Fifties Memories of a Paulsgrove Lad
|Published: 25th February 2010 08:37|
Barry Jenson (second from left) with brother Dave and friends Hi, I am Barry Jenson and I am just going to write a little story about my life as child living in the Portsmouth/ Paulsgrove area.
I moved from Devon in about 1948 with my parents to a new house in Newport Rd in Cosham. These houses or prefabs were demolished just before or around the same time as the Motorway Roundabout at Hilsea was constructed.
Our garden in Newport Rd backed onto the King George playing fields. At this time it wasn't a playing field. I can remember as a little tot watching a track driven tractor ploughing this field which I have since found out used to be the place where all Portsmouth Rubbish was tipped. I might be wrong on this point. It seemed only yesterday that I was watching this tractor with all the birds following it picking out the worms that had been ploughed up.
Since these early days I have had a great love of looking at old tractors. Not so much as the new ones as they have no charm about them. The reason perhaps being, the old ones burnt a different sort of fuel and the smell of the engines was something I will always remember.
We stayed at Newport Rd for a while and then my parents did an exchange with a family at No24 Camcross Close in Paulsgrove. I remember quite clearly moving there. Mum and dad did all the moving and my sisters and younger brother were playing about while I was out watching the workmen tarmac the footpath in the close.
At the front of our house was a field which I played on quite a lot. I soon got to know the people in the street, Our close neighbour was Mr and Mrs Giles. They lived at No 22.On the other side of the alley that divided the houses was Mr and Mrs Weston. I remember running next door to her house because I had broken a bottle of milk and my mum wasn't very pleased so I ran.
Also in the street were the families: No 40 were the Bunn family, No 38 was the Reading's, at No 36 were the Rileys. No34 lived the Weatherby's. Mrs Weatherby bred English Bulldogs. Strange really these dogs looked bigger than the same breed as today. At No32 lived The Hammond family. I occasionaly see David Hammond in Cosham. Don't think he really remembers me. At No 30 lived The Hughs family. I used to play with Ray (RIP) a lot when I was a little boy. At No 28 was The Wallace family. Mrs Wallace recently passed away. Paddy still lives in his house at the top of Elkstone Rd. I used to see him regularly pottering about in his Garden. I haven't seen him for a while now. At No 26 was The Hammond family whom I have already mentioned. Mr and Mrs Weston had a lady living with them who we knew as Granny O' keith.
It wasn't long after we moved to Camcross Close that Mrs Weston and Granny O'Keith died. At No 20 lived the Cheeseman family. My elder sister Mona later married Jerry Cheeseman, one of the son's. At No 18 lived the Page Family. I don't think they stayed in the street to long before moving on. At No 16 lived the Dorey family. I can remember playing with John quite a lot. Mr Dorey drove a small petrol tanker that used to park in the cul de sac at the top of Withington Rd. We used to climb on the back of the tanker by the ladder that was used to check the contents of the tanker by the driver. We were often chased off of it by Mr Dorey. I can only remember one or two other people at that end of the street. There used to be The Harris family and I think they lived at about No 12.I can also remember the Goodalls and I believe they lived at No 10. At No 6 lived the Flint family. I can remember playing with David a few times. At No 1 lived the Lane family. No 2 the Doswells. At No 11 lived the Stallard family. Maureen was one of my childhood girlfriends. At No 13 lived The Davidsons. At No 15 lived Mr and Mrs Bond. At No 17 lived the Roussens. No 19 lived The Woods family. No 21 live the Cunninghams, at No23 The Colemans lived and at No 25 my good friends the Coles lived. I spent many a day with Peter(rip).over the hill. Playing on the swings that had been put into the tree's by the bigger lads. We had to wait until they finished playing before they would let us have ago on the swing. We also used to play around the old air raid shelters that were there. This was just north of the ASWE site on the Southwick Rd.
