. I never dreamt that, around the age of 12 or 13, things would start to change. The friends I knew started to move away, the general vibe of our street changed, as, one by one, houses started being boarded up. A few houses would still have people in, but they weren’t there for long – not enough time to get to know neighbours or new families, no longer a sense of community spirit.
I didn’t realise it then, but it was the beginning of a very long journey which ultimately resulted in our street, and several neighbouring ones, being knocked down.
Is it a good thing? Time will tell.
I know many weren’t happy about it. We weren’t happy.
The house we’re in now is fine. It’s warmer than the old ones, everything works as it should, it’s new. But some could argue that the new houses lack the character and charm that the older, more traditional ones, had.
Unfortunately, I don’t have many photos from back then left. The ones I do have give an idea of what it was like, in a way, I suppose.
At the event last night, there was a lot of talk about how older houses had big “sticky-out windows” (put eloquently by CLT member Cal!). I think that’s somewhat clear in that picture of me and my brother on my Christening day.
When I found the next photo, it brought back memories of how houses had a lot of quite old-fashioned features such as the marble mantelpieces and fireplaces. Again, sadly, there’s no photo of it, but in our back room, we had a working coal fire. My grandad was very proud of it, and I was proud of it too as (I think) we were the only people in the street to still have one. We had a coal cellar, too. Small things like that are what I miss. Little features that just made our place feel like ‘home’.
Take this for example. This is a photo from last night’s event.
We all discussed how Homebaked is very much still a new venture, yet it retains some of the old history from when it was Mitchell’s (and Kelly’s before that). The tiles are original, as are some other features.
I didn’t notice this when I first started working here, but, as I’ve told many people, when I came for my interview – straight away, I felt at home. Maybe, subconsciously, the old features were what did it. Or it could have been me recalling coming in to get cakes with my grandad after school.
Truthfully, those happy memories were what drew me to Homebaked in the first place. A sense of familiarity, yet the idea of a new, fresh start and the opportunity to get back the sense of community which has been lacking for so long in Anfield.
Last night, that was so apparent – everybody wants to be involved, and everybody loves this area. It’s just a shame that there has been a decline, but, there are two ways of looking at it.
Either write it off and move on, which is quite a negative outlook, or, take what’s left and rebuild.
That’s what we’re aiming for with the CLT, and with all of you, too. You’re all welcome to come and have your say and be involved; this is your community.
I’ll write more about my own journey and my own memories of Anfield as this blog progresses, and thank you for keeping up with it thus far.
Keep posted for the update about the first event, and have a great weekend!
(Photo credits: Ronnie Hughes, thisisanfield.co.uk and myself)