Top Picture:The motorcycle set, The Rockers.
Bottom Picture:Cosham railway gates in 1959 showing the concrete tank traps still in place.
This week we welcome Dave Milton into our little group. Also this weekend I retired and celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary, I really must be getting old!!!
When I look around I cannot help but wonder just how much longer will they last. What am I talking about? The relics of the last war which are still around on our streets if we look carefully even though it is over 65 years since the end of hostilities.
For example very near to my sons house is an almost perfect Anderson Air Raid Shelter. It is painted dark green and has doors attached to each end and is actually in superb condition. It looks as though at one time it was used as a garage for a very small car but is now in service as a garden shed. This is a remarkable survival if you take into account its history. In November 1938, the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, placed Sir John Anderson in charge of Air Raid Precautions. He immediately commissioned the engineer, William Patterson, to design a small and cheap shelter that could be erected in people's gardens. Within a few months nearly one and a half million of what became known as Anderson shelters were distributed to people living in areas that expected to be bombed. Made from six curved sheets of corrugated iron bolted together at the top, with steel plates at either end and measuring 6ft 6in by 4ft 6in the shelter could accommodate six people. These shelters were half buried in the ground with earth heaped on top. The entrance was protected by a steel shield and an earthen blast wall. Anderson shelters were given free to the poor but men who earned more than £5 a week could buy one for £7 but whether bought or given the householder had to erect the shelter themselves. By the time of the coming of the Blitz two and a quarter million shelters had been built. They were dark and damp usually with a pool of muddy water in the bottom and people were reluctant to use them at night and in low-lying areas they tended to flood badly and sleeping was difficult, so the survival of this one is all the more remarkable. But as kids we had a great time playing in them.
Elsewhere on the streets other wartime items can still be found. For example in several place in Portsmouth on houses and walls can still faintly be seen painted letters SWS with an arrow and a distance painted in on them. These were the signs to direct the fire service to the specially built Static Water Supply. These large temporary water tanks were erected on any area of open space and were specifically for providing a constant supply of water to fight the fires caused by the bombing. The surviving signs are normally found on north facing walls where they did not fade in the sun light.
So many other little things are left around; on the hill we can still see pillboxes and gun emplacements and Deadmans Wood, whilst on the Marshes and along Portscreek bits and pieces from Operation Starfish and other defences are still evident. During the blackout many of the lampposts and other street furniture were painted with horizontal white strpies so they could be seen in the dark. This practice continued way into the 1960’s and I expect we can all remember the posts of Zebra Crossings and Traffic Lights having these stripes on them.
Probably one of the most numerous reminders of wartime are the many War Graves that are around, there is at least one in each cemetery in town and in the graveyard at Christchurch, on top of the hill, there is a whole section of War Graves of about one acre which is managed by the War Graves Commission. And of course there are the many War Memorials and Tablets within the City.
Other things really have to be searched out, in some areas one can spot an isolated post about 20 ft tall serving no useful purpose at all; these were the support posts for the Air Raid Sirens. I remember the one behind the New Inn on the Havant Road in Drayton and here in Gosport the last remaining one was only dismantled two years ago.
Looking around in central Portsmouth the route of the old Dockyard Branch railway from Portsmouth High Level station and along Edinburgh Road, although long gone, is still very much in evidence. It was along this line that much of the essential freight and personnel travelled into the Naval Base during the wartime period. One amusing tale relating to the movement of sailors, especially new recruits during the wartime period is that fact that they were locked in until they could be processed. The section of track along side Edinburgh Road approaching Unicorn Gate was walled in on both side with a platform built on the wall attached to the barracks. This section of line had tall grey lockable wooden gates at each end effectively isolating this part of the line. When a troop train arrived it was parked between the two sets of gates and the gates both ends were locked before the sailors were let out of the carriages. The drill then was for them to line up on the platform, undertake the joining paperwork and when all this was done the gates at Unicorn gate end were unlocked and the men marched directly into the Dockyard. There was no escape!!!
So much for memory.
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News and Views:
Sad to see the death of Sir Norman Wisdom at the age of 95 a real icon from the past.
Singer Eddie Fisher, one-time husband to Debbie Reynolds, Connie Stevens and Elizabeth Taylor, who charted 60 times from 1948 to 1967, died on Wednesday September 22 of complications from hip surgery at his home in Berkeley, California. He was 82. He married Debbie Reynolds (his co-star in the movie, "Bundle Of Joy") in 1955 but scandalously dumped her for the newly-widowed Elizabeth Taylor in 1958. That led to the cancellation of his two year-old NBC-TV series. He was dropped from RCA a year later (though he returned in 1966) and never had another top 40 hit. In 1967 he married Connie Stevens. The marriage lasted but two years, but produced two daughters-- actresses Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher. Eddie wrote two autobiographies.
On this day 9th October 1960-1965.
On 09/10/1960 the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68. Worst flooding in Southern England since 1953. The big news story of the day was No Hiding Place (AR).
On 09/10/1961 the number one single was Kon-Tiki - The Shadows and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 09/10/1962 the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. 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 Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 09/10/1963 the number one single was She Loves You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Dam malfunction kills 2000 in Italian flood
On 09/10/1964 the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. 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 Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 09/10/1965 the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was Help - 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 Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.