The desk which doubled as an air raid shelter and bar

The wrecked Blue Anchor Hotel at Kingston Cross after the first air raid on Portsmouth on July 11, 1940
The wrecked Blue Anchor Hotel at Kingston Cross after the first air raid on Portsmouth on July 11, 1940
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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My recent piece here about the old brewery in Malthouse Road, Buckland, Portsmouth, prompted Sandra Jarman to get in touch with her memories.

Her father Alfred Ware was the foreman and worked there for 43 years until he was made redundant when it closed in the 1960s.

Sandra, of Merton Avenue, Portchester, says: ‘I only remember it as Charringtons, but my older brother says originally it was Hammertons.

‘He remembers the beer being brought down from Stockwell in London, in large red and white tankers which he says were very futuristic for the time.’ The beer was then unloaded into large tanks to be sterilised and bottled.

Sandra adds: ‘He used to go out with a driver called Sam to make deliveries.

‘During school holidays she remembers married men were given an allowance of eight quarts [16 pints], but isn’t sure if this was weekly or monthly.’

Sandra says the brewery was damaged during the first air raid on Portsmouth. ‘The Blue Anchor pub and surrounding area were bombed and debris and shrapnel came down and damaged the brewery roof. The women who were working hid in my father’s office, under his desk.’

She recalls that she along with her mother and sister would visit her dad at work. ‘There was always a pint of beer on his desk which he would allow we children to have a sip of.

‘He always said if it wasn’t forbidden fruit we would never want it and that turned out to be true as none of us drinks.’

Sandra says the brewery was ‘horrendously noisy with hundreds of bottles rattling along above our heads on long conveyor belts’.

She remembers the women workers had to cover their hair in ‘turbans’ and some lived in the terraced cottages opposite the brewery. ‘They used to nip across home sometimes to put a meal on hoping dad wouldn’t see them. If he did he never said anything.’

At Christmas the manager, Mr McCrae, would deliver crates of beer to their Cosham home, Alfred’s Christmas box.