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.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Valery Hollier on June 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    thank you for forwarding these lovely memories of Alresford, i gain so much pleasure from reading them. My grandfather EDGAR BLAKE was Manager of the World Stores 15 East Street – which is now a hairdressers. During the first World War, he sustained very bad injuries to his face, having a bomb went up and blew his face away, but had wonderful 22 operations by the Germans to rebuild his face and lived to the age of 89, passing away in 1977.


    • In the story about Pat Bentley’s paper round, in Alresford Articles volume 4, Audrey Chalk recalls when she worked at the World Stores, when Mr Blake was there: they frequently had to supply urgent deliveries of cheese to The Sun Inn, when extra lunchtime guests arrived, but the cheese had to be cut from the centre of a whole cheese, because Cameron Black, the Sun Inn landlord, required this! Even back then, there were difficult customers….


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