Memory Lane: An idyllic childhood

Anne Boardman's uncle Jack Threlfall and his horse outside Marine Villa, Bottom Lane, Little Layton in the early 1900s
Anne Boardman's uncle Jack Threlfall and his horse outside Marine Villa, Bottom Lane, Little Layton in the early 1900s
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Motorists heading up or down the dual carriageway of busy St Walburgas Road – particularly those discovering their brakes just in time to avoid the speed cameras – might find it hard to believe they are driving through what was once a sleepy hamlet called Little Layton.

Retired teacher Anne Wheeler remembers it well, because she grew up in this enclave of two farms, two houses, six cottages and a number of stationary wooden caravans used as family homes.

St Walburgas Road, Layton Little Layton

St Walburgas Road, Layton Little Layton

Anne, nee Boardman, contacted Memory Lane after a recent Then and Now focus on St Walburgas Road and, in particular, Marine Villa, which remains today on the very edge of Grange Park and which is circled in red on the 2011 photograph.

When Anne was a child, Marine Villa stood between Grange Farm and her home, a farmhouse known as 19 Little Layton. Bottom Lane and Top Lane were eventually swallowed up by an extended and re-routed St Walburgas Road, which runs between the roundabouts at Newton Drive and Poulton Road.

Anne says: “Little Layton was a hamlet quite separate from the village of Layton. It was a quiet and safe place to live. As children we had the freedom to play in the lanes and fields, but there were always friends, relatives and neighbours to call on if we had a problem. Most friends were connected with school or St Mark’s Church in Layton. Layton Primary School was about five minutes walk away on Lynwood Avenue. We attended Sunday School, joined Brownies, Guides, Cubs, Scouts and the Girls Friendly Society and took part in concerts and the annual Rose Queen Festival.”

Anne, now 81 and living in Poulton, was elected Rose Queen in the late 1940s.

She says: “My grandparents were Robert Henry (Harry ) and Margaret Singleton and my mother Lizzie was their daughter who married John Boardman. My parents began married life in a caravan on Grange Farm, where I was born in 1930, joining my older brother and sister. Eventually we moved to the farmhouse known as 19 Little Layton.

“There was a gas lamp outside and in the evenings we would play marbles underneath it. We had gas lighting and cold water, which had to be heated in a heavy iron kettle on the living room fire. There was an outside toilet and on winter nights we would take a paraffin lamp and go across a cobbled yard, braving a gaggle of noisy geese, to reach it.

“As soon as we were old and big enough, we girls helped with all domestic chores and washed dairy utensils. When we were older we did some ironing using a monster called a gas iron. This made terrifying explosive noises and we hated it.

“Every working day at 10am and 3pm we made ‘baggin’ which was an enamel mug of tea, a slice of fruit pie and a sandwich for dad and the farm workers. Sometimes they would be in the buildings nearby or a distance away in the fields, so we often would sit and have a chat.”

But Anne did leave the hamlet occasionally, as she recalls: “We visited relatives with our mother, walking quite long distances to Poulton, Marton and Staining. A rare occasion was to get the tram to Blackpool and go on the sands.”