'Last house standing on abandoned Merseyside estate almost lost forever in chip pan fire' LIVERPOOL ECHO

Charlie Wright in front of his house in Ilchester Road, Birkenhead, - the last remaining house Photo by Gavin Trafford.

The last surviving house on an abandoned estate was almost lost forever - after a chip pan fire.

Charlie Wright’s Ilchester Road terrace – once at the heart of the 600-home River Streets estate in Birkenhead – now stands amid derelict land flanked by two half-destroyed five-bedroom houses.

The surrounding community has shrunk dramatically and acres of land have been left unused, overgrown and littered with rubbish.

But Mr Wright, 63, was born in the house, is one of 10 siblings to grow up on the estate and has vowed to never leave his family home.

His commitment has caused a headache for the council which was forced to allow Mr Wright to stay when hundreds of other families were relocated.

But after funding for a modern development on the land fell through and with interest in the once-buzzing port-side community fading, Mr Wright thought his battle was won.


But a fire in his kitchen, which filled the downstairs with smoke, has threatened to level the “last house standing.

Retired boilerman Mr Wright said: “I had put a pan of chips on and was watching a film and I forgot about the chip pan.

“The next thing there was smoke filling the house. Everywhere was black, it was unbelievable.

“My dog was barking at the bottom of the door and when I opened it smoke poured in.

“I’ll never cook a pan of chips in that house ever again. It is the last house and it could have gone. But I’ll need a new kitchen and my carpets have to go.”

Merseyside fire service confirmed three engines were sent to the blaze shortly after midnight on Monday.


Charlie Wright in front of his home Photo by Gavin Trafford. 


A spokeswoman said: “The kitchen and its contents were completely damaged by fire. There was smoke damage to the remainder of the property.”

Mr Wright was taken to Arrowe Park hospital for a precautionary check-up after suffering suspected smoke inhalation.

He added: “I don’t get much pressure from the council any more. They don’t come near me but this was one of the best estates ever.

“We had everything and now we’ve got nothing, not even neighbours. It’s a tip, but I’m not bothered about the value of the house. I’m never leaving.

"I was born here - one of 10 - and I’m not going to move.

“This is a proper community, people know each other and they’ve been bringing me meals since the fire.”

© Georgina Rowlands, all rights reserved