Balaclavas and bare legs – hardy wartime pupils

Mind how you go ' children from Cottage Homes School are guided across Southwick Hill Road on the slopes of Portsdown Hill
Mind how you go ' children from Cottage Homes School are guided across Southwick Hill Road on the slopes of Portsdown Hill
Two clerks on duty in James Taylors offices in Old Portsmouth. 			 (Robert James collection)

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It might be cold enough for Balaclavas, but every child in this rarely seen photograph (right) has bare legs.

And if you study it you’ll notice none of them is overweight.

Not only did they have plenty of exercise, walking to and from school twice a day, but it was taken during the dark days of rationing in the Second World War.

Beryl Searley, of Boston Road, Wymering, Portsmouth, loaned me the photo which she thinks was taken in 1944, but certainly towards the end of the war. She’s the blonde girl wearing glasses in the centre and was about 10.

They were pupils at the Cottage Homes School on the slopes of Portsdown Hill, and Beryl (née Bone) remembers they were on their way home for lunch.

‘The same policeman was always there. He must have walked up from Cosham every day to see us across the road,’ she says. Does anyone recognise him?

Some of the names of those pictured she remembers are: Alan Dowd (wearing the cap on the left), Cecil Beebee, Brian Colverston, Jimmy Robins, Elvina Smith (to the left of Beryl), Florrie and Olive Beneworth, Mable and Sylvia Bloomfield, and Marlene Brown.