Six years ago, I took my daughter back to where I used to live as a child. On that gloomy day I took a lot of photographs, and one of them is the one depicted below. A picture of a street named Lench View, in Newchurch in Rossendale.
It’s a strange street in that it has only 3 houses, and you need to walk down some steps to access any of them. Houses in England tend to have odd numbers on one side of the street and even on the opposite side.
The houses on Lench View were all odd, as there was no ‘other side of the street’. The closest with the blue sills is number 1, and the one facing with the brown door is number 5. Both are significant to this tale.
The 'coal hole' is just to the left of the plant pot in the foreground of the photograph. (see below).
The year was 1976 or 1977; I know this as whenever I knocked on the door of my friend ‘Gary’, his mum used to answer. Gary’s mum was a fierce Irish lady of medium build with bottle blond hair and her face always seemed red and donned a permanent scowl.
‘GAARRRRRYYYYY’, went the 120db shrieking yell though the house when I enquired if my friend was in. This was quite normal to me, as was the radio. The radio was always on in the kitchen and I recall memories of the 1976 song, ‘Oh Lori’ quite vividly.
It’s a cheesy melancholy summer song but it does hold special memories for me as I have this association with Gary’s mum’s kitchen!
Gary lived at number 5 Lench View; it was an end house and subsequently larger than the other two houses on the block.
I mentioned to Gary about who lived in number 1 several times. ‘Nobody’, he replied. The curtains were open on both sides of the house and peering inside showed us that it was fully furnished.
‘How about we break in?’, I retorted to him pointing to the coal hole situated on the side of the outside wall.
We lifted the metal plating which was unsecured and peered down the hole; darkness stared back at us.
Next day, armed with a torch we did the same and saw coal; lots of it. There was possibly a 4 foot drop to reach the coal so I braced myself and tentatively dropped down the coal hole landing heavily on the large pile of coal and immediately started sliding down this enormous mountain while trying to steady myself and keep from falling over.
I can’t remember injuring myself so my balance may have held well that day. It was dark, very dark but I had the torch and had not dropped it despite all the sliding.
I re-armed the torch and I could see steps leading upward toward a door.
What would have happened if the door was locked? As a foolhardy teenager I didn’t think of this. Climbing on top of a moving coal pit and getting a hand up from Gary would have been hard work if not impossible without a rope, and there was no rope.
Fortunately the door opened and I slid into the kitchen. I was well aware that people outside may see me so I hunkered down while crossing and entered the lounge which was at the back of the house.
As I anticipated, the house was deserted but appeared fully furnished. I opened the back door and ushered for Gary to step inside. At this point we mounted a full search of the house. For what; Money!
I’m ashamed to say I was a rather horrible kid, always getting into trouble, breaking in to places, smoking, stealing, mouthy but I wasn’t a vandal or arsonist.
The house did not yield even a penny, much to our disappointment. There was plenty of tarnished silverware, cabinets with clothing and personal belongings, passports, driving licences and other things but we didn’t care about any of that.
As I stated, I was not a vandal. We didn’t take anything from the house as there was simply nothing worth taking. It became our secret home for the next few months, somewhere cool to go and loiter about, and that’s about it.
After a time, boredom set in and once again the house was left in the same state as we found it; empty, cold and lonely. I think we even locked the door so others couldn’t get in.
I would love to know what happened to the occupants. Why had a house simply been left and with all of its belongings intact?
A couple of years later, we noticed the house had new owners. Someone had reclaimed it.
Do you have any tales of 'reckless abandon' from your teenage years? If so, share them and use the tag #recklessabandon and I may well give you a juicy up-vote!
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