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Jacqueline Close in Bury St Edmunds which was built on site of Victorian chalk mines to provide a fresh start for family for first time in decades




It was once dubbed ‘Heartbreak Close’ but now, for the first time in decades, Jacqueline Close holds the promise of a new chapter for a Bury St Edmunds family.

The street used to be home to 30 houses, a 1964 development built precariously on the site of Victorian chalk mines, and when the land began to collapse just a few years later the homes were evacuated and the majority demolished.

Just two homes remain – numbers one and two – owned by the same family and standing sentry to a part of the town’s history some would rather forget but now provide the chance of a fresh start for a new generation.

Jane Macaulay, Anne Cross and Nikki Macaulay Hall with Rolf (8), Leo (9) and Gus (3) Macaulay Hall. Picture: Mecha Morton
Jane Macaulay, Anne Cross and Nikki Macaulay Hall with Rolf (8), Leo (9) and Gus (3) Macaulay Hall. Picture: Mecha Morton

Jane Macaulay has gained planning permission to build a three- bedroom house on garden land next to her home at number one.

The property is for her daughter Nikki Macaulay Hall and her family, who currently live with Jane, and, attached to the side of number one, would form a terrace of three houses, with number two home to Jane’s other daughter Anna.

It is a feat Jane, 57, never thought possible given the history of the site, where she, her brother Michael and sister Frances grew up and, for them, it was an ‘amazing playground’ scrambling carefree among the abandoned houses that were eventually demolished in about 1980.

Frances (left) in the chalk mines with her friends
Frances (left) in the chalk mines with her friends

She said: “It’s really exciting. It isn’t something I thought I would be able to do and I never ever wanted to move away from this area.

“I always hoped I would stay here and not have to move away from where I’ve been brought up. To be able to extend it for my family and keep us here is really lovely for me.”

Nikki, 35, added: “I’m very excited because I’ve spent so long renting and we’ve moved about quite a lot.

“We would never have been able to afford a three-bedroom house in Bury so to be given this opportunity is really good for us.

“It’s always where I’ve wanted to be.”

Brian Cross in the chalk mines
Brian Cross in the chalk mines

With their two homes thought to have been built away from the reach of the tunnels, the houses have remained unaffected by the structural problems which claimed the rest of the estate and caused deep anguish for Jane’s parents Brian and Anne Cross.

The couple bought number one in 1966 and number two years later from a neighbour.

Brian died aged 82 two years ago and felt the heavy burden of having left his family with homes deemed unsellable on the open market.

Inspectors carried out investigations to find out how deep the tunnels were
Inspectors carried out investigations to find out how deep the tunnels were

Anne, 82, said they would be passed on through the generations and is glad Jane has found a way to provide a home for her growing family.

“It’s the only way she can do this because she’s not going to be able to sell,” she said.

“It’s karma – all the bad things that have happened, something good has come out of it.”

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