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Pensioner has proudly lived in the same Walsall house since 1928

Walsall | News | Published:

There is no place like home for pensioner Jack Haddock who is still living in the same house he moved to as a baby boy in the 1920s.

The RAF veteran, who is now 86 years old, loves his semi-detached property in Walsall so much he even split up with his girlfriend when she suggested they move into a house down the road.

He has lived in the same house on Webster Road ever since he was aged just one when his parents, Jack Senior and Florence, moved there in 1928.

And he even uses the same appliances his parents used in the 1930s, including a wireless radio on which his family heard the news the Second World War had been declared. He has also converted an old Anderson air-raid shelter, which he and his family used when German bombers flew over, into a shed.

Mr Haddock, who has never married and has no children, said he loves living in his home, which is owned by the local housing association, and has no plans to move.

"I'm very attached to this house and I love living here," he said. "I know lots of people in this community and would hate to move from this house. It's always been a decent area and a lot of people have lived here a long time.

"I consider myself very lucky to have lived here, where so much has gone on over the years. I suppose I take being here for granted.

"I was tempted to get married once, in the 1970s or 80s, but I had mother-in-law trouble. She and my girlfriend wanted me to move to The Delves, but I opted against it because I wanted to stay here. I cut it dead and that was the reason."

Mr Haddock was born in nearby Hospital Street in September 1927 and his parents paid a weekly rent of seven shillings and 11p when they moved into the house a year later. The only time he moved away was when he joined the RAF as a driver at the end of the war and went to live in the south of the country for five years.

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When he returned, he worked as a motor mechanic and went into the metal trade, starting his own firm repairing antiques before retiring in his 50s. He added: "My father worked on the trams in the 1920s and was one of the first people to apply for a council house in Walsall.

"To get a house, he had references from the local vicar, the tram depot and the Royal Artillery in which he served during the First World War, but he was missing a crucial requirement – a child.

"I was brought into the world and my parents were given a tenancy at a new council house in Webster Road, a few streets from where I was born, for a weekly rent of 7s 11d. I've lived here ever since, apart from my five years in the RAF after the Second World War. At the time we moved in, it was quite modern and state of the art, although of course we all had coal fires then and the bathroom was downstairs. My earliest memories are of steam trains roaring past our house on the way to Ryecroft Engine Shed, which is now Mill Lane Nature Reserve.

"My parents passed away in 1958 and I carried on living here. My father never missed a day's rent and I've always kept up with the payments."

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The house was built by Walsall Council for just £295 and is now owned by Walsall Housing Group. Over the years, it has seen a number of improvements. It was upgraded as part of the Decent Homes programme introduced in 2000. Mr Haddock, who has never smoked and keeps fit by cycling 20 miles every day, still visits the grocery shop he has used since the 1930s, when it was run by a man named Joseph Venables.

He said: "It was an institution because he ran the shop in true Victorian fashion."

His long life at his home has now been turned into a book – The Home That Jack Built – by Walsall Housing Group analyst Rob Hunter.

It celebrates Mr Haddock's life as one of the town's most long-standing residents and uses photographs taken over 85 years.

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