It’s 10 years since we all attended the Reunion, where have those years gone.
Top Picture: Night Watchmans hut
Second Picture: Lamp lighter
Long Gone Jobs
Have you ever stopped and wondered just how many dozens of jobs or positions which we all took for granted when we were kids but we see no more? No! Well how about these three?
That hole in the ground by the road works (like the ones sung about by Bernard Cribbins) was never left to its own devises when we were kids. More often than not there would be a little green canvas or wooden shelter, normally ex government, in which the Night Watchman, normally an elderly ex service man trying to stretch out his pension, sat there all night long making sure that the wicks on the paraffin lamps were neatly trimmed and so were showing a bright red light to warn motorist, cyclists and pedestrians of the danger behind the barriers around the road works. The watchman was also responsible for the tools left on site and had to guard them against thieves who would have a ready market for good quality shovels and pickaxes. It also seemed to me that whatever the time of year these night watchman fellows always had a coal brazier burning in front of shelter throughout the night for warmth and brewing tea and cooking on, at least I assumed that he sat there behind the brazier all night, I was never allowed up late enough to find out if that was true. The night watchman on road works have long gone but I understand that some lasted at least to 1960.
Another unusual job was that of lamp lighter. Now I know within the Cosham, Drayton and Portsmouth areas gas lights were most certainly a thing of the past but I can remember gas lights still in use in London. My Grandmother lived in the Gate Lodge on Hyde Park Corner and the official Park entrance and the gates were lit by gas lights at least until 1952 when my Grandmother moved to Portsmouth. We visited my grandmother regularly and as a young boy I vividly remember watching the lamplighter with his long pole lighting those lamps. In a different sphere but still with gas lamps I remember Pam’s Grandmothers house in Ringwood only had gas lighting in the kitchen right up until 1975 when they moved. (There was electricity downstairs but the power upstairs was fed from a wandering lead up the side of the staircase.
Another long disappeared job is that of Park Keeper and his assistants. The Head Park Keeper were the terror of all kids who wished to play in the formal gardens in Victoria Park or the Rock Gardens. One small misdemeanour meant a stern voice shouting out either ‘pick that up’ or ‘get off the grass’ or ‘if I catch you my lad…..’ Many of these Park Keepers were ex service and proudly wore medal ribbons on their official uniforms. I do not remember the names of any of the park keepers in Portsmouth but I know that here in Gosport the name Parky Brown was enough to send a shiver down the spine of many a young lad for several years. But what I do remember about those park keepers and their assistants was that they always seemed to carry a bag with them and a long stick with a spike on the bottom so they could spear waste paper and sweet wrappers.
Other jobs also have gone and several years ago I spoke on this blog of the fishmongers van doing its rounds along the streets as did the Smith and Vosper or Campion bread van, the Cornona van, the Ice Cream van and believe it or not the paraffin van this was a Bedford van which had an enormous tank in the back full of paraffin this would be drained off from a tap at the bottom by the driver who always seemed to be smoking!!!!
Another job that now really does seem to have disappeared completely is the milkman’s lad. From when I was fourteen onwards I went out with our local Gauntlett and Walker milkman Roy and helped with the Saturday deliveries. This covered an area from Drayton right up to Forty Acres at Bedhampton and took in houses on both sides of the Havant Road. This was a real eye opener, not only did I get paid by Roy but I could drink as much milk as I liked. After a time I also got to help him in the holidays and it always amazed me how trusting people were then. Milk money was left on the step, or in a flowerpot or under the milk bottle. Some places I would have to place little cups over the bottles to stop the Blue tits pecking into the milk, other places the milk had to be put into custom built little cupboards in porches or under special bushes and at least two different houses in Hilltop Road, I remember I had to go round the back of the house, open the back door, cry out milk and then put it in the fridge and leave. I cannot ever remember seeing anyone in the kitchen when I delivered I only ever heard a voice from somewhere in the house reply ‘Thank you milky’ . My, my it really was a different world then.
Stay in touch,
From the files ten years ago, first published in the blog of 25th August 2002.
That Sporting Life
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 (are the playing fields still there? I believe they are), 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 roar onto the playing fields because one lad had thrown a javelin at another and it lodged in his foot. Here I, and my memory, need a little help from you out the, can anyone remember who the two lads were? and why the javelin was thrown. (E-mailed answers please).
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! But Mervyn O’Donnell and Melvyn Bridger were the stars at this particular sport and when they met again after many years a few weeks ago this was one of their topics of conversation.
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 and such like, unlike the people who were good at sport. People such as Larraine who tells me that she was well into the Sporting Life of the School and far too busy to attend things like the Dancing Lessons mentioned a few weeks ago so no memories of Wheels Cha Cha for her!!!!
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 a Prefect/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 but I do wonder if any of the sports teachers noted that potential in Jim all those years ago.
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.
News and Views:
Bobby Rydell was 70 this week.
On this day 5th May 1960-1965
On 05/05/1960 the number one single was Do you Mind - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Wagon Train (ITV) 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. The big news story of the week was Soviet Union shoots down American U2 spy plane flown by pilot CG Powers
On 05/05/1961 the number one single was Wooden Heart - 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. The big news story of the week was Castro makes Cuba Socialist.
On 05/05/1962 the number one single was Wonderful Land - The Shadows 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 05/05/1963 the number one single was How Do You Do It? - Gerry & the Pacemakers and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. 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 Churchill retired.
On 05/05/1964 the number one single was A World Without Love - Peter & Gordon and the number one album was With the Beatles - The 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 Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.