Bench 84: High Holme Road

There's usually a vehicle parked in front of the bench. Often times it's a white Transit-like van. Today it's a Land Rover. Parking's tight around here and you've got to work and be a little inventive to get your wheels near to home. The roads round here weren't laid out with cars in mind, and the houses don't come with drives by right.

High Holme Road runs more-or-less east-west across the north side of Louth, and can be seen as part of an older road system linking St Mary's Lane with Keddington Road, and in the so doing, the North and East Fields of medieval common land. At the other end of the road is the County Hospital, the former site of Louth's workhouse.

We're at the eastern end of the road. Turn left from here, and it's the broad stretch of North Holme Road; Cordeaux School and a 60s/70s estate of streets named after stately homes on one side, the more retail part of the industrial estate on the other; car showrooms, agricultural engineering outlets, builders' merchants. A rogue newish pub - My Father's Moustache - half boozer, half dance studio. They do lessons and everything.

Turn right, and you're into the kerfuffle of the Keddington Road / Newbridge Hill junction. Cars come at you from all angles. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Behind, a stolid clump of social housing; a low block of flats. Next door is Madeira House, a nursing home. I went in there once, just before Christmas, checking out such establishments for a family member.

Hospital warmth; the airborne tang of diluted bleach wiped over something liquid, mopped-up, eldritch. Straight-backed chairs and milky tea in sippy cups made of once-clear plastic repeat-washed into occlusion. A festive tree in the entrance hall. A poster alleging an upcoming carol concert.

There's markings on the pavement in front of the bench. Sigils prophecying a utility works van. There's a couple of stumpy concrete dolmens; further evidence of pipework and cables underneath. The ley lines need servicing, and this is the place to dig the first trench.

High Holme Road is Victorian in its housing stock. There's evidence of previous market gardening and nurseries to its north side; occasional wooden greenhouses and elderly outbuildings. The houses range from two-bed terraces to grander properties. There's something inclusive about the mix of homes here.

Cait Green reports that The Crescent, an inter-war council housing development a hundred yards back along High Holme Road, began its life as temporary accommodation for those made homeless in the 1920 Louth flood. Tents were erected, then shacks, then brick homes. Nearly enough The Three Little Pigs made real.

Locally, it was known as Canvas Town, then Hut Town. by 1930, The Crescent was being built as a permanent solution. I didn't know that, and I kinda like that it happened. That's not the kind of civic-minded people-based solution that I can see being done today.

A small "independent" school aside, the road's entirely residential these days, though only a few years ago there was retail along here; another of those now-lost front-room grocery shops, a butcher shop also until not long back. Remnants of a time before domestic appliances and chain minimarts.

In those days you bought your meat fresh or not at all. It's odd how we persist in having freezers and fridges; why bother storing your own fresh food for days when there's a little Co-op open till all hours at the top of Newbridge Hill?

It's a busy bit of road. Plenty to see if car-watching's your thing and you don't mind leaning past the verge-parked vehicles to get a clear view. The grass has taken a bit of a pounding though. That's a shame, but what else can you do? Already the Co-op's become a relief overflow car park for residents hereabouts.

Still, the bench provides somewhere for Cordeaux kids to hang about at lunchtime. There's enough space for a small-scale kickabout if someone's got a ball. And there's always the Co-op (that's an outpost for the Lincolnshire Co-operative Society, not the national variant, thank you very much) if you need a bottle of Fanta.


The Google Street View image is from May 2011. A clear view today; no-one's parked up in front of the bench.

And here's the updated map.

Eamonn Griffin

Field notes for a personal geography of a Lincolnshire market town. You can find me here on Twitter: @eamonngriffin and also here:

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