The current issue of Fortean Times has a small obituary of Hackney's William Lyttle, better known as the Mole Man.
The Mole Man's large, crumbling property at the corner of Stamford Road and Mortimer Road, N1 is still the scene of various attempts to prop it up, as decades of burrowing underneath his large house caused serious structural damage. Somewhat sadly Mr Lyttle died on an un-named council estate in June, where Hackney Council had re-housed him for safety reasons, due to the damage his excavations had done to the public highway, including a pavement collapse in 2001. Those of us who like to see evidence that the human spirit is not easily broken will be delighted to note that Mr Lyttle appears to have been busy knocking down walls in his flat - without Council permission - right up until his death.
More seriously, Fortean Times reminds us that the estimated value of the mole man's old house is some £1 million, once it is made safe. Given the space the house covers, it is not inconceivable that 6-8 flats could be built on the land. It is to be hoped that such financial temptations do not go to Hackney Council's head. As the need for social housing increases, and council stock comes under ever greater pressure, the progressive solution would appear obvious. The council should build flats on the site of the Mole Man's home, name it William Lyttle House, and get its money back by taking rent from its new tenants.
It is so simple - it will never happen, will it?