callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

This is my street, and I'm never gonna leave it,

Is anyone else watching the BBC2 series The Secret History of our Streets? I’m finding it fascinating. Yesterday’s episode was about Reverdy Road, Bermondsey, an attractive, tree-lined street of late-Victorian terraced houses. Here’s an example of the houses there. Look at the price! That’s very significant.

Reverdy Road was built by the West estate, which owned the land. When Charles Booth visited it as part of his mammoth project to map poverty in London ( Maps Descriptive of London Poverty), he coloured it pink, meaning that it was a comfortable street for people with reliable earnings, i.e. the respectable working class. It’s rare these days to find people who have spent the whole of their lives living on the same street but we met one or two yesterday. When the houses were first built, they were all rented. They were bought by Southwark council in 1960 (?) and after the Housing Act of 1980, could be bought by tenants. That’s what led to the current situation of Reverdy Road. As older people die, property developers buy up the houses and sell them at prices the children of the inhabitants can’t possibly afford. This is the way old-established communities get broken up, and isn’t it a shame?

I never cease to be amazed at the way Ray Davies, as a very young man, was writing songs which were already nostalgic for a vanishing past. These lines from Autumn Almanac seem to me to sum up the feelings of the inhabitants of Reverdy Road.

And I'm always gonna stay here
If I live to be ninety-nine,
'Cause all the people I meet
Seem to come from my street
And I can't get away,
Because it's calling me, (come on home)
Hear it calling me, (come on home)
Tags: ray davies, television

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