Archive for June, 2014

Unique WW1 items on display

The Alresford library display, which commemorates 100 years since the start of WW1, has been updated with some new items for July and August: the people of Alresford and the surrounding area who remember those who fought in WW1 have provided some treasured mementos for us to see.

New to the display, which has been on show for two months already, are some embroidered cards, known as ‘WW1 Silks’ and a set of spurs worn by a soldier in the Royal Artillery.

WW1 Silks

silks 264  cut down

These embroidered cards were made by the local French and Belgian people in refugee camps, and sold to the soldiers to send home to their loved ones. The cards on show were sent home to West Meon by Bert Wicks, to both his wife and his mother. The lace attached to a postcard formed an envelope, and inside there was typically a card for a personal message. Half a dozen cards are on show, just a portion of the many cards sent home by Bert throughout the war.

Royal Artillery spurs


The spurs worn by Frank Holland, a horseman in the Royal Artillery during WW1 are also on show. Frank rode a horse, which with up to five others in the team pulled the field guns, attached to a Limber, which was a two wheeled cart. When the guns were in position, the Limber was used to collect the shells from the munitions base, and deliver them to the gun position.  See the spurs just visible on the right of this photo.

See further explanations and photos in the display organised by the Alresford Museum, in the library in Broad Street. This will continue through July and August.

Giles Group celebrates 20 years

On a beautiful Summer’s Day in June, members of the Giles Group in Alresford, with invited friends and supporters, met to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Giles Group for people with disabilities, and their carers – which has been active in Alresford since 1994.

The annual garden party was chosen to stage the event, in the lovely garden of Peter and Fabia Wrigley, one of the founder members of the group. In addition three other founder members were present: Mary Keer, Hazel Warland, and Tessa Purkiss, who are pictured cutting the anniversary cake. Founder members were presented with a wine goblet and rose, in recognition of their effort and foresight in setting up the group. The anniversary celebration cake – made by Jacky Earthy, wife of the current Group Treasurer – was decorated with red sugar poppy flowers: each of the guests present took home a poppy flower as a memento of the day.

Supporters of the Giles Group were invited to the garden party, and enjoyed a lavish cream tea, with strawberries and cream. These guests included representatives from the Alresford and District Community Association, the Alresford Pigs Association, and the Alresford Flower Club. The Group were also pleased to welcome Hampshire Councillor Jackie Porter.

Phil Voce, representing the Alresford Pigs Association and Age UK, Winchester, praised the active nature of the Group, and its 40 members: he raised a toast with best wishes for their next 20 years. The Group has monthly meetings with a guest presenter, a monthly Minibus outing, and holds a weekly drop-in coffee morning in the town.


The picture shows, from the left, Giles Founder members Tessa Purkiss, Mary Keer and Hazel Warland, cutting the Anniversary cake, made by Jacky Earthy, the wife of the current Treasurer of the Giles Group, Clive Earthy

For more information about joining the Giles Group, or just to meet some of us, drop in at the Phair Hall (Community Centre) any Tuesday between 1030 and 12 o’clock and have a coffee. Meetings, usually with a speaker,  are held on the second Monday in the month, at the Phair Hall. at 2pm: the programme for these events is shown on the notice board outside the Phair Hall.

Coach trips from Alresford

The first motor coach in Alresford was probably the coach built just after the First World War, in 1919, by Mr A W Vickers, at his works in the Dean. He built the bodywork on top of a commercially produced chassis, sold by William and George Du Cros of Acton, in London. Apparently the registration was HO 2955, the letters HO were used as the Hampshire reference at the time. The picture below shows Mr Vickers with his bus, quoted by some as a “blue” bus. The service was advertised as a replacement for horse drawn carriers, and the fares quoted were sixpence each way to Winchester, and three shillings as the return fare to Bournemouth. But the coach had solid tyres, so it was still maybe a bumpy ride!

Mr Vickers with the first Alresford Minibus

Mr Vickers with the first Alresford Minibus

The photo was provided by Nelson Trowbridge, who suggests the picture came from a print found during the demolition/dismantling of the works in the Dean many years later.

During the Second World War, Mr A W Vickers ran a company officially called “Blue Coach Services” in the Dene (sic) Alresford. In a letter dated 2 March 1940, to Mr Wilkinson of Broadway Garage in Broad Street – found when that building was demolished in the 1990s – Mr Vickers explains that his company, plus “Winchester & District, and Aldershot & District coaches are quite capable of catering for all the Military traffic from the Military camp at Northington to Winchester and back”. It appears Mr Wilkinson wanted to run a service from Northington to Winchester to take the soldiers to the cinema in Winchester in the evening, but Mr Vickers objected. You could say that getting home from Winchester late in the evening has apparently been a problem since 1940!

A day trip to Southsea from the pub?

A day trip to Southsea from the pub?

Coach travel after WW2 might have had some boom years, and Alresford residents used the coaches for weekend trips. One seems to have been to a Funfair, probably in Southsea, with the passenger list being drawn from the customers of a local pub! The picture shows this outing – is this from the 1930s, or even earlier? Fourth from the right in the back row is Tom Port, of East Street, we believe.

