A RESIDENT of Southampton celebrates her 90th birthday today … after having spent her entire life living in the same street!

Jean Featherstone was born in High Road, Swaythling where her parents lived and stayed there until she got married.

Her parents, Mr and Mrs George Hobbs were well known musicians and played in the clubs and pubs throughout Southampton and the wider area.

“Mum was a talented pianist and Dad a drummer and singer with a lovely deep voice,” said Jean.

“We were always off somewhere to play on a Friday or Saturday night and I still know all the tunes and words off by heart.”

Daily Echo: Mr and Mrs Hobbs in their garden

Jean attended school locally but then passed her 11 plus and got a place in the girls’ grammar school in Hill Lane Southampton.

“My father was very keen on education, being a railway orphan and largely self-educated himself.

“Mum used to say: ‘That girl has always got her nose in a book. She should get on and do something useful!’”

Jean had to cycle every day from her home to the grammar school and one day remembers being terrified when she got her bicycle wheels caught in the tram tracks that used to run down High Road.

“Dad made me go to school every day, even in the worst of weathers.

“One day I cycled in thick snow to arrive at the school and find I was the only girl who had made it.”

Daily Echo: Jean Hobbs

Jean has never moved out of the road and has never considered moving out of the area she loves.

“I was evacuated to Otterbourne during the war,” she said “but that apart I have spent my whole life living in High Road.”

In the middle of the the Second World War her parents were playing music at the White Horse, Otterbourne, and they heard that Southampton was being bombed.

Jean’s father got talking to the locals and a farmer offered to house her for the night.

Jean ended up staying with the farmer for the rest of the war as an evacuee and her father cycled from High Road to Otterbourne every Friday to see her.

Jean met her husband Joe at Percy Hendy’s garage where he was a car mechanic and she was a secretary.

They married on March 29, 1952 at St Albans Church, Burgess Road, and it was a day of very heavy snow. They moved two doors down from the house she lived in with her parents.

Daily Echo: Jean and Joe Featherstone on their wedding day

The reception was held at Highfield Hall where her mother played the piano and her father sang.

“He sang This Was My Lovely Day from the musical Bless the Bride. It has been my favourite song ever since”.

Jean felt an incredible sense of community throughout her childhood, married life and while bringing up her three boys Michael, Christopher and Stephen.

“Families were very hard-up after the war,” she said.

“Life was a struggle.

“I remember two poor lads from another family who would wait each morning for my boys to walk to the primary school with them.

“I noticed that despite the cold and wet they had shoes with holes in so I gave them each a pair of my boys’ old shoes.

“Next day they were back at the gate in their old shoes with holes in.

“I asked them where the shoes I gave them were. They told me their mum had sold them that night for some extra money. That’s how hard up people were.”

Her husband was often away at sea for long periods of time but took great comfort in the fact that everyone knew each other in the road and would happily help at any time.

High Road has seen many changes in the years since Jean was born.

Daily Echo: A family day out

“We used to have every shop that you needed in the road from Dunnings the Butcher, Bates the Chemist and Vardy fishmonger to name but a few- and we had our own cinema, the Savoy, which was very popular with courting couples”

Jean is sad that all the old shops have gone, as have nearly all the people who lived as neighbours for so many years.

“That’s just progress and now we have a diverse community that brings something new and different to the area,” she said.

Jean and her husband Joe were stalwarts in the Swaythling allotments not far from the house in High Road.

“My father had an allotment there for many years and Joe and I for even longer and we produced all our own vegetables.”

She looks back with fondness on so many memories of Swaythling and High Road as she celebrates her 90th birthday.

But, as a very modern 90-year-old, is highly proficient on the internet and social media which she uses non-stop to keep in touch with her three boys and wives as well as her six grandchildren and seven – soon to be eight – great grandchildren.

“iPads are the greatest invention ever in my book,” she enthuses, “ I will be celebrating my 90th with a Zoom birthday party with all the family and grandchildren.”

“It’s wonderful, especially for old people today to be able to keep in touch with everyone”

Jean is also a long time regular reader of the Southern Daily Echo and is a subscriber to the Echo’s premium digital service which she reads every day on her beloved iPad.