End of an era: Last of the 1950s self-build pioneers in Salisbury moves on

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Slee

While the government is promoting self-build as an answer to the housing shortage, this is nothing new to one man who was a pioneering builder in the 1950s.

94-year-old Stan Gordon is the last remaining original resident in a road in Salisbury that was built by the people who eventually moved in. 

For these families, it was the only way they could afford to buy a home of their own.

Anderson Road in Salisbury

On the edge of Bishopdown in Salisbury is the crescent of Anderson Road.   

Sixty five years ago it looked like the site of a pioneering self-build project, but over the next two years, 17 homes were constructed by a group of novice builders who were going to live in them. 

Stan Gordon says: "What an achievement. I'm quite proud of what we did, indeed I am."

Among the families, there were some tradesmen, but most had to go to night school to learn their skills, while still holding down a daytime job. 

There was a 'can-do' mentality amongst the group.

Stan said: "I didn't know anything about building, but I'm proud to say I took to it like a duck to water and I loved it. And after the scheme was finished, I became a floor layer."

"Of course we didn't know when we would finish. We had no finishing date. We just got our heads down and got on with it."

Stan Gordon

At the start of the build, lots were drawn to decide who would move into each home as it was finished. 

But once you were in, you were still committed to help build the rest of the houses. 

The project is documented in a recently published book. 

Stan Gordon working on one of the roofs.

Stan drew lot eleven which means it would be some time before he could move into his new home.

Stan says work on the houses was completed in his own time.

He said: "Oh yes, for instance I left a hole in the wall in the bathroom and I now have a recessed shaving cabinet."

Clive and Janet Bishop also feature in the book.

They moved away after raising a family, but remember the 'community spirit'. 

Clive said: "Seventeen men working together and I never, ever heard a cross word. It was fantastic."

But Clive and Janet doubt that something like this will ever be repeated. 

"I can't see it happening, can you dear?"

Janet said: "No I can't because as I say there is so much red tape now. I mean like clambering...in those days Clive could do things on a roof with a ladder which wouldn't be allowed these days."

The house and garden are now sadly a bit much for Stan, so he's moving on.

It is the end of an era of a once very special community.