The work of Elsie Carter



In 1974/75 a group of young mothers and myself were talking in Seveme J/I school playground about how dilapidated the Fox Hollies Housing Estate was looking. Numerous people had complained to the Housing Department to no effect. I suggested they should start up a Residents Association as I had seen done in Sparkbrook and Newtown. After a great deal of debating it was decided that if I took charge of the organizing, Veronica Gibbs, Jill Metcalfe, Margaret Aziz, Carol Edkins, and Rene Warrilow would help me as much as possible.

These half a dozen ladies spoke to friends and neighbours who also agreed with us and wished to help. Meetings were held in my living room after my Dad had gone to bed. My husband donated the first leaflet to be distributed around the area asking residents if they saw a need for a Residents Association and would they like to join. We must have had some good canvassers for the proposal went like wildfire. We had 900 paying members but could not get any more people to collect. With so many interested residents and the many dealings we had with the Housing Department we asked Birmingham Housing Department if they could find us a room where we could hold our meetings. They hired the Seveme school hall and distributed leaflets to all houses on Gospel Lane, Olton Boulevard, Shirley Road and Lakey Lane. The hall was full to capacity. A vote was taken for chairman and John Higgins from Seveme Road was accepted. Elsie Carter was accepted as Secretary and Eric Stokes as Treasurer. Evelyn Jones, Joan Davis, Jessie Hodges, Pauline Carter, Veronica Gibbs, Carol Edkins, Sally Wagstaff,  Mabel Davies, and Violet Higgins were accepted as committee members. It was agreed to charge 15 pence a week to be a member.


Nearly every road had a member in it who would collect the 15 pence to pass on to the treasurer. As we had no money to hire rooms or get paper and printing done, Mike Boy, Leisure Service Officer from the Forum in Greenwood Avenue let us have I.O.U.s. He was a marvellous community minded man who was always ready to help us out. We always paid him back. We often wished that we had his premises to operate from, which led us to petition Leisure Services to build us a purpose built Community Centre with swimming pool and other sports equipment. We had meetings in Fox Hollies Park with Mr. Pittman, Director of Leisure Services Department and a young Mr. Bernard Spittle who later became the Director of Leisure Services. They agreed with us that Fox Hollies was always at the back of the queue when anything was given out from the city, and Mr. Pittman promised that as soon as money was available he would try for a purpose built community centre in Fox Hollies. Those of us who kept abreast of city news and heard that the Government or some other body had given the city money would have Mr. Pittman and Mr. Spittle down the park for a meeting no matter what the weather was like and believe me at times we have gone home soaked to the skin from an unexpected shower. 

We also pestered the housing department for accommodation and they said if we found an empty property and petitioned the neighbour to see if they were willing to have a community house start up near them then they would consider letting it to us for a peppercorn rent. We scoured the estate and although residents agreed with us and some of them were members of our association they just didn't want a community house next door or near them. Nearly despairing we knocked on the door next door to the empty property at 135 Severne Road. The door was opened by a West Indian named Mr. Paul. He and his family had no objection to living next to a community house, in fact he was a very good neighbour. He had an allotment in Gospel Lane and would bring radishes, lettuces and onions to give to our senior citizens.


After four years of hiring school rooms for meetings etc. the Fox Hollies Park Residents Association had a place they could call their own. Within days advice bureaux were set up with Housing, Police, C.A.B., and Social Services. Joe Higgins from Nailstone Crescent went into the Acocks Green Library to learn how to run a library from the community house front room. He passed this knowledge on to Don Neal and various other members. Sally Wagstaff, Jean Rainy, and I taught fancy cake making, flower arrangements and smock sewing. A West Indian chap called Coral did self defence lessons which were well attended. We had to be careful that we didn't bump into each other in such a small room. Every one was happy with each other, Coral only asked for his bus fare.