Another Alresford coach trip was to the Wannock Gardens, in Polegate, Sussex: this photo of the people on the trip was taken by NH Portraits of 73 Hartington Road, Brighton.The trip was reported to have been organized by the Bell Hotel, probably in the 1940s after the war: in the front row, in the centre, is Bill Williams, the proprietor of the Bell at the time. Who are the rest of the people? We now have quite a number of names and answers after help from Audrey Chalk and Margaret Wingate, amongst others, as now listed below the photo. There are 37 in all, so it was a fairly big coach!

An outing to Wannock Gardens from the Bell Hotel.

An outing to Wannock Gardens from the Bell Hotel.

On the back row, from the left, there is Mr White (who ran the Alresford cinema), with his wife in front on the end of the second row. Then at number 5 on the back row is Mrs Rustell, caretaker at the Dean School,

Second row Numbers 4 and 5 from the left are Mr and Mrs White of East St (Manager of a shoe shop), and 6 and 7 are Alf and Renie Chalk: 8 and 9 are Bob Deere and his wife, who lived over the Wessex chemist shop, next to Mr Port (again) on the end.

Third row: in number 2 this lady became Mrs Dawes, and her mother is on her right. At position 7 the older lady is Mrs Port, wife of Mr Port. Mr Blake, who ran the World Stores in East Street, is the tall man at number 3 (behind his wife in the front row).

In the fourth/front row: the first two are Reg and Emily Smith; third is Mrs Blake. On the other side of Bill Williams, in numbers 7 and 8 are a couple of which the husband worked at Hankins Garage, but we’ve forgotten his name. We’ve also forgotten the name of the couple on the right hand end!


This story was first posted in February 2013, and several comments were added then. When by accident it was re-posted in June 2014, it was not possible to move them, so they are listed here:

Posted by Len Strong on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm

What an interesting photo. I recognize most of the people in the ‘Swan Hotel’ photo. It was prior to the 1939 war. My grandad who had a bakery at the bottom of Broad Street actually hired the charabanc from Mr Vickers to take all the family to Southsea one Whitsuntide Monday. I was about 10 at the time so it would have been around 1935. The ‘chara’ was an open top affair with pull-over canvas roof if it rained, but it had pneumatic tyres (middle photo).
When he ran the Blue bus service to Winchester (top photo) he would pick up and set people down as near to their homes as possible through Itchen Stoke and the Worthies. Those were the days!!

Posted by Margaret Wingate (nee Stevens) on February 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Hello, I recognise 5 people on the coach trip to Polegate,they are Alf and Rene Chalk and Reg and Emily Smith (my aunts and uncles) also Mrs Rustell who used to live near us in the Dean.

Posted by Alresford Memories (the Editor) on February 16, 2013 at 11:56 am

See Len Strong’s story titled the ‘Alresford Fire Service’ for more information about his grandad’s bakery in Broad Street. His sister Pat also mentions it in her story ‘A 1940’s childhood at 45 Broad Street’.
The middle photo on this story shows the charabanc with the roll top roof rolled back – we can’t see the name on the side of the bus. Len describes such a charabanc trip to the seaside in his new story, just published, titled ‘A day at the Seaside’.
Thanks for your input too Margaret, the names have been included in the revised listing of names below the third picture! We now have quite a few names! Thankyou all!


Alresford Memories – from Pam Bailey

These memories were inspired by the account of Pat Bentley’s newspaper delivery round in the 1950s, written for the Alresford Articles journal (Issue Number 4) published in June 2014 by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society. Some of Pam’s reminiscences were also included in that article, as often she was asked to do a similar paper round on behalf of her (older) brother.

Pam Bailey was born as Pam Rousell, and has lived in Alresford and Winchester all her life: she now lives in Watercress Meadow. Pam writes:

Before the NHS system, and also before WW2, the local Doctors used to charge six old pence (6d) a week to be ‘on their books’ as it were. Dr Meryon had his surgery on the right on Broad St, Dr Leishman was on the left. Dr Skeggs had a surgery opposite the Sun Inn on East Street.

McCutcheon’s, the grocers, was on the right in Broad St, and the Crockford’s grocers shop was on the left – there was always a lovely smell of ground coffee around this shop.

During WW2 you used to collect your gas masks, rosehip syrup and orange juice from the Old Fire Station at the bottom of Broad Street. Being a young child at the time, I had a sort of complete suit that was a gas mask.

When I was very young I was not well, and had a lot of time at home, mainly staying with aunts: I missed a year of schooling because of operations. Mother had several jobs through the day in town, one of which was working in the Volunteer Arms on West Street, and I would go to work with her. This pub was always full of cyclists. Other businesses revolved around the cyclists, such as Dedman’s café and shop up on Pound Hill (there was a cycle repair shop up there too – Ed). Another café was the Winton café, near the Bell, where the flower shop and travel agents now are. I remember the old mail coaches coming through town at this time, and stopping at the Bell Hotel. Cycling long distances was normal, for example I remember cycling to Petersfield.

