My walk into work is a route I have used for over 30 years, it has many memories for me.
I climb the steep curve of Old Street, glancing up at the tower of St Laurence’s church dominating the sky line. There are usually one or more jackdaws circling. The old town walls come into view, with “The Lanes” asylum built into the gate house end. It’s been a fashionable town house for many years now and housed an Acupuncturist at one time. The gardens behind the wall are filled with mature trees and they seem to blend all of a piece with the gardens that now run along the length. A hanging garden of Ludlow.
Now I turn right, walking on the old brick paving with its soft and muted colours under the arch made by the Victorian houses. This probably was once the back entrance to the hotel, which is now a row of three storey terrace houses, with railed front gardens and porches. The view from the arch would seem to most people to be one of the changeless aspects of the town, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
I started this walk when I walked my son to school. St Laurence’s infant school was part of the Mascal Centre then. The arch produces echoes and funnels your vision up the gentle incline of the lane. Where I grew up this sort of route between buildings with a turn in it was called a “twitchel.”
The first buildings are a pair of old coachman’s cottages, which belonged to the hotel. They have sweet little front gardens and I am fond of them because in one of them a gentleman called Fred Griffiths had his home. He was a large man with glasses and a small moustache who always seemed to be pushing a bike. I only once saw him in glorious free wheeling mode coming down Old Street with his shopping balanced on the bars, a huge smile on his face. He wore a flat cap and always touched its peak before speaking to me. He worked in the vegetable garden on the other side of the lane, probably of mutual benefit to both the people who lived there and Fred. Their garden was huge, and looked over the river valley towards the wooded slopes of Whitcliffe. They were an elderly couple who had moved from Norfolk, my Mother’s family home, so we got speaking too.
Now the house is up for sale and empty of life. The other side of the lane was taken up with E.Walters jean factory, a significant local employer. I can not deny that the new housing estate is more aesthetically pleasing, but I miss the sense of purpose and bustle the factory represented. The town, I’m sure missed the boost to the local economy the workers wages provided when they finally closed. After the school gate, the “new” school gate that is, there is a tall Gothic hedge, thick with ever green and shrub trees which darken the lane though birds love it . There is a door further up which looks like all the story book doors you read about as a child. It used to lead rather prosaically to some police houses. I don’t know if still does.
Now I have reached the last piece of the lane and it begins to open up and lighten as I get to the Mascal Centre grounds. I can see flowers and birds through the railings and can begin to gauge potential trade from the cars that are parked.
Nearly there, a step out through some rather imposing posts into Lower Galdeford, a short pull uphill and I turn in through the gateway and cross the car park to the open café door and the start of another day at the Pea Green Café.