We had six community policemen with one sergeant whose name was Bob Poole. It was said he had written two books on community policing and our Residents Association was mentioned in them. As far as I can remember the constables' names were Sid Williams,  Bill who lived in Tustin Grove and did our logo for us, Barry who got in touch with the Acocks Green Lions to get us some play equipment when thieves had broken into our portakabin in the Park and stolen ours. The Acock Green Lions did help us out a lot. Then there was Bob Eggar, Tom who rode a motor bike and I must not forget Roger Richardson who took us under his wing when we were operating a play scheme in the park and were harassed with drug users and louts just out to make trouble. Roger even shored the portakabin roof up when they had smashed it in, he was like our knight in shining amour as he came across the grass on his motor bike to help us out with difficult youths.


Carol Edkins, Pauline Carter and myself operated the play scheme in the park, it was hard work but fun even though we did not think it so funny when we had to dig a hole to let a child living a distance away go to the toilet then fill it in, because the Park toilets were constantly being smashed by the vandals.


Florrie, Hilda, Audrey and Emily were the first unpaid helpers in the senior citizens luncheon club. Social Services had meals on wheels sent in but after a time our members got fed up of these and asked us to cook the food on the premises. Hilda and Audrey were working at other paid jobs so could not spare the time. Millie Combs and Evelyn Jones took over cooking the meals with Pauline and Elsie Carter running the club. When Evelyn became to ill to help with the cooking Marion Westwood and Amy did the cooking, with Elsie and Pauline bringing the food in. When Marion was knocked over outside the Community House Vera did the cooking with Elsie and Pauline carrying out the other jobs, and when Vera took ill Elsie and Pauline took over all the jobs relating to the day centre for the elderly right up until it closed on 19th December 1995.


In 1980/81 Bari Aziz, who was serving with me on Severne J/I School Governing Board, was coaxed to help us visit the housebound elderly in our area. At that time we had the highest number of elderly people in Birmingham. It was a scheme I had thought up when collecting our subs. When put to our members the following volunteered their time: Jean, Benny, Evelyn, Millie, Bari, Margaret, Rosemary, Marion, Joy, Carol, and Pauline with me as leader. We visited nearly four hundred old people a week.


Eventually Social Services gave the Care Wardens a small grant which helped with the upkeep of the community house. This voluntary "giving back to the community" lasted twenty years. The Care Wardens team took on odd jobs for the elderly that some paid workers shunned to do i.e. clean them up when they had an "accident", do their gardens and take the rubbish to the tip, fetch their errands when they forgot to put an item or two on their Carers list, push them in their wheelchairs to the shops or the public house (only for one drink), give them a bed bath or a bath when they felt sticky or sweaty. They were prepared to sit up all night with some one who had mistakenly taken too much of their medication. No one was professionally trained, we just met every week to report our findings and passed on relevant information to the Doctors, Social Services, or the Police. This service to our community stopped in 1997, when a couple of the older Care Wardens died and two or three younger ones found other time demanding paid jobs. This left just two Care Wardens whose own health was deteriorating. I was one of the two.


Pauline Carter with Carol Hodby did the Mother and Toddler group twice a week, running a raffle to buy toys and equipment. Lots of members donated toys that their children had outgrown. Pauline, Carol and Elsie ran the after school group. The children age ranged from three to seven. We had to keep spare pants for those who had accidents. There was always one or another who we would have to clean up and change. In the latter years of working with this group the laws were changed and we were told by Leisure Services that we must not have the young children with the older ones. If we had obeyed we would not have had a club as some mothers wanted all their children at the club at the same time, as they did not want to have to run back and forth.


Carol Edkins, Benny Boyle and Bari Aziz started the Youth Club in 1983. Some of our members were a bit apprehensive of allowing nine to twenty year olds to use the club. Bari and Benny took care of anyone stepping out of line and the Community House was full to capacity, and needed more helpers. Bari Asked Stuart Blackwell to help keep his eye on youth club members. Margaret and her sister Jill with Sheila and Angela helped out, accepting help from anyone who was willing to give a couple of hours. 

