Extra sweets for the lad who dispensed paraffin

The old Oak Park School in Leigh Road, Havant
The old Oak Park School in Leigh Road, Havant

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The recent photo of Coldman’s Stores at Bedhampton Hill, Bedhampton, brought back memories for Tony Mayes who helped in the shop as a boy.

He used to dispense paraffin from the store at the rear of the shop because Mr Coldman, the owner, did not want smelly hands while serving in the shop. He let Tony have rationed sweets ‘off the book’ for this service.

Tony, of Lester Avenue, Bedhampton, grew up at 23, Bedhampton Hill and lived there from 1943 until 1966. The original owner of the shop (pictured on opposite page) was Tug Coldman who passed it on to his son Gordon and his wife. Tony often looked after the Coldmans’ garden when they lived between the Hulbert Road and Lester Avenue.

There were many shop staff and the women who served there were, of course, never addressed by their Christian names. There was Reg Avant, Miss Padbury and Miss Clark. Mrs Edwards ran the Post Office within the shop. There was also a bakery run by a Jim whose surname Tony can’t remember. A butcher’s shop next door was also part of the business.

When Tony became old enough to drink he used the Belmont Tavern opposite Coldman’s. The landlady, Mavis, didn’t stand for any nonsense.

In those days Bedhampton was a proper old village with drainage channels between the road and pavement and the street lights went out at 11.30pm.

n I wonder how many boys passed through Oak Park School (right) in Leigh Road, Havant?

The two blocks shown, with the main block nearest the camera and the art block farthest away, were all that remained when I took this photo in 1992.

There was a technical block to the left and a large gymnasium to the right. A large hall was shared with the girls’ school which was a mirror image of the boys’ building.

The playground could hold 800 boys and the playing field was vast with two rugby and three football pitches and a hockey pitch. There was also a 400m running track with a cricket pitch in the centre.

Today, that whole field has been built on.