‘Pneumonia Bridge’ with the breached bridge road beneath

'Pneumonia Bridge' with the breached bridge road beneath
'Pneumonia Bridge' with the breached bridge road beneath
The Post Office in Commercial Road on the corner of Stanhope Road 1970s. The Guildhall clocktower to the left.

The much-loved Post Office that’s now a block of flats

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These five photographs come from a delightful and detailed new book which looks at the history of Alverstoke – that part of Gosport which still has a village feel about it.

It has been produced to raise funds for the area’s eye-catching Victorian church, St Mary’s.

Haslar Bridge, about 1900. Looking south west towards Haslar. The toll house is on the right

Haslar Bridge, about 1900. Looking south west towards Haslar. The toll house is on the right

It’s called An Alverstoke Alphabet and each of the 26 chapters is prefaced by an abstract photograph depicting the relevant letter which has been taken in the neighbourhood.

So, for example, D is represented by an aerial picture of Fort Gilkicker while E is a sideways view of the top of St Mary’s tower.

The contributors to this 130-page work have, for their purposes, loosely defined Alverstoke as the area at the head of the creek between Haslar and Stokes Bay. There’s been a settlement there since Anglo Saxon times but the actual boundaries of the parish have changed numerable times.

Subjects covered include the attempt by the 19th century entrepreneur Robert Cruickshank to turn the area into Anglesey Ville – a Regency resort to rival Brighton or Bath in architectural terms – to the role Stokes Bay played in the run-up to D-Day.

Haslar Bridge features often, as these two pictures here show. Spanning Haslar Creek it was, and still is, known as Pneumonia Bridge because it was so cold and windy, particularly at the top, that people claimed ‘if you didn’t have pneumonia before you crossed, you certainly would have afterwards’.

Kickergill Tower, shown here about 1915, was a triangular tower built at the edge of a field at the western end of Clayhall Road. It was the backsight of a pair of seamarks used to offer a sightline for ships searching for safe passage into Portsmouth Harbour. It was not demolished until 1965 when Clayhall Road was widened.

The book will be launched at 10am on Saturday, September 24, at St Mary’s Church.

An Alverstoke Alphabet – a book about Alverstoke, its people and its past, is published by St Mary’s Church at £15.