At this moment in time the Fox Hollies Park Residents Association covered 3, 000 households, and had 900 Members. We operated and raised funds for the up-keep of the Community House, and we never had any grants for the upkeep. Housing just charged us ten pounds a week for the peppercorn rent. We never had a paid worker helping us, neither did we pay anyone for teaching us their skills. We let the Park Ranger store his equipment in our little office free of charge, because his hut had been burnt down in the park. We did not charge the Police, Home Care, Citizens Advice or Probation Services. We were happy they were giving a service to our area.


By 1984 The Community House was bursting at its seams. When we held our A. G .M. we had to have a microphone to relay what was being said to the people who could not get in and were waiting to use their vote for which officers they wanted for the forthcoming year.


Leisure Services Department had kept their promise to respond to our pleas and petitions for a purpose built Community Sports Centre. We had hoped it would be built on the Gospel Lane side of the park, but after a meeting Clare Fancote, chairperson of Leisure convinced Mr. Munn the Director that it would be better as a dual purpose site with Ninestiles School. I was disappointed but with hindsight it has been safer where it is. My husband officially opened it when he was Lord Mayor in 1985-6 and along with the rest of the old ones who fought for it we are proud that it gives so much pleasure to the up and coming generations.


The opening ceremony, 11th January 1986, with Councillor Fred Grattidge, Elsie and Frank Carter (Lord Mayor), Councillor Bryan Bird, and Jim Eames (thanks to Birmingham Libraries for this and the following photos). This was the first sports and leisure centre with a family pool for young children, elegantly shaped and leading into a decent swimming pool. The outdoor pitches south of the centre are on a former Y.M.C.A. sports field, bought at the end of 1962. For more information on Fox Hollies Leisure Centre, go here.


Elsie Carter at Fox Hollies Leisure Centre, 3rd March 1986 (Birmingham Libraries)
Elsie Carter at Fox Hollies Leisure Centre, 3rd March 1986 (Birmingham Libraries)
Elsie with her husband Frank Carter, Lord Mayor, 3rd March 1986 (Birmingham Libraries)
Elsie with her husband Frank Carter, Lord Mayor, 3rd March 1986 (Birmingham Libraries)


We were also proud that our Community House was getting smaller for the amount of people who wanted to use it. Housing and Leisure came up with the idea of asking the people living in the next door flat if they would be willing to move. Leisure Services officer Terry Hopkins and Housing officer Mr. Dennis Copsey and Bari Aziz finally got the O.K. and I came out of office as Lady Mayoress to the turmoil of having walls knocked through, trying to keep a couple of rooms free so some activities could carry on. 

The house with its members had been visited by Leon Brittain when he was Home Secretary and by the Chief Constable Mr. Knight, besides various police superintendents, three Lord Mayors of Birmingham and their wives, plus numerous city councillors and officers. We had a good relationship with local doctors, health centres, Social Services, schools, Police, the Leisure Centre, the churches, and many individuals.


Chris Aldridge, Vicar from St Michael’s, used to come and give us a religious service before we played Bingo on a Sunday evening. We all agreed, including himself, that he wasn't so good on the small keyboard he played but his sermons were very inspiring and we felt a lot better for his visits. Chris was a lovely old-fashioned community worker always ready to help anyone in need, he was sorely missed by a great many housebound residents when he had to leave the area due to re-organisation of Church business. It seems no one took his place with home visits, and some of our old residents went to their graves not knowing who was doing their burial service, and with the Vicar not knowing the person they were speaking about, which to me was sad, as a lot nicer things could have been said about them.


Another community minded fellow was Chris Warne, head master of Severne J/I school who would always help us out with pallets when we wanted a bit of a stage at the Community House, or have our senior citizens in his school to watch the children in their various plays. Come summer we would be there for a strawberry and cream tea, provide by the school secretary, Sue Sharp and her mother, then Mr. Stone would bring his class over to the Community House the day we were breaking up for the Christmas holidays. He would play his guitar and much to the delight of every one within the choir would sing well known Christmas carols, then they would mingle with members and every one went home feeling a lot better than when they'd arrived.


