Port Clarence changes

port clarence, high clarence, haverton hill

Growing up in Port Clarence

I was born in 1980, my journey home from hospital taking me to 8 Beech Terrace, waiting there to meet me was my sister Clare who is 3 years older than me. My Mam decided that we now needed a bigger house so shortly after we moved to 22 Eton Terrace which has now been renamed Fieldview Close and is where most of my childhood memories are from. Back then everybody knew everybody else and neighbours looked out for each others children, it saddens me now to see the community spirit dying, I wish that my kids could enjoy the same carefree childhood that I had.

I used to wake in the morning and be excited to play out, there were so many adventures out there and I'd wonder what I'd do that day. Some days I'd head for the park which was on the field, or the bendy as we called it, at the end of my street. It consisted of a climbing frame shaped like a ship, monkey bars, a row of swings and 2 tyre swings, I had my fair share of mis-haps on that park. I remember my first attempt at crossing the monkey bars, I got across 3 or 4 rungs then my arms just couldn't take me any further so I was stranded there, hanging on. I couldn't drop because it was too high so I screamed for dear life until Bri Gatley from the end of our street ran over and lifted me down. I also got my first black eye on that park when I walked in front of the tyre swing. On hot days a I'd tag along with a group of boys and head over the Marsh to catch frogs, newts and tadpoles, we'd hitch our trousers up to our knee's and wade into the water armed with a net or a jam jar and catch as much as we could then we'd take our catches back to the bank and empty them into a bucket or dish then either put them back into the water, carry them home and leave them in someone's back yard or later on after the farm was built, we'd let them go in the pond there.

In 1987 it had been apparent for a while that things were changing for the worst for the people of Port Clarence. More and more of the original residents were moving away and community spirit was dying. Houses were left empty and were vandalised, it was hard to believe that people still lived here with the dated houses, many of which were boarded up and abandoned. My Mam who was pregnant at the time and my Step-Dad decided that they wanted better for us kids so we moved to Billingham where my Brother was born. Meanwhile back home in Port Clarence changes were being made. After some discussion the residents had objected to the demolision of Port Clarence which was going to mean a new village would be built elsewhere. I think the thought of leaving their secure, secluded little village unnerved them slightly so instead it was agreed that all of the houses would be modernised. 3 streets had their names changed - Eaton Terrace became Fieldview Close, Oxford Terrace became Saltholme Close and Harrow Terrace became Meadowdale Close, they all became private houses, I think to try and get rid of the council estate image. A new street was also built, Limetrees Close, also private. We exchanged houses with the Addison's during the time when modernisation was being carried out, we lived in Cambridge Terrace but had been allocated a newly modernised house in Rugby Terrace. They modernised the streets a few at a time and residents were moved around to make way for the next streets in line.

So here we were, back down Port, much to my delight. It was horrible living in a big town and I missed the safety and closeness of Port Clarence. Things seemed promising with the newly modernised housing and the private houses being sold easily but it didn't last long. I don't know what went wrong, I think it was down to the fact that the people who were buying the houses were from all walks of life and totally different to the people who had preiously dominated Port. I don't think people liked the idea of these strangers invading their village as it seemed. The new residents didn't settle well in Port either, they felt excluded and they didn't fit in. They sold their houses for next to nothing and moved on. More new residents bought the houses and had the same excluded feelings as the others and they too sold up and moved on, the houses were soon being snapped up by propertly developers and became private rented homes. We were back to being a council estate. The private rented homes became temporary accomadation for all sorts of waifs and strays and were vandalised. Amongst those people was an arsonist who torched our pub - The Queens head, our old Community centre and even some houses! 

I am now in my late 20's and have kids of my own. I still live in Port Clarence. I hang on to every little detail that reminds me of the old Port Clarence and how it used to be. I am sad that my kids can't experience the wonderful place that once stood here when I was a child. There are still many large families living here who have lived here all of their lives as well as some who moved on for better things then came back. The majority of the people who live here are the same people who have lived here for most or all of their lives and refuse to let go of the Port Clarence that they knew and loved, probably hanging on to the hope that that Community spirit will return one day.