Salford family bids farewell to social housing home after 76 years

The year was 1948. Clement Attlee was the Prime Minister, the National Health Service had just been launched, and Salford teenager Mary Jones was moving into a new house on the Duchy estate, which was to become the place she would call home for the next 76 years.

Following the Second World War, the country was experiencing an intense housing shortage and the Government had announced a major home building programme, which prioritised social housing.

In Salford, the old terraced ‘slum housing’ was being cleared to make way for new, modern housing, which included the new Duchy estate, which was built during the 1940s.

A then 18-year-old Mary Jones was amongst the first to move into the new homes on Duchy, along with her mum Ellen and older brother and sister Eric and Agnes.

The youngest of seven children born on 3 February,1929, Mary’s father died when she was just two-years-old. The family had lived in Ordsall, but had been staying with relatives in Kersal before they were given the keys to their new, three-bed, semi-detached council home on Central Avenue in Duchy.

Today the homes on the Duchy estate are owned by Salix Homes, and Mary, now aged 95 and a great-grandmother of four, is one of our longest serving customers.

She recalls: “I didn’t actually want to move in at first because I had all my friends in Kersal and I didn’t want to leave them behind.

“We used to say at the time that we were moving to ‘a posh part of Salford’ because the houses had gardens. We were used to the old terraced houses, and not many council houses had gardens in those days.

“The best thing about living here has been the friends and neighbours I’ve made over the years – there was always a real strong sense of community.”

Over the next eight decades, the house has provided a safe and happy home for three generations of the Jones family.

When she turned 21, Mary became a ‘WREN’ joining the Women’s Royal Navy Service and was stationed in Plymouth and Portsmouth.

She returned home to Duchy and had her son Michael in 1955. With her older sister Agnes also having a son, John, the house was now home to three generations.

Mary’s son Michael, now aged 69, said: “We have some very happy memories of living here – it’s been a very precious family home for so many of us.

“Growing up, the boys would sleep in one bedroom and the girls in another. We all had our chores to do – my Uncle Eric was in charge of the garden. He took such pride in the garden and it was always known by people round here as ‘the house with the red roses’.

“I always remember my Gran would have tea ready and warming in the oven from about 12 o’clock. Mine would be waiting for me when I got home from school, and she’d have it ready for the others when they came in from work.”

Mary worked as a machinist, while her brother Eric was an engineer and sister Agnes worked as a cotton spinner. With her skills on the sewing machine, and being a keen knitter and crocheter, Mary would always make clothes for the family, and would often make crafts for the local churches, including St Lukes, St James’ and St Thomas’, to help with fundraising efforts.

Michael moved out of the house when he got married, aged 22, to his wife Christine, but it always remained a place for the Jones family to call home.

Michael added: “We did all have to move out in 1977 for a few months when the council was doing some renovation work– they split the large bedroom, moved the bathroom upstairs and put in central heating. We were moved temporarily to Pear Tree Court, living on the 12th floor of the tower block, so that was a big change for us. I never came back after that as I got married, but the others were very glad to get back home.”

Mary’s mum Ellen lived there until she died in 1970, as did Agnes who passed away in 1993, and Eric who died in 2020, leaving Mary living alone for the past four years.

After almost eight decades of calling the ‘house with the red roses’ on Central Avenue her home, Mary has moved into an extra-care retirement village in Salford, where she can still live independently, but also has support on hand if she needs it.

Michael explained: “Since Covid, she’s become more isolated and lonely, as her friends and neighbours have died or moved away, so the time has come to move on and say goodbye to our family home.

“It’s a sad feeling to hand back the keys after all these years, as we all have such fond memories, but it’s the best thing for mum in the time of life she’s in now, and she’s looking forward to making new friends.”

Sue Sutton, Chief Executive at Salix Homes, added: “This marks the end of an extraordinary chapter for the Jones family and a house that has been a cornerstone of their lives for nearly eight decades.

“Mary’s story is a powerful example of the profound difference that social housing can make in people’s lives, providing stability, security, and a foundation for generations. While it is indeed the end of an era, it is also the beginning of a new journey for this house where we look forward to welcoming a new family who will have the opportunity to create their own lasting memories here.

“We’d like to thank Mary and her family for taking such pride in their home over the years and we wish Mary much happiness in her new home.”

See some photos of Mary from over the years