There had been two head mistresses at Severne school before Chris Warne took over, Miss James over the infant school and Mrs. Driver over the junior part. Mrs. Driver was an elderly lady who was crippled with arthritis. She was a well respected lady who stood no nonsense. School was for learning and she did her best to make sure the kids did just that. She and I would differ on occasions, especially with me wanting a parent/teacher association, telling her of the potential of parents standing in the playground just waiting to help in the school. She would not agree with me, but the day she left the school, she invited me to her farewell party, and she said openly that she and I had crossed swords but I had been proved right by the success of the Community House and she was convinced that with all members pulling together we would eventually get a purposed built community centre.


Miss Margaret James was the other head teacher over the infants. She was young and used to bring her little dog to school. I first had conversations with her when Birmingham City Council set up school governors with lay people like parents etc. It was also the first time I had conversation with Bari Aziz (our Ward Support Officer now: I was a friend of his wife). We had been elected as Governors of the school by the parents. We sat in a small side room with Mr. John Taylor, another member of the Community House, talking about the possibility of taking on an office within the governorship. Bari, who was working at Rover Longbridge, said he could only take on a chair's role. John did not want to be anything but a member, so big mouth Elsie Carter offered to be secretary. Eventually one of the teachers called us into the staff room and it was obvious that the school staff had also decided who their officers would be, and it wasn't going to be us three. John, Bari and myself were active A.E.U. members and with our training it wasn't long before we got a formal meeting together and had voted and been accepted: Bari Aziz as chair and Elsie Carter as secretary. We were proud to be among the first "lay" people to have those posts. It was a tiresome job carrying the great big book of articles (rules and regulations) Back and forth to meetings. When we first met Miss James she did not think we would get a Community House, never mind a purpose built leisure centre, but she became a very good friend of the Fox Hollies Residents Association, going so far as paying £30 pounds to our treasurer when a parent from her school who was also a money collector for our association left the area taking the monthly "dues" of some residents with her. Yes, as with most organisations not all our members were honest, but we had good friends who always helped and succeeded in getting us reimbursed for whatever we lost without resorting to court action.


After many meetings money was found for a purpose built Community Centre in the Fox Hollies area. We were told we could pick the site, we knocked on doors, sent leaflets out, had public meetings, to find out from residents where they would like it to go, and what they would like it to include. It was finally agreed to have it on the Gospel Lane side of the Fox Hollies Park, as this seemed to be a dark and lifeless part of the area. Everything was going according to plan when there was a political election and Labour Lost control of Birmingham City. Clare Fancote became chair of Leisure Services and told us in no way would we get what we wanted. The Leisure Centre would go on ground next to Ninestiles School to be used as dual purpose. I was on Ninestiles P.T.A. at the time and the head master Mike Clarke and his staff commiserated with me but were very pleased to have such an up to date building so near to them, and the present head Mr. Dexter Hutt is also pleased. The Leisure Centre and Ninestiles still have a very good working relationship. I should know. I served on the combined committee. Wes Jones was the first manager of our Leisure Centre. He gave Lynn Farrell and Carol Edkins a subsidised ticket when they took the Community House junior kids swimming. He also helped me when I took our senior citizens swimming there.



Petition relating to the siting of the new leisure centre. We also campaigned, together with the Ninestiles Association, to have it called the Ninestiles Leisure Centre, but the Council chose the name Fox Hollies regardless of what we said.
Petition relating to the siting of the new leisure centre. We also campaigned, together with the Ninestiles Association, to have it called the Ninestiles Leisure Centre, but the Council chose the name Fox Hollies regardless of what we said.


