Still here – the Alresford Fair

For 2016 the Alresford Fair took over Alresford Broad Street from Wednesday 2pm till Thursday after midnight, in one week in October. The massive constructions and large vehicles involved for Fairs these days mean that this timescale is needed, and the road needs to be clear of parked vehicles, so the trailers can be manoeuvred into position on the Wednesday afternoon. This was helped enormously by the Traffic Wardens from Winchester, who were present to add weight to the “No Parking” restriction granted from the Wednesday.

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Thursday morning – not an easy path for cars or lorries!

By Thursday morning the road width was significantly restricted, offering a single lane with small passing places. The Fair stalls are large, and they do take up lots of space! The conditions can be seen in the picture above. So it was quite fun to see two watercress lorries heading down Broad Street, meeting two others coming up Broad Street, and trying to cross in the middle of the Fair. It made for a small delay of about 15 minutes in any traffic passing through around 0900. The salads lorry drivers had been told to avoid Broad Street, by their bosses in Alresford Salads: they were advised to take the alternative route – but of course they ignored this. The chaos continued all morning, and whilst simple “Stop/Go” boards would have helped regulate the traffic flow along the single lane section, they were not allowed. And from later experience they would probably have been ignored by frustrated car drivers.

There were plenty of barriers and indications that Broad Street was not one where you would want to go, and many people sensibly opted out. So it was remarkable how many vehicles looking for a quick snack purchase at Tesco spent half an hour going down to the bottom and then turned round to come back! Then there was one notable young lady who refused to accept that she could not park her car in Broad Street, outside Tesco, on the grounds that it was her town! You would have thought she would therefore know that the Fair comes here every October.

The road was closed from 1300. There were people who argued about the odd two minutes showing on their car clock, but it was blocked by Fairground equipment anyway. One charming executive trying to get to Old Alresford Place said his limousine was too big and too smart to go down the diversion round Drove Lane, but we pointed out that various builders lorries and brick transporters had already been diverted down there. He was not very pleasant, but hopefully he did not get brick dust on his car.

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Finally, after 1300 the road is closed fully!

Here’s a selection of photos from the Thursday morning, showing the problems experienced by some people, and the Fairground stands.

That Morris Minor Traveller Has To Be Our Dad’s Car!

The people who supply prints of old postcards, www.francisfrith.com, have 135 old pictures of “New Alresford” on their website: you need to use the “New” in the Search box to distinguish it from the other town in Essex. Plus they encourage people to write in and post their memories of the town under the pictures.

The following, with thanks to Francis Frith and to John Dear, who sent the comments in, back in 2012, is his memory sparked by the postcard, which seems to show his Dad’s old Morris Minor parked at the top of Broad Street, by the Chemist’s, in about 1965. Slightly edited for clarity, he writes:

“My family lived at No 3 (the top flat), Corner House, at the top end of Broad Street, first on the left looking at the photo (but just out of the picture) for many years from 1947 or so. I was eleven when we moved to Alresford from Bournemouth. My brother Rex and I have both lived in the North East of Scotland since our early twenties. But in Alresford, in the early fifties, a butcher, a chemist and a flower shop occupied the building below our flat, at street level.

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May I offer my disjointed and rambling memories of Alresford?

We went to primary school ‘down the Dean’ – Mrs Warburton was Headmistress, or was it Mrs. Waldron? Warburton’s was a newsagent’s shop? Then Perins, and by steam train – now known as the Watercress Line, and a preserved steam railway – to Peter Symonds in Winchester. SCATS feed mill – still working then, was in the railway station yard, with kindly Mr Gordon Porter, who with his dear wife Nancy, who lived at Ladycroft, where the high road and the low road, (the bus route to Winchester), went their different ways. There was the bike shop (for sales and repairs) on the corner of Station Road, next to the Post Office. My dad Bob worked at Conders, in Winchester. My mum Esther, ran Dr Skegg’s flower/vegetable shop which was just under the flat. Cruickshanks the grocers was opposite, across Broad Street and ’employed’ me – bagging sugar in neatly folded bags and other ‘help’ (I hope I wasn’t a nuisance). Biscuits were sold from big glass topped tins, and I was allowed to take home broken biscuits and bacon pieces from the slicer – for my own fry-up! The big ironmongers down Broad Street, is it still there? (Yes, its still there – Ed) Brian, a good go-about friend, where is he now? And Thelma Lane from their Dad’s electricians down West Street. Looking across to St. Johns Church, its lovely pealing bells and striking clock. Watercress beds, streams (paddling), the outdoor cold! A swimming pool, little used for swimming, but model boats, yes. The Fulling Mill, trout, waving water weed in clear water, meadows, cowslips.

