Within these St Annes’ House Walls
Currently clearing and selling my Mum’s flat, I’ve become the sudden curator of my maternal family’s history, through the many fascinating photographs and objects that now seem to be mine.
In amongst the boxes are a print of a painting with a St Anne’s address on the back and some photographs with the same address on the other side of them.
I have always been vaguely aware of Park Road as a place my great grandparents lived with their young family.
Googling the family name and the address, I found 44 Park Road listed as a family business in 1934: ‘Arnold Saxon 44 Park Road apartments.’
Today, the house (merged with no 46) is a residential home.
Although my great grandfather, Arnold, is listed as the owner, in 1934, it was my great grandmother Jennie (later called Jean) who was the powerhouse behind the business.
Raised in a terraced house in Newton le Willows, Jennie was the eldest in a family of 6. Her father was a railway carpenter.
Once married, she lived with her husband in Barrow-in-Furness and ran a chemist shop. They had two children John (called Jack) born 1911 and Jean, born 1915.
At some point they moved to St Annes and bought 44 Park Road.
I have a memory of being told that my great grandfather, Arnold Saxon, was a professional footballer but I can find no evidence of this.
Jennie Saxon had a talent as a businesswoman and made a decent living keeping lodgers in the ‘apartments’. In fact, she kept a lodger until her mid 80s because I remember him living upstairs in the large house that she then lived in (at Lime Grove) . He was a civil servant, called Rodger.
Then, I was a tiny, visiting child and remained fascinated by the stranger upstairs. When he went out, I would climb the stairs to eagerly peep into his unremarkable space.
Unfortunately, life was not always rosy for the hardworking Saxon family. In 1932, tragedy struck when their eldest son, Jack, aged 21, died of pneumonia. He was a young policeman.
My grandmother, his sister, who was 17 at the time, remained devastated by his loss all her life. My great grandmother never once mentioned her lost son’s name to me, so traumatised she was by it, right until the end of her days.
However, in the early 1930s, Jennie Saxon threw herself into the distracting hard work of her business, keeping all her lodgers well looked after.
Her landlady work paid off and she was able to take her daughter, Jean, who was a young woman by then, on a couple of cruises (a huge luxury at that time).
It is clear to me now that these cruises were a way of distracting themselves from their recent bereavement.
I really hope they worked.
In 1939, when WW2 broke out, Jennie Saxon continued her hard work. She was perfectly placed, in St Anne’s to take in some of the many lodgers who descended into the area to do essential war work. I’m supposing that she favoured lodging the (possibly less rowdy) civil servants, given that she did that until her old age.
All the St Anne’s and Blackpool hotels and boarding houses were requisitioned to provide some of their rooms for war workers, at that time.
The following years were busy. I believe that all of the dedicated workers in The Fylde toiled long and hard for the war effort.
Amongst them were my great grandparents.
I have no idea what happened to 44 Park Road between the time my great grandparents sold it and its present day life as a residential home.
Maybe someone can fill me in?
By Debra Preston Helle