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From Leicester Mercury 23rd June 2010

First tenants of Garden City chose own lay-outs
Bowling green
The official opening of the bowling green - 1913

Mr Maurice Whailing's memories of a happy life spent growing up in the "Garden City" struck a chord with Michael Neal, of Braunstone Town.

Mr Neal writes: "I, too, was born there, at No 2 Lilac Avenue, in 1929, and attended Humberstone Infant/Junior School from 1934 until 1940.

"My paternal grandparents, Mr and Mrs Tom Neal lived at 4 Laburnum Road – later renumbered 78 – from the construction of the house until they both passed away in 1957, when my regular involvement with the area ceased.

"My grandmother, Mrs Julie Hern, who lived at 2 Lilac Avenue, was the wife of the original project manager for the estate, Mr George Hern, who, unfortunately, died prematurely from pneumonia at the age of 37.

"That first stage of the estate was then completed by his brother, Albert.

"Initially the first tenants had a say in any minor modifications they required in the layouts.

"Mrs Hern's house had a built-in cycle and garden store and Tom Neal had two bedrooms constructed as one to accommodate a full-size billiards/snooker table, which was used as an evening social club for the community.

"Adjacent to this house was a bowling green, on the corner of Lilac Avenue, and on land between the gardens of Laburnum Road and Keyham Lane there were tennis courts, the entrance being adjacent to number 10 Laburnum Road.

"The General Store was originally built and operated by the Anchor Tenants, before being taken over by Leicester Co-operative Society Ltd.

"The assembly rooms above were used for dancing, keep fit, a drama group, a choir, Sunday School parties and all types of family celebrations.

"Behind the block of timber lock-up garages opposite the bottom of Fern Rise was the cricket field.

"This had a well-mown cricket square which was regularly used throughout the season by many works teams.

"The outfield supported a host of the longest-stemmed wild buttercups I have ever seen.

"To the right hand end was a traditional small wooden pavilion and the mandatory manually-pulled heavy roller.

"A children's playground of swings and the like was housed on a piece of ground which lay between the new Laburnum Hall (1938) and the original wooden estate office, adjacent to the Baptist Chapel."

Mr Neal adds that he has "truly many happy childhood memories" of the area.

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