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All the home comforts for great-great grandmother Iris McGowan

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All the home comforts for great-great grandmother Iris McGowan


Published by Sarah Thomas for Homes in Havering in Housing and also in Bill Payments

Photo shows Iris McGowan, 93, in her new bathroom thanks to Homes in Havering Photo shows Iris McGowan, 93, in her new bathroom thanks to Homes in Havering

Ninety three-year-old Iris McGowan spent her early family life bringing up five children in one attic room and using a shared bath. But that all changed in 1950 when she moved to one of the first homes built in Harold Hill.

Great-great grandmother Mrs McGowan now appreciates all the home comforts – including a brand new bathroom, which has just been installed by Homes in Havering (HiH) as part of its Decent Homes programme.

HiH, which manages Havering Council’s housing stock, is sprucing up tenants’ homes - making sure they’ve got proper heating, windows, boilers, plumbing and electrics - as part of a four-year project.

During this financial year (finishing at the end of March 2013) HiH will have spent a total of £22.6 million under Decent Homes.

For Mrs McGowan and husband James, aged 78, it meant their semi-detached home in Keats Avenue had its 1960s bathroom replaced by a modern suite, including electric shower, new flooring and new tiles.

Mrs McGowan said it was an unimaginable change from her life in the late 1940s when she was bringing up three daughters and two baby sons in an attic room in Stoke Newington.

She said: “The house was bombed in 1943 when the ceiling came in. There were also bugs coming through the walls, we shared one rusty bath and we had to put a penny in to get the geyser to work.

“When we moved out to Straight Road in Harold Hill in 1950 it was as if I’d died and gone to heaven. There no schools or shops nearby, so it was a 45-minute walk with a pram into Romford to buy something, but we were all young and it was like living in the country”.

In 1959 the growing family moved to her current Keats Avenue home just after it had been built. Her first husband Richard Mott died in 1962, but she married James in 1968.

“My first husband put in the bathroom in the 1960s, but it was very dated. It’s now modern, with light tiles which make the room look bigger and brighter. The end product is really lovely. All those years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamt I’d ever have a bathroom like this,” she added.

Kevin Hazlewood, Head of Property Services at HiH, said: “This is an example of how the work we are carrying out under the Decent Homes programme really is making a difference to our residents. We were delighted to hear how happy Mrs McGowan was with the work carried out because when you’ve lived somewhere for so long, it really is so much more than a house- it’s truly your home.”

Havering Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Lesley Kelly, said: “We will make a real difference to residents’ lives by installing new kitchens, bathrooms and central heating systems. We’ve been working hard to improve as many homes as possible this year.”


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