Life on Leighton Hill in the 1950s and 60s
Francesca sent in these memories of life in the Government Quarters around Leighton Hill in the 1950s and 60s.
The blocks under scaffolding [on the right of the photo below] were The New Blocks of Leighton Hill:
I lived there in 1959 on the 4th Floor, Flat 36. Later, we moved to the block at the far left, which was called The Old Block. We were on the 5th Floor Flat 11 first, then later 3rd Floor, Flat 7. The block in the middle was always referred to as The Middle Block:
There was a large space between the New Blocks and the Middle Block which included a huge sunken playground with a small (constructed) stone pavilion. In fact, we called it 'the sunken playground'. I believe this was created out of the area where some tunnels  had caved in.
One of the tunnels could be accessed from Leighton Hill in the hillside leading down to Wongneichong Road. It's difficult to assess the size of it now as I saw it from a 10-year-old child's perspective: 8' x 8'? We never entered further than 50' - I seem to remember a metal grille obstructing our passage although you could see more tunnel beyond it - but the air was incredibly stale and you soon couldn't breathe. We called it 'The 99th Dungeon'. Sorry, I don't know the origin of this name. [2 - see below for the likely explanation]
There was also a small crater on the hillside, completely overgrown and not visible from the road or the flats, between the second block of the New Blocks and the top of Broadwood Road, which we children believed had been made by a hand grenade in WW2.
Under the hillside below Leighton Hill you can see the dark roofs of the old Wongneichong Road Government Quarters. [They run across the foreground of the photo below]
I also lived in them as a child. First at No. 129, which was the second last 'house' and then at No. 131 which was the last house and had a corner garden (on its left if you were facing the houses). It would have been almost opposite where the old Sports Road used to come out?
There is a narrow alley between the entrance to the new Leighton Hill development and the shops and another alley that runs behind the shops. This alley also used to run behind the Wongneigchong houses all the way to Broadwood Road. The hillside above it was concreted over and was known as ''Dead Man's Slide"after a worker fell down this slope and was killed. He was apparently carrying a bucket of paint and there was a large splash of it down the slope for many years. However, this may be an urban legend!
Finally, I'd like to mention that on the right of the narrow alley I've mentioned above there are some trees still standing. They appear to be part of the new Leighton Hill complex. I believe they may be the original trees that were in our garden at 131 Wongneichong Road in the early 50s. They are on the same site as the trees which were in our garden. However, I know nothing about trees so I could be entirely wrong.
Thanks to Francesca for sharing her memories with us.
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- The tunnels Francesca mentions are the tunnels dug as air-raid shelters under Leighton Hill.
- The '99th Dungeon' most likely got it's name from the number '99' originally painted at its entrance. Each tunnel entrance (they were called 'portals') was numbered, and Portal 99 was on the slope below block B ('Middle Block') of the Leighton Hill Government Quarters. By the 1960s the numbering had probably faded away, but the name had survived, passed down from one generation of children to the next.