Web Page 1172
10th August 2013
Top Picture: Me at den building age. This photo must have been taken with the cameraman having his back almost at our back fence.
Middle Picture: 1950’s toy pistols
Bottom Picture: Rose arch made from gas piping see article below.
As a kid I was very lucky we had a long garden, the top of which was wild and eventually backed onto Solent Road Junior School. Oh! How I sometimes wished, especially on wet days, that I could just climb over the high fence at the end of the garden and get into school and save a long wet walk around the roads!
The garden was well populated with trees and bushes. We had apple trees, pear trees, plum trees, damson and cherry trees plus hazel nut trees and gooseberry, black, red and white currant bushes and a vegetable patch. This was all a wonderful playground for a young boy and his friends and we spent many happy hours climbing the trees, building tree houses, cracking the nuts with our teeth and picking the fruit off the trees and bushes. But the best bit was when we decided to dig an underground den!
I can remember at least three different sights that we excavated in the garden, all well out of the gaze of my parents of course. The den had to be a secret place! The first thing to do was to find a suitable sight, one where my father would not be digging or gardening and then we would creep into the shed and borrow the forks, pick axes and shovels we needed to complete the job.
Having decided on the plot we then had to decide where the doorway would be, private enough for us to conduct our secret meetings but also easily accessible, Mum did not like filthy dirty clothes being brought into the house after I had slid in and out through the soil covered entrance several times! Having decided on where the entrance was to be we set to work digging a long deep trench to form the main room of the den. Scattered in one part of the garden were several sheets of flat corrugated iron which I assumed came from our old air raid shelter, these were quickly collected to be used as a roof, there were also several odd paving stone distributed around the garden, there were collected as were lengths of old gas pipe. Where you may ask did the gas pipe come from?
My parents bought the house from my Grandfathers second wife, who at one time had a fetish for rose arches so her father obtained, from somewhere, a quantity of gas piping and elbow joints and made up yards and yards of rose arching. When we moved in my father demolished these arches and the old pipes were stacked by the corrugated iron. So all the ingredients for a superb den were to hand.
After having dug the hole the first things we moved were the paving or flag stones and these were laid in the bottom of the hole to form a solid floor and they were also used to line the entrance tunnel. No more filthy clothes for Mum to worry about!
The next move was to take some of the gas pipes and lay them across the hole as rafters to take the weight of the final ingredient the corrugated iron that was laid over the top. Job almost done, all that was left was to cover the roof with the soil we had dug out and cover the whole lot with bracken and hey presto a den was built. One problem was that it had no windows so we had to dig out little hollows in the sidewalls to put candles in and once lit all was safe and cosy.
The trick about putting the slabs on the base of the den was discovered after we had built den one and it had rained so when we entered the den after a downpour we were up to our ankles in mud. One of us had the bright idea of placing the slabs in the bottom so thereafter if it rained we just got wet feet not wet muddy feet!
We had so much space to dig in that we never even considered building a tree house although we did have our favourite climbing trees.
Why we built dens I have no idea but I know that over a period of three or four years that I and many of my friends spent many happy hours playing in them!
Take care and keep in touch
The Timber yard at Mile End was called "Lillywhites" My late Father in Law worked there before WW2 and he left to join the Navy which ended his time there..
I worked at Gauntlett & Walkers Dairy in Purbrook from the age of 14 to 16-1/2 on a Saturday & Sunday and during school holidays. My Uncle was good friends with Mr. Gauntlett himself and it was he who got me this part time job. Must write an article about that at some point as it was a real education for a youngster.
Peter B Writes:-
Peter B Writes:-
I was interested in your piece regarding helping the Gauntlet & Walker milkman. In 1956 when I was 13 years old. My father John Barlow was friends with Victor Gauntlet who owned Gauntlets Dairy as they were both founder members of Cosham Rotary Club. This was long before it amalgamated with Walkers Dairy in Guildford Road Portsmouth. My father asked Victor if I could help either in the dairy which was in Stakes Road, Waterlooville, or on one of the farms during the summer school holidays. He found me a job potato picking in the fields at Crookhorn long before there were any houses there. I seem to recall that I was paid 6d for every cwt sack I filled. It was very backbreaking. When the potatoes finished, I asked Victor if there was anything else I could do. There was a massive chicken shed behind the dairy and he said I could help this man called Brian to dig out the chicken muck. All we had was a couple of wheelbarrows and 2 shovels. It was about 2ft deep and took several days. After that, I worked in the dairy during school holidays and weekends until I left school at 17. In those days there were very few mechanical aids and most jobs were done using physical strength. For instance, lifting full churns of milk up on to the lorry by using your knee to help get it up there. Cleaning the dirty milk churns in those days, was positively archaic. Each churn had to be washed with hot water through these water jets and then sterilized with steam by standing them upside down on a metal plinth and turning on and off water taps and then steam taps. Full metal crates of milk which were very heavy, had to be stacked up about 7 high and wheeled on a big sack truck on to the lorry to go to the various satellite depots. Gauntlets eventually amalgamated with Walkers dairy in Guildford Road, Portsmouth. Initially the milk production moved to there while Stakes Road was extended and new machinery installed. The whole outfit then moved back to Stakes Road. To get to work, I either cycled or walked from Cosham High Street to Stakes Road Waterlooville, and I also worked mornings and evenings at Dodd & Reads paper shop at the top of Cosham High Street, where I did a morning and evening paper round. As a youngster growing up, there was no sitting on a computer or game station. They hadn't been invented then. We had no Television at home, just a radio. When I look back on those days, I often think what a fantastic start to life and what experience for the future. Do the kids today get a good initiation into the real world or is all that very much the world of the past.
News and Views
On this day 10th August 1960-1965
On 10/08/1960 the number one single was Shakin' All Over - Johnny Kidd & the Pirates and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) 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.
On 10/08/1961 the number one single was Well I Ask You - Eden Kane and the number one album was Black & White Minstrel Show - George Mitchell Minstrels. The top rated TV show was Top Secret (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 10/08/1962 the number one single was I Remember You - Frank Ifield and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. 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 10/08/1963 the number one single was Sweets For My Sweet - Searchers 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 week was Derby Day doping riddle.
On 10/08/1964 the number one single was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles 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 10/08/1965 the number one single was Help - The Beatles and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Riviera Police (AR) 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.