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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Web Page 948

Top Picture: The Odeon at the top of Cosham High Street

Second Picture: The bunker from the Starfish Project.

Things that go bang

What is it about young boys that make them fascinated by things that go bang? When I was in my early teens I was given a chemistry set for my birthday as was a neighbour, John Marsalsea who lived just down the road. We spent hours in one of his fathers’ garden sheds putting both sets together and creating weird and wonderful smells, plastics and other strange concoctions. We soon learnt that we could make basic explosives with some of the ingredients we had to hand. But that was not enough. We needed to make something that would produce a bigger bang and so with a little research and prompting from older boys we reckoned we could make a weedkiller and sugar bomb. But where were we to get the ingredients? Sugar was easy, it came from Mums’ larder and the weedkiller was obtained from the local ironmongers in Drayton, I cannot remember if it was Nappers or Lights, but I think it was from Lights. The final ingredient, saltpetre was to be a problem until we discovered there was a chemist in on the corner of Queens Road and Kingston Road, Glanvilles, who sold all sorts of chemistry things such as glass tubing, distillation coils, rubber bungs, Bunsen burners and chemicals. So off we set off on our bikes down to Glanvilles and nervously asked for an ounce of saltpetre which, much to our surprise, was sold to us with no trouble at all.

Back at home we were now ready to experiment so having gathered the other apparatus which was needed, an empty Golden Syrup tin with a hole in the lid, a home made wick and cotton packing as wadding for the tin we set to in John’s shed and made our first bomb. We took it down to the bottom of his large garden, well out of the way of adults eyes and buried the device. It most certainly worked making a very loud bang but actually causing very little damage.

After a bit of research and culling information from other lads, we discovered that there was one essential element missing from this explosive cocktail to make it more destructive. We, along with many other boys in the area had long ago discovered the old armaments dump to do with the wartime Starfish Project, which was on Farlington Marshes and was abandoned and never properly decommissioned after the war. This was to provide the final ingredient we needed. After a little digging, in what must have been, a very unstable mass we managed to extract some of the buried Cordite from the armaments. (it turns me cold now thinking about what we did then).

Now we had all that was needed and putting all the ingredients together we prepared our device put it in our saddlebags and cycled down to the Marshes. Here we buried it in the mud at low tide and set the fuse burning. We only ever did this once because the resulting enormous bang and the pounds of sloppy mud that was thrown feet into the air from this terrific explosion scared us to death. We mounted our bikes and peddled furiously away and vowed never to play with explosives again. And we didn’t!

Even though we had not caused any damage to anyone or anything apart from the mud and a few crabs, it scared us so much that our chemistry sets were soon forgotten.

The whole story was resurrected from the dark recesses of my mind recently when I was talking to Barry and he was telling me of his adventures with these weed killer and sugar bombs. He thinks, although he is not sure, that it was one of his groups’ bombs, which had been placed in the coke filter beds at the Sewage Works that caused the bed to ignite, so much so that the fire brigade had to be called to put it out!!!!!

I am sure that if our parents knew what we were up to dire consequences would have followed but they never knew and now after my conversation with Barry whenever I drive past Farlington Marshes I remember that afternoon when we blew an enormous hole in the mud. But as they say on the telly, “Don’t try this at home children”.

Stay in touch,



From the Pages 9 years ago

That Sporting Life

Sport at school was never one of my major priorities and apart from remembering that I was a member of Masefield House whose house colour was green, not a lot immediately comes to my mind on this subject. The only sport I pursued for a time was swimming. I, along with many others, was taught to swim in the Hilsea Lido outdoor pool by Mr Young. My, that place was certainly cold even in the height of summer. Then in the winter we were taken by bus down to the old Victoria baths in Park Road that had the distinction of being situated right next door to the City Mortuary (very handy). Does anyone else remember those beach hut type changing rooms that were built along the side of the pool? Rooms with half saloon type doors, giving very little privacy and very little elbow room, it was here we had to change and then dry ourselves off as quickly as possible so we could get back on the bus to return to school. This pool was the home of the Northsea Swimming Club, which I joined and trained with for a few years and eventually became fairly proficient in middle distance swimming almost reaching County standard but not quite. The funny thing is that I now hate anything to do with swimming and would not go willingly to a swimming pool if you paid me.

