Beware boilermakers who have the hump

A Pompey forward heads the ball towards the Milton goal.  (Barry Cox collection)

From the heat of Egypt to blackberrying at Leigh Park

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A final word on the ‘boilermakers hump’ at Fratton Park comes from Brian Small of Bedhampton. He tells me it was at the Milton End by the entrance to the Lanes.

By the time Portsmouth Football Club was formed in 1898 the boilermakers had gained a reputation as hard-working, hard-drinking and for not stepping too close to soap and water.

After an evening in the pub they would fight among themselves and with anyone else who took an interest.

Brian tells me if there was any fighting at Fratton Park it was a fair bet the boilermakers were in the middle, or the cause, of it.

He does not know when they occupied that part of the ground but believes from older people he used to talk to, that they chose to segregate themselves because of the reputation they enjoyed.

Brian became a boilermaker’s apprentice in 1955 and became the butt of negative comments by people outside the Dockyard and from other trades as well.

He told me that before he met his late wife he was in the Savoy Ballroom, Southsea, where he met and spoke to a young woman. When she found out he was a boilermaker he was very quickly left alone.

By the 1960s the trade was dying and Brian never made a boiler, but he did repair a few.

They were very big and complicated ‘kettles’ the size of an average house. He believes the last ship in service in the Royal Navy with boilers was the royal yacht. She had three.

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