50-year tenant celebrates tower block’s £million refurb
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
A social housing tenant who has lived in the same iconic Salford tower block for 50 years has taken a trip down memory lane, as a multi-million pound regeneration scheme comes to an end.
Joyce Cotgrave, 82, and her late husband Stanley, who sadly passed away four years ago, were one of the first couples to move into Arthur Millwood Court in Islington in 1964.
After living in the same flat for half a century, Joyce is now the only original tenant left in the 14-storey building.
Arthur Millwood Court, neighbouring high rise block Canon Hussey Court and a number of low rise properties which make up the Islington estate, are currently undergoing a transforming facelift by landlord Salix Homes, which manages 8,500 properties across Central Salford.
And as the new-look properties enter a new era, Joyce has been reflecting on her happy memories of high rise living.
She said: “I remember when they were being built and I never thought then I’d end up living in one, but I have a lot of happy memories living here. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go and made a lot of friends.
“I have seen a lot of changes over the years. My view looks out across Manchester and I’ve watched all those buildings go up from my window. When I first moved in you could only see Albert Bridge House, there was no Arndale Centre or anything, but I’ve seen it all get built.”
The blocks, named after the 1937-38 Mayor of Salford Arthur Millwood and Canon Richard Hussey, a long-serving rector of Holy Trinity, Salford, were built during the 1960s as part of a project to clear the city’s slums.
Joyce and Stanley were relocated by the council from their ‘two up, two down’ in Ordsall Lane, which was demolished as part of the slum clearance, along with Joyce’s mother Alice Goulden, who moved into the flat next door.
“When I first moved in I wasn’t very impressed. It was noisy and cold and your voice used to echo around the corridors. People just weren’t used to living in flats and it probably took a couple of years to get used to it, but now I love it and I would never want to live anywhere else," said Joyce.
Salix Homes has worked alongside contractor Forrest to completely transform the pair of ageing blocks and low rise apartments and bring them up to the decent homes standard. The scheme is due to completed by the end of March.
Internally over 300 properties across the estate have been fitted with a range of improvements including modern kitchens, bathrooms and new electrics.
Externally the high rise buildings have also had full rain-screen cladding in striking shades of graphite and orange, totally transforming the Salford skyline as well as new windows and balconies. The roofs of the buildings have also been replaced and energy efficient heating systems have been installed, which will slash the buildings’ carbon footprint.
Joyce added: “I have lived here for a very long time, but it’s better than ever now thanks to Salix Homes. The improvement works have made such a difference, my flat is so warm.
“My fondest memory is living here with Stanley as we were very happy, but now my best memory is seeing the improvements that have taken place. I want to spend the rest of my years here.”
Joe Willis, chief executive of Salix Homes, said: “This investment serves as the flagship scheme for Salix Homes’ decent homes improvement programme and we know that this project will make an enormous difference to our tenants’ quality of life and lift the appearance of the whole area, which sits on a key gateway into the city and forms part of the wider Chapel Street regeneration.
“The holistic regeneration of Chapel Street will transform the area for the benefit of existing and potential residents, businesses and visitors, providing a unique offer at the heart of the Manchester city region.