Joseph Peterson: Starting Life As A Married Couple
Life at 7 Woodhall Court
By Joseph Peterson
Me and my wife Patricia tied the knot in April of 1955, and by chance my dad was a builder who was commissioned to rebuild new council houses on Woodhall Court and a few on Woodhall Lane. It was just pure luck I guess, and also to help my wife’s dad was a council letting agent who helped manage the council housing of Welwyn Garden City. Immediately, after we returned from our honeymoon to Great Yarmouth by Thomas Cook, we spoke to my dad about which ones would be finished soon rather than the ones already built or will be built. Dad told us that he was building houses in the midst of Woodhall Court, so the next day we both cycled over to my wife’s dad’s home (she grew up with her dad, her mum died in childbirth) and we told him we’d like to move into number 7 Woodhall Court. He said we’ll be a priority to get us in that home as soon as possible.
In early May, the house was completed and the council had the house furnished for us as a belated wedding present from her dad. My mum and dad also bought us three bedroom sets (which cost roughly £70 in total, possibly more) to furnish our three bedrooms in the home, and we bought kitchen appliances and extra items we desired to live with. My wife’s dad, as part of his job, had to make monthly checks on the home to check its’ condition but we saw my father-in-law every Saturday. Sunday we saw my parents. I guess we were so lucky that my father-in-law was a council letting agent and that my dad was rebuilding the houses, otherwise we would’ve been left living at one of our parents’ houses earning money to buy a home.
After moving into the house in May, we settled in quite quickly and we loved it. We had a front-garden of which we filled with daffodils from Peartree Stores and lilies-of-the-valley flowers from Woodhall Stores, and I personally fitted the stairs as part of my job. The house upstairs had three good-sized bedrooms, one bathroom upstairs with a toilet and bath/shower. The house downstairs had a nice kitchen with a fitted stove, oven and microwave with other kitchen appliances; we also had a living room where we both used to invite neighbours round every Tuesday evening for a cup of tea – we also had a downstairs bathroom with a toilet. Overall, it was a rather nice and modernized council house for the mid 1950s standard. Slum clearance was still being enforced.