Our four uncles, Gordon (and Barbara), Sidney (and Gladys), Charlie (and Marjorie) and John (and Mollie) running C.E.Evans (our Grandad), which was the butchers down the Soke, at No. 7. Their slaughterhouse round the back, bacon smoker with oak sawdust, sides of bacon in brine. Jimmy Whyte and his cars, down the lane. Follow round to the big working mill, eels in the water, wild playground next to it (built on now, I expect), the big Weir (the ‘little weir’ on the opposite side of the watercress beds- a nice track with trees). Going to Old Alresford, the Pond down the lane, Robin Greenwood’s cottage, a ‘big pond!’ Walk right round if very daring, rickety bridge, high reeds, willow trees to sit and climb on. Abbotstone Down, New Farm Road, paper round including the Institute (the dear souls did so enjoy their papers). Sun Lane, deep chalk railway cutting, tame jackdaw, flying model airplanes on the Golf Course (Jetex fuel pellet engine and fuse – or elastic band). Opposite the Cricketers Arms – we’d be in the middle of a motorway now! (Well its just the bypass – Ed) Double decker bus to Winchester through the Worthies – sitting upstairs and the tree branches brushing the bus. Owls in cool, misty, still evenings, swans, ducks, coots, moorhens, water voles, Miller’s thumb fish, sticklebacks, minnows, cadis fly larvae in their stone tubes and more eels. Bike ride to Bighton and to Syd and Gladys at the Ramblers at Ropley, woods and deep lanes. Charlie and family up Pound Hill on the way to The Avenue – a beautiful avenue of lime trees. The pubs, the London to Bournemouth Stagecoach, stopping overnight at The Bell Inn, looking down on and listening to the Broad Street Fair.

We walked everywhere, safe and sound and had no need to get thrills from vandalising anything – though I readily admit to much harmless trespass… hmm…yes…”

While there are not that many eels left any more, John, the Broad Street Fair continues: pictured from today:

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Life at the Dean School in 1953

Prompted by the recent story about the Old Alresford school in the 1960s, Godfrey Andrews has sent in some of his memories about free school milk and school dinners, at the Dean School in Alresford. He started there in 1953.

Free School Milk

Free school milk, in terms of a third of a pint, usually in a small glass bottle, was first introduced as a part of the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act:  it was identified as one of the foods that could alleviate poor nutrition, considered one of the principal hindrances to learning. This asked local authorities to provide free school meals, but by 1939 less than half were doing so. After WW2 the 1946 Free Milk Act reinforced the provision of the milk to every child under 18.

All the reports suggest that Harold Wilson stopped this in 1968 for secondary school pupils, and then in 1971, Mrs Thatcher stopped it for children over the age of 7 when she was Education Secretary, earning her the label of “Milk Snatcher”. However I was at secondary school, and under 18, in Leeds until 1964, and it had stopped there in around 1962. Maybe it became optional for older students, and I just didn’t go and get it!

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A picture of the school from the http://www.alresfordheritage.co.uk website, which is from a Hampshire Chronicle newspaper article around the time of closure of the Dean School.

At the Dean School

Here, in 1953, the milkman called each morning to deliver the free school milk. Godfrey was the milk monitor in one class, and during the cold winter months used to have to bring the milk crate for his class into the classroom, putting it next to the stove for an hour or so to thaw it out a little. At the Dean School each classroom was heated by a ‘turtle stove’. Coal was fed into the small door/flap on the top and ash removed from the door/flap near the base. The school janitor would keep the coal shuttle topped up.

School lunches at the Dean School were similar to those in Old Alresford, in that the hot lunches were delivered to the school each day, in the late morning. Arriving by van it would be wheeled across the playground, in large insulated containers and in to the main hall. The ‘dinner ladies’ would then take over the task of serving the food to the children. Unlike in Old Alresford, lunch was never served in the classrooms. Everyone squeezed into the one main hall, the same hall that was used each morning at the start of the school day, for morning assembly. So it contained all the pupils, all the teachers and a piano – which was used for the morning hymns. The whole of the school, including a duty teacher, would sit together to eat the main course, a pudding and a glass of water.