Mrs Whitaker had a Grocer’s shop at the bottom of West Street, in the half of the school house now occupied by a hairdresser, and next door there was the chemist, later run by Mr Goode. There was also a private school half way up West Street, run by Mrs Curtis.

Sheep and Fun Fairs

For the sheep fairs the sheep were herded into a field next to Dr Skeggs’ surgery in East Street, to be held there until they were driven through town to the station, for transport by train. I remember the Alresford Show as being held there one year too.

The story about the Broad Street Fun Fair was that a lady, Mrs Diamont, had a table top in Broad Street on the Fair day throughout the war (WW2): often this was quoted as needed to maintain the right of the Fun Fair to occupy the street on this day – a form of charter, said to date from King John.

The Golf Course

WW2 also saw a searchlight positioned on what is now the Sun Hill School playing field, as well as another on the golf course. At the end of the war the golf clubhouse was in an extension on the Cricketer’s pub: a “street party” was held on the golf course when the war ended. All the children were allowed to play on the golf course, but not on the greens: you could walk all over the course, wherever you liked.

Children, and Rivers and Swimming

Crowds of kids went swimming in the rivers at Drove Lane, and at the Horse pond (which is now called the ford) on Spring Way – also down at the hatches (now a fish farm) off Spring Way. Then came the swimming pool at the bottom of the Dean, but that was very ‘slimy’, because of mud on the bottom of the pool.

The Cinema

The projectionist at the Cinema on Station Road was called Georgie Troke, and my brother used to go and help him. When the film broke everyone would stamp their feet. Admission prices were 3d at the front, and 6d at the back.

Walking and scavenging….

Some of the children used to walk to Winchester – often to the football match at Couch Green, to see Alresford Town play against a Winchester team. Another afternoon occupation was to take an old pram out into the woods, to go ‘wooding’ – collecting sticks and branches for firewood. Then sometimes, with the same old pram, we would go to the gasworks to collect any spare coke.

Copies of Alresford Articles AA4 can be obtained from Glenn Gilbertson, or the Alresford Historical and Literary Society.

Alresford memories – from Gladys Ashe

These several memories from Gladys Ashe are an interesting addition to the memories from Pat Bentley, which described delivering the papers in 1950s Alresford, and is published in the June 2014 Issue (Number 4) of Alresford Articles, from the Alresford Historical and Literary Society.

Gladys writes:

The first Council houses built in Alresford were in Grange Road. These were built with help from the German prisoners of war, in WW1, the 1914-18 war.

Ashe Haig Road BL HutIn Haig Road there was a British Legion hut, and this was used by the Girl’s Friendly Society for their regular meetings – see the picture. The girl on the left there is Gladys’s elder sister, Queenie Coombs, with three friends from the GFS.

The Civic Cinema in Station Road had a matinee performance for children on a Saturday. This cost 3 old pence per person. Gladys went there as a birthday present, and saw her first film – which was Shirley Temple in “Heidi”. She also got a badge for this! There was also a hut along the path by the Police Station (often named as the Monkey Hut – Ed) – this was used for Sunday worship.

Children used to go down Drove Lane and play in the several rivers down there all day long: it was not fenced off like it is now, and they came to no harm.

There was a hut in the builder’s yard – it was called the Gospel Hall. We went to Sunday school there, it was run by Mr Royle (who had the men’s clothing shop – I believe Mr Faithfull took it over from Mr Royle)

When I was 14 I went to work for Lord and Lady Templemore at Upton House in Old Alresford. American soldiers were billeted there in WW2, occupying the big billiard room. Also the Red Cross had the use of some of the rooms in the basement. I had to collect milk from Pritchard’s Farm opposite Upton House, in a “Billy Can”.

I met my husband when he was stationed at Arlebury Park, waiting for embarkation to France.

Horse Pond AsheAt the top of the hill on Jacklyn’s Lane there was a water tower, and storage tank for the town. During WW2 my Dad was in the Home Guard and was regularly stationed at the water tower to guard it.

After WW2, the ford, that is located in Spring Gardens, was a favourite place to take the children for a paddle and to look for tadpoles. Locals then called it “The Horse Pond”, as in the ‘Old Days’ horses were regularly taken down there for a wash and a drink. The photo here is from a more modern time, and shows Gladys’s grand-daughter Kerry Reynolds on the left, with Grandson Steven Ashe on the right.

Windsor Road

In the 50s/60s, after the Alresford Show, the horses and traps would drive down Windsor Road in a parade up to the old Makins Court houses, to show them off to the older people living there, who could not get round the showground.


Ashe Windsor Road IreneThe little girl on the tricycle is Irene Ashe, in front of the houses on Windsor Road – before the new buildings at Makins Court were built.

Bennett’s Farm

Tom Bennett started this farm, and kept dairy cows and sheep on Tichborne Down. He also had a grocery shop which he ran from his bungalow in New Farm Road. These were called the Kingsley bungalows, which were prefabricated structures, erected as temporary accommodation during WW1, but they are still there today! Tom farmed with his three sons, Tom, Phil and Fred.

(See also Alresford Articles Volume 4 – Ed).