Tenant with 92 years in one house helps celebrate centenary of council homes

It was 1926 when the baby Cyril Hall was moved into one of Barnsley’s earliest council houses and almost 93 years later it remains the only address he has ever known as home.

By Paul Whitehouse
Wednesday, 07 August, 2019, 13:25
Old and new: Long since demolished housing alongside the council homes which emerged at Cundy Cross, Barnsley

Mr Hall was barely two months old when his parents moved him to Priory Road in Lundwood and it was that house where he grew up and began his married life, taking over the tenancy from his father and remaining there throughout his life.

Despite his advancing years he has no intention of leaving the house, built as part of the nation’s answer to the slums of a previous era, and Bernelsai Homes, the company now responsible for Barnsley’s council housing, would struggle to find a finer advertisement for the value of social housing.

During his decades at the address, he has not only been satisfied tenant but was a prominent member of the local TARA, tenants and residents association, where long-serving staff still remember him as a force to be reckoned with as the group negotiated with the council to keep their estate safe and well maintained.

One address: Cyril Hall has remained in the same house throughout his life

He said of his home: “I wouldn’t swap it for all the tea in China.”

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In the 1920s new council homes were equipped with electric lights and Mr Hall still has one of the original bulbs, which remains in working order.

Mr Hall was among the guests attending the opening of a three day exhibition at Barnsley’s Lightbox library, to celebrate a centenary of council housing.

Staff have worked to put together a record of the history of council housing in the borough, poring through Barnsley Archives records, their own files and interviewing long-standing tenants to help put the package together.

After it ends on Friday, the exhibition will tour sheltered housing schemes and community centres to give more people the chance to view it, with plans also in place to use it for staff seminars, to help explain how the roles of workers in the sector have changed down the years.

Berneslai Homes customer service manager, Sarah Barnes, said: “It has been a great project for us to work on.”