Memories of Old Gosport

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EXTRACTS FROM CHILDHOOD MEMORIES OF OLD GOSPORT-TOWN

For bomb-damaged old Gosport-town, years of inertia after World War 2 came to an end in a frenzy of 1960’s & 70’s clearance and rebuilding. Ancient streets and alleys, with houses built over medieval cellars, pubs, shops, foundries, malt-houses, missions and tiny cottages were swept away. As high-rise flats mushroomed above Holy Trinity Bell Tower, much of old Gosport disappeared for ever.

But now and again “Talks” given by our gifted senior citizens brought vividly to life again the people and places of that overcrowded bustling little town. Such a one was gentle, white-haired Mrs Dorrie Cawte whose photographic memories of “My Life as a Child in South Street, Gosport, 1912-1926” made her a most popular speaker. Here she is:-

INTRODUCTION

I think that Childhood, in the teeming South Street  area during World War I, and up to 1926, was a wonderful experience for all the children who shared it.  It was especially so for  my sisters and brother and me, even  when we had lost our father, and had only our dear mother to take care of us.

COURTS AND ALLEYS

 South Street had many alleys and courtyards and places leading off, with lots of little cottages.  There was a place called 'Grey's Alley !, named after a regiment that was stationed in Gosport long before my time.  And down the Beach Street end of South Street was  Sarah's Place,  Trinity View and Wash-house  Yard, where we did all the big washing.  Then in Middle South Street, above Bemisters Lane, there was Child's Court, and Wallingford Place.  This was where I was born in 1912.  Our bedroom was at the top and we looked out on to the back entrance of Gosport Theatre,  We used to love watching the ladies come down the stairs from their dressing rooms.  They had to come and go in whatever weather and it must have been very annoying when it rained, but it brought lots of imagination and colour to the lives of children watching them, with their furs and laces and lovely dresses.

GOSPORT THEATRE PLAYGROUND

 When the gates to the back entrance of Gosport Theatre  were unlocked, this was our nearest playground.  I often remember playing cricket there; the bat was always a piece of wood from an orange box, the wicket any old coat or whatever was available.  There were arguments over being out, and the batsmen would seldom agree, especially if the bowler happened to be a girl  The game would often end with no results, but the quarrels never lasted longer than the next day, when it would all start again.

BLAKES ENGINEERING WORKS

There was Slakes Engineering Works just opposite the Malthouse.  It was a source of noise and nasty smells.  As the front was wide open all the young men working there would give the odd cheek to any young girl passing by.  Also Wallingford Place ran along the side wall of the building, and I remember when they installed a Steam Hammer^ how it shook our poor little cottage and made a terrific banging noise, which we got used to in time, although we never thought we would do so.

ANIMALS TO THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE

 Also lower down just past Bemisters Lane was Mr. Cox's Slaughter House*  If we were in the street when these animals came in view, we ran home or to the nearest house, because they always bellowed loudly, in such a distressed way.  I am sure they must have smelled the Slaughter House, and sensed what would happen to them there..

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