A 1940s childhood at 45 Broad Street

The house at number 45 Broad Street, opposite the Old Fire Station, was recently advertised for sale. The details published in the press around the sale of this property caused many memories of childhood days in that house to come flooding back, for Pat Young, formerly Pat Strong, who still lives in Alresford. She writes:

In the mid-thirties, my Grandparents George and Rosa Strong lived and ran a bakery shop at 45 Broad Street. The bake-house was situated at the rear of the premises next to the kitchen. My Grandfather was assisted in the bake-house by two of his sons, my father Bill and his brother Cecil.

Apart from all the different types of white and brown bread, many delicious cakes and pastries were sold. The Lardy Cakes and Doughnuts were famous! My Grandmother served in the shop, which never seemed to be without customers.

Across Broad Street there was Honeybourne Stores, and my Grandfather often cooked hams in the bake-house oven, which the store then sold. This shop was eventually Mr Wilkinson’s “Broadway Garage”.

Grandad also possessed a large lidded wooden hand cart, which my father used to push around the locality delivering the bread and cakes. I was often allowed to accompany him, sitting on the lid.

When fair day arrived each year, delicious brandy snaps were always made, some of them being filled with cream.

My Grandparents had four sons, and each Christmas all four families spent Christmas day at the shop. The large sitting room upstairs which ran the whole length of the front of the property was used. There was always a large Christmas tree from which we all received a present. My Uncle Bert always let off indoor fireworks. Some of them looked like snakes which used to jump about and we younger children used to hide behind the settee.

After the festivities we all went downstairs to have supper, which was cold turkey and ham. I remember well the dishes of lovely home-made pickle, my Gran’s pickled red cabbage was always my favourite.

Following my mother’s death during the War, I lived at the shop for a while, and one Sunday morning, whilst taking a bath (which was a free-standing affair with wooden lid, which had to be filled with hot water from a large cooking pot) a German aeroplane machine-gunned the Avenue. I remember getting quickly out of the bath and running along the hall to get my gas-mask! When I eventually got dressed I joined many other children along the Avenue picking up the spent bullets.

At the rear of the house there was a large garden. There was a lawn where Croquet was played on a Sunday afternoon, a Summer-house where the deckchairs were kept, plus many lovely apple trees and a large vegetable garden.

Right at the top of the garden was a flint wall with a twelve foot drop into the field below: this, with other fields, now forms Valdean Caravan Park.

I was recently invited to view the property (it having reverted to being a private house in about 1946, following my Grandparents’ retirement).

The shop portion is now the drawing room, while the walls separating it from the adjoining room and the long hall have been removed to make it much larger. Upstairs there was the long sitting-room, which is now being used as the main bedroom. This seemed so much smaller than I remembered.

The bake-house is long gone, replaced by a patio with table and chairs. The large garden no longer exists: part of one side and a large portion of the rear have been sold off to the neighbours. There are no apple trees any more, and the vegetable garden has gone.

It was lovely to go back, but sad to see how things have changed from what I remembered: one thing is for sure, nothing can remove all my happy memories!

Pat Young, August 2012.

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