The street where I grew up: Mark Radcliffe, 64, radio presenter, author and musician shares memories of Towncroft Lane, Bolton
We lived on the outskirts of Bolton but it felt semi-rural – you could see up to the West Pennine Moors and there was a plant nursery opposite us where we’d play and create imaginary worlds. Ours was a bumpy, unmade road, but the great thing was hardly any cars came down it, so we’d always be outside, racing bogies [home-made go-karts] down the hill and on Guy Fawkes Night we’d build a bonfire in the road.
Our house was a three-bedroom semi, with a little-used lounge with my dad’s precious stereo in it, a sofa and my mum’s piano, plus a dining room with a television and a small kitchen. It was a big moment when my mum persuaded my dad to get a serving hatch installed between the kitchen and the dining room – it saved that all-important 12ft walk-round.
Mum worked as a pharmacist but ran the house when we were young and always cooked for us. I remember her shepherd’s pie in a Pyrex dish with fork lines in the mash on top, and I still have the same breakfast now as then – Scott’s Porage Oats with Lyle’s Golden Syrup, then two toast and marmalade.
Radio presenter and author Mark Radcliffe (pictured) has opened up about his childhood home in Towncroft Lane, Bolton
I’ve always been drawn to gnomes, elves and pixies. As a child I was a big fan of the Rupert Bear Annual and the magical worlds he strayed into. I still get it every year and read it on Christmas night.
One summer I spent all my holiday money in Bournemouth on a garden gnome which I kept in my room, I didn’t want to abandon it to the elements. For this picture I was probably thinking I’d embellish what could be a boring photo with my sister Jaine in our garden by holding a gnome – I liked to perform as a child.
There were pictures of Rupert Bear and Bolton Wanderers football team in the bedroom I shared with my younger brother Joe, and I was a fan of The Monkees so I also had a collage of pictures from Monkees Monthly. I don’t think my brother had much choice, I was quite bossy. I bickered with Jaine a lot but we’re very close now, while Joe was very quiet. My mum said that when she took him out in the car as a baby she used to keep turning to look at him to check he was still alive.
For this picture, Mark revealed how he ‘liked to perform as a child’ and ‘probably thought he would embellish’ on what would otherwise be ‘a boring photo’ with his sister (above)
My parents were very tolerant when I took up the drums. I had a Ringo Starr red plastic snare drum – when you hit it you smacked Ringo in the face, which seemed a bit cruel. I’d play along to Top Of The Pops, and to singles on my Pye record player. Mum and Dad bought me second-hand drums one at a time. One Christmas it was a bass drum, but then I had to wait until my birthday to get a pedal for it, so for six months I just kicked it.
There was lots of music in the house. My mum loved Andy Williams while my dad toured with The Beatles as a journalist. He was a classical music critic and he liked jazz and folk music storytellers. When I was young he took me to orchestral concerts and to see Gerry And The Pacemakers. It may be apocryphal, but apparently he said we could see them or The Beatles and I chose them, probably because I’d heard them on the radio. With all due respect, I regret I missed the chance to see The Beatles.
As told to Andrew Preston
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