47 Devon Road, Whitehall, Bristol 5 is an address which is lodged deeply in my memories and of those of my siblings. That’s where we were raised.
#47 was in a row of five terraced (row) houses just by a railway bridge which crossed over the old London, Midland and Scottish railway line which came down into Bristol from Birmingham. By the time we were born the “LMS” was no more. After Railway nationalisation, the line had become a part of the Midland Region of British Railways.
The Halletts lived at #45 and worked from there. Old Mr. Hallett was a jobbing builder. His builder’s yard adjoined our back garden on two sides.
He and his wife were pleasant enough. They had one daughter, Phyllis, who never married. She was a bit stand-offish, but not unkind.
The Hallets’ son “Don” was a “piece of work”. In truth he was but a small businessman (having inherited the business from his Dad), but he had a strutting arrogance and disrespect for my Mum and Dad. His wife (Joyce?) was a lovely but sad woman.
“Uncle and Auntie” Charlton lived at # 49. They were sweet and caring working class folks, and they were always kind to my family. They were devoted old fashioned Methodists, members of the long defunct Easton Road Methodist Church.
Mr. and Mrs. Charlton (always “Uncle and Auntie” Charlton to me) had but one son, whose name was Claude. He had been engaged to be married to Elsie Lawes who hailed from Bournemouth in Dorset shire. He died before they were married. Dear Elsie Lawes remained faithful to her potential in-laws, and lived with them until they died. We all know her as Auntie Elsie. She was a constant guest in our home.
Mr. and Mrs. Fox lived at #51. They were a childless couple. His first name was Len, and he was of the blue overalls and cloth-capped generation of Englishmen; marked by his attire as firmly working class.
I never knew Mrs. Fox’s first name. She was considered to be shrewish, and she was wonderfully house-proud. She was shunned by her neighbors (including my parents). I sometimes think that this was for no other reason than she was Welsh (my dear English-folk can be very provincial!)
#53 was owned by the Elders at the local Chelsea Gospel Hall. They used it as a respite dwelling for missionaries and evangelists on furlough.
I remember Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Norton who lived there with their daughter Ivy. They were retired missionaries to India.
I adored Ralph Norton and “wanted to be like him” when I grew up.
Ivy Norton tried, without success, to teach me piano. She was not a bad teacher, but I was a lousy student who would not practice his scales!
The Nortons had a spare and unused bedroom. It was, of course, unheated. There they had a bed spring on which they stored apples which had been harvested in the autumn. (This was long before the days of year round refrigeration, and the importation of fruits from all over the globe). Ivy Norton led me to that room one day so that I could pick out a winter stored Coxes Orange Pippin apple.
Later residents of that home included the Moores (Missionaries to the Caribbean), and the Hislops (Evangelists in England).
The north wall of # 53 was un-windowed It overlooked the LMS/Midland Region Railway line. The devout elders from Chelsea Gospel Hall had arranged for this biblical test to be painted on that wall.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5 v8)
Who knows if the text ever moved anyone to be “saved”.
But it certainly confused me when I was a whipper-snapper. For I did not know the word “commendeth”. So I always read it as “condemneth”.
I could not for the life of me understand why God “condemneth” his love!