These shelters have all been filled in or demolished. Our parents didn't mind us going over there for the day as things seemed a bit safer then. We always had good fun. We also spent many a day playing in Bluebell forest. That is the name we knew it as. It was just near the air raid shelters. We did all our hazel nut picking and in the early summer we used to pick the bluebells. We would walk home with our arms full of them.
One morning in 1953 ,I woke up to the sound of someone banging. I looked out of my bedroom window and saw Mr Cheeseman and another man making something. It ended up being a platform as this was the day of the street party for the Queens coronation. It was an overcast day. I remember winning a red, white and blue sponge ball in a race. All the activities were done in the Close. By all accounts most streets had street parties but I think perhaps on different days.
As I got a bit older,I got new friends because of going to school. One particular day, I was going down Withington Rd on a friend's go cart and I then met one of my lifetime friends. He lived at 44 Colesbourne Rd and his name was John Hale. He lived there all the time until he got married. I used to camp out in John's garden in his tent. We used to go scrumping sometimes during the night. We also watched a children's tv program being filmed in Paulsgrove chalkpit. I am almost sure it was called The firm Of The girderstone. We sat there in the early hours of the morning watching and even had sandwiches given us. That is another place we spent hours playing in, The Cave!! You had to be very careful and not let the watchman catch you there. I think his name was Mr Hayward?
We would always find something exciting to do.
Another thing I would love doing which is now totally illegal now was bird nesting. Most lads seemed to do this. We would collect different eggs, blow the yoke out and start a collection. Not allowed now and a good job too.
I would also go train spotting. I would go down to the bridge in Racecourse Lane and be there all day. The steps of the old racecourse were there then and I feel sure they are still in the bushes somewhere covered with scrub. We would take the number of each train we saw and make a collection. The more well off boys would have a train spotters book and would underline the trains they spotted. I would also do this after school. I would leave school, Paulsgrove East Infants, which is now called Saxon Shore and Westfield Junior School. We would go down Connaught Lane and wait until the 4.25 west country streak or express would pass and see if it was one we hadn't seen before. We then would wait until 4.35 to see a class Q1 train. We would then go home and have our bread and jam for tea. At night I wasn't allowed out late. My younger brother and my sisters would have to go to bed and listen to my elder sister and her friends play rounders outside of our house, No24. This square of green unlike others in the area is still there. I used to sit at my bedroom window and watch them. I always wished I was out there with them. It always seemed unfair to me.
As I got a little older, my friends increased. In the summer I would go up on the hill to do some sledging. There used to be lots of lads up there on all sorts of sledges. They would even use lino to slide on.
One thing I will always's remember was the amount of dogs roaming the streets. There seemed to be dogs mess on every tuft of grass. You certainly had to watch out where you walked or sat. Mind you, where I live now there seems to be increasing amount of mess being left by the dog walkers.
I also remember the council painters that would turn up every couple of years to paint the tin houses. Their hut was on what appeared to be old cart horse wheels. It was towed to site by truck. This was where their paint was stored overnight and was also the place they would brew there cuppa.
They would have their ladders and put paint stripper on the tin houses and then strip all the old paint off before repainting.
There used to all different coloured houses on the estate. These prefabs were smashing to live in. They would be nice and warm in the winter and quite cool in the summer. In our house, we would be careful with the coal or coke because of the costs.
Another thing you would often see in the winter was chimney fires. People stoking their fires but never having their chimney cleaned. My father had his own set of chimney rods and brush to do his own.
When I was a lad, you would see house fires. There was 3 fires within 200yds of my home. One in Colesbourne Rd. and another two in Elkstone rd. The one in Colesbourne rd was apparently started when someone was repairing their motorbike in the kitchen when a petrol leak was ignited and the house burnt down.