Fred Blackwell was our unpaid mini bus driver. Nothing was too much trouble for him, and his wife Dolly would clean the inside of the mini bus, as if it was their own. Dolly's sister Hilda was a collector, and also treasurer of the after-school group. People like this are the salt of the earth, which reminds me about 1982. Our chairman and a founder member of the Fox Hollies Residents Association John Higgins: his wife Violet passed away. She'd worked week in and week out on our association business. It shocked us older founder members. She was a highly respected lady and we had thought she would be with us into old age. John had been our chairman from 1975. He resigned as chair and Roger Wagstaff took his place. He was young and worked hard for the association for two years, then his work took him to Saudi Arabia. His wife Sally stayed here and continued voluntary work, visiting our old folks each week, until she fell ill herself and passed away. This was a greater shock because she was young and so full of life. She left two young sons. Then came young Anita Ford. She used to collect Association dues from along Gospel Lane. She was always ready to help out in the Community House. She was sadly missed by everyone. She was such a nice pleasant little girl.


Joe Higgins from Nailstone Crescent was elected chair after Roger. He was like a sergeant major, and he wanted a place for everything and everything in its place. Bari Aziz remained as vice-chair. He had been made redundant from Rover Longbridge, and after studying hard had become a community worker based at the Leisure Centre. He was always there when we needed him. He arranged for Benny Boyle, Stuart Blackhall, Margaret, Sheila, Lynn, Carol, and Angela to take over the youth clubs and they really did well for the kids of our area, taking them out on trips and encouraging them to be polite and well behaved away from the Community House. They were not allowed to swear or smoke in the house.


Brian Gougher and Ken Moore were the last of our Community Police. As I have said before we had some very good policemen working alongside us trying to keep Fox Hollies a nice safe place to live in. Kenny Moore’s Dad was a member of Acocks Green Pensioners Convention. He and Alex Taylor would pop into our luncheon club and give a talk on the rights of elderly people. Sometimes we would have a sing-song. Alex was also secretary of my Trade Union Branch (A.E.U.). It makes you wonder just how many hours of voluntary work was done by the people associated with our Community House. Our membership had grown so large by now. Terry Hopkins, our Leisure Services liaison officer worked with the housing department to get the Community House extended. After many months of working around the rubble we were ready for a grand re-opening. The Tudor Trust, a London-based charity, had granted us enough money to buy new furniture and curtains, and lovely solid oak desks etc. Mr Nottingham had obtained these from the Serck factory on its closure, but they went missing during the extension work. Our walls were covered with knitted toys and material from our arts and crafts classes, brand new lino was on the floor, and we had all worked hard to get it ready for a grand re-opening with the Lord Mayor Of Birmingham, Councillor Fred Grattidge and his wife, along with city officers. Mrs. Walford had made a big beautiful iced cake, my husband who was chair of Birmingham markets begged fruit, biscuits etc. from the traders for us. He also got Mitchells and Butlers to donate beer. Everything was ready to have our grand re-opening, when two days before the re-opening burglars broke in, took what they could and then poured red paint and emulsion all over the walls and floors. It was heart breaking to see it, and those of us who had put so much effort into the project could quite easily have said "that's it I'm finished". We all felt like that, but after a good old moan we were back on our hands and knees with thinners getting the place cleaned up. The police boarded up the French windows, and our resilience paid off, for everyone attending our open day thoroughly enjoyed themselves and, apart from the police, were unaware of the nasty element on our estate.


With the new extension we all thought the Community House would go on for ever, but with the first loss, of our library, the older members of our group read it as the "writing on the wall". Joe Higgins and Don Neal did the library work. They had gone down into Acocks Green Library to learn how to operate one. They did very well and it was well used. Sue Harvey got us the real oak wood from the library to make shelves for the books. There was many a time that an elderly person would take out books for the holiday period then read them before, and would knock Joe up to see if he would be good enough to get them a couple more, and for all his sergeant major ways he never refused. The reason we lost the library was because the powers that be thought it was a waste of time keeping the books at the Community House, when they could be taking them around the estate in a large mobile library bus. We did try through Councillor Grattidge to keep our Library, but to no avail. Joe missed meeting the people in the library and on occasions became confused in what he was doing.


