Atherton House (purchased around 1958/9), was Charlie’s family home where he came alive with the opportunities to further enrich his and his family’s lives – there were no children. Atherton House, Euxton (pronounced Exton) is situated just beside the narrow railway bridge controlled by traffic lights on the A49 trunk road adjacent to Pack Saddle Farm in Euxton. A wonderful but neglected property in those days standing in some two acres of land with a stream running the length of the grounds.
The purchase of this property appears to have been funded by Charlie selling his father’s property (29 Chelsea Road, Bolton – his father died in 1956) and Jo or rather Peggy as introduced to us – selling her mother’s house in Lostock Hall (her mother also died in 1956 leaving her an old terraced house, 6 Birtwistle Street), and combining that with another property owned by Peggy’s other sister Emma, a widow. The sale of these three houses enabled them to purchase Atherton House, and create a home for Charlie and Peggy and Peggy’s extended family which included her brother Harry, and sister’s Lena and Emma. Harry and Lena were partially handicapped, and indeed Harry also became blind later on.
I should also mention at this stage that apart from Harry, they were all cyclists. In 1960 when I was returning with other members of the Blackburn CTC Section from a fortnight touring Norway, on the returning Bergen-Newcastle ferry who should I bump into but Peggy and sister Lena, who had just spent a month touring Norway and had been interviewed, seemingly, by the Norwegian television service, whilst Charlie was busy working away in Trafford Park.
Charlie was now in some sort of heaven. All his energies of the past several years were put into improving his house and grounds, and, his love, creating a veritable network of paths, rockeries and bridges around the stream which ran through the grounds. He had always been very knowledgeable about plants and bushes and he went into overdrive, planting bushes and shrubs everywhere. Everything had to be recorded in various books of course, and his bike, for the first time in his life, left centre stage. I still have ledgers recording the weight of tomatoes garnered from each plant each year in his greenhouse.
Several months later two posh looking chaps turned up in his garden one morning wishing to speak with him. It turned out that they were Directors of nearby Leyland Motors, had heard about Charlie’s gardening prowess, and wanted ‘someone who knew what’s what’ to supervise the groundsmen at the nearby Leyland Motors Sports and Social Club, which ran to allsorts of cricket, football, rugby and bowling greens etc. They explained, when Charlie initially rejected the suggestion, that they only wanted someone to go over to the grounds briefly twice a day, morning and afternoon, to tell the men what to do next, and that he would be more than adequately rewarded, so the position was reluctantly accepted.