Proud homeowner who refused to leave ex-council house finds new estate

Proud homeowner who refused to leave his ex-council house returned home from a year in hospital to find a brand new estate had been built around his home

  • Charlie Wright, 70, refused to allow developers to demolish his ex-council house
  • He stayed put in his Wirral home despite suffering a hammer attack by a burglar
  • Now out of hospital, he feels ‘safer’ with a new 178-home estate built around him 

A pensioner who doggedly stayed put in his ex-council house says he feel safer now that a new housing estate has sprung around him – after an intruder struck him three hammer blows over the head last year.

Charlie Wright, 70, refused to allow developers to purchase his childhood home on a Wirral estate, even after his was the last house standing in an area of open wasteland. 

Over the years, the solitary house, with its Union Jack flying outside, was a familiar sight near Birkenhead North station.

Now, the house is a detached property with a fresh set of neighbours after a new, 178-home estate sprung up around it.

Mr Wright, who is still recovering from his attack by a burglar last December, was taken completely by surprise at the speed of the development.  

Charlie Wright, 70, outside his home in Birkenhead where he has doggedly refused to leave -w with a new estate built around him

He said: ‘I’d spent most of the last year in hospital. When I left, they told me “let’s go and see your house.” I couldn’t believe it, I said, “look at all these houses here.”

Mr Wright is fiercely attached to the home where he grew up as the second youngest out of nine children. 

He said: ‘I won’t move from here. My family has had this house for 100 years. It was my parents’ house and they raised their children here.

‘Twenty-odd years ago they began pulling the estate down, and the council offered people £2,000 and a house to move to.

‘I just said, “look this house is not up for sale”. Margaret Thatcher gave the ordinary person the right to buy their council house. There’s nothing to think about, this house will never be sold.

‘The only way anyone will get their hands on this house will be when I’m six feet under.’

Mr Wright’s life was turned upside down when a thug broke into his house last December, held a knife to his throat while demanding money, and then hit him three times over the head with a hammer.

He suffered life-changing injuries, including memory impairment, and spent the best part of a year being treated in hospital and then at a specialist brain injuries unit.

Charlie Wright (centre left) pictured with local MPs Frank Field and Lynda Chalker when the former River Streets estate sports and social club was being set up

Over the years, Mr Wright’s now-detached house, with its Union Jack flying outside, has been a familiar sight near Birkenhead North station

Mr Wright said: ‘It doesn’t change the way I feel about living here. I’m never moving out of my house. Before this happened, I’d never had so much as a break-in in the 70 years I’ve lived here.

‘Most of the memories are really good ones. I’m quite happy with myself.

‘I’ve gone from living in a terraced house to a detached house with a driveway, so it’s paid off for me in the end.

‘I’ve got neighbours now, after 20-odd years of being on my own. It makes me feel safer.’

Mr Wright was formerly one of the founding members and chairman of the River Streets Community Association Ltd, set up as a registered charity to look after the interests of the residents then living on the previous 600-home council estate.

Mr Wright, pictured outside his home, where a new estate has sprung up all around his now-detached house 

He said: ‘We bid successfully for government grants to do the streets and houses up, with new windows and doors. We had our own sports and social club, and did free meals on wheels for the pensioners. Everything was running perfect.’

With a job as a boilerman at the nearby Mobil Oil site – where he worked all his life – Charlie’s horizons have never stretched far beyond the estate. Even a trip over the water to Liverpool was a rarity.

He said: ‘I’ve never had a holiday in my life. It just never bothered me. Living round here, when it was the old estate, everybody knew everyone. It was brilliant, everybody mucked in.

‘It didn’t bother me after they knocked it down. I used to go out every day with my dog, have my mates round. I could sit on the step here and foxes would come up and I used to feed them.’ 

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