The Government and the City council were making new rules, such as having stainless steel tops in kitchens, which was very nice and we would have loved them, but could not afford them and could not get anyone to buy us any, and we had been using those same tops for our cooking for over 17 years without anyone going down with food poisoning. Then the rule came out that we must have black dolls for our children's groups to play with. It cost us £35.98 to get two, money which we could ill afford, we were non-profit making, and we had no grants for the upkeep of the Community House. Housing were very good: they only charged us £10.00 per week and gave us a wonderful service. The housing officers I remember from Botteville Road was Dennis Copsey, Dave Roberts, John Frankford, David Bayliss, Dave Prosser, Martin Smith, and Lisa. They all worked hard for the Community House. A thing that amazes me now is how on earth at that time they got the housing repairs done in such a short time. A young fellow called John Jones came to one of our meetings when there were a lot of complaints regarding housing repairs. He said he would send his Works manager to the Community House every Thursday and pick up a list of repair requests. Everyone thought "Believe it if you like" including me, but without fail the following Thursday Dougie, who incidentally lived on the Fox Hollies Road, picked up the repair list until the day we closed down, and all repairs was done within the week. It amazes me that we can't get the same service now. There have been no more houses built in the area to stretch the resources. I was at a meeting a few weeks ago and some one said to me "that looks like Dougie, wish we'd got him back again".


Two years before we closed we were informed that the housing department would no longer be our landlord. Economic Development had taken over and our rent went up overnight from £10.00 to £52.00 per week. That £42 extra would have bankrupted us. We argued and debated with economic development officers, but they would not relent. I found it very harsh considering the efforts we had all put into the area through bringing people together into the Community House. That was my lonely time, and my own husband had passed away. My children were busy raising their kids, and they wouldn't want to be come involved. I didn't know who to turn to, to tell me what to do, when Howard Clay, liaison officer from Leisure Services popped into the Community House. I couldn't help but tell him about our problems and how it was bothering. Within two hours he phoned me up and told me not to worry as money had been found to pay the extra cost of the rent.


That made me strong again and at the next meeting I told them I was getting too old, and younger members should take over. Eric Stokes, our treasurer, had done an excellent job from the beginning. He was a retired tax worker. We couldn't have had a better treasurer. He also did odd jobs in the house but he was getting on for eighty. He couldn't walk far, but he had a marvellous memory right up to the end. Joe was still the sergeant major, but confused in his thinking, and he did not like to have to give up the chair to Pauline Carter who only stepped in because no one else would take the job, and big decision had got to be taken. Pauline and I didn't like the idea of mother and daughter having to work close with one another but it had to be done.

After the rent had been settled we were presented with papers as thick as a good-sized book. Apparently we had got to sign a lease, and these were the rules and regulations. We needed a solicitor to understand most of it and Digbeth voluntary workers helped me out with this. The young girl who took our case up assured me that neither I nor anyone else in our organisation should sign under the conditions laid out in these papers, and back they went, with us telling them why we would not sign. The blunt answer came back, sign or get out.


By this time I and our active members were getting a bit fed up of directives coming from Birmingham City Council. We couldn't change any of our children if they had an ‘accident’, not even our elderly folks either, unless we were qualified carers. We had to separate the children by age. Where we had age groups from five to ten playing nicely together we now had to make it three clubs 5 and 6s, 7 and 8s, 9 and 1Os. We had not got the volunteers to operate that many clubs and the parents did not want to bring their different age children up two or three times. They wanted the kids out of the house altogether for a couple of hours. Economic Development would not give way and it became a nightmare for me to have to deal with them, so I put it to the committee that if no one could be found to take over the work that I was doing then the Community House would have to close down. Notices were put in the windows to this effect.


Our equipment that we had struggled so hard to get was given away to other clubs, and the week before Christmas 1995 we had a farewell get together. We were all sad that our time had come to an end. We invited all those we had known, and Carl Chinn, our social historian, came saying nice words about people like us who gave their spare time to their community. Those days that led up to Christmas 1995 were extremely sad for me. I had exhausted the few active members that remained including my family by cleaning and painting and there was many a time I found my self alone in that big old empty house finishing some little job off.


