No job was too big for the Portsmouth haulage firm which lost its name after the war

A Park's Foden, by now a diesel, which was bought new circa 1938/39.
A Park's Foden, by now a diesel, which was bought new circa 1938/39.
It would take  someone of the age of 55-plus to remember this scene along Commercial Road at the junction of Church Street.

NOSTALGIA: A Portsmouth scene unrecognisable today: Commercial Road in its pomp

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Still no news about the identity of a big gun featured in these pages last week (below).

But there was plenty about the lorry on which the barrel was being carried – a Park’s of Portsmouth steam tractor.

The caption on this postcard claims it is a naval gun being hauled. But is it?                                    Picture: Barry Cox Collection

The caption on this postcard claims it is a naval gun being hauled. But is it? Picture: Barry Cox Collection

Mike Davies says it was a Foden ‘over type’ tractor of early 1900s’ vintage.

He adds: ‘Among other things, Park’s specialised in outsized heavy haulage. Much of the demand was created by the dockyard.

‘In 1947 the Labour government disastrously nationalised the road haulage industry. All firms of any substance were taken into public ownership and all lost their individual identities becoming British Road Services or BRS.’

Mike says the one exception was the ‘mighty Pickfords’ which had a strange mix of household removals and extreme heavy haulage.

The mini circus tent inside Lumps Fort

The mini circus tent inside Lumps Fort

He adds: ‘The powers that be considered the brand was so well known by the public it shouldn’t be lost.

‘Park’s depot at the southern end of Haslemere Road, Southsea, became a BRS depot and the business was swallowed up into the much bigger Pickfords. ‘

Mike’s picture shows a later Parks Foden, by now a diesel, which was bought new circa 1938/39.

It worked throughout the Second World War but after nationalisation was repainted into Pickfords livery and moved elsewhere.

The circus tent can be seen at the top of the picture

The circus tent can be seen at the top of the picture

‘Incidentally it still exists in the hands of a specialist collector and has had its original Park’s of Portsmouth livery restored,’ says Mike.

Eddie Wallace says the Haslemere Road garage was commandeered in the war and became a fire station.

He says: ‘The firm had a quay (Parksway Quay) in Shore Avenue on Velder Creek, Milton, which led off Milton Lake and its tugs, dredgers and barges collected sand and shingle from both Winner Banks and Hayling Bay.

‘It had one or two old disused barges on the Warren Avenue side of Velder Creek. We lads used to swim and dive when the tide was in covering the mudflats and fish for whiting, pout, flat fish plus the occasional eel.’

Roll up! roll up! the circus has arrived... inside a 19th century fort

My collegue Bob Hind recently asked whether any reader recalled car or motorbike racing inside Lumps Fort, Southsea.

So far the response to that question has been zero, but Rob Kennedy did send me these two rare postcard views of the fort complete with circus tent. Rob, from Old Portsmouth, says: ‘One has a date stamp 1953 but of course the photograph may have been taken some years before.

‘I remember visiting Lumps Fort in the early ’50s and recall the tent and within, a mini circus show.’

Anyone else remember the circus?