Memories of Sue Dewey

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I was a child of the fifties, born and brought up in a town that now bears no resemblance to the cosy memories of my youth. The Gosport of my past still retained much of it's history and even the heavy bomb raids of the Second World War, could not subdue the bustling community of our town. We had real shops, libraries, parks, picture houses and even a swimming pool. It was indeed, a different world.


I was born in 1953 in Henry Street, which was one of a network of little streets, now long gone, which were situated behind Stoke Road. The little cottages that lined one side of the street were possibly early 1800s. There were at least two pubs in this narrow gas lit street. Not unusual, given the town's maritime history, but these were very old taverns. This didn't seem to cause problems in the street, no excessive behaviour or the like. Much of the old ways still existed in the early fifties and it was quite common for the elderly to place a chair in the doorway or on the pavement outside of their homes in the warmer weather. There was good reason for this, it was a prevention against loneliness. Of course, for further entertainment you could always watch someone else's television. My parent's were of the first people to own a small television in the street, and, as our front window faced onto the pavement, it wasn't uncommon to have someone looking through the window to see what was on TV! No one minded, it was the way it was back then.


At the bottom end of Henry Street was Barnes's Coal Yard. In the coal yard were stables that housed massive shire horses. These great creatures would gallop at speed down the little narrow street of my youth. My father, who also lived in Henry Street as a child, well remembers his father, a veteran of the First World War, refusing to go into the air raid shelter during the Second World War. Instead he would sit with some of the other men in the stables calming the horses as bombs fell all around them. I believe that sacking would be placed over the horse's heads, which helped to steady the confused and frightened animals. A story, that still brings a tear to my eye.


But what of Stoke Road? That sad and dilapidated area, was once alive with people and shops. It is hard to believe now, but the pavements could get very crowded and this is understandable, given the variety of shops and businesses housed in such a small area. There was even a tiny library in Stoke Road. It was called "The Greenway Library". A small library run by two elderly ladies. The shop itself invariably had the faintest whiff of boiled fish. This was for the cat, a very important member of the library! Later on, the Greenway Library, now very much at the end of it's life, was briefly owned by someone else. The cat was now replaced by a Harlequin Great Dane and a large Golden Labrador. Two big friendly dogs, whose sole aim was to jostle for space in front of the one bar electric fire. What would Health and Safety experts of today think about that I wonder?


People like myself, who are Gosport born and bred, will perhaps identify with these memories. There is no doubt that the town was a better place before the onset of changes which would see Gosport and it's history virtually destroyed. Now, if we could only get back that which was lost, wouldn't that be a fine thing? Sue Dewey.

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Hants  PO12 3NR

Tel: 023 9252 3358

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