Memories would come leaping to my mind, happy and sad, of people who had made the Community House something to be talked about. It was a kind of comradeship that didn't belong to any sect or political party. We were just there to improve our area, and for twenty one years a motley group campaigned for a Community House and got it while also campaigning for a purpose built Leisure Centre and got that too. Regardless of what anyone says there was no councillor, alderman or their likes that helped us in either cases. They may have sat on committees in the luxurious council chambers like my husband and o.k.’d the plans, but it was us that walked the road getting signatures, it was us who went knocking doors, it was us meeting officers in the park regardless of the weather.


If we have to thank anyone it should be the officers Mr. Pitman and Bernard Spittle, Sandra Jusavic, Mr. Allen and all those officers including the police who helped us over the years. As the twenty year anniversary passes we should give a thought to those founder members who had a dream and some didn't live long enough to see it materialise, like Sally Wagstaff, Violet Higgins, Anita Ford, Ray Beddows, Evelyn Jones, Joan Davis, Tom Jones, Millie Coombs, Marion Westwood, Frank Carter, Alex Taylor, Don Neal, Joe Higgins, Eric Stokes, Rosa Stokes, Mary Vale, Charlie Fines, Fred Blackhall, Dolly Blackhall, and her sister Hilda, Veronica Gibbs, Mrs Walford. These were all good people who did their best for the area they lived in.


I'm sure like me they would feel sad at the dilapidated look of the Community House now, but happy with our Leisure Centre. That brought so much happiness and a healthy lifestyle to so many people of our area. I smile to myself when I think of the way we formed ourselves in those far off days, all of us knowing what we wanted, but not really knowing how to go about it, and just trusting our instincts and the expertise of some of the officers of Birmingham City Council and our police force. A lot of words have been spoken on how good the Community House was, even now, over ten years since it closed its doors as a Community House. Young people with children of their own make them selves known to me and say what a wonderful time they had at the Community House, and wish it was still there to take their children too. Yes, there is a lot of history of the Community House itself, but it was only bricks and mortar. Its praise and glory was achieved by those ordinary people who gave of their skills and time voluntarily to bring community life into its four walls and the area that housed it.


A couple of things from the lifetime of the Community House come to mind. We were only in the Community House four months when on the 15th May 1981 two residents with the backing of a Member of Parliament called a Public Meeting with a view to ousting us. They went home with a flea in their ears. Even our storyteller "Taffy" Lewis turned up and gave them a "rousing". They never tried it The M.P. later committed suicide, poor soul. Another unusual thing happened at Easter 1988. Word came through on the "grapevine" that the two gangs of unruly yobs that roamed our area had boasted to each other that they would be the first to break into the Community House and tear it apart. Our Community Police could not spend the whole of the Easter holiday protecting it, so our Members formed a rota to man the house from Good Friday and for the next seven days. We were there day and night. The time passed with a few laughs and a great feeling of togetherness.


In closing I must say, not many people knew the Fox Hollies Residents Association name started as THE LOOP after the 31 bus route, then after one of our playground meetings when some one called us the ‘loopie loos’ we went posh and called our selves the Fox Hollies Park Ratepayers Association. At this point we wondered why the Housing Department became a little cool towards us. I asked Councillor Hugh McCallion, who was chair of housing at that time, and he said that the name Ratepayer had political connotations. At our next meeting we changed the name to the Fox Hollies Park Residents Association.


Programme of activities 1994
Youth club: Tuesday (6-11 years) 18.30-20.30, Friday (11+ years) 18.30-20.30
Mother and toddler group: Wednesday 9.30-11.00
After-school club (3-6 years) Wednesday 16.00-17.30
Swimming: meet at Community House Wednesday 17.30
Day centre for the elderly: Thursday 10.00-14.00
Councillors advice bureau: second and fourth Thursdays 19.00
Housing Department advice bureau: first Thursday 14.00-15.00
Space available for hire: weekends 9.00-21.30