An Old House In Cravells Road

Before and After - 1880s to 1980s

Dad by the old kitchen range
The cooker, sink and the only tap in the house
The floor and stairs had to go ....
.... and all the ceilings and plaster
Watched by the neighbour, the new roof going on
The extension with the new kitchen and bathroom
....and the new lounge/dining room
And now for the front garden

In early 1984 my Dad bought a house in Cravells Road. It had two small rooms downstairs and two small bedrooms upstairs. The whole house was only 10 feet 6inches (3.2 metres) wide. It didn`t cost much because it was in very poor condition. The old lady it had belonged to before had lived there a very long time.

No Electricity

It had been built at a time before houses had electricity or running water and it didn`t have a bathroom, just a toilet in the garden. Downstairs it had just two gas lights which had to be lit with a match every time you wanted to switch on – I wonder if she used candles upstairs?

Water Supply

Originally water had come from the well in the garden, but by 1984 piped water came to a cold tap over the sink in the kitchen and there was now a flushing toilet in a shed in the garden, but still no hot water anywhere.


The old coal-fired “kitchen range”, originally providing warmth and cooking had by now been replaced with a two-ring gas cooker with a tiny oven – and no microwave!


There was no Central Heating, just coal fires in the other rooms.


It was a lot of hard work for my Dad to get it ready for their wedding in July, as he only had his spare time after work in the evenings and at weekends, but he did it all by himself!

Comments about this page

  • What a wonderful tribute Lucy! Marvelously written!

    By Anna Pollard (19/03/2012)
  • Well done Lucy for writing all about the history of your parents’ first home. We can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a house without electricity and running water with a toilet in the garden!

    By Noa and Kate (01/06/2011)
  • What a lovely portrait of a house, and a tribute to your dad’s hard work. So many houses in Harpenden have been expanded and altered, and it is good to be reminded of what they used to be like.

    By Rosemary Ross (27/02/2011)

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