Godfrey says that of course every morsel of food had to be cleared from the plates. If you left anything you would be punished by missing out on playtime. Many a time he remembers seeing pupils in tears when they could not manage the meal. No one brought a packed lunch or sandwiches with them, it was probably not permitted.

A video held in the Alresford Museum has some scenes at the Dean School, when the headmaster retired, just after the war. The pupils are mainly seen in the main hall, but a classroom scene shows the children using pieces of chalk to write on a small personal blackboard for working out sums: Godfrey mentions that just in the first year’s class, in 1953, they used these personal blackboards and chalk for their workings. From that year onwards the whole school then used textbooks and pens/pencils. The first year teacher in 1953 was Mrs Scammel, who stood at the front of the class and taught using a large blackboard.

Old Alresford School in the 1960s

Mike Whitley, 50 years ago, was a student teacher at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. As a part of this course, in Autumn 1963, he spent one day a week at Old Alresford Primary School: then in 1965 he did a full-time teaching practice there, for half a term. Recently he was asked to do a presentation at Winchester University about student life at the College back then, so he dug out old photos and memories, and has been kind enough to share those relevant with us. Some of these photos can also be seen, perhaps in greater detail, on the photo memory website, www.alresfordheritage.co.uk.

The two colour slides below show the old school building, taken from across the road, and some of the children in the school yard, at the lunch break playtime. The cars are those of the teachers.

Old Alresford CE Primary School, Hampshire

Old Alresford CE Primary School, Hampshire

Teaching practice

The photo below was on a December afternoon in 1963, and shows the afternoon PE football game, refereed by the class teacher, Mr Adams, in the field below the Southdowns National Children’s Home, which was almost next door. At this time, 45 of the pupils at the school were from Southdowns, a large proportion of the school total of 103 children. The others came from Old Alresford, and on the school bus from Wield. Mike was attached to Mr Adams’ class in 1963 (Class 3, the lower juniors, aged 7 and 8): while the boys played football, the girls had needlework indoors!

Old Alresford CE Primary School, Hampshire

In the spring term of 1965, Mike did a 4-week teaching practice period, working in the head-teacher Mr Lavis’s Class 4, which contained 24 upper juniors aged 9-11 – so this included some of his previous students. The Class 4 weekly timetables in 1965 are shown below, which Mike comments are rather formal compared to current practice!

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The school and its procedures

The old school building dated from 1846, but three further classrooms were added in stages after WW2, the most recent completed in 1963. The permanent teaching staff numbered 4, with the rector coming in to take the RE class. A peripatetic teacher, which in 1963 was Mrs Lavis, came in on Thursdays, so that he could concentrate on his administrative duties that day: she also acted as the school music teacher. Classes 3 and 4 were described above, Classes 1 and 2 were the infant classes, which also included a few of the younger 7 year olds.

The school AV equipment comprised a radio, a record player, and a film projector. As can be seen from the timetables, the BBC played a major part in the daily schedule for Class 4 at least! The students were divided into three “Houses”, or teams, named Raleigh, Drake and Nelson – interesting they had a naval flavour! Pupils won or lost house points for good or poor work or conduct. Each week a trophy went to the highest scoring house, and there was also a sports trophy. The school had no communal hall or dining hall, the children ate their school meals in a couple of the classrooms: also some of them went home for lunch. The meals were delivered from a central kitchen serving all the smaller schools, brought out in insulated metal containers.

In those days, free school milk was distributed every morning, in 1/3 pint bottles: Mike can remember the procedures with milk monitors collecting the crates and distributing the bottles, even with straws. He says this ended in 1971, so soon very few will remember the practice. One of the older classrooms in Old Alresford had a blackboard and easel, but most of the classrooms were equipped with roller blackboards – a modern, more efficient invention for presenting info to the kids.

