Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

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

Bodega 84 daphne and gina 2

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.

Air Commodore Christopher Paul, of Old Alresford

The Obituary below was published in the Telegraph on 27 March 2003, after the passing of Air Commodore Paul, who lived in Old Alresford. I was privileged to meet him only once, when I delivered post around Old Alresford, and I showed him some of my old aviation photos. He was what you imagined a Spitfire pilot had to be: slight of build, long piano player type fingers, a delicate touch. At that time he was 92 years old. But the following account does not mention Spitfires – maybe I saw him in his Turbulent, touring Britain – I at that time was supplying various photos of interesting aircraft to Air Pictorial.

It showed me, at that time, that you never realise the history behind the people you see or meet or serve in the local shops, cafes, pubs or wine bars, and Air Cdr Paul certainly visited the Bodega Wine bar many times back in the 1980s. Think of that when greeting the next 90 year old contact you make!

Nick Denbow

 

The Telegraph said:

“Air Commodore Christopher Paul, who has died aged 95, was a wartime bomber pilot who became involved in promoting gliding and other aspects of the boom in private flying after the Second World War.

Paul was given his first operational command in 1940 with No 150 Squadron, which was re-equipping with Vickers Wellingtons following the costly losses of Fairey Battles in France.

After a frustrating period when navigational aids were insufficient to conduct satisfactory night-bomber operations, he was posted to “Bomber” Harris’s headquarters as a watch keeper. He then moved to Flying Training Command, converting trainers into makeshift bombers.

When Paul joined the directing staff of the Army Staff College at Camberley he was at first disconcerted to discover that his RAF students included some highly decorated officers who had seen far more action than he had; but he took the opportunity to milk them of their experience for his eventual return to operations.

In early 1944 he was posted to No 13 Operational Training Unit to learn to fly Mitchell light bombers, where he attracted the attention of Air Vice-Marshal Basil Embry, the holder of a DSO and three Bars, who was preparing the 2nd Tactical Air Force to support the forthcoming Normandy invasion.

On taking over No 98 Squadron at Dunsfold, Bedfordshire, Paul was delighted by the presence of so many Canadians. Their food parcels and camp fire parties were especially appreciated, though they had a disconcerting habit of shooting at empty beer cans for revolver practice during their late night revels. Nevertheless, he noted with pleasure that the nightingales of Dunsfold Woods seemed to be inspired in their singing by the hum of the squadron’s two-engine Mitchells.

When the invasion was launched, Paul was awarded a DFC for the way in which he led the squadron in day and night attacks on tactical targets. His citation stated: “He has at all times maintained a high standard of determination, keenness and accuracy and has developed a fine fighting team which strikes the enemy with great precision and concentration.”

Gerald John Christopher Paul was born on October 31 1907, and educated at Cheltenham and St John’s, Cambridge, where he learned to fly with the University Air Squadron.

He was commissioned in 1929 and joined No 13, an Army Co-operation Squadron, equipped with Armstrong Whitworth Atlas biplanes. The following year, when RAF pilots were serving in aircraft carriers, he joined No 446 Flight in Courageous. When the Navy recovered its air arm, Paul came ashore in 1938 to No 90 Squadron, flying two-engine Blenheim aircraft.

After the war, Paul became commanding officer of No 13 OTU at Middleton St George, Yorkshire. He was delighted to discover a neglected Tiger Moth on the station, after which he enjoyed flights before breakfast – until the morning he hit a low coaxial cable linking two masts and crashed. He reported that he was showing off and entirely to blame. Years afterwards, when he lost the sight in his left eye, doctors attributed it to the accident.

In late 1946 Paul joined the headquarters of the diminished remnants of 2nd Tactical Air Force at Bad Eilsen in Germany. The base’s previous Luftwaffe occupants had accumulated looted Cognac, Champagne and other wines, so Paul and his fellow officers charged themselves a token penny a tot.

Paul also took advantage of the splendid gliding facilities which had formed the basis of Luftwaffe training since the end of the First World War, and which had been developed to allow the Germans to circumvent the rearmament restrictions of the Versailles Treaty.

His next move was to the United States, where he served with the Joint Services Mission in Washington and at the USAF War College at Maxwell Field, Alabama.

In 1949 Paul returned to the Air Ministry for Intelligence duties which centred on countering the developing Soviet bomber force. He regarded tête à tête background briefings for Aneurin Bevan as light relief.

Paul was discussing the joys of gliding with RAF colleagues in a London cab when he hit on the idea of launching a gliding and soaring club in the Service. A year at the Imperial Defence College followed from 1953. Paul then went on to become commandant of the Central Flying School at Little Rissington, Gloucestershire, and at the same time qualified as a Meteor jet pilot.

