Wedderburn Road Life since the 1960s

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The Green Spaces Disappear

Most of the remaining empty land in Wedderburn Road was sold for development between the 1960s and 80s.

Detached houses infilling the gaps on the south side of Wedderburn Road

Detached houses infilling the gaps on the south side of Wedderburn Road

Detached houses appeared on what was left of the orchard land half way down on the south side. In 1964, when the large Hall Green estate was being built, Una and her husband moved to the road. They bought one of the two new houses built on the field where the slaughter house had been. Further down, on the unadopted road, mainly bungalows were constructed.

Other major changes to the area also took place. Council houses were built on and around Pound Bank and Skyrrold Road. This removed forever the childhood haunts and opportunities for apple scrumping that previous generations of children had enjoyed. Bellars Lane was built on too in this period and Wedderburn Road was no longer an isolated community.

The furthest end of Wedderburn Road also saw changes. On the 1905 OS map a sewage works is marked on this spot although it does not appear on later OS maps. Roy and Margaret both remember this site in the mid 20th century which gave access to fields and Guarlford beyond. Roy says it was called the Ash Pit although he cannot remember much ash, just a large amount of dumped council waste. This was probably from the construction of the new estates being built in Malvern after the war. It was an adventurous place to play and offered scope for a child’s imagination before the days of stricter health and safety regulations. Rosa describes the little lane alongside the furthest house on the south side giving access on to Bellars Lane. She particulalry remembers the cowslips, and later on in the year, the haymaking in the fields nearby.

Home Ownership becomes the Norm

The trend towards owning a house in this period also features in the changes experienced by Wedderburn Road residents. The original properties were quite substantial when built. Many were detached and most of the semi detached houses had three bedrooms and two living rooms. Once modernised, these houses became very desirable and landlords saw the potential of putting their properties on the market. Families who had been here for decades either bought their homes or moved on and the population once again saw change. This is also reflected in the changing occupations of residents – skilled professions such as computer experts, nurses, teachers, accountants, RSRE personnel, pharmacists and others have become more commonplace.

Work and Education

Until recently, most of the children attended Great Malvern Primary School. These days Malvern Parish School probably caters for the majority of Wedderburn Road children. The Chase is the normal route for pupils after the age of 11, though Hanley Castle is quite popular too.

Travel has changed markedly over the last 40 years or so. Owning a car became more of a necessity as pressure increased for both husband and wife to work, often at a considerable distance from Malvern. Today many households own at least one car, reflecting the trend for offspring who continue to live at home after the age of 18. The original houses at the top of the road were clearly designed at a time when car ownership within the working classes was not seen as being remotely likely. Off-road parking today, especially on the south side, is usually only possible by surrendering the front wall and garden. Ironically, the most recent concerns expressed about excessive parking relate to the plans to develop four new houses on property that belonged to Reginald Malsom – the same man who had used his land to provide garaging for neighbours in the past.

The road now takes for granted the weekly waste disposal, as well as the cleaning and resurfacing of the road and upgrading of drains and gas pipes. The more recent technological developments include broadband, satellite dishes and solar panels. The latest property to be built on land formerly belonging to Burnlea is also Wedderburn Road’s first eco house.

The Wedderburn Road Community

It could be argued that the more fluid movement of families in the road over recent years has led to a loss of a sense of community that had been enjoyed by neighbours. Discussing what life had been like in Wedderburn Road with Rosa, Roy and Margaret, Una, Jill and others, it is clear that neighbours really did know each other quite well. Often it was by surname only because that was the more formal convention of the day, but nevertheless people were familiar with personal needs of others and were willing to support and befriend. For example Margaret remembers the regular help she gave to an elderly neighbour, Mrs Porteous. She was the widow of the clockmaker, and needed her deep feather mattress turned and plumped up before she went to bed.

Today there has been a revival in community relations. Annual carol singing each December under the lamp post outside number 24 regularly attracts 50 neighbours and more, and is now in its 12th year. A small group of neighbours set about organising the celebrations for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, attracting other families and individuals to share the responsibilities. It was a wonderful success and fostered new friendships up and down the road. A couple of barn dances followed which were most enjoyable, and this year we have the support of over 25 households to organise a host of activities to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Rosemary, who has been referred to several times, now lives in Guarlford. She lived at Kirkwood from 1933 to 1951 and has this to say: “In our days there was always a very good community spirit and friendliness in the road, with many long-lived families like the Drews and Harris’, and Tandys on Pound Bank corner. We all used to chat over the fences and would share in social events and give support in emergencies.”

How heartening it is then, to be able to quote a remark made at the beginning of 2012, after the Diamond Jubilee team first met:

‘Wedderburn Road has a really good community spirit!’