Steve McElroy recalls the bonfire on his family’s last night in Edgeware Street

Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 27th July 2011 by Liam Physick

Steve McElroy recalls how Edgware Street, his childhood home, was demolished under a CPO (compulsory purchase order), but his mother determinedly stayed put for as long as possible. He also rememembers how he would take furniture from derelict houses, and the massive bonfire that he and his neighbours organised on their last day

Interviewee: David and Steve McElroy

Interviewee Gender: Male

Date of Interview: 25th March 2011

Interview Transcript

Steve: Moving out was, was, was, was quite an event . . .

David: Was quite, yeah, it was, it was.

Jenny: Out of the butcher’s shop or out . . . ?

David: No, no, when we moved from Edgeware Street.

Steve: No, no, from, from, from the house in Edgeware Street . . .

Jenny: Oh, right.

Steve: . . . because, you know, I mean, it was a very, very settled community and then when the, the, the, the CPOs came in, you know, people moved out to, like, Cantril Farm in Kirkby, but me mother would not go to Cantril Farm and to Netherley or anywhere like that . . .

David: No, she . . .

Steve: . . . she wanted a house with a garden, and so she held out., so we, we were actually one of the last families in the street . . .

Jenny: Oh, really?

David: Yeah.

Steve: . . . and, so, we, we moved out to Norris Green in April, April 68, but, it, you know, it really was, like, jamboree time, the last, the last few months there, I remember the last, the last ever bommy night . . . you were, you were gone by that stage, you would have missed all of this! (Jenny laughs)

David: Yes, I would have missed a lot of it, actually, yes.

Steve: It was tremendous, because, I mean, you know, there were, there were so many derelict houses, we used to just go in there with a, with a saw, you know, kick the doors off and cut the floorboards and all sorts of stuff . . .

David: (laughs) (indecipherable) anything that would burn!

Steve:  . . .we had the biggest bommy in the world, ever . . .

David: On . . .

Steve: . . . and people used to leave furniture behind and all that . . .

David: Oh, I, I, I can remember that.

Steve: . . . so there was all kinds of, like, sofas and bedsteads and all that kind of thing. There was a stack, honest to God, the, the, the bommy went on from about five o’clock (door slams in background) to about one o’clock in the morning, there was so, there was so much wood.

David: I, I do remember . . .

Steve: . . . all the, unusually, as well, one of the things that I remember about that one is that there was a, a real sense of, like, you know, this is the end of something here (David mutters something inaudible) and people, you know, adults in the street who wouldn’t normally participate . . .

David: Show themselves.

Steve: . . . had, on this night they’d all gone the pub and they all come back with, like, loads of beer and that, and they, you know, they . . .

David: Just stood around.

Steve: . . . they were sitting round, standing round the, the bonfire, like, drinking to old times and all that kind of thing, it really was very, very touching, but the bommy was so on, on the hollow, that both walls of our house . . .

David: That, that’s, that’s exactly what I just was gonna say . . .

Steve: . . . and, and Dean’s house on the other side, it were roasting! (Jenny laughs) Honest to God, it were . . . !

David: . . . just stacked up with, also stacked up with stuff that, you know, was yet to go on to the fire, I seem to remember that, you know, as I say, doors, furniture, all kinds of wood, just stacked up, you know, to keep the thing, to keep . . .

Steve: Yeah, bommy night was . . .

David: . . . we’re not talking about a small fire here, by the way, we’re talking about something that was probably about 12 foot high . . .

Steve: Oh, it was incredible.

David: . . . you know, sort of cone-shaped and . . . so, yeah, it was quite substantial, and in those days, the, the fire brigade generally didn’t bother if it was, you know, well attended.

Steve: Oh, it was, it was, it was well attended and it was, it was in a, like, in a piece of, like, where . . .

David: Where it couldn’t do any harm . . .

Steve: Yeah, yeah.

David: . . . so . . .

Steve: But the heat from it was just incredible, you could feel it on the walls inside our house, as well, because of the, you know (David laughs), the, the sheer size of the fire

David: External central heating!

Steve: Yeah, kept it warm! Slept that night! (laughter all round)

Tagged under: regeneration plans, demolition, pubs, bonfires, edgeware street

Categorised under: Change & Communities

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