Fifty years of Lemsford's special close

PUBLISHED: 16:40 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 17:04 31 May 2017

L-R: Carole Payne, Doreen Withers, John Withers, Carol Hicks, and Gary Tessier, who have all lived in Mill Close since it was built in 1967.

L-R: Carole Payne, Doreen Withers, John Withers, Carol Hicks, and Gary Tessier, who have all lived in Mill Close since it was built in 1967.

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Villagers celebrated 50 years of mutual support in their close-knit community with a happy street party on Saturday.

Residents of Mill Close past and present at its 50th birthday party on Saturday. pictured by Simon Payne.Residents of Mill Close past and present at its 50th birthday party on Saturday. pictured by Simon Payne.

The party in Mill Close, built as Lemsford’s second road in 1967, attracted at least 60 people, including many who had grown up there as children in its earliest days.

Thanks to a six-strong organising committee, the top end of the close was closed to traffic, allowing guests to spread food and drink on tables, and enjoy dancing, including hits from 1967.

The evening included a quiz, and a barbecue provided by The Sun Inn.

Organiser Carole Payne, 74, one of five original residents who still live in Mill Close, said: “It was wonderful to see the hugs that went on.

“We shared memories going back 50 years.

“In good times, and perhaps even more in bad times, the close is special. The friendships are so strong. I have been so grateful for the friendship and support of people in the close.”

Janet Lewis, 78. who has lived literally around the corner from the close since it was built, said: “At first there were field at the back of our house. I thought it was lovely.

“Then I realised there were going to be houses there. I wasn’t pleased at all.

“I could not have been more wrong. All these lovely families came and all our children played together.”

The party was attended by seven Belgians from Herentaals near Antwerp, which had a long-running exchange arrangement with Lemsford.

When the close was built, applicants for the council houses had to demonstrate a connection with the area, with some coming from dilapidated homes elsewhere in the village.

Carole, for example, was a teacher at the village school at the time.

Nearly all the council houses were bought by their tenants in the 1980s, but five bungalows are still rented out by the borough council as social housing.

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