Memories of Ian Coombe

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I shall be visiting Gosport in October.  I grew up in the area and would like to know if there is a photograph available of SISKIN CHURCH which used to be just about at the railway crossing on Military Road. 

My last visit 5 years ago took me to the spot where the church (a green corrugated building) was on, it is now a field.  Although the rail track is now a cycle path the station platform is still to be seen.  Any information regarding this old church in which I sang as a choirboy in the forties would be much appreciated.  Thank You.

(I confirmed that there are photos of the Church on the site and provided a link to them, he then sent in the following memories. Ian Jeffery)

Thank you very much for the information Ian.  Much appreciated.Yes, that is indeed the church where I joined as a very wee nipper inthe early forties!On the right side of the church was a wooden hut where I started Sunday School until about 7 and then joined the choir. My choir pay was 1/8d a quarter.  Needless to say we spent it on the way home and bought a bottle of Tizer and some fish & chips at the fish shop by the level crossing at the foot of Grange Crescent.  (I don't know whether it was the owners name but my mother referred to the fish shop as "Freddie Frost's"!)

The choirmaster at that time was a fellow by the name of Hughes.  We referred to him as "Smokes" as he was continuously surrounded by a cloud of smoke from his Woodbines....... with the amount he puffed I very much doubt whether he lived to a 'ripe old age'.  He lived on Station Road. Following the war just about everyone smoked in those days and never gave it a second thought as regards the impact on health.

We also used to fish off the ramp across from the church,  I think it is Fort Rowner but not sure. I had not been back for many years and now,  of course,  it is all fenced in.  No one seemed to bother about 'safety' concerns in those days.  I suppose we could all have come a cropper if we had fallen in......  There were only a very few houses along Military Road at that time.  Mostly homes for Lt. Commanders and the like. We lived on Virginia Park Road.  To get to the church we took a short cut across the old cabbage field.

I am now 61 and retired.  I love walking so when I come to Gosport I walk everywhere,  Lee-on-Solent,  Stokes Bay etc..  I usually drop in for a pint at the Alvabank Hotel at Stokes Bay.  I cringed when they toldme the cost for a room last time!

During my last visit I noticed that the perimeter stones for the church were still evident amongst the weeds/grass etc..Would love to retire in the area but the cost of living in the UK now is way out of my league,  even on a Canadian pension!                                            Ian Coombe Montreal.

Later E-mail October 2003

Had a lovely visit to the area recently.  Stayed in the ward room at HMS Collingwood. All very ' puckar sahib'....even noticed some swords for sale on the notice board. Great weather. 

The church at Sultan...still an overgrown area.  At least no building yet! Couldn't find any evidence of the perimeter of the church.  I had noticed it a couple of years ago. Wonder if there are still some wee fish in the moat around Fort Rowner.  Almost slipped in the 'drink' a few tim,es when we used to fish from under the 'drawbridge.                  Ian Coombe Montreal.

Christmas In Gosport

I recall many lovely Christmasses in Gosport.  Never much snow mind youbut we didn't mind.  The midnight service at Siskin Church was always very exciting.  My mother used to take me from Virginia Park Road along Military Road.  No street lighting then so I had fun with my very own 'torch'.  Lots of excitement knowing that my pillowcase would be on the bottom of my bed when I woke up next morning.........             .Ian Coombe Montreal.


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Ian Jeffery

11 Harcourt Road


Hants  PO12 3NR

Tel: 023 9252 3358

Mobile: 078 1751 7995


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