Many people like to browse internet house-purchase sites, more out of curiosity than for the purpose of finding a new home. I’m not one of those, although basically nosey I’m not really interested in looking on these sites unless for historical or research purposes.
Yesterday I was asked my thoughts on a house for sale in our area so had a look at the details available on-line and have to say was quite impressed with what I saw, the house would be eminently suitable for the young family in question who have expressed an interest. The price, although reasonable for our time for the size and location, couldn’t help set me thinking about what I could have afforded when I was their age and that then led me down another memory path to the time when I found a hovel in the countryside in which I could see myself living; it was not to be though.
I guess it was the mid 1980s, probably 1984, when I saw in the local newspaper an advert for a cottage with a bit of land that was coming up for auction, price guide £10-12,000, that was just within my reach, it wouldn’t leave anything for any work that needed doing but I figured I’d be able to do it all myself anyway and could live in a caravan on site whilst I worked on it; I arranged a viewing.
The cottage was grim, it was set in a slightly sloping small patch of land, the lower part of which was mainly waterlogged swamp. The house itself hadn’t been lived in for a couple of years and was looking rather sorry for itself. The ground floor consisted of two main rooms with a central hallway and staircase, I use the word hallway but it was about 3ft square. In one of the rooms was the remains of an original spiral staircase which could be re-instated. Upstairs there were two bedrooms and the walls up there were of wooden construction with vertical boards. I don’t recall anything about a kitchen or bathroom but guess there must have been some sort of very basic facility. It was do-able and I felt confident that any work to make it into a pleasant little home was achievable with my basic construction skills.
One of the main features in which I was interested was the land that came with the property, it had been advertised with a field and it was on this I intended to construct an agricultural-style building to house my rapidly expanding collection of vintage machinery. The field was not attached to the house though and was across the lane and accessed through a narrow pathway, this was not good but was told the entrance could be enlarged for vehicular access. I thought it might be worth a go at acquiring this property so took a hard look at my finances and provided it didn’t go above the £12,000 upper guide I’d be able to find the immediate cash.
The evening of the auction arrived and we assembled in a dingy room of a local run-down hotel with about two dozen other prospective purchasers, there were other lots being auctioned as well. Eventually my lot came up and bidding started but way above my limit so I didn’t get a look-in, there were two persons fighting for it and it went above double the guide price if I recall at £25,000. Back in 1984 that sum equated to about £74,000 in today’s prices, a price which would have been unreachable for me in those days. I’m just sorry now that I didn’t take any photographs, so you’ll have to make do with a modern view of the location courtesy of Google maps. The red outline is the house and garden and the yellow outline I believe was the parcel of land.
All this has been dragged up from the depths of my memory so may not be accurate but I’m recalling it as I wish it to be remembered.