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Charlie's vow to stay in his Wirral 'castle' grabs national media attention
A WIRRAL man's determination to stay in the home that has been his "castle" for more than 60 years has attracted national media attention.
Charlie Wright lives with a lodger in a small house on deserted, barren wasteland off Corporation Road, near the rejuvenated docks in Birkenhead.
Born and raised at the property in Ilchester Road, alongside his nine brothers and sisters, he eventually bought it off the council in 2001.
The 603 other homes that used to make up the River Streets Estate were demolished years ago, but the former boiler maker, who has recently overcome a heart attack, wants to stay put in the house that has been his home for nearly 63 years.
The Globe told the story of Charlie's solitary life in 2006 and returned this week as work begins on the multi-million pound Wirral Waters regeneration project.
With the Union Jack proudly raised outside the modest house, the 62-year-old is happy where he is and sees a bright future for the area.
In the past Charlie has been offered other places to live, but none of them have been suitable.
He told the Globe: "I'm 63 next month. The way I've been going with my heart attack, I might not have long to go, so I’m not moving.
"This is my castle and I’ve got no intention of leaving.
"The only way they’ll get me to leave this house will be in my box. The council have left me alone for many years, so I’m happy with the way things are at the moment."
He added: "From my bedroom I can see Liverpool’s two cathedrals. I can also sit on my front doorstep and see ships being repaired. Where else in Wirral can you do that?"
The tale of his life, and his fight to remain in a house flanked by two derelict buildings, has featured on the BBC's Inside Out programme. The Daily Mail carried an extensive article about Charlie and he has also been on local radio.
One of ten children, Charlie went to Tollemache Road school but believes a council strategy that saw 603 homes demolished on the Corporation Road site sounded the death knell for a once-thriving community.
Yet he is heartened by the Wirral Waters scheme and thinks it heralds a brighter future for the area.
Charlie said: "I can’t wait to see Wirral Waters take off, because it will breathe new life into Birkenhead North. Trees have been planted near the site, which will look great once building gets underway.
"Once it starts to get going, with things like the car plant, people will be able to get a job instead of being put on schemes where they don’t get paid.
"Wirral Waters' investors will come from China and India and I hope there will be lots of jobs for locals."
Proud of his roots, Charlie was heavily involved in community projects. In 1974, as chairman of the Riverstreet Action Group, he helped create a community centre.
He also employed a group of men as security guards and cleaners to look after the estate and there was no vandalism or untidiness for four years.
But in 2001, the local authority announced that the houses would be demolished to make way for factory buildings in a bid to attract jobs to the area.
In the same year, Charlie was made redundant from Mobil Oil and the community centre had to be closed down because it was on land wanted by the council.
• What do you think? Do you sympathise with Charlie’s fight? What are your thoughts on the Wirral Waters scheme?
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