Local Face: Tony Defriez

  |  Published: Sep 1st 1996

Tony Defriez came to work in the Brown & Merry office at 13, High Street, Wendover, now Sally Turner Antiques, on 6th September, 1971,25 years ago. At that time there were only three houses for sale in the village!

Typical house prices at the time included a Carrington Crescent 2-bed-semi for under £6,000, a Bryants Acre 3-bed-semi for under £8000. A new house in Dobbins Lane was £15,750 and the new Grange Gardens houses were a snip at £ 17,000. The Wellhead Inn changed hands for £13,750 and a Lionel Avenue building plot sold for £4,500. The least expensive property sold that year was a 2-bed-semi in Perry Street for £3,850. The average minimum wage for a 42 hour week was £ 14.40, the weekly state retirement pension was £6(single), £9.70(couple). The mortgage rate was 8.5%, reduced to 8% in October 1971. A large 13/41b loaf cost 9Yzp, a dozen eggs 22p.

Tony soon came to live in Wendover as by August 1972 he had bought an unmodernised cottage in Ellesborough Road, which he subsequently extended, refurbished and sold on in December 1975. When Tony married in 1973 his wife, Rosemary, joined him and also found Wendover absolutely charming. Two of their three children have benefited from schooling in Wendover. Tony was a founder member of the Wendover Round Table in 1974, instigating local traditions such as the Father Christmas Carol Float and the Old Folks' Party at Wendover Memorial Hall. For many years the Round Table ran a May Fair at Pebble Brook School and Tony was also a member of the Carnival Committee. He was a Squash Club member, too.

Many people have bought and sold property through Tony more than once. House hunters will come upon Wendover by chance and instantly be attracted to the pretty High Street and good quality property in pleasant streets. Once they move in, settle children in school and get to know people, they put down strong roots. Wendover has escaped lightly in terms of unfortunate development, cared for by a vigilant Parish Council and observant Wendover Society. This means it is a village with character in both property and personality. For modern times there is a good community spirit with activities for all age groups - young, parents and grandparents alike.

Over the past twenty-five years, Tony has watched Wendover reflect national trends with the disappearance of more traditional shops being replaced by specialist shops, including 3 more estate agents although 4 others have tried and failed. Free car parking is an asset for residents and visitors alike but it would be good to have more. The burgeoning of restaurants is a very exciting development. At one time it seemed that the Railway Line would close but it passed its centenary in 1993 with a bright future. The continued RAF connection with Halton has also been under constant review. The by-pass will be a boon to residents but remove the North-South "passing trade". October 1996 will see the start of work at Castle Park, 77 2-,3-,4- and 5-bed houses, the biggest development in Wendover since Bryants Acre and the last until at least 2011 according to the latest local plan.

Tony supervised the move of Brown & Merry to Woollerton House, 7, High Street in 1974. Also in the building are the Country House Department, specialising in properties over one acre, and an agency of the Halifax Building Society offering investments, withdrawals and mortgages. Brown & Merry celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1982. In 1986 it was associated with William H Brown, taken over in 1989 by Royal Insurance. On 19th July 1996 came the merger of Royal Sun Alliance, who control the third largest estate agency network in the country offering contacts all over England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Tony Defriez at your service.

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