Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Ron’s House

By John Humphries, Dec 2011

Dear Sir – re the demolition [last year] of the little house built between Silverstone Court and the old dancing school in London Road. It is a story of one man’s perseverance and endeavour. Ron Haffenden lived with his family in Aldborough Road. His main interest was gardening, with his father. They acquired the plot between London Road and Upper Clarence Road and gardened it. Ron used to talk about building a bungalow on the site with his dad – but we thought it was only talk. After his parents died he started collecting the materials and tools he thought he would need and storing them in the garage-cum-shed on the site. A small cement mixer was the biggest piece of equipment he used on the whole project. He started casting blocks, some of which when tested for strength exceeded all expectations.
As it was a two-level site, he had to build a large retaining wall between the garden and where the house was to be built. Next it was digging out the footings – all done on his own with pick and shovel.
Then he offered to rewire my house – which he did on his own. This was obviously to learn the electrics he needed for his own project. Slowly the walls went up to first floor level and then that floor was laid, enabling him to continue building without scaffolding. Many of his materials were recycled: a girder came from the Silverhill Picture House and the fine front door from a shop at the Harrow. In fact, the only things to my knowledge he didn’t make, other than doors, were the window frames and staircase.
When it came to the roof, this was one of the strongest, and to my mind finest, on any house in Hastings. He had little knowledge about joinery, so he borrowed building encylopedias from me, read it up, and then built the roof! In all the time of this building, Ron still did the garden and tended his greenhouse. Sadly he didn’t live to a ripe old age, but he did have several happy years in what we shall always know as Ron’s House. It seemed to take most of the ‘70s to build. Sadly it is now no more, a memorial to one man’s effort – destroyed by developers.

Vic Chalcraft, Aldborough Road.

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