The Gosport Bristows

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By Peter Holman Smith

My maternal grandparents came to Gosport from Norfolk. Phillip William Bristow from Blundeston, Amelia Saunders from Great Yarmouth. They arrived in Gosport around the end of the 19th century and lived at No 12 Inverness Rd which was near Hutfield’s old garage.

Does anybody remember Rules sweetshop that was across from the park? My father told me that the park was once the extreme end of Forton Creek before it was filled in to make way for the navy technical school and playing fields on Mill Lane where my uncle Bill went to school.

Grandfather was a “bespoke” tailor and had a dozen or so treadle Singer sewing machines in the workshop at the rear of the house. Although I visited the house, I was too young to remember any of the women who worked there. My grandparents had six children; Bessie, who worked as a seamstress in the business, Gladys, William (Bill), Florence, Olive (my mother) and Sybil.

Bill, being the only boy and recognizing the mores of that era, went to technical school and became an electrical engineer in the dockyard. He was working in Singapore when the Japanese invaded Malaya. He made his way home via South Africa some months later.

Gladys married Victor Prince who was a superintendent in the dockyard. I believe he was part of the team that cleared the mines from the Corfu Strait after the war.

Florence married Cecil Morton Robinson. Cecil was a bandmaster sergeant in the Royal Marines and toured the world between the two wars. He had the unenviable task of trying to teach me to play the piano.

Bessie Bristow never married and worked in grandfather’s business until he died in 1930. After that she worked in a tailoring business on Gosport High Street. I can’t remember the name.

(I think Bessie could have worked for "Rowe's" a tailors shop between Littlewoods and the Port Hole.  The name of the school in Whitworth Road is Leesland School but Central school was close by off Daisy Lane on the right.  Central school is now part of Leesland School.I hope this helps. Kind regards, Jackie.)

My mother, Olive Gertrude, married Albert Holman Smith and that’s a whole new story!

Lastly, Sybil, the eldest girl, never married. It’s shocking to realize that in the early part of the 20th century at the end of the First World War there were not enough young men left alive to become husbands to the young women of that time. Sybil did get some education and went to teachers training college. I have lost track of where but I believe it was somewhere close to Gosport. She taught at the old Forton Road School for many years before the war. I remember her taking me to see the bomb damage to the churchyard.

She also taught at the Grove Road School when it reopened after the war. I have a photograph of the teaching staff somewhere in the archives. I will search it out and send it on.* There was another old school where she taught. It was on Whitworth Road, I believe, across the street from the Coop and the “Gypsy Queen” pub. We used to navigate by using pubs as waypoints!

Standing-Miss Bristow (my aunt), Mr Gutteridge, Mr Courtney, Miss Dyer, Miss Coles seated: Mrs Sims, Miss Wild, Miss Gray, Mrs Bundy, Mrs Kiln

My grandmother lived with Sybil and Bill in Bury Crescent until she died in 1935. Bill married late and Sybil moved away to Alverstoke.

Thank you Mr Holman - Smith Ian Jeffery

 

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Updated 11th October 2017

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