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Luxury Flats

4 Sep

Buildings with enormous windows are no new fad [ 1 ] as this pair of Victorian villas on Westbourne Avenue show. When the moneyed middle classes left for the delights of Swanland, Anlaby and such places these buildings and others like them were split into unfurnished flats. The cheap regulated rents attracted a certain quality of tenant, artists, poets, layabouts and so on. Many of the Hull poets, in those days a smaller, more select band than the those who have since climbed on the Hull poets’ City of Culture bandwagon (Roger McGough, Tom Paulin, Uncle Tom Cobley and all), either lived in or visited 4 Westbourne Ave. Back in the very early 1980’s I lived with Margot Juby in the ground floor flat of number 4, second large window on the left. Some memories I recall include  a perpetual state of war with the upstairs soi-disant artist (of the often pissed variety I may add) who seemed to wear lead boots and do a lot of hammering, the bathroom ceiling falling in due to actions of said artist. Another resident, now a well known poet and winner of many prestigious awards, found, after cooking some rashers of bacon, he had also grilled a large slug. The mouse seen on the step which grew and grew until it turned into a rat. Moonshine, a grey cat with good judge of character throwing up over the rent collector’s shoes. The young amorous couple next door who did not realise the walls were not very soundproof and … well I draw a discreet veil over that.
Looking back it was basically squalor but when you’re young and daft they say it doesn’t seem too bad, let me tell you they lie.
Note there is no garret for the servants, they lived in a freezing cold outhouse at the back with two pokey rooms downstairs and two even smaller upstairs. Ah luxury! And in 1982/3  available for rent at £6 per week with no central heating, no gas fire, in fact no heating at all. The ice made pretty patterns on the windows.
I see there’s a flat available at Number 2 with a rent a mere ten times higher than back then, I wonder if that includes slugs …

The point of delivery

31 Aug

The NHS has undergone many twists and turns over the years. There are many who say it is being sold off for private profit, well that maybe, there are other better places for that argument. Here, however, a private hospital has been sold to the NHS to safeguard the care and treatment of patients. This used to be the Nuffield Hospital on Westbourne Avenue until 2008 when the NHS took it over. 
Looking into the history of the building I find a Mr E H Garbett, a manager of the Hull Dock Company lived here in the 1890’s, the house was then called Barcombe House. He was a member of the Primrose League, an organisation set up to promote Conservative Party policies and values, back in the days when Gladstone was PM. I wonder what he would make of his former home being part of a health service, free at the point of delivery, based on clinical need, not ability to pay; one whose founder, Nye Bevan, called “pure Socialism”.
I cannot post about this building and fail to mention that this was the place where Philip Larkin died. There is, inevitably, a plaque on the wall outside, a kind of memento mori to all who enter. Cheerful, innit?