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Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Web Page 1090
24th October 2012

Top Picture : Lonnie Donegan Poster

Second Picture: Skiffle advert

A plea for help. Below is a picture of a United Brewery Steam Lorry dressed for a special occasion but the owner of the picture has no idea what the occasion was. Can you help?


Who remembers Skiffle? I am sure we all do and wanted to grab a guitar or washboard or tea chest and broom stick. It is amazing that it is now over fifty five years since Skiffle hit the headlines. It was a short lived phenomenon, but was the first time British youth could influence popular music. Skiffle was a wholly UK inspired music form which burst into public consciousness in January 1956 when Lonnie Donegan’s ‘Rock Island Line’ hit the charts. For the recording Lonnie (who played in the Chris Barber Jazz Band) was backed by Chris Barber on bass and by Beryl Bryden on washboard. Within a week tea chests and washboards were almost unobtainable as everyone tried to play this new music form.

At that time the hit parade was dominated by the likes of Doris Day and Denis Lotis. Actually Skiffle evolved out of the poor US classes, its main influences were blues, spirituals and the work song. Later Skiffle would be refined but it remained essentially the music of the working classes. The sound created was not entirely Jazz or Blues but was a hybrid which embraced a number of styles.
In the UK, after the War, Traditional Jazz became the youth music. During the Festival of Britain celebrations of July 1951 in the presence of Princess Elizabeth at the new Royal Festival Hall, a colossal Jazz concert was organised and subsequently a number of recordings were released and several became big sellers, however as there was no ‘chart’ there was no indication of their popularity. Chris Barber had enlisted the Colyer brothers and Tony Donegan. (Later to be re-christened ‘Lonnie’ Donegan.)

Skiffle from being a niche interest soon exploded and everyone wanted a piece of the action, Chas McDevitt and Nancy Whiskey's ‘Freight Train’ was a slow starter but was to become the Oriole record company’s first million seller, and subsequently became the first British group to conquer the American charts, leading to appearances on the Ed Sullivan show.

Lonnie Donegan went on to produce a string of hit records; meanwhile Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger formed the Ramblers; Wally Whyton joined the Vipers and in 1956 it seemed the country had gone Skiffle crazy. Skiffle even had the accolade of a comedy alter ego; Morris and Mitch, to be joined by Marty Feldman who parodied the ‘Six Five Special’ theme. Even Clinton Ford recorded Skiffle.

The era also had its scandal. When Nancy Whiskey announced she was to marry, she unfortunately forgot to check that her intended was not already married - he was … and the newspapers had a field day.
Every coffee bar had its resident group. In London the Irani brothers established the Two ‘I’s’ as the premier Skiffle venue and Chas McDevitt opened the ‘Freight Train’ coffee bar. Promoters cashed in on the craze and many ‘Skiffle’ contests were held.

Skiffle was limited and repetitive. By 1960 the Skiffle era had run its course and only Lonnie Donegan was to continue and he continued to play Skiffle right up to his death in 2002.
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This is way before our 1960’s period but my 92 year old uncle has written his memories of East Cosham in 1925. I hope you find them interesting.

Memories of Kenneth George Keat re his home Croslands in Lendorber Avenue
1925. I remember the moving day from our house on the Copnor Road in Portsmouth which was then on the extreme northern boundary of Portsmouth Town, close to what is Stubbington Avenue. I was sent to stay with my Uncle and Aunt (the Winnicotts) at their house in the London Road opposite Ophir Road. That evening I was picked up and taken to our brand new house. Imagine my amazement to be introduced to electric light in OUR house after being used to gas lighting. I shared a bedroom on the west side of the house with my sister (9). Being young (5) and carefree my memories are happy ones. Among those are coming downstairs for breakfast to find that the maid had lit a nice warm fire in the breakfast room- that was the night that my father looked out of an upstairs window and spotted her and her boyfriend kissing outside the side gate (what ever next!) the result was “pack your things and leave in the morning”. I later learned to do my courting away from home. I remember a tree on the Cosham corner of Lendorber Avenue where the family gathered to wait for the king (George V) and Queen to drive by on their way from Goodwood Races to join the Royal Yacht for Cowes Week.

The front lawn was quite full of weeds and we got 1d for every 50 we dug up. I also remember my father digging a trench next to the fence into which every stone was put ready for a concrete path.  Whether one was ever built I don’t know.

My sister and I had little plots of grass, about 2ft x 1ft  on which we made our own gardens with paste pots as ponds and little stones as paths etc. At the bottom of the garden was a garage into which our cat would run when he heard the car arriving – with tragic results.

The houses next door were occupied by the Jones and Rowes. The Jones garden was L shaped with land beyond our garage and was overgrown with stinging nettles into which I was frequently pushed by the Jones boys. The large chestnut tree in the back came in very welcome for the nuts at Christmas  despite brown fingers preparing them.

The Surrounding Area

Lendorber Avenue was gravel with no surfaced footpaths. Turning right towards Drayton on the south side were several new houses. On the first corner (Court Lane) was a very old thatched cottage, which was knocked down when the road was widened. On the opposite corner was the Gammons estate. Turning left beyond our three houses was a paddock extending to Mulberry Lane. In the top far corner was a barn used for milking cows and housing them for the night.

A nursery occupied  the site of St Colmans church. From there to East Cosham Road were only three houses on the north side of the Havant Road. Each had extensive grounds. My Uncle purchased the first –Cosham House- and proceeded to vandalise the grounds by making a new driveway to the house – which he occupied- and cutting the rest up by making Padwick and Burrill Avenues. The original driveway can still be seen (I think) at the end of Widley Road. The extent of the original property can be seen by the length of the brickwall on the frontage.

The second property extended from the eastern end of the wall to the eastern boundary of Lodge Avenue. It consisted of a large house with a lodge at the end of the driveway. The entrance, nearly opposite Croslands can, I believe, still be seen by a small curved section of the entrance wall. The lodge was the home to the chauffeur/ gardener and his wife and two sons. Immediately opposite Croslands was a field where the cows mentioned earlier were kept during the day before being driven down the road to the farm mentioned earlier. If we were luck the gardener would mow a wicket in this field for us to play cricket. The house and lodge were eventually demolished to make way for Bernard and Lodge Avenues to be built.  

News and Views:

The State of California has released its annual list of the 500 biggest tax evaders and once again it includes Dionne Warwick. The New Jersey native's been on the list since 2003. The state says she owes $2.6 millionbut her spokesperson says she's worked out a "repayment plan."

On this day 24th October 1960-1965

On 24/10/1960 the number one single was Only the Lonely - Roy Orbison and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.The big news story of the day was Britain launches first nuclear submarine.

On 24/10/1961 the number one single was Walkin' Back to Happiness - Helen Shapiro and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. 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 24/10/1962 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 24/10/1963 the number one single was Do You Love Me? - Brian Poole & the Tremoloes 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.

On 24/10/1964 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 24/10/1965 the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd 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 Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.

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