One thing I do remember very well in those were the cold winters. It seemed like it snowed most winters and in those days I only had socks to put on my hands. Our shoes more often than not had holes in them. It was not because we were neglected, it was just that money was short. My dad worked all the hours he could. Weekends he worked at Papps and son piano dealers that had a shop in Fratton Rd. I often would go with him on his bike which had a child seat attached on the cross bar. My dad was a French polisher and would be required to make good any scratches that were found on the new pianos. I think my dad must have been one of the best in his job around the Portsmouth area. He sometimes would ride his bike to Southampton docks to work on the big liners. His hobbies before he started a family was cycling. He used to take a couple of us to the cycle track at Alexandra Park to watch the bike racing. His brother was also keen on cycling. This hobby stayed with him until the last days of his life. He would often go out on the Funtington Rd and watch the cyclists on time trials on a Sunday.
When I attended the Junior school, I met a few new friends. One was Vic Hillman. We stayed pals until I got married in 1967. I lost track of Vic until I and my wife were invited to a friends 60th birthday party. It was great to see him after all these years!! Me and Vic spent many a day mucking about over in Bluebell woods and often down in Southwick. We would venture into the grounds of HMS Dryad and hope we would miss the regular patrols by the navy. We only ever got caught once and that was for going into the pigs sty where they slept. We were smartly taken up to the police house in Southwick village for a good old telling off.
I got my very first taste of the law when, later, I and a few more so called pals decided to pull up Mangle Wurzles and potatoes out of Farmer Cutlers field. I went to court in Fareham with my dad and I was fined 7s 6p.This was the day after my birthday. I did not get anything for my birthday that year. I also got a good telling off from my teacher. He found out about it because it appeared in the Evening News. When you think what goes on now a days with real criminals, I felt really hard done by.
Although I and my friends had some smashing days over the hill, I will always remember the time I was taken to court and put in front of the village bobby. Perhaps that did me some good. I have been quite a law full person and I try and follow my fathers hard working ways.
During the Autumn times in those days we would either go over Portsdown hill in search of conkers and sweet chestnuts. More often than not we would go into Coopers Farm or, to some people, Paulsgrove House. We got into his grounds one of two ways. We would either cross the railway lines and as it was only steam trains in those days, it wasn't too much of a problem. The problem was not getting caught by the police or even the railway people. The other way was by going under the railway lines by way of the old tunnel that Mr Cooper used to get to his shelters in Paulsgrove quarry. This tunnel had been filled in and you could only get there by crawling through. There are a couple of pictures in some books that have been published by a local author showing this track. As you got to the middle of the tunnel , it got more spacious and as you made it to the opposite side it got tight again. We would often lay under the tunnel as steam trains thundered over head. This is the way we would collect our conkers. He also had crab apples or we called them cherry apples. To get these you had to venture further into his land and risk getting caught. If any one saw you, you would either make a dash for either The Southampton rd side of his land or you had to run quickly to get back to the railway lines hoping there wasn't a train coming. If there was, you had to go under the tunnel again. Mr Cooper wouldn't hesitate in firing a pellet gun at you. They didn't have the range but you ran anyway.
The field along the railway lines were just humps and bumps. I think all this spoil was created when they built the Paulsgrove estate. There used to be horses & goats tethered there.
In the early fifties, Paulsgrove shops as we know them didn't exist. There was a few shops at the bottom of Nailsworth Rd. They consisted of a Coop, Pinks, and I believe Jerams butchers also had a shop there. I also think Morleys had a sweet shop there. These I think were demolished in the late 50s.They were old Nissan hut shaped with a concrete frontage. I remember falling down a step in the Coop and cutting my leg open. The shop keeper put some iodine on the cut and by God didn't that sting.
The new shops appeared it seemed out of the blue. As a child you didn't need to go that far along to see them building them. My parents probably did. I only knew about the shops when my mum and dad started using them. I can remember there being a fish and chip shop there. I think the chip shop was called Newmans. It was good because if you could collect enough old newspapers Mr Newman would give some chips or the batter pieces for your efforts.