At the beginning of 1956 Paul arrived in Aden as Senior Air Staff Officer. A year later he returned to the Air Ministry for his final appointment as director of operational training. In October 1958 he took advantage of a “golden bowler” retirement, with the proceeds of which he paid off his children’s school fees and bought a small Druine Turbulent aeroplane.

Paul was appointed secretary general of the Air League of the British Empire, which required him to travel throughout Britain both by car and his own aircraft. He made a major contribution to the post-war increase in private flying, not least by converting an Air League journal into the aviation magazine Air Pictorial.

In time he was welcomed to the Royal Aero Club, the Gliding Association and the Tiger Club committees, becoming president in 1968 of the Popular Flying Association, which encouraged group ownership of private aircraft.

In the late 1960s Paul fell out with council members at the Air League, and was dismissed in 1971. He busied himself with village affairs at Old Alresford in Hampshire and with the Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Families Association, while writing for Air Pictorial, by this time an independent publication.

He also carried out extensive research on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, and produced a history of No 90 Squadron. In 1989 he became president of the Central Flying School Association.

Paul, who died on January 11, was appointed CB in 1956. He also held the Belgian Croix de Guerre and the Czech Military Cross, and was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

In 1937 he married Rosemary Lane, with whom he had two sons and a daughter. She died in 1975; he married, secondly, in 1985, Mollie Samuels, who survives him.”

 

The “Hampshire Eurofest”, and the Story of the Alresford Carnival

An article from the Hampshire Chronicle of 17th July 1992 gave the following report on the “Hampshire Eurofest 1992”, an Alresford event that celebrated the entry of the UK into the EEC, otherwise known as the Common Market:

“Alresford’s historic Broad Street took on a continental air on Sunday as residents turned out in their hundreds to join in the fun of the town’s Eurofest.

Café tables lined the street, residents and visitors alike enjoying lunch or liquid refreshments whilst listening to music.

Local organizations, under the banner of the Chamber of Trade, had joined together to put on a day of fun for everyone to celebrate entry into the single European community.

Festivities began at noon, as the Eurofest was opened by BBC South Today and Radio Solent presenter Sally Taylor, together with colleague Mark Longhurst, who sent up a shower of balloons. Nick Kingsford and Alistair Dilley welcomed the crowds in every one of the languages of the countries of the EEC.

Chamber Chairman, Jan Robb, said the day had been made possible by the efforts of many people. She spoke of a wider European community in which Alresford, an energetic, outward-looking town, was eager to play its part.

She thanked the sponsors and praised traders and businessmen who had taken part, with special mention for Nick Kingsford, David Birmingham, Sue Gentry and Alistair Dilley, who had worked hard since January.

Euro-MP, Edward Kellet-Bowman, there to join in the fun, congratulated everyone on putting on such a good show.

Eurofest, 1992, Pound Hill

Eurofest, 1992, Pound Hill

Everyone had entered into the spirit of the event. The Swan Hotel became a Greek taverna; The Bell was offering John Bull Specials, including jellied eels and cockles and mussels, while in Broad Street, the Horse and Groom was an Old English pub with traditional roast beef.

The queue for food at a barbecue laid on in Broad Street by the Old School House Restaurant never seemed to get any shorter, whilst El Pigador’s (Alresford Pigs) offer of “Amazing Tapas” was also popular.

A “bouncy castle” was in the garden at the rear of Hunter’s, where a children’s tea party was held later in the afternoon. Alresford Twinning Association offered crepes, whilst the Rotary Club and the ladies of the Inner Wheel sold Italian ices and enticed all-comers to “be photographed in a gondola”.

Bishop’s Sutton Village Hall Committee offered Dutch fare and the New Alresford WI’s “Eurotunnel” had demonstrations of continental flower arranging, painting, lace and broomstick crochet.

Perin’s School represented Germany, with students offering a five minute German lesson, whilst the Community Association picked Denmark and offered a free draw for two air tickets to Denmark, courtesy of MaerskAir.

Sun Hill kids, 1993

Sun Hill kids, 1993

There was entertainment throughout the afternoon, with music from Winchester Brass Band, the Chris Walker Quintet and Perin’s School Band, plus Scottish dancing and country dancing from the two Sun Hill schools.

Jugglers Matthew and Dunn featured fire-eating, while the Turn on the Taps Appalachian dancers gave two displays of tap dancing.

Shop window displays featured other countries. The library had a splendid display representing Ireland: Eddolls, the United Kingdom; Portman Building Society, Greece. There were others featuring Portugal, several the UK, whilst Styles China Shop chose Denmark.

In the George Yard there was a display of ten cars from the 1920’s to 1960, put on by the Allsorts Motor Club.”

ENDS

This cutting from the Hampshire Chronicle is included alongside the set of colour photos taken on the day by Nelson Trowbridge, of South Close, Alresford. These were made into a presentation booklet about the event, created by Nelson, which was later donated to the Alresford Museum. All the photos can be seen on the website www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632786815255.