Mike Whitley particularly commented on the effect of the large percentage of the children being from Southdowns, in that the school was very successful in gaining the confidence of all the children, and maintained a very happy and family atmosphere. The panoramic photo below, created by Mike from pictures taken on 5 December 1965, shows Southdowns on the left looking down on the school, just above the end of the pile of sticks: it is taken from the top of the field to the West of the road.

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Transport from Winchester

The group of around 5 student teachers sent to New Alresford travelled by a special coach from King Alfred’s College, and were dropped off near the Bell Hotel, before going on to schools towards Alton. From here Mike and a colleague walked down Mill Hill, and across the watercress beds to Old Alresford, and the others went to the Dean school, and maybe also to Perin’s. If they were kept late at Old Alresford school, they would miss the coach pick-up and have to take the train back to Winchester, though occasionally they saved the fares by hitching a lift (Mike comments that even as students they were dressed respectably, invariably wearing college scarves and carrying a rolled umbrella and briefcase, so the car drivers seemed happy to stop!). In February 1965 Mike took this photo of those cress beds from the footpath, made into a panorama.

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Other Old Alresford views

Two other pictures were supplied by Mike from the 1960s, one of the cottages at the north end of Old Alresford, from the top of the field again, and one of a dilapidated thatched barn – which he cannot locate, but it may have been along the road through Old Alresford, or along the path up to Mill Hill. Can anyone identify it?

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(C) All the photos used above are the copyright of Mike Whitley. The photo below has been supplied by www.alresfordheritage.co.uk, showing the school and the Basingstoke Road at around the same time.Old Alresford 046.jpg

Lawrence Wright and his Drawings

Lawrence Wright (1906-1983) was an ‘architectural perspective artist’, who lived in Alresford in his latter years. He was elected as an Associate Member of RIBA in 1930, and they record him living at 27 West Street in the 1960s. Detailed drawings of the houses and shops of West Street and on the East side of Broad Street were drawn and signed by him, in 1965. A lot of the originals of these are held in the Alresford Museum, plus some coloured prints taken from these drawings are on display in the Community Centre, in the downstairs main hall.

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A coloured print of Broad St/East St, as on display in the Community Centre

Lawrence also wrote several text books describing the historical development of various architectural or domestic accessories. These included “Warm and Snug: The history of the bed” in 1962, “Home Fires Burning: The History of Domestic Heating and Cooking” in 1964, which included fireplaces. The description of Lawrence as Author of ‘Warm and Snug‘ was:

Born in Bristol in 1906, he is a well-known architectural painter. He has designed many exhibitions, and it was from one of these, a history of the bath, under the title ‘Clean and Decent’, that his first book evolved. Its reception encouraged him to write ‘Warm and Snug’.

His pièce de resistance was “Clean and Decent: The history of the bath and loo and of sundry habits, fashions & accessories of the toilet, principally in Great Britain, France & America”. My personal interest in such history was triggered when as a young man in an office on the Embankment in London, one of their facilities featured a classic blue and white china bowl, in a design more familiar on Victorian tureens and porcelain tableware, showing a country garden scene. His book was first published in 1960, but has been re-printed many times since then.

I have no knowledge of any buildings or houses where Lawrence was employed as the architect, but there are unsigned drawings in the Alresford Museum collection of his papers showing a design for the re-build of the house and shop at 5a Broad Street, on paper marked as from Nightingale, Page and Bennett, Chartered Surveyors, of Kingston-on-Thames. These are dated 1961: the shop next door at number 5 Broad Street at that time was quoted as Broad Street Fruiterers, and next door at #7, in Livingstone House, was A. Livingstone and Sons. The work obviously went ahead as it showed the shop layout as used until 2015 by the D.Gedye electrical business.

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Whether he was involved with Roy Robins in the design and construction of 38, 40a and 40 West Street is not certain, but it appears that he lived opposite at number 27, in a small house on the South side of West Street: RIBA say that this was his address in 1965. This is now a listed building and private residence, situated on the corner of what is named “Lawrence Wright Passage”. Certainly, from there he could have looked out across the street at these very elegant buildings and roofs, captured in his 1965 drawing below.