Next to that shop was Brockways the hardware store. That was where you got your light bulbs , paraffin and anything else that was needed in the home. Next to that shop was Jerams the butchers. I think he was the only butcher along the shops in those days. Morleys was the next shop and my favourite. This where my mum would take her ration book and perhaps buy me some sweets. It is also the place would we would go around bonfire night. We would go penny for the guying and what you collected you spent on your fireworks. It was always fun at that time of the year. All the local boys could be seen going up Portsdown Hill and dragging bushes back. There was always competion among us to see who could build the biggest bommie.
The days after bonfire night, we would walk the fields looking for the rocket sticks while trying to avoid the dogs mess.
Some thing else I remember well it was always foggy at that time of the year. I now know it was smog. Anyway , back to the shops I remember. In that section was Pinks the grocers .I can recall they had an overhead cash machine. When the shopkeeper or the person that was serving you got your money, it was put in a tin of some sort and went across the ceiling to the waiting cashier, I suppose in their office? This shop always had a moving puppet at xmas time in there window, normally having a tipple. I think the post office was there. Across the road I think was Peters and Sons wine merchant. In those days he seemed a right misser and I don't think he liked kids. I also think Tremletts were there. Next shop to the chemist was Connell Brothers. You had all the toys in there, bikes, train sets and lots of other goodies that the kids liked. I can remember at my home, a big row over the money and us kids not having anything for xmas. This was normal in my house. Dinners thrown across the room left vivid memories with me. It is a good job I used to get out of it and go over the hill. Anyway ,after this row my dad took me and my younger brother to Connells and bought us a cheap train set. It was a Hornby though and I think perhaps my dad paid weekly for it. Nowadays some people think things are hard. Unless you are in your 60s or older you just don't know what hard is.
Anyway, back to the shops. Next to connells I believe was a small sweet shop.I know there was one called Winchesters but I don't know if that was the original shop. I then think that next to that was possibly Smith and Cospers and a Chapmans Laundry shop.
I think the row of shops starting with the Co-op came a bit later.
Opposite the shops on the green there was an enormous dead oak tree. I think this tree was cut down in the late 50s.There was also the remnants of an old footpath that ran from the direction of the shops up towards Elkstone rd. I think this was the continuation of Racecourse Lane. This must have been cut in half when they developed the new shops. These shops have been used by myself and my family since the 50s.
I can remember one day playing in an under ground den that had been built by the bigger boys. You had to enter this den through a hole in the top which was covered by a dustbin lid. I entered the den through the top, jumped, landed on my knees and unfortunately landed on a broken bottle. My mum rushed me to the doctors which was then in a brick house in Elkstone road. It was the first brick house travelling down Elkstone Rd past Winchcombe Rd. I was told it was Dr Rutherfords. He stitched me up and I still bear the scar to this day. I know this much, It didn't half hurt.
After this accident,one old lady in Camcross gave me a couple of pet mice with a cage. Worst thing about this, the shed where they were kept became overrun with mice and my dad ended up getting rid of them somehow?? Perhaps down the outside toilet. Never had mice again.
Another thing that has always been in my mind, my mum and dad didn't have a telly, so at tea time we would go and stand on Mr Weston's wall and peer over the hedge at his tv. This was something we had never seen before. Mr Weston was good man. He would call us in to watch Childrens Hour. We had to go out when it had finished. We used to like the Lone ranger, Cisco Kid and The Range Rider. Great kids programs they were. Dont make them like that anymore.
Mum and dad didn't get their tv for another year or two. We had to listen to the radio. Programs like "Take your pick" or "A shilling a second". Take your pick was made for the tv later on in the 60s ,70s.
As the time went on we began to see more cars on the roads. So another craze developed. You would find boys and girls sitting on the side of the roads waiting for a different car to go by and take its number.You could wait a long time between cars. And almost all the cars were black. Nowadays you hardly ever see a black one. Every other colour but not black.
These are just some of my boyhood memories