Included in this 1992 booklet was the following account of “The Story of the Alresford Carnival”, charting its origins, leading up to when the Alresford Rotary Club took over the organisation of the event in 1989:

“The Story of the Alresford Carnival

Although the Parish Council’s Recreation ground in Arlebury Park only dates back to the late 1970’s, the park lands saw the first Carnival in recent years as far back as 1953 when the town put on a celebration on June 2nd, the day of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation.

Sun Hill School, 1980s

Sun Hill School, 1980s

Like many things that happen in Alresford, it was organised by a group of like-minded people who wanted the town to join together in a day of family fun, and by all accounts it was a great success. Mrs Rita Blundell of Ropley was the very first Carnival Queen, a position which she held for several years! After the first, and special, celebration, the Carnival moved to what was then known as the Whit-Monday Bank Holiday, and a procession was led from the Station Yard to that part of Arlebury Park now occupied by Mrs Mary Hide’s Caravan Club location. Celebrities sometimes opened the event, including on one occasion Julia Lockwood, the film actress.

A popular event was the Donkey Derby. One year the donkeys failed to materialise, and Miss pring, who kept a small riding school was called upon to supply suitable mounts, at very short notice. Another year, a six foot diameter leather ball was pushed along in the procession – until it ran away down West Street, causing havoc! Luckily no-one was injured, and having been rescued it was used for a game of “push-ball” in the arena. Water seems to have played a large part in the proceedings, with a large tank in which duckings, and ‘Crossing the Line’ initiations were carried out!

1984, Cub Scouts(?) in Broad Street

1984, Cub Scouts(?) and floats in Broad Street

The late Mr Geoffrey Cradduck was the “human dynamo” whose enthusiasm kept the event going for several years, but like many other events organised by a small number of people it became difficult to sustain. After the present Arlebury Park land had been purchased by the Parish Council, the Arlebury Park Association decided to revive the Carnival using the new ground for entertainment following on from the procession. They too found it difficult to organize an annual event with a shrinking committee, and invited the newly chartered Rotary Club to take it over in 1989. This year [1992] will be the fourth run by the club and we are determined that it will not meet the same fate as its predecessors.

Although it raises a considerable amount for our charity funds, the Club see the Carnival as a service to the town and surrounding villages, and hope that other organisations may wish to become involved in the organisation of the Carnival, as well as participating on the day.”

ENDS

Alresford Carnival photographs

The Alresford Museum has several sets of photographs relating to the early Alresford Carnivals: these are visible on the Museum website, www.museum.Alresford.org. These photos show the large leather football quoted above, and several water features! There is also a cine film from the 1950s, which we hope to be able to load onto the website soon.

Later Carnival pictures, including those taken by Nelson Trowbridge, are available as FlickR web-albums:

1981:        www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632678990604

1983-89: www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632549426213

1991:       www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632576372045

1992:       www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632786815255

1993:       www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632556709582

1995:       www.flickr.com/photos/83468450@N03/sets/72157632560335768

If you have other pictures taken at Alresford events, like the Carnivals, why not let us copy them and show them via our stories and websites? Maybe you can also add a story to describe the photos? Please contact us via this website, or via the Museum Committee of the New Alresford Town Trustees, at clerk@towntrust.org.uk.

The Bush at Ovington from 1920

The Bush Inn, Ovington, 1920 style

The Bush Inn, Ovington, 1920 style

Once upon a time there was a pub in Ovington, known as the Bush Inn. Actually the Bush Inn is still there, but it looks a little different now to the picture above. This old picture is believed to have been taken in the early 1920s, when Charles Coward and his wife Laura Emmeline ran the pub. Charles is pictured here with the white jug on the plate, in the middle of the row of people. Second from the right is George Smith, his son-in-law, and second from the left is Fred Biggs. The window that is open on the ground floor behind them was Laura’s parlour window, and very few drinkers were allowed through to sit in there. Nowadays the pub has been extended to the right and the bar continues through Laura’s parlour, past her fire, into a new room. D203 The Bush ovington 1920s

Some of the same group of drinkers appear in the second picture, now positioned near the door to the pub. This does not seem to be the door in the side lane, because the brickwork lacks the chimney, and the side of the building has some flint sections in the walls, so maybe the pictures are close to the pub doorway that opens into the garden. In the picture here Fred Biggs is on the left, and Charlie Coward is still dispensing from the tray.

The next two pictures show the side lane next to the Bush, used as a starting point for the local Hunt and their dogs. The side door to the pub seems to be in a different position to the current doorway, and has a porch with the advert for Bell tobacco.

