Concern for the moral welfare of the inhabitants of Ruscombe, who "exhibited a very low type and a very degraded state of social and moral life", led to Christian groups setting up a church in Ruscombe in 1802 and Bread Street in 1810 (i). However no such behaviour was evident on Saturday 28th June at the residents first street party.
Photos: All the good photos here are from Bread Street photographer Mike Gallagher with a few others from me!
The road was officially closed, much bunting and flags hung out and all apart from a handful of the residents in the 34 houses were able to join the party along with some ex-residents and a few interlopers from as far afield as less than half a mile down the road in Randwick. Also amongst the party was the youngest resident, Cas (see photo of Cas with mother Sarah Watson), who had been born 4 days previously in one of the homes in the street.
The afternoon kicked off with planting a laburnam tree on the green at Laburnam Crescent by the longest residing Bread Street resident, John Scrivens (see photo), then a photo of all the residents on the green (see earlier blog) and then the judging of the Bread Street Funny Shaped Bread competition by ex-resident Beryl Tagg. Entries included a spider, a snake, a bread Bread Street with bunting, a cat with whiskers, five bunnies and the winning entry of two sheep.
Glastonbury Festival may have a wider range of bands playing the same Saturday, but the Bread Street street party still saw two local bands play the main Gazebo: Dr Foster and the Imposters (top photo) and the well-known Smoothie (middle photo) with old classics, stripped down and occasionally funked up so that residents were dancing the evening away. One 70 plus year old commented that she didn't imagine dancing to such music let alone doing it in the street, while one of the children commented that they didn't know their Mum could dance.
All the residents made food and brought it along to cover several tables. There were also games including Quoits, boules and a treasure hunt which had children racing up and down the road. Many residents also joined in with the chalk pavement drawing.
Anyhow I never quite know what to say to press in these situations, but here is some of it....
Philip Booth, the local District councillor and one of the organisers of the party, said: "We don't have a local shop on this road and many of us leave such busy lives that there are few chances to really meet our neighbours. There is something special about having an event right outside your house: the street came alive with children cycling and running about - some children, although living in the same street, were playing together for the first time. One child, eyes all lit up with glee, shouted to me: 'I'm cycling in the road!' It reminded me of my childhood when we still could play in the road without fear of being run over."
Philip Booth added: "It was a brilliant party. I've had emails and cards saying how much it was enjoyed and how we must do it again. Three guests also said they wanted to do something similar in their streets. Certainly street parties are great for bringing together communities, they apparently also can help cut crime and reduce fear of crime and can even lead to rises in property prices, but best of all it was lots of fun."
Philip Booth said: "Everyone contributed to make the party a success. We deliberately kept it to just Bread Street residents as we thought that would make it easier to get to know each other A few residents met several times in the pub to plan a little. Some visited each house to sort out food contributions, some sorted bunting or bands while others sorted the road closure. One resident even wrote a short history of Bread Street which was made available to all residents and is also now on the Parish website. We would be happy to share our experiences more about how to close roads and more, if people want to organise their own events."
(i) See "A view of the history of Bread Street" soon to be available on the Parish Council website and made available to all Bread Street residents by Bread Street resident Guy Ellis: www.whiteshillandruscombe.org.uk/Latest_news.htm