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The original Lawrence Wright drawing

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The coloured print in the Community Centre

What immediately becomes apparent to anyone keen on historical data, is that the Lawrence Wright 1965 pictures give a great snapshot and record of the businesses present in the town centre in 1965. Plus they also show that there were far more residential buildings, than shops or business premises: although some were presumably used as Doctor’s Surgeries and for other professional services. Some, such as #40 above (now Jaga Designs), have a business sign which cannot be read from Lawrence Wright’s front of building views. There are too many drawings in the collection to reproduce them all here, but in time they will be made available on the Alresford Museum website, museum.alresford.org.

West Street (North side)

The identifiable business premises are listed as:

  • 6 (Shown as a shop window with no markings).
  • 8 Eureka Fish Company
  • 10 Electrical supplier (there is an advert for Murphy radios in the window)
  • 12 The Bell Hotel
  • 14 Tobacconists plus Walls ice cream sales
  • 16 JS Stiles (later moving to become the Broad St. hardware and china shops)
  • 18 Lex Leathers
  • 20 Tobacconists (Note the ‘No Waiting’ sign, for vehicles, in the picture!)
  • 22 Reg Cutting , Antiques and Bric-a-Brac
  • 24 Ann Verity, Hair Stylist
  • 40a ‘Mollys’: apparently a Restaurant or Cafe
  • 42 Christian Bookshop
  • 56 Chemist (named as H.C.*****)
  • 58 Newsagent
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For 2016 we have Susie Watson Designs, Alresford Haircare, the Naked Grape and the ex-Wedding Dress shop!

West Street (South side)

  • 1  (Unidentified shop front)
  • 7  Lloyds Bank
  • 11 The Swan Hotel
  • 13 Cycle, Motorcycle and Pram services
  • 17 Post Office
  • 19-21 House’s Stores (Players cigarettes, Ariel washing powder)
  • 23 The White House Florist, Fruiterer & Greengrocer
  • 39 Southern Electricity Service
  • 43 Co-operative Food Hall (now two modern shop buildings)
  • 47 Hankins Ltd: Garage and Petrol Pumps (now the Co-op)
  • 49 Dedman’s Grocers, Tobacconist & Newsagent
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These shops look different in 2016 – Moda Rosa and Hetre!

Broad Street (East side)

  • (1 East Street) Lawrence Stationer & Tobacconist
  • 2  Horse & Groom pub
  • 4  Cubitt & West House and Land Agent
  • 6  Hobby Horse – Antiques & Bric-a-Brac
  • 12 Joseph Atkins
  • 14 Kelsall Food Markets (now Tesco)
  • 20 County Library
  • 28 Westminster Bank
  • 30 Chas Eddolls Ltd: Drapery, Clothing, Footwear & Carpets
  • 32 Tylers Wine Stores (now Pizza Express)
  • 36 Broadway Motors (John Allen) (now three modern private residences)
  • 38 (Unidentified shopfront)
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What did Joseph Atkins do? Apparently he lived at 13 Edward Terrace. Next door we have the Chinese Take-Away and the Toy Shop occupies the Cubitt & West premises!

The T-Junction and Town Hall

Other pictures of interest are an unfinished sketch of the Wessex Pharmacy, the view down East Street, and a pen and ink picture created from one of Wright’s drawings of the Barclays Bank building.

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Postscript – His earlier Career

Something I read once made me think that Lawrence Wright had strong links with the RIBA, which was reinforced by the comments made on the back cover of ‘Warm and Snug’, quoted in the above story. On the RIBA website, I found that the picture used to illustrate the design for the Lisboa Casino in Macao, dated 1966, is attributed to him as the artist, which confirms the book cover comment that he was a (very skilled) architectural painter. In the Author’s introduction to ‘Clean and Decent‘, he explains that the book arose after he was invited by Molly Montgomery, who ran the Building Exhibition at Olympia in the late 1950s, to organise a ‘Feature’ display stand at the show, on the theme of The History of the Bathroom. The book inevitably followed: but was a side-line, writing books was just an offshoot from his main works.

Nevertheless, one sentence from his intro to ‘Warm and Snug‘, which explains why his history does not cover the most recent 50 years, is of relevance to all modern historians: “There is no future in writing the history of the present before it is past”.

RIBA advise that he had a further book published in 1983: ‘Perspective in perspective’, published in London by Routledge & Kegan Paul.

(c) Nick Denbow 2016

 

Shop changes of Alresford over 30 years

There’s a lot of data available on the businesses active in the town over the past years. I did a survey of them in 1986, so thought a 2016 survey, 30 years on, would be interesting. Remarkably, there are very few of the original 1986 businesses still trading! At least under their old public facing names.

