Fayrhurst Road pictured just before demotition



Joe Orton was born John Kingsley Orton on January 1st 1933 to William and Elsie Orton while living in lodgings in the Clarendon Park Road area of Leicester. He was the eldest of four children, Douglas (b1937), Marilyn (b1939) and Leonie (b1944).

In 1935, the family moved to Fayrhurst Road on the Saffron Lane estate, typical of the sprawling housing estates built for workers in the 1920s. While not decrepit or squalid they were none the less drab, soulless and monotonous and epitomised the worst aspects of Leicester’s motto, ‘Semper Eadem’ – always the same.

William was a gardener for Leicester Council, Elsie a machinist. A quiet and reserved man, much about William enraged Elsie and the children would often overhear their many arguments. Life in the Orton household was not a particularly happy one. William was distant from his wife and children. Elsie was domineering and impulsive and there was little emotional warmth.

As Leonie recalls: ‘It’s not obligatory to like our mother and I don’t/didn’t. She was cruel and that colours the way I see her. Most kids of my generation were knocked about by their parents and to quote many on the Saffron estate ‘it didn’t do me no harm’. Well I don’t share their opinion.’

John was always Elsie’s favourite and she regarded him as the most gifted of the four children. Leonie remembers that while the other Orton children received regular beatings, John often escaped her wrath.

Images: Courtesy The Leicester Mercury / Orton Estate   Text © Leicester City Councill  

Copyright Notice: Reproduction of material on Joe Orton Online is not permitted without prior approval from the owner of the
relevant intellectual property rights. For full terms of use click here
Joe Orton Online was created and developed by Alison Forsythe.
Web Design © Alison Forsythe.