There’s no place like home for 95-year-old Florence

Her parents were the first to move in when it was built 101 years ago.

She was born there, married and lived with her husband there, then raised a family of her own in the same Wavertree terrace.

And at the grand age of 95, gran-of-two Florence Black is still happily living in the house where she was brought into the world, making her one of housing association Riverside’s longest-standing customers.

“Everybody knows me and my neighbours are very good, they look after me,” says Florence. “I was delivered in the front bedroom by a nurse called Mrs Smith from Rathbone Road.

“It is a lovely street and I wouldn’t like to leave. I’ve been very happy here. I’ve stayed all my life because I love living here and I’m surrounded by such lovely people.”

When her parents Maria and Tom Steele moved in to the property off Picton Road with Florence’s two older brothers 101 years ago, it was a brand new home. George V was on the throne and a pint of milk cost a penny (1d).

Six years later, Florence was born in the front bedroom, and many happy memories have been made since, including getting married to her husband Charles Black. Together they also made the house their home and brought up their two sons, Arthur and Gordon, there.

“When it was first built, the house had an outside toilet at the bottom of the yard,” recalls Florence. “Then, some years later, we temporarily moved out while everything got modernised. When we returned the house was completely transformed – it was all nice like a new home. It was totally different, an inside bathroom had been installed, along with a new kitchen and living room. Since then we’ve had new central heating and smart meters put in.”

Riverside began as Liverpool Improved Houses in 1928, taking on ownership of the house some time later.

“Riverside are very good and they come and do all the repairs when I call,” says Florence.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better place to call home – I’ve lived a very happy life, and I couldn’t have asked for better neighbours. They may have come and gone over the years, but the street has stayed a great place to live. We are such a close-knit community who all get on well and there’s never been any trouble.

“One of my old neighbours who is in her 70s moved away years ago but still keeps in touch. She still comes to visit me and brings flowers on my birthday which is so lovely. Where else would you get that?”

Among her memories, Florence recalls using the air-raid shelters in The Mystery park during the Second World War, and the rag-and-bone man touring the streets shouting “Any Old Iron” at the top of his voice. There was also a bakery at the bottom of the road that was popular with locals.

Florence added: “It has always been a good community here. Back then everyone from all the surrounding streets knew each other, and there was only one household who owned a car in the street.

“People used to scrub their doorstep, and it was customary for men to raise their hats as ladies went by. On Bonfire Night all the children would collect wood to make a bonfire in the park.

“This is one of the best streets in Liverpool with very good landlords and neighbours. I wouldn’t want to leave. I was born here and I want to die here.”

Jackie Fielding, Riverside’s Neighbourhood Housing Officer for Wavertree, added: “I’ve met Mrs Black a number of times over the 15 years I have been working in this role. She is a lovely lady and very young at heart.

“She is a delight to deal with and is from an era when people loved and cared for their home. She is always very cooperative and is the model tenant. She is Riverside royalty!”

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