Broad Street – East side…….  1986 vs 2016

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West Street – North side…….  1986 vs 2016

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West Street – South side…….  1986 vs 2016

 

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Broad Street – West side…….  1986 vs 2016

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The Alresford Museum holds further survey data for earlier years, such as 1947, and 1965 – the latter via the drawings made by Lawrence Wright, which will feature in a future article. Meanwhile the Lawrence Wright drawings are on display in the Community Centre. Notably the Sun Hill Schools conducted regular surveys recording the names of businesses in the town, dating back to at least 1971 (See the story on AlresfordMemories titled ‘Local history, as recorded by Sun Hill School’, and published on 28 January 2016). School history projects relating to the town are eligible for financial support from the Arthur Stowell Fund, associated with the Alresford Museum, and administered by the New Alresford Town Trust.

(c) Nick Denbow 2016

 

 

 

Alresford Waitresses in the 1980s

What makes a good restaurant? Well, a good memorable restaurant that the customers will return to? The answer is mostly ‘a good comfortable atmosphere for the dinner’. But essential within that is a good team of waitresses delivering good service every night you go there. Not just one good waitress, but a team, and I use that word because there’s no collective noun for waitresses.

The Bodega

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Woottie with Daphne (left) and Gina, dancing on a float at the Carnival

In the 1980s the restaurant with real potential was the Bodega wine bar, in Broad Street. It had a lovely outdoor dining area in the archway, and good windows at the front from the main bar and restaurant area to the street. The only real problem was the amount of booze the boss, John Wootton, drank, starting fairly early. He needed some strong waitresses around him to make the place tick.

So what happened? Somehow or other Woottie assembled the Alresford dream team: Gina, Pat, Lynn and Daphne, who made the Bodega work. Believe me they had so much fun that as merely a husband/babysitter left at home, I was really jealous of their evenings, but not the hard work! The fun also included the regular disasters, when John fell off his stool, and when the chef walked out and they had to do the cooking themselves. They also had to cope with John regularly letting people off paying the whole of their bill when they complained loud enough, which rather dented the business profitability.

Moving down to Rio

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Rio Rio, on Pound Hill…

After the Bodega closed, three of the dream team moved on, to the new Mexican restaurant on Pound Hill, Rio Rio. This provided a different background behind the scenes, but the girls still seemed to have fun. Themed nights came regularly, and the photo below is of Lynn, Gina and Pat dressed up for a ‘Rocky Horror’ night at Rio Rio in December 1985.

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The hazards of dressing for work….

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The Bodega in Broad St. At this time, tables were also set out in the coaching entrance, to the left

On a previous ‘Dressing up’ night at the Bodega, on ‘Beaujolais Nouveau’ night, one September in the 1980s, I was driving home to try to meet our parental changeover deadline times, along Whitehill Lane: I came down the hill towards the cottages on Tichborne Down, and met Gina going to work the other way, overtaking all the parked cars. Unfortunately the greasy road and recent rain made quite a skid patch, but I stopped before actually driving into her car, which was totally stopped by that time!

We laughed about that as she then came past me, and set off past more parked cars. When I arrived home to take over kids duty, there was a phone call from a guy in Shepherd’s Down, who claimed my wife had driven into him 10 minutes before on Tichborne Down. He said his bonnet was dented and he was not sure of other damage, so would need to claim against her. Now I knew from my own experience that the road was really slippery, and he had obviously come down the hill far too fast, behind me. Gina later said she had stopped long before he skidded into her, and her car had no damage at all.

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The official  image of the Bodega

The problem appeared to be that Gina was dressed as a ‘French Maid’, for Beaujolais Nouveau night, with heavy make-up, fish-net tights and a short skirt. When the cars had hit each other, everyone from the cottages came out to see what had happened, and were surprised to see Gina jump out dressed like that! But maybe worse, she said she had to dash, because she was now late for work.

The next day, after driving round to look at his car, which had no visible damage, I phoned the guy in Shepherd’s Down and told him he had been driving far too fast, and as a result skidded into my wife’s stationary car, and that the ‘accident’ had been entirely his fault. I did not hear any more.