Bryerswood, 3 Stourwood Road.
I’m going to have to rebuild this home, chronologically. My first impression was doors, lots of them. You went in through the front door, down a short corridor into the hall, and there were these doors all around you. How many, and where they led, was an exciting prospect, but it was the doors themselves that captivated me. The only doors I’d ever seen before were the usual three-up-three-down panelled sort, painted white. They were just things to be opened and closed. But the Bryerswood doors were flush flat polished dark wood. There were more doors than I’d ever seen on one floor.
Then we went up the open stairs, with their half-landing that was big enough for a substantial cupboard, and yet more gorgeous doors. That was enough for me. I fell in love with this house’s doors.
Of course, that was only the beginning. Apart from the living rooms and bedrooms, there were several toilets (though only one bathroom), an area behind the kitchen containing a walk-in larder (which had a section with a fine-gauze screen to keep flies out, so you could keep meat in there: never used for that purpose, we had a fridge by then) and a passage that led to another small room, previously the maid’s quarters, which immediately became The Den. We’d been avid followers of Life With The Lyons, but this Den immediately became a kids-only province. Grandpa’s old radiogram was installed in there, along with his huge record collection (78s of course), and we worked our way assiduously through them.
Then there was an attic floor, which had two huge rooms and two little box rooms. The two rooms were actually surplus to requirements, so the one to the right became my territory. To be exact, it was where my father lovingly installed my model railway. I could describe this in fine detail, including the sawdust I dyed green and glued on to represent grass on the hills and fields, the little trees I bought with hard-earned pocket money (polishing the silver and brass every Saturday, to be exact), but I took for granted the fact that my father had built this child-level shelf around two sides of this big room, just for me. No, I was resentful that I’d been fobbed off with the three-rail Hornby Dublo track, with its unconvincing metal mounting with painted clinker, rather than the two-rail Triang. I could go into a lot of detail about the technology involved – it’s much easier to have the live rail separate from the wheels – but I suspect cost was a factor. I did love it, though, for at least two years.
As I’ve suggested, my father loved projects, and once they’d been completed he lost interest. So the dismantling of the model railway, once I’d grown out of it, was fine by him. I don’t think there was any resentment. Though come to think of it, my brother might have inherited it for a few years – he’d have been about six when it was constructed. If that’s so, I’d have moved on far enough not to notice any emotions of any sort in my father, because I was starting to move on into adolescence, with all that carries.