As a man who likes to combine bicycle rides with photographic journeys I borrowed my dad’s bike way back on Boxing Day morning last year and went on a trip around my hometown of Market Harborough to re-visit all the important sites of my childhood. Now I know this has limited appeal but what the hell! There can only be one place to start and thats the Close on the Southern Estate where I grew up and lived until I was 18 and for limited periods after that.
Farndon Fields on Argyll Park was my Primary School from age 4-10 and only a ten minute walk away (maybe 15 at that age!) from home. Needless to say that this and indeed all my schools are no longer as accessible as they once were.
The Green on the corner of Cromwell Crescent and Balfour Gardens was like a proper park to me and many neighbouring friends who regularly used to hang out here usually playing football among the trees.
Next up is the area on Western Avenue including the garage which I think used to be called G. Ingram Motors or something like that. A serious garage which also sold penny sweets to kids like me as did one of the shops beneath the block of flats pictured below. Between the two places was the Baptist Church where I am sure I actually did attend Sunday School for a few weeks before I came to my senses! On the other side of the shops was The Royalist Pub which I don’t think I actually went properly inside until I was about 20. Opposite all of the above places is Burfood Green more commonly known in my circles as the Rec which was good but always lacking the cosiness and closeness of the green. Only a few minutes away from my house but in those days it seemed miles away!
Farndon Road played host to two regular places I attended in my earlier years; the place where I went to play-school and cracked my head open giving me a scar on the back of my head which is still visible to this day. A bit further along the road was the Cub Scouts hut which was, and seemingly still is, the home of the 3rd Market Harborough troop.
Montgomery’s News (a.k.a. Monty’s) on the corner of Bath Street and Claxton Street was the newsagents where I worked for a few years albeit in support roles to my mates Longley, Steed as well as my sister Lorna. Harborough Town Football Club on St Mary’s Road has long since moved headquarters but back in the mid-80’s this was where I failed to set the world alight in my regular positions of left midfield, left back or the substitutes bench.
My secondary school between the age of 11-14 was Welland Park School on Welland Park Road and quite possibly my favourite school though its very hard to compare them. I just remember that our class was quite a tight-knit one.
Next to the school is Welland Park itself which seemed like Disneyland back then! Most of my school summer holidays were spent here playing tennis, crazy golf or just hanging about in the playground area on the swings. It also included the fictional ‘Devils Island’ of which the name was, with hindsight, far more interesting than the actual place itself which is basically a tiny waterfall amid the river Welland.
I was a bit of a skateboarder in my earlier years (before the pain from the falls became a bit too much to take!) and the Skateboard Park in Little Bowden was a place I loved to go to. Sadly, as you can see, it is no longer but it did used to be a kind of horse-shoe bowl where I could do a few basic tricks and stunts.
Robert Smyth Upper School at the top of a steep hill on Burnmill Road was where I did my GCSE’s and A-Levels between 1991 and 1995.
You take these kind of things for granted these days but before this one opened in 1988 there was no Leisure Centre in Market Harborough. Whilst I never really went into the gym I did use the pool and tennis courts from time to time as well as the table tennis tables not to mention just hanging out in the lobby on the games machines.
Whilst at University I spent the three Summer’s working at Green Admiral which was basically a factory responsible for making up all those nice baskets you see on sale in The Body Shop stores. The Sugar Loaf was the towns first Wetherspoon’s pub and has been a tremendous success and since its opening in 1998 has been the regular drinking place for me whenever I’ve been back in town.
Glenold Papers was a local factory where I worked after my graduation with three of my best friends; Ian, Martin & Sam. This was certainly no post-graduate job but it was one hell of a laugh as its not often you ever get to work with your mates like this.