Defiant Charlie Wright - owner of last house standing in River Streets - owes his life to pet dog Jazz after blaze

Wirral Globe: Charlie at home this week. Picture: Paul Heaps Charlie at home this week. Picture: Paul Heaps

Charlie Wright has fought to stay in the family home that has been his "castle" for more than 60 years - but his life almost came to a tragic end after a fire oin the early hours of Monday.

He lives in the last house standing on the former River Streets estate - and his defiant stance was featured this week in national newspapers and regional television bulletins.

But Charlie, his lodger and his now-famous home almost came to a premature demise when he decided to cook chips then fell asleep - and the pan burst into flames spreading choking smoke throughtout the property.

Luckily he was woken by the sound of his dog Jazz barking out a warning.

It saved the life of Charlie and John Norman, who lodges at the house.

They were taken to Arrowe Park Hospital suffering smoke inhalation.

The blaze threatened to level the house in which Charlie was born.

Charlie told the Globe: "If it hadn't been for Jazz we'd both be dead.

"I’ll never eat chips again.

"The kitchen's contents have now been taken away and will be getting replaced."

Charlie was raised at the property, alongside his nine brothers and sisters, and 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 was the first to tell the story of Charlie's solitary life in 2006.

We returned this week as work begins on the multi-million pound Wirral Waters regeneration project around the north end of Birkenhead.

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."

 

Comments (5)

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12:24pm Sat 22 Feb 14

bigfoot says...

Charlie,get rid of the chip pan and use either oven chips or a thermostatically controlled deep fat fryer.chippies do deliver as well.
Charlie,get rid of the chip pan and use either oven chips or a thermostatically controlled deep fat fryer.chippies do deliver as well. bigfoot
  • Score: 6

8:11pm Sat 22 Feb 14

minimad69 says...

Hope everything is alright for Charlie his dog and the lodger.

People tend to forget the good people, when an area gets a bad press.

My late Nan - one of life's beautiful people lived just round the corner, in Station Road - where decent housing stock, as in the River Streets has bitten the dust.

All power to your elbow Charlie !
Hope everything is alright for Charlie his dog and the lodger. People tend to forget the good people, when an area gets a bad press. My late Nan - one of life's beautiful people lived just round the corner, in Station Road - where decent housing stock, as in the River Streets has bitten the dust. All power to your elbow Charlie ! minimad69
  • Score: 7

12:08pm Sun 23 Feb 14

benny07 says...

WELL DONE CHARLIE & JAZ ,,BUT AS SOON AS WIRRAL WATERS GET UNDER WAY ,THE COUNCIL WILL TAKE YOU TO COURT ,OBTAIN A CUMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER AN BOOT YOU ALL OUT ,,LIKE THEY DID WITH MY FIRST HOME,,THE LABOUR COUNCIL DONT GIVE A MONKEYS,ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE BIRKENHEAD & WANT TO LIVE HERE,,BUT HOPE ALL GOES WELL,FOR YA.BEST WISHES.
WELL DONE CHARLIE & JAZ ,,BUT AS SOON AS WIRRAL WATERS GET UNDER WAY ,THE COUNCIL WILL TAKE YOU TO COURT ,OBTAIN A CUMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDER AN BOOT YOU ALL OUT ,,LIKE THEY DID WITH MY FIRST HOME,,THE LABOUR COUNCIL DONT GIVE A MONKEYS,ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE BIRKENHEAD & WANT TO LIVE HERE,,BUT HOPE ALL GOES WELL,FOR YA.BEST WISHES. benny07
  • Score: 5

11:44pm Sun 23 Feb 14

Positive thinker says...

It amazes me that the chap wants to live there,if the council wanted him
out to develop the area I wouldn't have thought they would have to much
trouble.
It amazes me that the chap wants to live there,if the council wanted him out to develop the area I wouldn't have thought they would have to much trouble. Positive thinker
  • Score: 0

1:47pm Tue 25 Feb 14

rover600 says...

I admire Charlie's dogged determination but wonder how much of his life he has wasted trying to fight off what is inevitable. I acknowledge it's his life to waste and he may enjoy the tranquillity of the deserted area but if I read correctly Charlie was very much at the forefront of the former community and I'm sure his time and experience would be valued in other local communities and he would have neighbours to look out for and to look out for him. Community spirit is lacking in today's society, I'd love to see Charlie doing what he apparently does best.

If you are reading this Charlie, good luck to you.
I admire Charlie's dogged determination but wonder how much of his life he has wasted trying to fight off what is inevitable. I acknowledge it's his life to waste and he may enjoy the tranquillity of the deserted area but if I read correctly Charlie was very much at the forefront of the former community and I'm sure his time and experience would be valued in other local communities and he would have neighbours to look out for and to look out for him. Community spirit is lacking in today's society, I'd love to see Charlie doing what he apparently does best. If you are reading this Charlie, good luck to you. rover600
  • Score: 2

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