I was also never very keen on football but somehow I was picked three times for the School team and played outside left and, as far as I remember, and made very little contribution to any of the games I played in. Some of the names I remember from the team are Steve Carter in goal, Alan Clarkson, David Harris, Phil Ward, Morrell and Frankie Howells. But as I said I only every played three times and that was all in one season. For some reason I also seem to remember playing in an all boys netball team whilst still at Solent Road Junior School.

Sports lessons now come to mind. Hoards of us climbing into a Corporation bus outside Court Lane School and being driven, whilst changing into sports kit, to and from East Lodge to spend the afternoon at our sporting pursuits. Most of this is just a blur, and I have very vague memories of cricket and field sports. However I do remember one particular day when we had an ambulance roared onto the playing fields because one lad had thrown a javelin at another and it lodged in his foot.

I also remember a sports day or maybe it was two that were held on the running track in Alexandra Park at Tipner, why it was there and if I took part in anything I just cannot remember. But I do remember it was a windy and cold spot which seemed miles from anywhere and we were glad to go home.

However I do remember that I enjoyed, and was reasonably good, at cross country running and came in third on two separate occasions in the School cross country championships no medals, no prizes but just very surprised looks from several teachers. No I did not take a short cut or get the bus!

Then there were the sessions in the hall on the various instruments of torture that were produced from the equipment cupboard, the vaulting horse and the box to name just two. I could never get on with either of these items, likewise the wall bars, and I could not climb a rope to save my life. After an hour of strenuous activity came the march back to the changing room and in the boys section at least those ghastly walk through communal showers. As you can read from above I was never a very sports minded person, I was more interested in the social life after school. People such as Larraine was well into the Sporting Life of the School.

One cannot mention sport at school without mentioning Jim Fox, the Olympic Pentathlon Champion, who won a gold medal at the Montreal Olympics. Jim was a couple of years younger than us but I dimly remember him in my role as Deputy Head Boy taking late duties and minding classes when the teacher was absent, and also as a Patrol Second at Scouts. But neither I, nor our old Scout leader at the time Skipper Bill Mustoe, remembers Jim ever showing any leaning to sporting activities whatsoever. It just goes to show how wrong you can be.

I am sure that a perspective of the Sports Scene from the female point of view would be interesting to us lads, so come on girls, put pen to paper.

You Write:

Steve Writes:

I was a Army cadet at Tudor Crescent in the mid 60s, are cap badge was the Wessex Wyvern, this was taken from the 43rd Wessex Brigade which was a South coast Brigade it is famous as the British Army Brigade that went to the support of the Paratroopers at the ill fated Bridge to Far in Arnham. The Bridge over the creek at Peronne road was known as the Peronne Road Military Bridge.

News and Views:

James Arness, who died on June 3 aged 88, played Matt Dillon, the square-jawed, heroic marshal of Dodge City in Gunsmoke, which became one of America’s most durable television series. Critics hailed the show — which ran from 1955 to 1975 and was known in Britain as Gun Law — as “the grimy, gritty version of the reality of frontier life” and as “television’s first adult Western”. A strong supporting cast included Milburn Stone as Doc, Amanda Blake as the saloon keeper and Dennis Weaver as Dillon’s gullible deputy Chester Goode and from 1962 to 1965 a youthful Burt Reynolds was recruited to play Quint, the lusty, honest Dodge City blacksmith.

On this day 19th June 1960-1965.

On 19/06/1960
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 Sunday Night at the London Palladium (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 19/06/1961
the number one single was Surrender - Elvis Presley and the number one album was GI Blues - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) 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 19/06/1962
the number one single was Good Luck Charm - Elvis Presley 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

On 19/06/1963
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 Conservative 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. The big news story of the day was USSR puts first woman in space.

On 19/06/1964
the number one single was You're My World - Cilla Black 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.

On 19/06/1965
the number one single was Crying in the Chapel - Elvis Presley and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. 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.

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