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Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Web Page 838

Top Picture: Everybodies father used this!!!

Bottom Picture: A youthful Bob Monkhouse advertises Mars.

Welcome This week we welcome Geoff Ranger to our circle, if anyone wishes to get in touch with Geoff, let me know and I will forward your messages on.

ALSO, don’t miss Peter’s memories in the You Write section.

Back to School

How many of those strange and obscure measurements that we learned at school, or were printed on the back of our exercise books can you remember? We learnt that there were 12 inches to the foot and 3 feet to the yard, OK so far? Good! But how about five yards and one foot six inches to the rod (or pole or perch), 4 rods (or poles or perch) to the chain, 22 yards or 100 links to a chain, 10 chains to the furlong, and 8 furlongs to the mile. I am now getting a little confused how about you? I think that probably the only people who use these unusual measurements these days are jockeys, race horse owners for furlongs, cricketers for chains and I understand that allotment are still rented out in rods!

Near me when I lived in Farlington, as in many other parts of the country, was an area called 40 acres, this being the ancient area of land that one man could work on his own. Now who remembers that one acre is 4,840 square yards, which is equivalent to the area of a rectangle one furlong in length and one chain in breadth. I certainly cannot!

Down at the local other measures were used gills, pints, quarts and gallons. Of course gallons have always been somewhat confusing, as Americans visiting this country for the first time quickly discover, but the confusion isn’t confined to the difference between an Imperial gallon of petrol and an American gallon of gasoline, oh no! The volume of a gallon of wine is 231 cubic inches, whereas that of a gallon of beer is 282. Now in Scotland the chopin was half a standard pint and, at 51.7 cubic inches, was close to the English quart at 57.75 cubic inches. A mutchkin was half a chopin. You didn't know about mutchkins and chopins did you? Neither did I! Well not to worry two generations on from now no British schoolchildren will know about gills and quarts either. They will be lost in the mists of antiquity and we will not even go into the sizes of Firkins (9gallons), Kilderkin (18gallons) and barrel (36 gallon), Hogshead (1.5 barrels), a puncheon (2 barrels), a Butt (3barrels) or even a Yard of Ale.

Now to other things. Down at the fishmongers our mothers bought a pint, or half pint of shrimps, why not a pound or half pound? Or a pair of kippers, why not a couple? In the grocers eggs were boxed in long hundreds even though there were only 360 in the box, A Bakers dozen was always 13 and if you bought a box of tomatoes it was a chip. I remember that certain grocery stores, Pinks being one of them, sold loose sherry which meant that you had to take along an old sherry or wine bottle and have it topped up, but the loose liquid was sold by the pint and not by the bottle or half bottle.

Off now to the sweet shop where we lined up to buy a quarter of humbugs, or if we were a little short of pocket money just two ounces. Whatever quantity you wanted they were weighed out in little Avery scales which only weight up to one pound, the sweets were then slid into a little paper bag before we could get out hands on them. Of course money was different then and we could buy candied shrimps at four for a penny or even one for a farthing! Ah! this is back in the days of shillings, florins, half crowns and guineas, EMI even produced a line of LP’s under the title of the Golden Guinea range at just £1 1s. 0d each.

Nautically speaking I have never understood that particular terminology, just what is a fathom or a league, a cable or a nautical mile.

And we thought that going metric was a problem!!!
Take Care and keep in touch


You Write:

Peter writes:-

I notice that one of your recent memory pictures was Uncle Toms cabin on Havant Road at Cosham. I remember that stretch of Road before that. It was basically a long Terrace of buildings from the top of Park Lane round to the top of Cosham High Street. At the top of Park Lane, was an Off Licence called Smeeds, ( they had several branches throughout Portsmouth ). At the time I am talking about, late 50's early 60's I believe the Manager was a Mr Pugsly. They also had a shop in the middle of Cosham High Street which was run by a Mr Vacary. I went to Court Lane with his daughter Jacky Vacary.

Coming along Havant Road from Park Lane in this long terrace, was the old Uncle Toms Cabin and right next door, The East Cosham Tavern. Their fronts were a 4ft pavement width from the road. Just beyond that, was an Esso Garage called Lettons. They served Petrol on the frontage from the old fashioned tall pumps and had workshops behind. My father Mr Barlow, who owned Bakers of Cosham, ( the chemist ) always got his petrol there for his 1936 Morris Eight and then his 1949 Vauxhall Wyvern and then his 1958 Ford Zodiac Executive. Wherever he was, he would never use any other Petrol than Esso.

The terrace continued on towards the High Street with houses and I always remember one of them had a bedridden lady in the front room where the window was always wide open so that she could see the people and traffic passing by. As you came into the High Street was Dodd & Reads Newsagents where I had my Paper Round. Seven days a week Morning and evening I got 14 shillings.

On the other side of the road where there are now Flats, there was a raised area which was the back of Widley Street. Along that raised area, was a Cobblers shop called Kelseys. On the North East top corner of the High Street was a Scrap Yard called Coopers. I remember them well because they had to big Conker Trees in their Yard. One Sunday afternoon when all was quiet, me and a couple of school friends climbed over their wall with a sack to collect conkers. Unfortunately we got caught and they accused us of nicking scrap even though the sack had conkers in it. They called the police and we were marched down to the new Cosham Police Station. Looking back on it, I am sure that both they and the Police knew we weren't nicking scrap but they certainly gave us a rough time and a clip round the ear.

I hope this gives a bit more insight into how it was at the top of the High Street back in the 50s & early 60s ( The Good Old Days )

News and Views:

At The Hard on 26th March a statue to commemorate the Portsea Mudlarks was unveiled. It was commissioned through the work of the Portsea Action Group, worked tirelessly for nine years to raise the money for a permanent reminder of the cherished childhood memories.The names of some of the mudlarkers now have a place in history as their names have been etched onto plaques around the plinth. I ex Mudlarker said "I first saw my wife when I was a mudlarker. She used to come over from the Isle of Wight with her mum and threw money down. Years later she recognised me and that's when we got together." The ceremony was opened by MP for Portsmouth South, Mike Hancock, who said, "As a kid, I was one of those who messed about in the mud for money and got a good hiding for it when I got home."

More News and Views:

An auction of Buddy Holly memorabilia, including a recording of songs made weeks before his death, was held on April 9th in Dallas. Buddy's widow, Maria Elena, was there to talk about both the items and Buddy himself.

On this day 19th May 1960-1965

On 19/05/1960 the number one single was Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Royal Variety Performance (ATV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 19/05/1961 the number one single was On the Rebound - Floyd Cramer and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 19/05/1962 the number one single was Nut Rocker - B Bumble & the Stingers and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday for JFK.

On 19/05/1963 the number one single was From Me To You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Liberal Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

On 19/05/1964 the number one single was Don't Throw Your Love Away - Searchers and the number one album was Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Microphones found in Moscow's US Embassy.

On 19/05/1965 the number one single was King of the Road - Roger Miller and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Queen visits West Germany


  1. Peter mentioned the stretch from Uncle Toms Cabin to Lettons Esso garage including the East Cosham Tavern - I have just found a photo of this stretch of road with these buildings and the road workers mending the road.

  2. Can you send me a copy or a scan please. Sorry I have not replied before but forgot to check the comments section.