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My Norwich

A century of stories: June's memories

June Gidney reflects on growing up in a Norwich council house in the 1930s and 40s, as part of our 100 years celebration.

June Gidney

My mum, dad and brother moved from a cramped house share in the west of Norwich to a three-bedroom council house in Catton Grove in the late 1930s.

They couldn’t believe the space they had – a whole living room and kitchen to themselves. I came along in 1939, and have vivid memories of life in our family home.

The spacious feeling didn’t last long, my mum went on to have more children – so my bedroom was shared with my four sisters, while my three brothers shared the room next door.

With a fire in the living room to heat the whole house, I remember always feeling cold. I would even get dressed in bed and get into the airing cupboard to warm up.

There were no plug sockets in the house and the only things powered by electricity were the lights.

Our bathroom was simply that, a room with a bath. We all used the kitchen sink for daily washes and had an outside toilet.

It was a friendly time; we knew all of our neighbours by name. We used to knock on the joining wall to invite our next door neighbour round for a cup of tea.

Our vegetables were delivered by horse and cart, and milk delivered by a lady on a bike.

We had a good sized garden and grew cabbages in it. As this was during World War II, we also had an air raid shelter which we shared with our neighbours. I remember running down to it at night, but I didn’t understand why.

With no television let alone computers, we spent all our time playing outside on the green on the Catton Grove junction. There were hardly any cars to worry about then.

Rent was collected by the rent man every week – Mum never missed a payment.

I lived in our family home until I moved away for teacher training. As my siblings and I started to move out, the family moved to a smaller property at Heathgate.

My husband and I have lived in the Catton Grove area for most of our married life, raising our family and being part of the community.