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D206Charles Coward died in 1930, and his daughter Kathy, married to George Smith, and her mother Laura Emmeline managed the pub from then onwards. George worked on a farm in Bishop’s Sutton, primarily on the steam powered equipment used there. They had children Charlie, pictured here in the Bush garden with his grandmother Laura Emmeline, who lived with them at the pub probably until 1949, and also a daughter called Doreen.

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The final picture is taken at the Bush on Doreen’s wedding day in 1945, with George and Kathy to the right of the bride, and Laura next to Kathy: sitting on the extreme right is George Smith’s mother. Doreen married Ted Saint from Upham, whose mother ran the village shop in Upham, and is sitting to his right. Standing second from the right on the bride’s side is Una, who provided the photos and was another grand-daughter of Laura Coward: Una Coward lived in West Meon, but regularly cycled to the Bush to see the family.

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One of the biggest problems for Charles Coward was that a fair proportion of his customers and evening trade was from Itchen Stoke. There were many nights when the men from Itchen Stoke arrived home very wet and presumably having sobered up quickly, after a ducking in the river, trying to negotiate their way along the path to Itchen Stoke in the dark.

With thanks to Una Yeates of Alresford (nee Coward) for the pictures and background information

The Bush, as it was in September 2012

The Bush, as it was in September 2012

Andersons – poultry and game, fishmonger and greengrocer.

In the Oxfam book “A Taste of Alresford”, by Sally March, published in 1985, Sandra Hart, manageress of the Anderson Fish shop at 8 West Street, writes:

“Some years ago the shop changed hands, but Alresford was so accustomed to calling the shop ‘Andersons’ that the present tenant, Mr Phillip Gay, reverted to the old name. The shop stocks a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, including exotic cumquats and mangoes, lychees and limes. Even better, the watercress is fresh from its ‘bed’, the cream from its farm and the  trout from Mr Gay’s own ‘stewponds’ [at the trout farm in Drove Lane].

“The building still belongs to Mrs Rita Blundell of Ropley, the granddaughter of Mr and Mrs Henry Batchelor, who came to Alresford in 1915, and lived over the shop. Their daughter, Mrs Cecil Turner, later managed Crook’s Restaurant, which is now the greengrocery side of the present shop, and her husband ran the other side, the fish shop, called ‘Eureka Fish’ (try saying it to yourself). After the Second World War, rations and regulations made the catering so difficult that the Turners changed the restaurant into a greengrocer’s.”

Note: Rita Blundell is quoted widely on the photo website http://www.alresfordheritage.co.uk!

The Old School House and St Joan’s

The Old School House, at the lower end of West Street on the corner of the Dean, is the original home of Perin’s Free Grammar School (later to become Perins Community School). One of the pupils there was Robert Boyes, who became the schoolmaster there from 1723 to 1782, and who wrote most of the early history texts that describe Alresford. In 1774, Boyes wrote that “The school was founded in 1698 by Christopher Perin ‘for educating 19 poor men’s sons in the Latin tongue, writing accounts etc. Every scholar was to pay one shilling a year for his admission and one shilling a year towards providing rods and brooms to be used in the school.” [So it was not quite free! – Ed]

The School House is described as a plain, strong building standing at the bottom of West Street. But the actual school room, and some of the accommodation for the pupils, was at numbers 56 and 58 West Street. These two current buildings at that time were joined together to provide one large and very lofty school-room, adjoining the School master’s house. This school continued in operation until 1932, when the school moved to the current site at the top of Pound Hill.

In 1971 the corner building was recorded as being Mr Howarth’s cafe, in a town survey conducted by Sun Hill Junior School students. In 1985 it was the home of the chef-proprietors of the Old School House Restaurant, the catering business run there by Terry and Sara McTurk. In 2013 it is now an Indian restaurant, known as the Shapla.

The shops created out of the school room have had many uses. Number 56, now Oakleaf Stationers, in 1971 was Wilstead’s, a chemist in a 1971 Sun Hill Junior School Survey: this then became Mr Goode, the chemist, in a 1985 survey. Next door at 58 there was a newsagents known as Perins in 1971, and was still a newsagent in 1985: in 2013 this is a hairdresser.

Diagonally across the cross roads outside the Old School House, and next to the Fire Station, is the house known as St Joan’s. Many years ago St Joan’s was a convent, and also later functioned as a boarding house for the Old Perin’s school. At an earlier time apparently a Quaker Meeting House stood next to it. But in 1985, when the Oxfam book “A Taste of Alresford” was published, this house had been renamed Ferndale House, by the owners Julia and Brian Champion. Brian Champion ran a photographic studio from there: originally the business had been established in Shepperton, but they visited Alresford one day and decided it was the place they wanted to live. They started in a shop in West Street, but later moved down the road to St Joan’s, which at that time was rather derelict. It took two years to rebuild the house how they wanted. Brian Champion was also involved both in international power boat racing, and pheasant shooting, but not at the same time.